The first was the inaugural Wellington Eventing Showcase. As an eventer, I have been eagerly awaiting this. The entire event was held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s dressage complex. It was lovely being able to watch eventing dressage with palm trees in the background. The real fun came on Saturday: Show jumping was held in the dressage arena, which made for a more intimate setting than many other show-jumping events. Cross country was held that afternoon, and the riders went in reverse order of placing, which made for a great atmosphere as the class went along. For many of the horses, this was their first run of the year, and you could feel their excitement! The course was shorter than a typical Advanced-level course, and the speeds were decreased due to the arena being quite small. With that being said, the organizers did a fabulous job of setting up most of the typical cross-country obstacles: corners, skinnies, a small water complex, ditch and wall, banks, gallop fences, etc. The jumps themselves–created especially for the event–were beautiful. As a spectator, it was so fun to be able to sit in one location and see more than 90% of the course. The crowds were phenomenal, especially considering that many of the people probably had little exposure to the sport; by the end there was lots of cheering and many congratulations. I hope they continue this event for years to come!
The other fun event that was held recently was the Great Charity Challenge. Usually on Saturday evenings the International Arena hosts large Grand Prix classes, but this last Saturday many of the riders changed out their show coats for capes and became superheroes for the night. The evening is all about charities–$1.5 million was distributed among 34 local charities. Teams of juniors, amateurs and professional riders competed in a relay fashion. Jumps were set at different heights and one horse and rider jumped all those at one height before the next rider took off to do his or her set. The highlight wasn’t necessarily the jumping but instead watching costumed horses and riders fly around the ring as you imagine superheroes would! All the caped crusaders from Batman (or in many cases Batgirl) and Robin to the Incredibles were represented. My favorite team of superheroes may have been Captain Canada, who was represented by Ian Millar–they proudly wore Canadian flags as capes and their horses were adorned with letters spelling out “Captain Canada”. All the riders looked to be having the times of their lives and the horses loved the atmosphere!
Wellington definitely has some interesting and fun events that you would not normally see at an average horse show. It has been such a pleasure to be able to go and watch these extraordinary classes.
Dr. Marty Whitehouse