BY MARGOT HIRSCH
It’s the time of year when riders from all over the world gather in Wellington, Florida, to compete at the highly regarded Winter Equestrian Festival. Many come for months at a time, but for others, its just a one weekend experience. It does not matter how long one may come, only if they are ready and prepared for the stiff competition, busy showgrounds, and of course, the chance to be at the top. Coming to such a large competition is a great way for riders to get a feel of the incredibly diverse sport and the people from all over that come to win.
The journey to WEF may be a short hack on your horse, by car, or even by plane. For those lucky enough to be close to the show, it is not as much of a hassle as it is for people from foreign countries or people from other states. Even so, the sole purpose of being there is to compete against the best, to gain experience and especially to have some fun in the warm weather during Winter.
Preparing for WEF is no easy task. Though all riders have specific budgets, you always want to look your best in proper riding attire and tack for your horse. Missing something important? Don’t panic! There are numerous tack shops and clothing stores nearby to find the perfect outfit for you or your horse. One can choose from from Hadfields, Kocher Tack, Ann K. Hubbards, CWD, Devoucoux, Charles Ancona, and so many more! And certainly make a stop at the WEF boutique to get some WEF apparel to show off!
Aside from the many stores, there are even more services! Want to remember your rounds? There are numerous photography businesses on-site that cover all divisions throughout the day! Teams like Anne Gittins work to cover as much in a day as they can to ensure all riders can have some great photographs! But the services don’t stop there! Grab a bite to eat at the famous Oasis Cafe, the smoothie cart, or even a mouthwatering crepé during your day.
The great thing about WEF is that the show doesn’t stop at dark! Many love to go Saturday night to watch the famous “Under the lights” Grand Prix, where the top riders all over the world compete for the win and boost their ranking in the year-end title. Grab some seats in the stands or rent a table at the Tiki bar! Feeling fancy? Rent a table at the International club and sit with the professionals and celebrities! There is so much to do from dog adoptions to carnival rides, amazing food and even more shopping!
The WEF experience is different for all riders, especially because many come to watch and learn and do not show at the showgrounds. Not matter why you decided to come, it is such a great opportunity to experience so many different aspects of riding and set certain goals for years to come. If you are lucky enough to stay for the season, the possibilities are endless for what you may do!
Margot Hirsch, 16, of Palm Beach Gardens, FL is a Junior at The Benjamin School and
currently shows in the Childrens Hunters in Wellington.
Follow her on Instagram: @margot_lynne_hirsch