by Elizabeth Howell
Wilmington, Ohio, is about to become your new favorite town. Really? Yes. As the last weekend of the two week World Equestrian Center (WEC) 2016 Fall Classic unfolds, I’m here to tell you to call a barn meeting. Get your butt to Ohio. Here’s why:
- FREE Stalls for the Winter Circuit
Yes, free. FREE for all hunter/jumper horse shows, December 2016-April 2017. How? You can thank the electronic veterinary records company, eVet. eVet provides instant access to verified cloud based, vaccination records. Which means? That you will no longer have to panic when you pull out of the driveway on your way to the horse show wondering “DO I HAVE ALL OF THE HEALTH FORMS I NEED?” The eVet platform is USEF compliant. You do need to sign up and eVet is offering FREE registration for horses showing at WEC through April 2017. Don’t wait. Reservations close at 600 stalls per show. You can contact show manager Brandon Saxton at 216-554-2049 with questions. Offer does not include tack or set up stalls. If you hope to keep you and your horse fit this winter, this is a fun and affordable option for winter horse showing.
2. It’s not Florida, but you don’t have to go outside.
The newly renovated and still evolving WEC facility is a labyrinth filled with interesting surprises around every corner.
The place is GIGANTIC and pretty much everything is connected via indoor tunnels. So you can tack up, get on and walk to one of many warm up rings WITHOUT EVER GOING OUTSIDE. And did I mention that the facility is heated? It’s also very bright, light and well lit EVERYWHERE. So you don’t get that dark, winter “inside” vibe.
3. The Roberts family welcomes you.
There’s an interesting history to this place. Originally called Roberts Arena, it was build in 2000 to accommodate R & L Carriers’ annual holiday party and concert. For 3,620 employees and spouses. The Roberts family has deep roots in the Quarter Horse world. Roberts Arena quickly evolved into a first-rate horse show facility that hosted the Roberts Whistle Stop Futurity for Western Pleasure horses for years.
Over the past five years, under the direction of Mary and Larry Roberts’ son Roby Roberts, the facility has blown up into what it is today and was renamed the World Equestrian Center.
Roby Roberts caught the equestrian bug from his mother. Roby’s wife Jennie and their 12-year-old daughter Sophia are also avid equestrians. The WEC venue speaks to the Roberts family’s passion for horses and an impressive commitment to supporting the future of equestrian sports in the United States. Horses bookmark the start and end of Roby’s day and the horses know when he comes around there are treats to be had. It often takes Roby three hours to get from one end of the show grounds to the other because he stops to talk to anyone and everyone.
There’s a family-friendly laid back vibe to this place that feels genuine. Each week there are a variety of after-hours activities. The limestone footing doubles as beach sand for instant soccer, volleyball or dodge ball courts. There are golf-cart friendly drive-In movie nights. Equestrians at WEC can participate in dog races, wheelbarrow races and ‘ride and drive’ golf cart courses. There is a church service each Sunday. The after hours activities change each week, but the main theme remains the same – to have fun. WEC employees are everywhere–cleaning up after horses, keeping the facility immaculate and showing visitors how to locate the nearest restroom.
4. You can stay on the horse show grounds.
There are three housing options right on the WEC property. Small cabins which are furnished with refrigerators, microwaves, flat-screen televisions and cute front porches. Cabins can accommodate up to six people.
The “Home Away from Home” units are directly across the street from the show grounds. Each mobile home unit has 2 bedrooms, can sleep six guests with a full kitchen, living and dining room. Each unit also includes a full size washer and dryers and two televisions. The property also includes 96 RV hookups, 36 of which are full-service. Call 937-382-0985 for info and reservations or submit a request online.It’s possible to never leave the show grounds. And if you do want to venture out, there’s plenty within a 10-minute drive. More housing is planned, eventually including a walkway to the “Home Away From Home” units complete with small barns and turnout options.
5. The ribbons are sick.
In effort to distinguish themselves, the ribbons at this horse show are kind of tricked out. See for yourself. An unofficial poll finds that 98% of riders LOVE the ribbons. There are different ribbons for each week.
6. You might get A Sudden Impulse to shop.
There’s a great little store on the show grounds called A Sudden Impulse, named after one of Mary’s beloved Quarter Horse stallions that is a leading Western Pleasure sire. The boutique has an eclectic selection of reasonably priced WEC swag, as well as higher end gifts, home goods and Vineyard Vines WEC logo wear. The interior of A Sudden Impulse is lovely. There’s a map on the wall where guests are encouraged to pin their hometown.
7. The vendors.
There are lots of great vendors sprinkled around the property in various locations. it is worth taking the time to find them all as there are plenty of interesting options. You’ll find anything you need and lots of other things that may not fit into the “need” category but are most definitely on the WANT list: Collierville Saddlery, Custom Fox, Farm Vet, Chagrin Saddlery, CSC Metalworks, NQ Personalized Gifts, Riders Boutique, CWD, Devoucoux, the Vineyard Equestrian, Seeside Designs, and Meadowlake Stables Horse Hair Design as well as many others.
8. Ride in the largest indoor in the United States.
The facilities at the World Equestrian Center include three beautiful indoor arenas and one GIANT outdoor arena. Technically it’s the largest equestrian indoor arena in the United States.
9. Juniors and young riders can earn $500 in FREE entry fees every week.
Weekly, the Cadets Horsemanship Program gives juniors and young riders an opportunity to up their horsemanship skills. Today’s session was led by Tracy Emanuel, a professional photographer and former professional groom. Tracy
focused on safety and the 26 participants discussed how solid safety basics are essential to avoid dangerous mishaps. Always check a stall before you lead your horses in; keep a knot at the bottom of your lead shank; never load a trailer alone. Other weekly sessions have covered entrepreneurship, and in one popular session, a farrier had juniors and young riders on foot doing jumps in high heels and Converse so they could understand the challenges faced by a horse with the wrong shoes.
10. There are comfy movie theater seats with cup holders in the grand prix arena. And the seating area is carpeted.
It’s like the cleanest movie theater you’ve ever been in, but you’re at a horse show. The seats closest to the ring are full blown reclining leather seats-perfect for homework, snoozing or watching trips. There’s also massage chairs near the vendor area, a day-spa and an on site masseuse available.
11. Inspirational messages abound.
Maybe you have a bad trip. Maybe your flat classes didn’t go quite the way you imagined. Well, you’ll find some food for thought here at WEC in unexpected places. Uplifting messages gently reminding us that “today is the best day,” are welcome reminders that a bad day at a horse show is often better than a good day at work. There’s a Churchill quote inside the arena that reads: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
12. Clean bathrooms everywhere!
It’s the little things that can really make or break your horse show experience. Right? For example, there are clean bathrooms everywhere. There are snacks. There’s a lounge for junior riders and a separate place for adults. There are plenty of wash stalls. Did I mention you don’t have to go outside?