by Katie Cooper
“You are all set, you shouldn’t have any problems now,” said Greg Palmer, at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, OH. Those are magical words to all of us who travel with the most precious cargo – our horses. Palmer, who is the right hand man to WEC’s owner Roby Roberts, came to our rescue when we limped into the show grounds with two blown out tires.
We made the trip from Maryland to Ohio to scout out the show that was offering impressive prize money in their Derbies and affordable stabling. I was questioning my choice to add yet another road trip after the pace of the fall shows, but the experience was quite valuable.
Upon arrival, I sought out someone who could guide me to find a local mechanic who could inspect the trailer that spent as much time on the side of the road as on it on the eight-hour drive from Baltimore, MD, to Wilmington, OH. Instead of a phone number of a local shop, I was introduced to the owner of the whole operation, Roby Roberts. Mr. Roberts greeted me warmly, showed me his daughter’s lovely pony, and immediately organized his employee to help me. Roby Roberts’ infectious e
nthusiasm and attitude cast a positive wave over all who participated – staff and exhibitors alike. I sensed this upon our introduction, and I experienced it throughout the week.
The facility is impressive. With climate controlled barns and connected arenas, we were always comfortable. The footing was great and jump crew was attentive to every round. The jumps were beautiful and the staff was professional and welcoming. The exhibitor parties were plentiful. The bales of hay were $7/bale!!!!!!!
Roby Roberts has succeeded in building a destination for many of us who struggle with the expense and inaccessibility of Florida and the bad weather of the alternatives. Most striking is Roberts’ insistence that it can be done with Midwestern charm and hospitality.
Greg returned our trailer and refused my payment. He simply said, “We want you to come back. Thank Roby if you see him.” After a week of happy horses and positive experiences in the ring, I was already planning my next trip, counting how many stalls to order, and submitting my cabin request. With refreshing and unique generosity and hospitality, I will be pulling out all the rigs to return!