Every year, Palm Beach County, and specifically, the Village of Wellington, becomes the undisputed center of the competitive equestrian world, thanks to its playing host to a variety of internationally attended events. At the forefront of these competitions are the Winter Equestrian Festival, which features show jumping and hunter riding; the Global Dressage Festival, which entails a highly skilled form of riding often choreographed to music; and the International Polo Club Palm Beach, which hosts the world’s finest polo teams competing in high-stakes matches in front of large crowds every Sunday afternoon.
The Winter Equestrian Festival, held weekly from January through early April at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, attracts some of the biggest names not only in riding and show jumping but in the fields of business and entertainment as well. Springsteen, Bloomberg and Gates are just a few of the surnames that have graced the competitions and taken up seasonal residence nearby – the latter not only for participation reasons but to also take advantage of the world’s finest trainers and practice facilities that call the Wellington area home. In fact, some of these state-of-the-art stable and practice facilities are part of the magnificent estates on which the rich and famous reside, complete with housing for trainers and groomsmen. The competition is open to spectators Wednesday-Saturday, but the big event is the popular “Saturday Night Lights” in the main arena. More information, including the seasonal schedule, can be found at www.pbiec.com.
The Adequan Global Dressage Festival runs concurrently with the Winter Equestrian Festival, and is centered nearby in Wellington. Dressage is considered by many to be an art form as the rider and horse must work in unison to perform difficult movements with precision and harmony. The sport’s origins date back to when armies would prepare war horses for battle, with the objective being to maximize the physical development and athleticism of the horse. The most spectator-friendly event of the GDF is the Friday Night Stars program. To learn more, and to view the schedule, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.
Finally there is polo, known in some circles as the “sport of kings.” Akin to field hockey on horseback, goals are scored by driving a small white ball into the opposing team’s net or goal using a long-handled mallet. Palm Beach County boasts several venues where spectators can watch these competitions in casual, drive-up environments, but for those who want to step out in style the International Polo Club is the place to see and be seen on Sunday afternoons. Options include a range of seating choices, tailgating spaces, and a luxurious brunch. Ticket information and a complete schedule are available at www.internationalpoloclub.com.
If one wants to go for a full weekend immersion of equestrian events, you could watch the dressage competition at Friday Night Stars one night, the jumpers at the Winter Equestrian Festival the next, and polo on Sunday and still have plenty of time to work in a few rounds of golf in between. At Golf Life Navigators, we are here to help you get to know the diverse options for living and enjoying all that Palm Beach County has to offer, so don’t hesitate to contact us about planning your move to our winter paradise!