West Palm Beach Winter Equestrian Festival
 By Saferaphus   •   25th Mar 2018   •   304 views   •   0 comments

Ever wondered where the rich and famous go to play with their horses? Me neither. But, I have always taken for granted that Lexington, Kentucky was the horse capital of North America. Turns out I may be wrong. Many would argue that Wellington, Florida is the real capital. And that is where the rich and famous take their horses every year, January through April.

Wellington is just west of West Palm Beach, about two-thirds of the way down the Atlantic side of the Ďarmí of the state of Florida. The city hosts more than forty weeks of equestrian competitions each year, and a large part of that is the Winter Equestrian Festival. Running for twelve straight weeks, it is the longest running show in the world. It also is one of the largest. Over 3000 horses are ridden in the competitions, and almost as many riders. About 250,000 spectators stream through the festival each year.

There is a large variety of English riding events during the WEF. These include a Nationís Cup competition, The Global Dressage Festival, hunter shows, flat classes, childrenís classes and polo. There are a number of charity events including the Great Charity Challenge, a jumping competition with horse and riders in themed costumes. There are several polo tournaments and itís thanks to polo that the WEF got its start.

The WEF takes place at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The facility is built on drained swampland that was cleared to build a farm, then polo facility. Today it has a dozen rings, an equestrian-style community, polo fields and every conceivable amenity horse lovers and competitors could want.

Riders with last names like Gates, Jobs, Onassis, Bloomberg, Springsteen, Spielberg are up on the scoreboards along with the likes of Eric Lamaze, Beezie Madden and Maclean Ward. Many celebrities have residences within, or nearby. This is the place to both celebrity watch and keep up with well-known and up-and-coming Olympians.

This, of course, is a tourist attraction, and if you tire of watching horses and riders, there is lots of shopping. Hermes is a major show sponsor as is Rolex. And their wares are there for purchase. Need a Hermes fly bonnet for your horse. Donít order online when you can pick the color and size out for yourself. You can buy art, clothing and when youíre done shopping at the high-end shops, stop for a snack or a meal at one of the many restaurants and eateries. There are golf courses nearby and a kidís fair every week with free admission to the grounds. Residents and visitors can also access over fifty miles of bridle paths surrounding the venue.

Thatís about all that is free in the area, however. Should you want to buy a property where you and your horse can live, expect to pay multiple millions. Plan to spend at least $10,000,000 for a ten acre parcel with a house and stable. Itís not unusual for properties to sell for well over $20,000,000 USD.

So while Lexington may be the horse racing capital of North America, Wellington is the place to see and be seen, the home of billionaires and the place where elite of the horse world spend their winters.

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