I caught an early flight out of Tulsa on Saturday morning and arrived in Fort Lauderdale early in the afternoon; by time I got off the Tri-Rail train at the Palm Beach area, it was nearly 5 PM. I didn’t get much accomplished on Saturday, other than falling asleep at 9 PM.
I spent Sunday at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival grounds at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, where The Horse of Course parks the dressage trailer through the show season. To say the show grounds are impressive is a massive understatement. Everything is beautifully landscaped and manicured. Immaculately groomed horses are everywhere. The arenas are always freshly dragged with perfect footing. It’s absolutely stunning.
This was the first time I’d seen the dressage trailer in action, which was just as impressive as the show grounds. There’s a wooden deck around the trailer and awnings that extend over it to shade the merchandise that’s displayed outside. The trailer is flanked by a couple of tents- one that’s dedicated to the men’s department and one that houses the saddle repair area. It’s busy all day long. Riders are constantly in and out, trying on breeches and coats, ordering custom shads or boots, and asking for advice on bits, saddles, bridles, and everything in between. It was totally amazing to see; while I’ve certainly been busy at shows on the smaller local trailer, no one was ordering custom anything and it’s rare that someone will actually try something on or take my advice.
The dressage trailer carries a selection of higher-end brands that we don’t stock in the store. It stocks Pikeur, Kentucky, Gersemi, Grand Prix, and a variety of other mostly-European brands of apparel and tack. The trailer’s low end breeches retail for $199.95. While I was there, I saw people drop in, buy 4 pairs of $200 breeches, and talk about what a great bargain they’re getting. I also saw someone place an order for a custom pair of boots that will be at least $1200. These people live a very, very different lifestyle than I do!
When I got too depressed to hang around and watch people spend money, I ventured off to explore the show grounds. There’s a very large covered area with three full-sized dressage rings set up in it. One of the rings was a warm up area, while the others were competition rings. I watched both for a while; I was heartened to see one naughty grey horse bucking through his flying changes- not everything is perfect in Welly World! I wandered through the barns for a little while, too; most of them were empty, or in the process of being cleared out from the weekend’s eventing showcase. I saw one bay horse dozing in his stall and glanced at the stall card on the door; lo and behold, it was Colleen Rutledge’s Covert Rights! He opened his eyes after hearing me fumble around with my camera, and I took a picture like a total creeper.
After that, I trekked out to the outdoor dressage rings, where the CDI competitions occur. Not much was happening while I was there- someone appeared to be having a longe lesson in the warm up area and ground crews were clearing away the cross country course from the eventing showcase. I saw where the cross country course ran through the VIP tent, which was just as crazy as it sounds- it was a topic of conversation with the dressage people the whole time I was there! (They really do think eventers are nuts.)
By time I returned to the trailer, it was time to head out to White Fences Equestrian Center in nearby Loxahatchee. White Fences is a gated horse community, comprised of small farms centered around two show grounds. It’s beautiful, and seemed much more low-key than Global. The farms are stunning, with the namesake white fences and these enormous, airy barns and perfect paddocks. Every farm has a dressage arena with a huge wall of mirrors at one end, too! The show grounds I visited were hosting a schooling show on Sunday; there were at least 5 outdoor arenas going when I arrived. I caught our assistant saddle fitter riding a Third Level test on his big warmblood gelding and practiced my (very poor) equine photography skills during his test.
The Wellington area is a little like an alternate universe; there’s never any hay wisps in the barn aisles, the horses are never too fuzzy or covered in mud, everyone’s slender and elegant and filthy rich. I can’t decide how I feel about it- I think if I tried to spend an entire season there, I’d feel totally inadequate! But it was kind of nice to spend a few days in horsey paradise. 😉