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Winter Equestrian Festival Revs Up for 2007 Show Season

Wellington, FL – December 13, 2006 – The hustle and bustle in the Village of Wellington has started once again as equestrians and their entourages relocate to South Florida for a warm winter of horse show competition. Roads are busier, grocery shopping takes longer, and restaurants are packed as the horse clan returns for a highly anticipated season of familiar faces and places.

The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the world’s largest and longest running equestrian competition, begins on January 24, 2007, and continues for 10 straight weeks. The first eight shows are held at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, FL, and the seasonal crowd then relocates to Tampa, FL, for the final two weeks of action.

WEF welcomes the equestrian disciplines of dressage, hunters, equitation, and show jumping to the event, and over 4,000 horses are expected to grace the show grounds this season.

The discipline of dressage, which is held for three weeks during the WEF circuit, demonstrates perfect understanding between horse and rider during elegant performances. Often choreographed to music for freestyle and referred to as “dancing on horseback,” dressage combines harmonious grace and accuracy with competitive performance.

The hunter discipline evaluates horses on their form over fences, pace, consistency, conformation, and jumping ability. Pony hunter classes feature the best ponies in the country piloted by adorable and talented children, some who have private academic tutors during the vigorous show schedule.

In the discipline of equitation, the focus is on the rider alone. Exhibitors are scored on how well they control their horse, their position in the saddle, and their accurate execution of different tests, both over fences and on the flat. Equitation was designed to challenge riders to develop and master skills necessary for future competition over grand prix courses in show jumping.

Show jumping involves intense speed in conjunction with mastering a course composed of enormous fences. In the jumper arena, horses race against the clock and receive penalties for knocking fences down. The week’s highlight is the Sunday grand prix class, where amateur riders compete alongside Olympians in the Internationale Arena over fences that stand 5’3’’ in height and 5’6’’ in width. The fastest fault-free horse and rider combination takes home fabulous prize money, gifts from sponsors, and a coveted WEF trophy.

For grand prix competitors, this WEF season hosts three World Cup qualifying classes for the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final, held in Las Vegas, NV, in April.

Along with preeminent international competition, the 2007 WEF circuit once again offers grand prix exhibitors the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge, sponsored by FTI Consulting of Annapolis, MD. The FTI Rider Challenge will be a rider bonus pool of $200,000. Riders will accumulate points from their performances in the WEF Challenge Cup Rounds I-VIII, the CN Jumper Classic, and each Sunday Grand Prix event. The rider with the most points on March 17 will be awarded $100,000. Second place will collect $50,000, third place will receive $30,000, and $20,000 will be given to fourth place.

Some of the top international show jumping competitors this season include: Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Rodrigo Pessoa, Margie Engle, Laura Kraut, Jeffery Welles, Schuyler Riley, Chris Kappler, Nick Skelton, Christine McCrea, Georgina Bloomberg, and Kimberly Prince.

For competitors and spectators alike, the Winter Equestrian Festival offers a vast array of enjoyable activities. Luxurious outdoor shopping, ring-side dining, and the pristine presentation of horses add to an exciting atmosphere, and spectators can get a glimpse of the horse show industry and the intricate inner workings of the WEF circuit.

As the best equestrian athletes in the world convene, the Winter Equestrian Festival showcases a world where people work, live, and dream for their love of horses.


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