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Horse capital of the world: why breeders and trainers are flocking to Wellington, Florida

Polo is a favored event at clubs across Wellington, Florida.

Despite any stereotypes, not all people with an affinity for horses have moved out to the wide-open West. In fact, according to a 2005 report by the American Horse Council, states like Louisiana, Kentucky and Maryland have some of the largest populations of horse owners in the country. However, when it comes to which state ranks No. 1, Florida undoubtedly deserves the nod, with some 440,000 people involved in the greater horse industry.

One city in particular seems to draw more than its fair share of breeders and trainers – Wellington, Florida, which the Washington Post went so far as to call the horse capital of the world. With an honor like that, it’s worth exploring why Wellington could very well be the next home for you and your horses.

Winter Equestrian Festival
Each year, from approximately mid-January through early April, thousands of trainers and riders descend upon Wellington for the Winter Equestrian Festival. According to the Washington Post, the 2015 edition drew 250,000-plus visitors and more than 2,800 riders from 40 states and 30 countries worldwide. The 12-week event, which is also one of the longest running horse competitions in the U.S., features riders of all skill levels, including Olympians, amateurs, juniors and children. In all, riders are competing for over $6 million in total prizes in a number of world-class events, including the Finale Grand Prix, FEI World Cup Grand Prix, FEI Nations Cup and the WCHR/USHJA Hunter Spectacular. The festival is also home to two events that run its entire span, the WEF Challenge Cup and the Suncast 1.50M Championship Classic. Though competition is fierce, the event allows young riders to interact with seasoned vets, which only furthers the sport of horse jumping.

International Polo Club Palm Beach
Founded in 2002, the International Polo Club Palm Beach is one of the premier clubs in all of South Florida. From early January through the end of May, it features a number of competitive events, including the Ylvisaker Cup, the Gold Cup and the annual U.S. Open. Not only is it one of the best places to watch these exciting polo matches, but the facility is specially designed to cater to spectators. That includes buildings that help maximize breeze coverage and structures that modulate light with cooling shadows. The arenas, all of which were designed with input from players, include a stick and ball field and three state-of-the-art competitive fields. Outside of the polo amenities, the club also features several tennis courts, a croquet lawn, several retail stores, a spa and fitness center and a polo-themed library. Brunches and charity events are regularly held in the Grand Marquee hall.

Global Dressage Festival
The Global Dressage Festival is another reason why Wellington is such a destination for horse rearing and competition. Taking place each year in early spring, this festival focuses on amateur and professional riders, with a total of 11 weeks of National USDF-sanctioned competitions. Specific events include young rider, young horse, open and full range, small and large tour and para. Perhaps the biggest event of each week is the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, which, unlike similar events, takes place under a specialized lighting rig. It’s a unique spin on the event, offering a unique viewing style and experience for those in attendance. Events are held on four separate outdoor arenas, each with specially designed footing. Over the last several years, prize money for the GDF has reached upwards of $300,000, which ranks among the highest for similar competitive events across the world.

Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Home to both the WEF and GDF, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is a world-class facility for horse training and competition. Set on 8,000 acres just outside of Wellington, the 160-acre facility, which has been described as a “Equestrian Lifestyle Destination”, features a number of amenities. There’s a total of 12 competition rings, built for events like polo, hunter, driving, dressage, show jumping and western/trail riding. The footing of the competitive areas was also designed to meet the standards of Olympic-level arenas. For those who are still gearing up their competitive careers, the PBIEC also holds classes at The Stadium, which features a grass derby field. The PBIEC also features tons of great amenities for the spectators. Namely, a Vendor’s Village that features memorabilia, horse care products, assorted merchandise and much more.

Does Wellington sound like your kind of town? Then contact real estate agent Anthony Howe, who operates in and around the greater Wellington, Florida area. He can be reached at (239) 877-9513 or through his official website.