WEF World – The Finer Things
With this past trip to WEF, I tried to have a game plan of what I wanted to document and write about during my time there. So instead of one giant ALL THE WEF THINGS post, I have a lot of topics planned out with photos to go along. If you love hunter/jumpers or big horse shows, I hope you’re excited to hop along the WEF train with me for a little while!
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again because it’s important and I have a lot of new readers since last year – I had no concept of what real wealth meant until I visited the Winter Equestrian for the first time in 2010. In every aspect of every way, a lot of these people have more money than they know what to do with. That’s a bit of a stereotype, but it’s safe to say it qualifies for a fair number of people showing there. I don’t mean that in a negative way either, there were plenty of people with far more money than I will ever had who recognize that my little OTTB 2’6″ hunter is just as important to me as their Grand Prix horse. Keep in mind that rich doesn’t necessarily equal elitist.
Part of the finer world that is Wellington is the farm/farmette situation. I’ve mentioned this a bit before in my tour of Grand Prix village last year, but this was the first year I’d visited WEF and stayed outside of Grand Prix Village. Let me tell you – all the farms are nice. There’s a spectrum sure, but they all feature at least one thing that is insanely awesome. For this particular place it was the arena (superb footing) and grass riding ring next to it.
Also, the tack room was fantastic. I could live in this tack room (and the place is for sale, so for slightly under $8 million dollars I could live in this tack room… haha). I loved everything about this tack room, including a few saddles that live in it. One I pictured and the other you’ll just have to imagine because it was gone the day that I was taking pictures there… but it belongs to a certain equitation god who’s name starts with a G and ends with an eorge.
Besides the fancy farm, a part of the finer life is having a groom. Usually they are assigned two to three horses and they do everything from daily care to clipping to hand walking to hacking. From my perspective, there seem to be several reasons for having quality grooms in your barn. One is just logistics – many of these riders show in several different rings on several different horses from Tuesday through Sunday. Trainers and riders are everywhere all around the show until the day is done. Even if they wanted to, there just isn’t time to maintain a horse properly (more of the level of maintenance these guys get in another post).
Another reason for having a groom? They are really good at their job. If you want to learn tons of tricks about horse care and how to maintain a show animal at the highest level of physical condition… shadow a good WEF groom for the day. Seriously, you’d learn a ton. For one example, you know how your hands will get coated in gray horse dust from a day at the barn grooming your horse? Doesn’t happen with these horses, because they are never dirty. Y0u touch them and there’s nothing but sleek, healthy hair. No dust, no dirt, no smell. Stalls are kept clean and piled high with shavings, and the horses want for nothing.
The last aspect of the finer things that I wanted to share with you today, is the International Club. I guess this isn’t a normal experience at WEF, because it’s for the elite of the elite. That probably leaves you wondering how I got in (fair question), but my friend’s employer was kind enough to give us lunch tickets one day at their table.
The VIP International Club is a tent overlooking the International Ring full of private tables that are bought for the twelve week season. There is a full buffet style breakfast and dinner on every horse show day and dinner during night classes, plus drinks and the whole nine yards. When you walk across the club you see tables with names like Bloomberg and Springsteen and moguls I’ve never even heard of.
It’s basically the coolest place to “grab a bite” in the world if you’re a horse lover. Each visit I’ve gone I’ve been lucky enough to have lunch there with my friend at least once, and I’m definitely the only one toting my giant camera around and looking pretty wide eyed at my surroundings. Last year I stupidly stared at Reed Kessler while holding cheese in a pair of tongs, because her and her pony tail popped up out of no where and I spent way too much time being like “Ermahgerd is that Reed Kessler?”
Yes, she did stare at me strangely and walk away. Blog interview fail 😉
Do you think you’d step right into the “finer things” in the Wellington world, or is this not your cup of tea? Sometimes I feel both ways!
24 thoughts on “WEF World – The Finer Things”
Amazing! Love this post- it’s fascinating to see all the behind the scenes shots! I’m drooling!
Oh the dream land that is Wellington! I absolutely love it there. I will say however, that after leaving a place like Wellington, there is something great about going home, grooming your own horse, and feeling okay with a little bit of dirt on your breeches.
Completely agree. Even after being around the finest animals in the world I was really excited to come home to my little average horse, bum hock and all 🙂
Back in the day I worked in the High Performance division of USEF at Gladstone, so I talked to “celebrity” riders, owners, and trainers on a daily basis, and frequently dealt with people who had more money than God. Being starstruck wears off as soon as you realize that they are Just People like you and me, and even a million-dollar GP horse is still a horse. Jealous you got to experience WEF though, it’s such a thrill to be around such lovely, top-notch horses and riders!
I love the behind the scenes look! I’ve never been to WEF but I’m certain that if I saw Reed Kessler at the International Club I would do more than just stare- I’d drop my cheese and start squealing and crying like a 12 year old girl who just ran into Justin Bieber. What a neat experience!
Frankly, I couldn’t even fathom having so much dough that showing at WEF is just another day in the sandbox. What a life!
Beautiful photos! I just returned from Welly World after showing for a month and a half. I miss it already!!!! Truly, IMO, the greatest place ever! We had a farm in Palm Beach Point, which backs up to Grand Prix Village. I loved the location. Keep the WEF posts coming!!
So great you got to show there for that long! This farm is also on Palm Beach Point 🙂 Lots of WEF posts coming up for sure.
I think I could get used to a tack room the size of my current house! As for the VIP International Club…I KNOW I’d have too many nervous drinks, eat too many shrimp cocktails, and throw up on Ben Maher instead of just trying to take a discreet picture of him. Luxury fail.
Wowzers – that is crazy! I think I would like part of that life, but not all of it. Personally, I love grooming and feeding and to have a groom do that for me ALL the time would just be weird, but then I guess if you ride fifteen horses a day (almost) it would get a bit much. That tack room? I have a good sized tack room all to myself, but it doesn’t stay that clean. Probably because it doubles as a feed room.
All in all – I think there is something to be said for us “dirty” horse owners, but I wouldn’t mind getting a taste of that pristine lifestyle. :O
It’s so interesting to see how the other half lives… sometimes depressing too (LOL!). But I love that you tried to be an incognito paparazzi at lunch, haha! I would totes be the SAME WAY
I definitely want to eat there.
Siiiiiigh. I love living vicariously.
😀 So looking forward to this series.
OMG, I’d love it… although I’d rather have all that at an eventing barn 😉 (that being said, I’d love to go to WEF sometime). I secretly have super expensive tastes. I’d love to have all the fanciest stuff. But, I’m also just happy to have what I have 🙂
WHAT A FABULOUS EXPERIENCE!! I am super jealous. I’d probably just stare at everything and soak it up. All the beautiful and expensive things!
I would be so nervous about getting something dirty in that atmosphere! haha
The cheese in the tongs. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
If I can fit in a suitcase, can I come with you next year???
That tack room is several orders of magnitude nicer (and larger) than my living room. WOW. It looks like it was set up for a real estate shoot, not just in everyday condition.
I look forward to your other posts in this series!
OMG OMG OMG!! I want to go with you next year!!! 🙂
Wow. That’s all I have to say. It’s nice to see how the other half live
It certainly is very beautiful. I don’t know, I can understand the appeal on the one hand but truth be told I don’t think I could ever by truly comfortable in that kind of environment. I sure wouldn’t say no to visiting for a day, though!
Wow! We just don’t have that kind of thing here in NZ. I wouldn’t say no to a pristinely clean horse 24/7 though and that’s for sure!
Who wouldn’t want to belong there, I mean *drool*
I cannot wait for the rest of your posts in this series, I love your photos anyway – but these are always extra special! 😀
The WEF crowd is in a whole other element money wise – fun to see – but not totally for me.