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!