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Winter Equestrian Festival kicks off in Wellington


Photo by Equestrian Sport Productions

The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival is back at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington through April 3.


The town welcomes up to 8,000 horses and 250,000 spectators from around the globe. World-class show-jumping events last 13 weeks at the largest and longest-running equestrian event in the world. Professionals and amateurs, including children as young as 5, compete for more than $12 million in prizes.


The festival offers over 100 food and retail vendors, including Vendor Village for equestrian items and the International Ring for boutique shopping. Food options include authentic ethnic choices and healthy items.


Saturday Night Lights is the main event each week. Also called the Grand Prix, Saturday Night Lights features the world’s top horses and riders. The event is considered the highest level of competitive show jumping for the week.


The first Saturday Night Lights took place during Premiere Week with the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes. The women defeated the men 30-13 for their 11th win in 13 years. The competition had three rounds: speed class, relay and match race.

Winning team captain Kelly Soleau-Millar was joined by Hayley Iannotti, Taylor Land, Caelinn Leahy, Samantha Mckenzi, Mia Mannis, Abigail McArdle, Jacqueline Steffens, Anna Wilks and Heather Caristo-Williams.


Another Saturday Night Lights highlight is the Nations Cup, featuring teams representing various countries competing for $150,000. The Rolex Grand Prix CS15 is the grand finale in the closing week of the Winter Equestrian Festival with a total haul of $500,000.


Festival attendees can stroll the grounds and watch different levels of competition at various rings from Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The three main divisions are hunter, equitation and jumper.


The hunter division is judged subjectively on the athleticism, jumping form and beauty of the horses. The equitation division judges the riders for style and proper position. The jumper division is scored on speed and accuracy with the objective of completing the course without knocking down a rail in the fastest possible time.


The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center features 500 acres and 18 arenas. The main International Arena is surrounded by stadium and box seating, along with hospitality pavilions. The center has over 250 stalls for horses, horse trails and pedestrian paths.


Click here or call 561-793-5867 to check for possible changes in scheduling because of the coronavirus and for other information. Look for live streaming of events at pbiec.coth.com to view them remotely.


General admission is free, and parking is $20. The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is at 3400 Equestrian Club Drive, off South Shore and Pierson Road.




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