Sunday, March 3

Olympians trot to Wellington for Winter Equestrian Festival

It’s an art form that requires skill, poise and a dash of flash. With all the Olympic sports that take place, it sometimes gets overlooked.

But, for Michael Stone, equestrian sports are top of mind.

Stone is president of Wellington International, home to the Winter Equestrian Festival.

“This horse show generates over $300 million for the local economy,” Stone said. “So, we have nice restaurants in Wellington. We have lots of nice shops still in Wellington. As this sport grows and the people grow, it’s only good for Wellington and good for South Florida.”

Equestrian sports have been part of the Olympics since 1912. The Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington has been a part of that history since 1974.

Wellington resident Michelle Grayson said she knows how lucky she is to have it in her backyard.

“People think of Florida as just going to the beach and things like that, but this is such a huge attraction and, like I said, people from all over the world come here just for this,” Grayson said. “They have a bond with these horses that you just can’t imagine. You really have to develop, like, a true partnership with these horses. And to watch them all in action, it’s pretty magnificent.”

Olympians from countries throughout the world will make their way to Wellington to train.

Stone said the British and Austrian teams will be here, as will the top French team for the first time.

“So, really, people have recognized that if you want to be at the very top level, the place to come is Wellington,” he said.

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