I keep my horses in the White Fences subdivision, a dressage-focused enclave in Loxahatchee, Fla., Wellington’s northwestern neighbor, for a couple of reasons. The most obvious is that Michael’s farm is here – in fact, this year I was at the farm right next-door, and I hope to return here next season. White Fences is also safe and quiet, a lovely reprieve from the hustle and chaos of Wellington proper. We can take the horses out for a quiet hack around the circle and not be worried about traffic or road crossings.
But one of the bonuses of wintering in White Fences is easy-peasy access to the White Fences Equestrian Center, run by Adam Pollak, and his series of recognized shows.
WFEC (which I always call “White Fences” in conversation, but to avoid confusion with the subdivision at large I’ll refer to it by acronym) hosted the original Palm Beach Dressage Derby back in the day, before the Equestrian Estates showgrounds was built just a mile down the road, and has since evolved into a quiet and charming national show that caters to all – the grassroots, “normal” people and big-time-hot-shot Olympians and everyone in-between.
The WFEC shows boast no day fee, so while they do offer stabling to those coming from afar, those of us who live in the community can just hack over without getting nickeled and dimed. The class fees are reasonable, and the footing is fine. Adam brings in quality judges, but the vibe is one of the local horse show, without the pomp and circumstance of the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington.
As if that weren’t enough to keep ‘em coming, Adam provides lunch, and snacks and beverages all day long, for anyone to enjoy. He offers western dressage and eventing dressage tests. Ribbons are given to 12th place – and they’re BEAUTIFUL ribbons. And after the show this Sunday, Adam will host a pig roast, open not only to competitors and friends but to the White Fences community at large. (how many horse show venues offer THAT?!)
It’s a terrific show for the meat and potatoes of our sport: the amateur person, the one who’s not out for Olympic Glory, but wants to plug away at sitting trot or canter pirouettes or whatever they happen to be aiming at. And it’s also great for those of us who need mileage on young horses, or scores on sale horses, and don’t want to deal with the fees and opulence of GDF.
Let me be clear: I LOVE the Global. I love riding in that big International Ring with the stands and the sponsor signs, and I love their incredible footing and gorgeous stabling and VIP pavilion and fancy vendor alley… the works. I love it. It’s gorgeous. It’s grand and prestigious and a privilege to show there.
But it’s expensive. And it’s not necessarily the place to get a baby horse out for the first time, nor is it necessarily the place to go get mileage at First Level Test 1 or Third Level Test 3 or whatever, or for the timid rider to feel confident.
There is room for – and a need for – both venues. And having both makes this wonderful winter paradise complete, for every rank and file of horse and rider. And how brilliantly WFEC has withstood the tests of time and competition speaks for itself. Adam should be incredibly proud of the show he has made. I certainly am!