The Equestrian Sport Productions management team, who oversee and organize the Winter Equestrian Festival at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida, the longest running and largest horse show in the world, have announced a strategic plan to unveil a technologically advanced footing surface ahead of the 2019 WEF season in the main International Ring. Once a solution is confirmed for the International Ring, which has been implemented and proven, the management team will address additional arenas at the facility.
The preparation and planning for the new surface technology will begin in May and several top international riders, trainers, veterinarians and world experts in varying footing technologies have been asked to participate in consulting roles with the ESP team as discussions surrounding the surface material and strategy have progressed. The management team is currently researching and testing different viable options including an underwater ebb-and-flow system, as well as alternate methods of installation, maintenance and material.
PBIEC is one of the most highly visited equestrian venues, hosting more than 36 weeks of competition during the year and highlighting the prolific 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival annually. WEF has steadily grown into the largest and most competitive horse show circuit in world, hosting eleven weeks of FEI Show Jumping competition and 12 weeks of Premier “AA” hunter competition. During the 2018 season alone, more than 51 countries and each of the 50 states were represented throughout the duration of the circuit.
The arenas at the facility see more daily rounds of competition than any other venue globally, which has motivated the ESP management team to stay on the forefront of footing and surface technology to maintain and improve the quality of competition, alongside the safety and well-being of both horses and riders.
“As an organization, we are committed to ensuring that our venue and our competitions are staying ahead of the technology curve when it comes to advancements and different treatment options available in the footing surface industry,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners. “It is imperative that we provide the best possible competition environment for our competitors and athletes and have decided that we must set a global standard for an innovative and successful approach to footing and surface technology for a circuit of WEF’s size.”
The introduction of the world-class footing construct is expected to ensure the quality and rideability of the footing in the International Ring continues to meet and uphold the high standards of competitors and the management staff during the most prominent portions of seasonal competition.
“There are many different and varying opinions about the what is perfect footing and how you achieve that in a major competition setting,” continued Bellissimo. “We have been exploring different options and opinions and are confident that the 2019 season will showcase the most forward-thinking and progressive approach to international footing standards for our competitors.”
Further details regarding the strategy and implementation of footing technology in the International Ring at PBIEC will be announced as decisions and processes are confirmed. To learn more about Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the Winter Equestrian Festival, please visit pbiec.com.