On Feb. 9, trainers Ashley Glica and Jack Stedding reported that tack was stolen from their locked tack rooms at the Winter Equestrian Festival during the $391,000 Fidelity Investments CSI5* Grand Prix, in Wellington, Florida.
Glica returned to her stalls, located in Tent 1, following the grand prix, and found her tack room unlocked, when she had left it locked, but the door was shut. “I really didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “I walked in and said to myself, ‘What is different here?’ ”
One wall of her tack room was completely empty. Among the stolen items were a saddle, bridles, martingales, girths, a helmet, two pairs of high-end tall boots and countless custom bits. Stedding, who was also in tent stabling, lost nearly 15 bridles, all of his custom bits and a pair of boots.
“He or she knew the difference between custom and non-custom bits.” said Josee Stedding, Jack’s wife. “The bits off the rack were not taken, so he or she was obviously knowledgeable.”
According to Glica, the police have limited information regarding the culprit because there were no security cameras in their section.
“For the [cost] per stall, there should be a lot better security,” Glica said. “There are millions of dollars of horses at the show. I just don’t feel safe now.”
Like Glica, Josee was extremely frustrated at the lack of accountability on the part of show management. “It’s unbelievable that no one from the horse show has reached out to us,” she said.
She appreciated the offers of help from the equestrian community, but said, “It doesn’t change the fact that we got broken into. There should be security in some way. It was locked.”
An official from Equestrian Sport Productions, which runs WEF, responded in a statement, saying they did reach out to the victims and filed a police report as soon as they were notified of the crime.
Management also refuted the victims’ claims that the security system is inadequate, stating, “Palm Beach International Equestrian Center has multiple cameras set up around the property, including at the main exit/entry points and in high traffic areas. We do not have cameras on all of the temporary stabling tents.
“ESP employs more than 70 security guards at PBIEC, with 24 on-site daily and five of those are roaming on golf carts on the grounds 24 hours/day,” the statement continued. “Through the use of the cameras on-site, ESP has apprehended people in the past for instances that have happened on the grounds.
“ESP makes every effort to keep horses, people and property safe at PBIEC. With more than 80 acres, 17 tents and six permanent barns, almost 2,100 stalls (approximately 450 of which are likely used as tack stalls/storage), and more than 12 different entry points to the property, it is an enormous effort to police the grounds, but not one that ESP takes lightly. ESP does its best to provide security to everyone on the grounds and will be evaluating what we can improve for the future.”