WEF is the acronym well known in certain circles for the Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. It’s the place to be for the top competitors in the horse show world during the winter. A place where one can see people like the Canadian gentleman who holds the world record (Yes, the WORLD record!!) of the most times to compete in the Olympic Games. (That’s Ian Millar, with ten Olympic competitions, and I interviewed him last year!!)
Also there were the top US riders like Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, and Kent Farrington, just to name a few. Anyway, seeing all of them in one place just about blew me away and I had to work hard to keep my cool to look and act professionally. I walked into the spectator entrance of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center feeling like I didn’t belong in such a place and that security officers would soon appear and take me by the elbows to escort me out!
But after a mental pep talk and picking up my badge at the Media Center, I started to feel better. I got busy making my contacts with the riders I wanted to meet. The article from the interview I did with Laura Kraut had just come out and meeting up with her and her sister Katherine was such fun. And a real confidence boost! Meeting Beezie Madden was also a high point — I’m working on that article now.
Jessica Newman, philanthropist and founder of JustWorld International charity was kind enough to invite me to her nearby farm to visit, which was so exciting. She is a very admirable lady!
But the meeting that affected me most was with my daughter Marissa. Although she is only eighteen, she has been a working student at a farm in North Carolina since May, and I have seen her just a few times since she left. No longer just a working student, Marissa had been promoted before they traveled to Florida, and she now has more responsibilities. I watched her schooling and showing client’s horses in the jumper classes, and helping to run the show barn of 14 horses, and I’m impressed! When I listened to her boss telling me about how much he relied on her and how he wants to help her advance in the horse show world, I was more proud and excited for her than I would be if I were doing it myself!
But all too soon it was time to leave and I found myself crammed into the back of coach in the airplane on my way home. It all caught up with me in the form of flu soon after arriving home. But this trip was certainly worth it, professionally and personally.
Meeting all the people I met was invaluable, and it was such fun to live a little vicariously through my daughter as I watched her ride at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. I’m still smiling just thinking about it.