Florida’s Equestrian Paradise: Wellington, Rediscovered

Winters in Wellington, FL are a little slice of horse heaven—so I’ve been told. I’ve long envied friends who’ve jetted off and escaped the frigid Upstate New York winters, even if only for a weekend, to bask in the sun and watch some of the most talented riders in show jumping, dressage and polo compete there. For 12 weeks every year, thousands of riders (and horses) flock to the picturesque community in Florida, where sandy beaches fade into grassy green pastures. Riders and their fans have transformed the seaside town into an equestrian village brimming with activities centering on the world-famous Winter Equestrian Festival.

Until I get the chance to visit, a new 215-page coffee table book, Wellington: The World Of Horses (Assouline), will help keep winter off my mind. That’s thanks, in part, to the book’s author, Holly Peterson, who comes at the book not from the perspective of a rider but a fan, as she’s become immersed in the sport and requisite lifestyle while cheering on her teenage daughter from the stands. The book also pairs 30 quotes from famous riders with portraits and action photography by Elena Lusenti, a former champion rider in the High Junior Amateur Division, and accomplished equestrian painter Brittany Brett provides additional polo images.

A rider myself, I can’t help but be inspired by one particular quote attributed to Margie Goldstein-Engle, a ten-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year. “Horses teach us at a very early age a sense of responsibility and care for another living being,” she writes. “They also teach you patience and give you everything, as long as you do not do anything to destroy the trust they give you in return.”

I couldn’t agree more. And maybe, just maybe, this coming winter, one of my friends will invite me along to Wellington to see this ethic come to life.

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