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Luis Rodriguez Specializes In Equestrian Properties

Luis Rodriguez Specializes In Equestrian Properties

Luis Rodriguez of Keller Williams Realty is eager to sing the praises of Wellington in particular and Palm Beach County in general. After all, it’s the area where he grew up, and he speaks of the Palm Beaches with a mixture of knowledge and pride.

“I was raised in Miami and West Palm Beach and received my bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton,” Rodriguez said. “For more than 10 years, I lived in the Southland Park neighborhood near Flagler Drive close to the Intracoastal, so I know Palm Beach County well.”

Rodriguez was a natural for real estate. After being told he had the perfect personality and background for the job, he joined BRP Realty in Palm Beach. It was a matter of the heart that brought him to Wellington.

“Soon after, I met my future husband, documentary filmmaker Ron Davis,” Rodriguez explained. “He had moved to Palm Beach Polo in Wellington from New York City. I found that I really enjoyed the quiet equestrian lifestyle in Wellington, so I decided to make it my home as well. This month will mark my seventh year as a Wellington resident.”

Rodriguez specializes in equestrian lifestyle properties for both year-round and seasonal residents.

“My clients are looking for a comfortable lifestyle, which can range from a luxury condominium to a lavish equestrian estate,” he said. “I take great pride in getting to know what is going on in the community and what interests my clients, in order to help guide them to make the right choices.”

Rodriguez couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Keller Williams team, where he is the chair of the Wellington division of Keller Williams Luxury International. He is dedicated to consistently raising the bar when it comes to service and satisfaction.

“Keller Williams offers one of the most extensive training programs for new agents, as well as continued training for seasoned agents,” he said. “This ensures the highest level of expertise and that the most current marketing resources are at our fingertips to better serve the needs of buyers and sellers at every level. We have a lasting and positive effect on the lives of our clients. As I said before, this is a lifestyle business.”

Since his specialty is equestrian properties, it should come as no surprise that Rodriguez considers the horse community one of the true backbones of Wellington’s appeal.

“Money magazine recently named Wellington one of the eight best places to retire in the entire country, and we are the winter equestrian capital of the world,” he said. “Our little village offers some of the largest and most prestigious equestrian competitions in the world, showcasing the best in international show jumping, dressage and polo. These large equestrian venues offer a unique opportunity for competitors and fans to escape to the Sunshine State seasonally or year-round.”

Rodriguez keeps his eye on the ever-changing real estate market. When he looks at the big picture, he projects an optimistic future for the area.

“Wellington and its global equestrian roots are strong and give us a leg up, so to speak, on the rest of the country,” he said. “The large amount of private investments in property, and equestrian venues that are continuing to grow each year, help to stabilize our community. It reminds me of the baseball movie, Field of Dreams. The voice kept saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Wellington is indeed building, and with our close proximity to Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, there seems to be no reason to believe that the market will do anything in the near future but continue on a steady, upward path.”

For more information, call Rodriguez at (561) 385-2383, e-mail or visit him on the web at


Gardening Is A Passion For Wellington’s Twig Morris

Gardening Is A Passion For Wellington’s Twig Morris

The distant smoke of burning sugarcane trigger fond memories for Wellington’s Twig Morris. Born in San Francisco, Morris relocated to Hawaii as a child. “I find it kind of interesting that I ended up here,” she said. “I can see the sugarcane burning, and it makes me feel at home.”

Morris’ father accepted a physician’s job on a sugarcane plantation in Hawaii. Her father was a true country doctor, who also enjoyed fishing in his spare time, which was one of the primary reasons that the family made the move, landing on the island of Oahu. Morris loved her time there. She had many friends, and life on the island was serene and safe.

“What a wonderful place to grow up. It was like any other small-town, country setting. Everybody knew everybody,” she recalled. “We lived on a cul-de-sac, so we were always out on the street playing. We could walk to the movies at night, and our parents never worried. It was a kinder, gentler time.”

Morris didn’t take her paradise-like surroundings for granted, taking full advantage of the beaches and the mountains.

“The beach was right there. If you liked to hike, the mountains were there, and it was always green, and it was always warm and like here in Florida,” she said.

Though life on the island was wonderful, she eventually had the desire to get out and experience a world beyond the idyllic setting.

“You know, when you grow up on the island of Oahu, if you can possibly afford it, you want to get off of the rock and go to the mainland and see the world. So, I did,” Morris said.

She left paradise and headed to the Big Apple. Well, specifically Adelphi University on New York’s Long Island, where she studied dance. Morris had gained an interest in dance while in high school, and also under the tutelage of her mother, who had been a dancer.

Spending lots of time in nearby New York City, Morris took every opportunity to hop on the train to see a show or enjoy the city’s museums. Following her graduation, she landed a job in New York, and soon after met Kevin Morris at an engagement party. He was a friend of the groom-to-be, who also happened to be Twig’s roommate’s fiancé. A year and a half later, Twig and Kevin married. They will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary in July.

Setting aside plans to become a dancer, Morris instead worked for an advertising agency, before becoming a stay-at-home mother to her two daughters, Chrissy and Katie. Once the girls were in school, Morris returned to the workforce, landing a job she loved with a Fortune 500 company that manufactured medical supplies and diagnostic equipment. Morris was a part of the public affairs department at Becton Dickinson for 11 years.

Following retirement, Twig and Kevin Morris moved to Wellington. Daughter Chrissy lived in the area and suggested they come down and take a look. The couple settled in Village Walk, where Morris serves on the architectural committee. In an interesting twist, Chrissy later moved to Hawaii. Apparently, the old saying “you can never go home again” isn’t true. Morris now visits Oahu fairly often.

“Every time we go back, it is always nice. My mother was very active in the community, and my dad was the doctor in the town,” she said. “Just about every kid born there, my dad delivered. My mom taught dance to half the community in the schools. When I go back, they go, ‘Oh, right, I knew your dad. I knew your mom.’ It was nice that they were being remembered that way. It’s a very special place with very special memories.”

It’s possible to fall in love with more than one locale. Morris has settled into the Wellington community quite well and feels at home here, too.

“We’ve met so many wonderful people in our community and, of course, through my involvement in the garden club,” she said. “All of my friends there are very special, and we’re all involved in similar pursuits, because we all love gardening.”

Morris has been involved with the Wellington Garden Club for more than a decade and is currently a committee chair. She first served as corresponding secretary, and then went on to serve as treasurer, first vice president and president in ensuing years.

Somehow it seems especially fitting that a dedicated gardener goes by the nickname Twig. Mary Tree is actually Morris’ given name. “Tree” is an old English surname that was passed down through her family.

“Twig is a nickname that I was given, actually before I was born. [My mother] said, ‘I know this baby is going to be a girl, and I am going to name her Mary Tree the Second, and we’re going to call her Twig,’” Morris explained.

Morris was introduced to the local garden club nearly by accident, during a visit to the Mounts Botanical Garden. The club was having a plant sale there, and Morris asked for more information.

The Wellington Garden Club is a nonprofit organization that dates back to 1981. Morris is a strong believer in the club’s mission to further the education of members and the public in fields of gardening, horticulture, botany, floral design, landscape design and environmental awareness.

Educating today’s youth on the importance of caring for the earth is a priority for Morris. The club sponsors garden clubs at schools and partners with the Village of Wellington on an annual tree planting.

“This year, the tree planting was in the Peaceful Waters Sanctuary in September,” Morris said. “We do a beach cleanup earlier in the fall, which also involves the youth. It is an eye-opener for the kids, and for the adults, too. You can see how much plastic is washed up on our beaches.”

While the Wellington Garden Club isn’t a social club, it is a great way to meet people, Morris said. “We want you to get involved, to help with the kids, to help with the fundraisers and various aspects of the club,” she said. “That’s why we invite folks to come to two meetings before they join.”

Morris is looking forward to the 2019 Garden Tour in April, a ticketed fundraising event presented by the Wellington Garden Club. The upcoming tour will feature the gardens at Deeridge Farms, which the club is touting as a once-in-a-lifetime tour of this impressive Wellington equestrian estate.

“There are numerous gardens on the property,” Morris said. “It’s very extensive. It’s acres and acres of a mobile-guided tour, because we will have golf carts that will take people from one garden to the next.”

Proceeds from the event are designated for the club’s outreach programs. Advance ticket sales are available. Learn more at

Morris is passionate about gardening, but she is also looking forward to new adventures with her husband.

“I’m looking forward to taking a few more cruises than we have done, doing more travel,” she said. “That was the original plan when we first retired, and we did do a couple of cruises, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. I also learned about a train trip across the Canadian Rockies that takes place sometime next year, and I thought that sounds interesting.”

In the interim, there’s plenty of gardening to be done.


World Polo League Gallops Into Wellington In 2019

World Polo League Gallops Into Wellington In 2019

This season, high-goal polo in Wellington will have an exciting twist with the new World Polo League, which debuts in January with its first of five 26-goal tournaments.

Three high-goal players who own polo farms in Wellington founded the league, in conjunction with the top player in the world, to preserve 26-goal polo in the United States.

Other than in Argentina, 26-goal polo is the highest level of the sport played anywhere in the world and is unique to the United States. So, when polo patrons Bob Jornayvaz, Marc Ganzi and Melissa Ganzi learned that the United States Polo Association had decided to drop its 26-goal tournaments — including the U.S. Open — to the 22-goal level for the 2019 season, they got together with polo superstar Adolfo Cambiaso to see what they could do.

The answer was right in front of them. Jornayvaz owns Valiente Polo Farm, the Ganzis own the Grand Champions Polo Club, and all have organized and won 26-goal tournaments. Cambiaso, a WPL supporter from day one, has access to nearly every top player in the world. Among the four, they had all the ingredients for a 26-goal league: the fields, the players and the expertise to organize a high-goal league. They retained another big gun, Dale Smicklas, as league commissioner, and they were ready to roll.

Initially, the group planned a four-tournament series, but later decided to add a fifth, which opens the last week of January. The WPL season continues through April 14.

“We have added the World Cup as the fifth event to the WPL 2019 season,” Marc Ganzi said. “We believe placing the World Cup at the front of the season is exciting for fans and team owners, as it gives everyone playing in the Florida season a chance to compete for $100,000 in prize money irrespective of your handicap and where you will play your season.”

Jornayvaz underscored that there is “a lot more at stake here than just playing 26.” An integral part of the league is the “New Polo Experience,” designed by the founders. Under this unique concept, the WPL will offer an optional turnkey program designed to foster and attract sponsors to high-goal polo by reducing the barriers to entry. It has attracted several international players who have never played 26-goal polo.

“You don’t have to buy horses, find housing for your grooms, lease barns, arrange practice fields — all the things that make high-goal polo intimidating outside your home country. You write one check and just show up with your boots,” Jornayvaz explained.

The league has created three “parachute teams,” each with a 10-goaler already committed. Sponsors can bring their own horses and play with that team, or rent 26-goal horses. Among the all-star players are Cambiaso, Juan Martin Nero, Pablo MacDonough, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, Pelon Sterling, Rodrigo Andrade, Nico Pieres and Nic Roldan.

“We thought it would be neat for team owners to be able to play with a 10-goaler they have only been able to play against before because they were all hired by other teams,” Smicklas said.

WPL teams will vote on which rules they want to play under, selecting from a combination of USPA, HPA and AAP rules. “We want to empower team owners,” said Jornayvaz, adding that team owners will share in any WPL revenues from apparel sales and live streaming of games.

Most importantly, he said, is the WPL’s commitment to all-inclusiveness.

“Anyone is welcome to play in our tournaments, the USPA tournaments or both,” Jornayvaz stressed. “This is a very positive thing for everyone in the sport.”

For more information about the league, visit


World Polo League 2019 Schedule

The World Cup (Opens last week of January, dates TBA)

The All-Star Challenge (February 6-17)

The Founders Cup (February 20 – March 2)

The Palm Beach Open (March 6-24)

The Triple Crown of Polo (March 27 – April 14)


Uniting The Community At PBIEC: 2019 Great Charity Challenge, Presented By Fidelity Investments

Uniting The Community At PBIEC: 2019 Great Charity Challenge, Presented By Fidelity Investments

With a strong belief that change happens through the power of communities, Palm Beach County charities will get a chance to inspire and expand their impacts this coming February.

For the past nine years, equestrians and their mounts have been uniting the local community at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington. These teams of riders have one goal in mind: to give Palm Beach County charities a chance to win up to $150,000.

Through an open application process, the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments, invited all Palm Beach County-based charities to apply to participate in the event’s 10th edition of a pro-amateur relay show jumping competition. Thirty of these randomly drawn charities will meet their randomly paired teams on Saturday, Feb 2, 2019, to receive a share of a million-dollar-plus purse.

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions, along with their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $12.2 million from the equestrian community to 230 nonprofits in Palm Beach County. All of the money raised gets distributed to local nonprofits every year, with first place receiving $150,000 and all participating charities being guaranteed a minimum amount of $15,000. Staying true to its roots, a minimum of five nonprofits, out of the 30 participating, are guaranteed to be Wellington-based.

Over the last four years, the GCC brought team spirit to a new level by incorporating themes into this annual celebration. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “We are the World” will focus on promoting unity and celebrate cultural differences in the community. An art contest involving all 12 Wellington-area public schools will showcase the different causes represented that evening, from fighting hunger to education and much more.

“This 10th year honors the diversity in our community,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners. “With riders from all over the world, our organization showcases the benefit that comes from embracing each other’s differences and unity toward this greater good. This event is truly the legacy of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the sponsors involved. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Paige Bellissimo is actively involved with nonprofits in the community.

“The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community,” she said. “We hope that this year’s edition will unite all involved, from the sponsors and riders, to the nonprofits involved and the community at large. We are very grateful for those who support the effort.”

The drawing to select the first 24 charities from those that have applied to participate in the 2019 GCC will be held on Dec. 2 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

For the latest event information and application guidelines, visit www.greatcharity or follow them on Facebook at––m/greatcharitychallenge.


World’s Top Jumpers Among Thousands Expected To Participate In The 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival

World’s Top Jumpers Among Thousands Expected To Participate In The 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival

The Winter Equestrian Festival once again returns to the prestigious Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington from Jan. 9 through March 31, 2019, featuring 12 straight weeks of top equestrian competition.

The 2019 WEF is set to host 11 weeks of competition sanctioned by the Fédération Equestre International (FEI), the highest level of international jumping competitions available in the sport, alongside 12 weeks of top-rated hunter and equitation competition for many of the best riders in the world.

The annual start of WEF also signals the return of the highly popular Saturday Night Lights evenings, which are free and open to the public each week. Offering an array of family activities, including face painting, entertainment, carousel rides and more, Saturday Night Lights has become a pinnacle for the community during the winter season.

Each Saturday night features the highlight competition of the week, the Grand Prix, which regularly includes Olympians, world champions and the sport’s top talents jumping obstacles at the 1.60m height.

“We’re anticipating another fantastic season at PBIEC, as we welcome back riders from around the country and the globe to what has become a home base for many,” said Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions, which produces WEF and manages the PBIEC show grounds facility. “Each year, we see more competitors, and the strength of the circuit continues to grow, solidifying it as one of the most elite competitions in the world.”

WEF will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 9, with the first week of competition of the circuit, featuring national-level competition for hunters, jumpers and equitation riders, and will welcome back the annual Battle of the Sexes competition on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. The Battle of the Sexes pits a team of male riders versus a team of female riders to see who will reign supreme after completing several different variations of jumping competition.

The fourth week at PBIEC will bring together excitement and philanthropy, as the Wellington Eventing Showcase is scheduled to return to the venue after a year of absence, bringing the world’s top eventing athletes back to Wellington, alongside the community-driven Great Charity Challenge.

The discipline of eventing, one of the three equestrian Olympic competitions, combines three different phases of competition: dressage, cross-country and jumping. The dressage and jumping phases will take place at PBIEC’s Equestrian Village site, while the cross-country course, will run across the grounds of the polo fields and the historic Derby Field at the venue.

The Great Charity Challenge has raised more than $10 million for Palm Beach County charities since its inception by Mark and Paige Bellissimo over a decade ago. In a professional-amateur relay race, participating teams, dressed in themed costumes, are paired with a locally based charity, for which their placing in the competition delineates the amount of money donated to the charity’s cause. The winning team will earn $150,000 for their partnered charity, while all participating charities will receive at least $15,000.

Four weeks of FEI CSI 5* competition, the highest designation of jumping competition available in the sport, will highlight competition during the WEF season. Each CSI 5* Grand Prix offers $380,000 in total prize money and will be hosted during WEF 5 (Feb. 9), WEF 7 (Feb. 23), WEF 9 (March 9) and WEF 12 (March 30).

The CSI 5* competitions continuously see the top riders in the world go head-to-head in a two-round format, with an exciting jump-off finishing against the clock determining the ultimate winner. The likes of Beezie Madden, Margie Engle, McLain Ward, Steve Guerdat and Lorenzo de Luca have all graced the top podium in years past.

The conclusion of WEF will feature the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5* as the final evening competition of the season and the most highly anticipated class of the entire circuit.

“The CSI 5* classes at WEF are some of the greatest competitions seen all year in shows around the world,” Stone said. “It’s truly incredible to have this caliber of sport available to enthusiasts and fans during the winter here in Wellington. The crowds make the atmosphere electric for the horses and riders, and you can see that reflected in their performances in the arena.”

The historic FEI Nations Cup CSIO 4* is set to take place during WEF 8 (Feb. 27 – March 3), and for the second year in a row will take place on Saturday evening, bringing out fans and supporters of countries from around the world. Teams of three or four represent their home nations in a thrilling double-round battle in front of an always-packed house.

Hunter competition will be on display weekly and feature two major international hunter derby competitions during WEF 6 (Feb. 13-17) and WEF 12 (March 27-31), alongside some of the nation’s top equitation competition for children, juniors and adults.

The Winter Equestrian Festival will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and continue through Sunday, March 31. Events are free and open to the public from Wednesday through Sunday.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is located at 3400 Equestrian Club Drive. For more information, visit or call (561) 793-5867.\


Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

2019 Winter Equestrian Festival Weekly Schedule



Premier AA

January 9-13



Premier AA/CSI 2*

January 16-20



Premier AA/CSI 3*

January 23-27



Premier AA/CSI 4*

January 30 – February 3



Premier AA/CSI 5*/CSI 2*

February 6-10



WCHR / Premier AA/CSI 3*

February 13-17



Premier AA/CSI 5*/CSI 2*

February 20-24



Premier AA/CSIO 4*

February 27 – March 3



Premier AA/CSI 5*/CSI 2*

March 6-10


WEF 10

Premier AA/CSI 3*

March 13-17


WEF 11

Premier AA /CSI 4*   

March 20-24


WEF 12

Premier AA/CSI 5*/CSI 2*

March 27-31


ESP Spring I

Premier AA/USEF Jumper 4*

April 3-7


ESP Spring II

Premier AA/USEF Jumper 4*

April 10-14


The Palm Beach International

Equestrian Center

3400 Equestrian Club Drive,

Wellington, FL 33414

For additional information, visit or call (561) 793-5867.



International Polo Club Plans Another Exciting Season Of High-Goal Polo In Wellington

International Polo Club Plans Another Exciting Season
Of High-Goal Polo In Wellington

The 2019 high-goal season is set to kick off at the International Polo Club Palm Beach on Sunday, Dec. 30 and continue through Sunday, April 21. As the premier polo destination in the world during the winter season, hosting the most prestigious tournaments in the United States, IPC is eager to begin a new season of world-renowned polo for players and enthusiasts alike to Wellington.

This season will feature an extensive competition schedule with several 20-goal tournaments returning, as well as the introduction of the United States Polo Association’s new 22-goal format.

The previous 20-goal tournaments will remain at the 20-goal level, including the Herbie Pennell Cup, the Joe Barry Cup and the Ylvisaker Cup. The four USPA tournaments — the C.V. Whitney Cup, the Butler Handicap, the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Open Polo Championship — will now be played at the 22-goal level.

“The 2018 season showcased incredible sport, and our expectation is the same for the 2019 season,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, which operates the International Polo Club Palm Beach. “Each year since our partnership purchased the venue, it has been our priority to invest in the sport in a way that we can grow a more robust spectator base and increase participation. This year, we will be launching several new initiatives at the Polo School to help engage and draw people to learn the sport at a deeper level, while also exposing new audiences to this incredible sport.”

The recent decision to lower the premier high-goal tournament level from 26 goals to 22 goals was made to provide an increased number of competitive teams, enhance spectator interest and generate greater opportunities for American players, while lowering the cost of fielding a team for team owners.

Along with this new format, the USPA’s Triple Crown of Polo events will now guarantee a significant increase in prize money to teams. An innovative “winner takes all” prize money arrangement pledges $125,000 to both the C.V. Whitney Cup winner and the USPA Gold Cup winner. The U.S. Open Polo Championship winner will be awarded $250,000. An added bonus will provide a team winning the Triple Crown of Polo up to an additional $500,000 bonus, yielding a total of $1 million in the prize money package.

An expanded partnership at IPC, with both the USPA and USPA Global Licensing, aims to continue growing one of the world’s oldest sports, enticing new spectators and demonstrating absolute top sport, with many of the best players and teams participating this season.

Additionally, IPC will be hosting the 40-Goal Challenge in February, as well as the U.S. Women’s Open Final in late March and the 10th annual Gay Polo League tournament in the beginning of April.

During the 2019 season, IPC also plans to expand opportunities and game play at the Polo School, establishing a permanent stick-and-ball simulator and featuring another season of low-goal matches for newcomers to the sport.

“Last year, we saw a huge increase in interest around learning to play the game of polo and fine-tuning skills in a real game setting,” said Gates Gridley, manager of the Polo School. “We’re really looking forward to getting things started again this winter and welcoming new students and players to the school. It’s a great way to get people involved in the sport.”

Competition will begin on Sunday, Dec. 30 with the Herbie Pennell Cup and continue throughout the season with regular matches taking place almost daily. Polo matches are open to the public and free during the week.

On Sundays, the afternoon matches will be held on IPC’s impressive Field 1 with expanded entertainment and offerings. Spectators can watch each Sunday’s featured game at 3 p.m. from the elegant stadium boxes, grandstand seats, tailgate spots or the pavilion.

The pavilion at IPC offers a weekly Sunday brunch with an ever-changing array of delicious items spread out over various stations.

With a fun atmosphere and a perfect field-side view of the polo match, the pavilion is a prime ticket to the sport and social action. Brunch begins at 2 p.m. each Sunday, and a variety of package options are available.

The International Polo Club Palm Beach is located at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington. To learn more about the competition, membership and ticket options at IPC, visit or call (561) 204-5687.

International Polo Club
2019 Competition Schedule

Herbie Pennell Cup – 20 Goal

December 30, 2018


Joe Barry Cup – 20 Goal

January 3 – 13, 2019


Ylvisaker Cup – 20 Goal

January 11 – February 10, 2019


The Lucchese

40-Goal Challenge

February 16, 2019



C.V. Whitney Cup – 22 Goal

February 13 – 24, 2019


Butler Handicap – 22 Goal

February 17, 2019


U.S. Women’s Open Final

March 23, 2019


USPA Gold Cup – 22 Goal

February 24 – March 24, 2019


Gay Polo League


April 4-7, 2019


U.S. Open Polo


– 22 Goal

March 27 – April 20-21, 2019


Tentative schedule, subject to change. Sponsors listed at time of print.


The International Polo Club Palm Beach is located

at 3667 120th Avenue South in Wellington.

For tickets and additional information, visit or call (561) 204-5687.


2019 Adequan Global Dressage Festival Welcomes The World Back To Equestrian Village

2019 Adequan Global Dressage Festival Welcomes The World Back To Equestrian Village

The 2019 Adequan Global Dressage Festival is poised for the return of one of the most competitive and highly sought-after dressage circuits in the world, beginning Jan. 9, 2019 and continuing through March 31, 2019, at the Equestrian Village site at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.

This winter circuit will provide substantial opportunities for top riders seeking qualifying scores for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, as well as for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The season will feature four qualifying events for the discipline of dressage.

“We have another bustling competition season ahead of us, and we are incredibly excited to welcome some of the top dressage athletes of the world back to AGDF,” said Thomas Baur, director of sport for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. “This year, we will see riders from all over coming to Wellington to prepare for the 2019 Pan American Games, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

The season will continue to implement the Large Tour and Small Tour class updates that were initiated during the 2018 season, which allow riders to compete multiple horses in different classes and help the continuation of class growth throughout the season.

Formatting split the Large Tour into two separate Grand Prix divisions. One division qualifies for the Grand Prix Freestyle and the other qualifies for the Grand Prix Special. By dividing them into separate classes, the organizers then have the ability to run more Grand Prix rides, which will accommodate more horse and rider combinations.

Week 1 competition at the 2019 AGDF will begin Thursday, Jan. 9 and continue through Sunday, Jan. 13, with the first CDI-W of the season. The international competition commences with the first of seven FEI CDIs hosted during the 12-week season, which includes the Lloyd Landkamer Memorial CDI-W serving as a season-opening tribute to longtime AGDF Manager Lloyd Landkamer, who passed away in 2015.

The first CPEDI 3* competition will follow during AGDF Week 2 (January 17-20), offering para-equestrian athletes another opportunity to earn valuable qualifications for the remainder of the year. AGDF Week 3 will host another CDI-W from January 23-27.

Competition continues on Thursday, Feb. 6, with the season’s only CDI 5* during AGDF Week 5, featuring many of the world’s top competitors in the circuit’s largest and most prestigious international week. AGDF Week 6 (February 15-16) will host national level competition, while AGDF Week 7 (February 20-24) will welcome another CDI-W.

A historic staple of the season commences with the start of AGDF Week 8 (February 27 – March 3) with the Palm Beach Derby CDI-W, one of the longest-running dressage competitions in South Florida.

More recently, a traditional Dressage Derby competition was added to the week’s competition schedule and features four Large Tour riders competing against each other on unfamiliar Small Tour-trained horses in a knockout-style competition, while judge’s commentary is announced following each ride.

AGDF Week 9 (March 7-10) will hold another CPEDI, while AGDF Week 10 offers the only non-championships CDIO 3* in the western hemisphere. The week features top riders competing for their country’s colors in hopes of earning team points toward the overall FEI Nations’ Cup Series.

AGDF Week 11 (March 23-24) will host another national competition, before the final week of the AGDF season, which welcomes the FEI CDI 4* (March 26-31). Typically, the CDIO 3* concludes the AGDF season, but this season, the CDI 4* will close competition for the season at the venue.

The 2019 AGDF season features four CDI-Ws, a CDI 4* and a CDI 5*, as well as a CDIO 3* and two CPEDI competitions. Local spectators are welcomed and encouraged to come out and enjoy world-renowned competition, as the show is always open to the public with free general admission.

The weekly Friday Night Stars evenings take place every Friday during international CDI events and showcase the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle class, where combinations ride to choreographed musical routines.

A musical freestyle is a personally choreographed dressage test accompanied by music specifically composed for each competing duo, which begins as they make their way down centerline. Not only are the rides compelling, but they are also exciting to watch and exemplify the deep communication between horse and rider in the discipline of dressage.

Friday Night Stars is free and open to the public and features the top dressage riders in the world, competing under the lights at Equestrian Village. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and the class begins at 8 p.m.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Equestrian Village site is located at 13500 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington. For more information about the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, call (561) 793-5867 or visit


Adequan Global Dressage Festival 2019 Weekly Schedule


CDI-W & National Show

January 9-13




January 17-20



CDI-W & National Show

January 23-27



CDI 5* & National Show

February 6-10



National Show

February 15-16



CDI-W & National Show

February 20-24



Palm Beach Derby

CDI-W & National Show

February 27 – March 3



CPEDI 3* & National Show

March 7-10



CDIO 3* & National Show

March 13 – 17



National Show

March 23 – 24



CDI 4* & National Show

March 26 – 31




13500 South Shore Blvd.

Wellington, FL 33414


The Power of Positivity Eleanor Brimmer Embraces Life As A Para-Equestrian

The Power of Positivity Eleanor Brimmer Embraces Life As A Para-Equestrian

While Eleanor “Ellie” Brimmer grew up like many other girls with a passion for horses, her situation is unique. She has cerebral palsy, yet Brimmer refuses to let physical challenges hold her back and instead finds ways to rise to the challenge of equestrian competition.

Brimmer grew up in Minnesota but now calls Wellington her full-time home after making a permanent move here in 2015. “Minnesota is a nice place to be from — beautiful country, but brutal winters,” she said.

Those tough winters made life, and riding, much more difficult for her physically, but you’ll never hear Brimmer complaining. After all, riding horses is in her blood.

“My grandpa immigrated from Ireland and was a master of foxhounds,” she explained. “My mother rode shows, too. She competed on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit.”

Keeping with her heritage, Brimmer competed as a hunter/jumper equestrian in college. She found herself limited in fence height due to balance issues, but she was determined to find ways to keep her passion for horse competition moving forward.

“Dressage is a way to keep four on the floor,” Brimmer laughed.

When asked her favorite exercises in dressage, she explained that it’s more than just a step or movement that she enjoys.

“My test is walk and trot,” she said. “But I love that feeling when you can execute really well and have total control. It’s addictive.”

Working on musical freestyle programs is also appealing, as she contributes a great deal to the choreography and musical choices. In October, Brimmer and her Hanoverian mare, Argentinia — lovingly called “Jenny” — were invited to perform a musical freestyle program for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International Conference for riding instructors.

Brimmer’s para-equestrian career is impressive. She was long-listed for the 2012 Paralympic Games and has brought home several accolades, most recently the Triple Crown Excellence Award.

Recently, Brimmer was reclassified and moved into Grade III for competitions, and she feels this is a more appropriate level, paving the way for a run at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“I’m really happy to have the opportunity to get in front of international judges,” she said. “There are no para-riders in Minnesota, and it is more meaningful to compete against others directly.”

Living in Wellington contributes greatly to her ability to train and pursue a career in the equestrian field. Not only are there more competitions nearby, but she has found wonderful resources and support in the local community.

Coach and trainer Andrea Woodard loves the attitude and focus that Brimmer brings to the ring. “I see her determination, and it makes me proud to be a part of her journey,” Woodard said.

Brimmer is only the second para-equestrian rider that Woodard had ever worked with directly, but she is inspired by the continuous dedication and positive outlook.

“Dressage is like playing chess,” Brimmer said. “It is a very subtle art, designed for higher thinkers. It is a very elegant sport.”

Woodard said that the deep bond between horse and rider required in para-riding is dressage in its truest form.

“She can’t muscle a horse into doing what she wants,” Woodard said. “There has to be a trust and understanding, and the horse must want to do whatever she asks.”

Brimmer describes Jenny as having a “sassy attitude,” but there is no doubt that the rider shares this trait. All you have to do is watch her mount and ride to see it.

Without hesitation, Brimmer grabs a stepstool and climbs atop the horse without assistance. The pair silently work their way around the ring several times before transitioning into trot and walk sequences. Just a horse and rider, moving as one unit.

Para-dressage is still dressage, with movements the same as those of able-bodied riders.

“Para means parallel, not paralyzed,” Brimmer said. “Our movements are the same. We have some adaptive equipment.”

Brimmer shows off the magnets on the bottom of her boots, an approved design to help her keep them in the stirrups while riding. “It’s a modification, not an advantage. It levels the field,” she said.

Another method Brimmer implements is the use of two whips instead of one.

“Jenny is a sensitive horse and responds very well to the light touch of the whip for directional commands,” she said.

Brimmer’s first love is horses, and she takes every opportunity to work in the sport. In addition to working for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, taking inventory of everything including ribbons and trophies, she also volunteers as a ring steward for other shows.

For young people who want to work in the industry, Brimmer has some advice. “Go into it with an open mind,” she said. “You may not be a rider or trainer, but there are lots of opportunities in the equestrian community.”

Always at Brimmer’s side when not on horseback is a little black-and-white, mixed-breed dog, Maya. The 10-year-old is a rescue Brimmer adopted while at a horse show, and the bond between the two is another example of Brimmer’s love and connection to animals.

“She’s my Velcro-dog,” Brimmer said as the dog rested its head on her lap.

The two are so close that the dog must remain indoors while she rides.

“Maya would chase me around on the horse if I let her out, so she gets to wait indoors while I train,” Brimmer explained.

Brimmer’s bright sense of humor and happy attitude are infectious, and everyone around the barn has a smile and a wave for her as she walks the grounds. It’s the home turf for this Paralympic Games prospect, and she continues to serve as role model for all equestrians.


World Equestrian Games Brings Two Weeks Of Exciting Competition To Tryon

World Equestrian Games Brings Two Weeks Of Exciting Competition To Tryon

The FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018, hosted only for the second time ever in the United States, captivated the global equestrian community from Sept. 11-23 at Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina, hosting world championship-caliber competition for each of the eight FEI-sanctioned disciplines: dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, para-dressage, reining and vaulting over the two-week timeframe.

WEG is held every four years in the middle of the Summer Olympic cycle and features top equestrian competitors from around the world vying for top team and individual titles in their respective disciplines.

The story of WEG arriving at Tryon was different than initially anticipated, as Mark Bellissimo and the Tryon Equestrian Partners stepped in more than halfway into the planning cycle to save the event after initial host city, Bromont, in the Canadian province of Quebec, dropped its nomination. Working on an 18-month timeline instead of a four-year plan, the Tryon team had to work quickly to ensure that the sporting venues and infrastructure was completed in time.

The event officially opened on Tuesday, Sept. 11, a day before competition began, welcoming the world to western North Carolina with special words spoken by FEI President Ingmar de Vos and Tryon 2018 CEO Mark Bellissimo. Grammy-nominated country music artist Hunter Hayes wowed the crowds, following an emotional Parade of Nations to officially commence the start of competition.

“This WEG showcased incredible top sport in each of the disciplines hosted throughout the two weeks; some of the best competition in history,” said Michael Stone, president of the Tryon 2018 Organizing Committee. “We’re proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short time frame, and our team worked incredibly hard to make sure that we were able to deliver these games for the athletes, horses and spectators.”

Isabell Werth of Germany and her superb mare, Bella Rose, who has been absent from the international dressage competition circuit for nearly four years due to an injury, returned in incredible form. The duo went toe-to-toe with the United States’ top combination and current world number one, Laura Graves and Verdades, who are regulars on the Adequan Global Dressage Festival circuit. Julio Mendoza, also a regular on the AGDF circuit, competed as the first individual ever for his home nation of Ecuador.

“This was my answer to all those who did not understand how I could leave the world’s number one horse at home for this one,” Werth said. “Most horse people here know how close I am to Bella, and to bring her back after a long recovery after WEG 2014 is extra special. We always knew it could be a risk, but it is like that with every horse.”

The British Eventing Team stormed to the top of the leaderboard, finishing on the lowest combined team score in the history of WEG, as all four team riders completed each of the three phases, and each finished within the difficult optimum time on cross-country. Ros Canter finished atop the individual podium for the British team as well — the team’s first individual win since 2006.

Reining saw the first-ever individual gold medal for the nation of Belgium, won by Bernard Fonck, while the top guns of Team USA secured team gold, continuing their dominance in the discipline. Cade McCutcheon, the youngest competitor for Team USA at the age of 18, finished in a runoff for third place to take the individual bronze aboard his mount, Custom Made Gun.

The second week of the event brought jumping, para-dressage, driving and vaulting competition to Tryon, featuring another six days of outstanding sport.

Para-dressage competition kicked-off the week with riders from the Netherlands, Great Britain and Denmark making their mark to begin a five-day stretch of medal competitions. The Netherlands ultimately dethroned the reigning champions of Great Britain, earning their first team gold in para-dressage.

“It is so amazing,” said a tearful Sanne Voets, who competed for the Netherlands. “It was my dream, and now it is real. This horse two years ago won the first-ever paralympic gold medal for the Netherlands, and he contributed very much to our first ever team gold medal on Friday, and now he is the first one taking home triple gold for the Netherlands at the World Equestrian Games.”

Vaulting competition showcased the athleticism and beauty of the horse and rider connection in the indoor arena at Tryon, filling the stadium for the team final on the second-to-last day of the event. Team Germany ultimately defended its gold from the 2014 WEG in Normandy, France. The strong German team also secured the female individual gold medal with strong performances from Kristina Boe.

An unprecedented performance from Team USA in the discipline of driving brought yet another gold medal to the count for the U.S., as Chester Weber, Misdee Wrigley-Miller and James Fairclough defeated the odds, and their combined score narrowly edged Team Netherlands and Team Belgium for the gold. All three drivers expressed their pride in this accomplishment for Team USA, a first in the federation’s history.

“It’s unbelievable. It takes a village to make this whole thing work,” Weber said. “I said all week that I was going to keep my head down and concentrate on my own game, and hopefully on Sunday, I’ll pick my head up with a medal or two around it.”

In what will be remembered as one of the best demonstrations of top sport in history, the jumping team and individual finals featured many of the world’s best riders going head-to-head for two of the most prestigious honors available in international competition for the discipline of jumping.

Ultimately, after a strong display of prowess from the Swiss team, the United States made its mark on the leaderboard after an unprecedented team jump-off against Sweden for gold. McLain Ward, Adrienne Sternlicht, Laura Kraut and Devin Ryan composed the team for the United States. Sweden captured the silver medal, while the Germans took home bronze.

Simone Blum, the youngest female competitor to ever take an individual gold, wowed on her mare DSP Alice for Germany, as the pair did not accumulate a single jumping fault over four days of competition.

“This was sport at its best,” U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland said. “The odds on a jump-off being required were incredible, although we realized it was a possibility. This, today, is why we do it. We have been dreaming about this for so long. We have a tremendous group of talented riders.”

Learn more about the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 at


Brooks Koepka From Wellington To The World Stage

Brooks Koepka From Wellington To The World Stage

Did you know that current U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka grew up in Wellington and got his start at the junior golf program at a local public golf course?

Koepka, who also won the 2017 U.S. Open, honed his golf game on the Okeeheelee Golf Course. At Okeeheelee, Brooks, now 28, spent countless hours as a youngster hitting balls on the driving range, plus pitching, chipping and putting.

Brooks’ memories of his days playing at Okeeheelee are vivid. “Growing up at Okeeheelee was a blast!” he remembered. “We would get dropped off at 7:30 every morning, and we would get picked up at dark. I learned how to play the game there, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

He was not alone at Okeeheelee. He was joined by his younger brother, Chase, who currently plays professional golf on the European PGA Tour.

Brooks’ mother, Denise, recalls her oldest son saying, at age 12, that his career goal was to play professional golf.

Much of the credit for Brooks’ interest in golf must be given to his father.

“Brooks hit some of my cut-down clubs from the time he was three until I got him his first junior set of clubs at age seven to play in a tournament at Okeeheelee,” Bob Koepka recalled. “He liked golf at an early age, and from ages 7 to 12, he started showing a passion for the game, especially after I took him to the Masters at age eight.”

Those who have watched Brooks grow as a golfer have fond memories of his golfing childhood.

“I had the privilege and honor of coaching many fine golfers and many fine young men during my 10-plus years of coaching the golf team at Cardinal Newman High School,” recalled Greg Sherman, the future star’s high school golf coach. “I can’t really exactly say why Brooks stood out among them, but he did.”

Donna White, director of Golf Professional Services Inc., said that his passion for golf and his work ethic stood out. “He and his brother would play, play, play all day. He was always a serious player,” she said. “With such great facilities at Okeeheelee, Brooks had an advantage over other junior golfers in South Florida.”

Mary-Lee Cobick, president of the Junior Golf Foundation of America, agreed.

“Brooks was the young man you saw arrive first in the morning and was the last to leave at night,” she recalled. “Brooks played and worked on his short game all day long.”

Brooks attributes his success to his local junior golf experiences.

“I can’t say enough about the Junior Golf Foundation of America’s programs at Okeeheelee,” Brooks said. “It was on those golf courses and through those tournaments that I fell in love with the game. I can honestly say that I would not be where I’m at today if those opportunities were not available to me when I was younger.”

Brooks was also good enough to start playing high school golf as early as the sixth grade, as a member of the Wellington Christian School golf team.

Bob Koepka taught his sons that winning at anything doesn’t just happen. It requires focus and determination.

“I always made the boys figure out how to win at anything and never let them win, whether it was playing cards or sports,” he explained. “It was up to them to either physically or mentally rise up to the challenge.”

Brooks has certainly risen to the challenge — and he’s still rising.

Bob Koepka has known for a while that his oldest son has what it takes to win golf tournaments.

In the fall of 2006, during Brooks’ junior year in high school, that moment of clarity took place when Brooks was playing in the Florida high school state championships.

“I had his high school coach tell him he was four shots back with seven holes to play for the state championship,” Bob recalled. “[Brooks] proceeded to go five under to capture the title.”

There is a strong charitable side to Brooks. When he was recovering from a severe wrist injury this past spring, which kept him away from the PGA Tour, he made a public appearance at Okeeheelee during the club’s 11th annual Putting Classic — and he brought along his U.S. Open trophy, too.

“This is the first time that the actual U.S. Open trophy has ever been on display at our golf course,” beamed Mac Hood, the golf course manager at Okeeheelee.

With his PGA Championship win in August, Brooks has now won three out of the last seven majors that have been played, dating back to the 2017 U.S. Open.

Bob Koepka knows that his son has what it takes to add a green Masters jacket to his wardrobe, which could come as early as next April, when the world’s greatest golfers play the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. “Brooks is at his best when his back is against the wall, and he is mentally strong enough to take his game to the next level to reach the goal at hand,” Bob explained.

As this year’s PGA Tour season concluded, Brooks finished the year third in the Official World Golf Rankings, sixth on the PGA Tour’s money list and ninth in the season-long Fed Ex Cup playoffs. In late September, the PGA of America named Brooks its Player of the Year.

Another highlight for Brooks, now living in Jupiter, was qualifying for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, which competed against Europe in September at the Le Golf National, located near Paris in France. Expect Brooks to be a regular member of many U.S. Ryder Cup teams over the next 10 to 15 years, possibly alongside his brother Chase. Only time will tell.

Follow Brooks Koepka’s career at