Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Faces of Dressage – Adrienne Lyle

Faces of Dressage – Adrienne Lyle

Adrienne Lyle was raised on a small cattle farm in Whidbey Island, Washington and has always spent time around horses. She originally rode western, then switched to English at age seven. She tried eventing before dressage became her calling. Lyle began competing at age 13. She was a member of the silver medal team at the 2002 Cosequin Junior Dressage Championships and the bronze medal Region 6 team at the 2004 North American Young Rider Championships. Career highlights include competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London and contributing to a fourth-place team finish at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France. Lyle and her mount Salvino had a string of wins at the 2018 AGDF. The pair qualified for the World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018, where they helped the U.S. team win the silver medal. After several big wins at the 2020 AGDF, she started this season off with a bang, notching back-to-back wins at AGDF 1 with Harmony’s Duval, including the FEI Grand Prix CDI3* and the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3*.

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Faces of Dressage – Olivia LaGoy-Weltz

Faces of Dressage – Olivia LaGoy-Weltz

Olivia LaGoy-Weltz grew up in San Francisco, where she began riding at age 5. In 2002, she moved to Europe and spent five years in Holland and Germany at several top barns. She then returned to the U.S. and started her own dressage training business. Currently, LaGoy-Weltz runs a selective training program dedicated to top-quality horse and rider development at Mountain Crest Farm and is based seasonally in northern Virginia and Wellington. LaGoy-Weltz began competing on the Florida circuit in 2009. In 2012 and 2013, she had strong performances with Rifallino. A USDF gold, silver and bronze medalist, LaGoy-Weltz was Traveling Small Tour Alternate for the 2015 Pan American Games. LaGoy-Weltz had a number of victories at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in 2020. This year, she got off to her winning ways early, dominating the second day of the AGDF when LaGoy-Weltz and Rassing’s Lonoir bested an impressive lineup in the day’s FEI Grand Prix CDI-W, presented by Lövsta.

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Faces of Dressage – Katherine Bateson-Chandler

Faces of Dressage – Katherine Bateson-Chandler

Katherine Bateson-Chandler, born in Great Britain, moved to New Jersey when she was 13. Starting at age 16, she worked for American dressage star Robert Dover for 16 years until his retirement, traveling with the horses to international competitions. In 2010, Bateson-Chandler represented the U.S. at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, riding Jane Clark’s KWPN gelding Nartan. Based in Wellington, Bateson-Chandler and her current mount Alcazar, also owned by Clark, regularly compete at the Grand Prix level in Wellington and overseas. They’ve been first-place Grand Prix winners every year since their partnership began in 2015. In 2018, Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar won the Grand Prix Special during AGDF Week 5 and placed third in the Grand Prix CDI4* during Week 10. In 2020, she won the FEI Grand Prix CDI5* and the CDI5* Freestyle with Alcazar at Week 7 of the AGDF. This dynamic duo is back in action this year in Wellington with several strong showings early in the season.

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Faces of Dressage – Christoph Koschel

Faces of Dressage – Christoph Koschel

Christoph Koschel comes from a leading equestrian family in Germany, as his father ran one of the top training facilities in the world. After graduating as a lawyer, Koschel joined his father at their training stables. Koschel competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games winning team bronze, and the 2011 European Championships, winning team silver. He had great success during this time period with the gelding Donnperignon. Koschel is known as a great coach. He has coached a lengthy roster of international riders, including his niece, Felicitas Hendricks, and all of the Japanese dressage team riders, including Kiichi Harada here in Wellington. He coached Harada at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Koschel is a master of focus in the international arena, and many of the riders associated with him achieve great results. Koschel is off to a great start this season at AGDF in Wellington, winning the FEI Grand Prix CDI4* for freestyle during Week 3.

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Faces of Dressage – Yvonne Losos de Muñiz

Faces of Dressage – Yvonne Losos de Muñiz

Born to Canadian parents in Nigeria, Yvonne Losos de Muñiz rides for the Dominican Republic, which has been her home since 1990. She became the first Dominican rider to participate in the Olympics when competing in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games. Her career began early with support from her parents before formal training in Germany. Listed among the best riders in all of Latin America, Losos de Muñiz has many awards under her belt. She won a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio, repeating the feat of the 2003 Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo. Prior to that, Losos de Muñiz won individual gold and bronze as a team in the Central American Games 2002 in El Salvador, and she has won several medals since at the Central American Games. In Wellington, she has secured several big wins, most recently taking the Grand Prix CDIW and Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW with her longtime partner Aquamarijn in December at the final competition before the start of the 2021 AGDF.

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Faces of Dressage – Ashley Holzer

Faces of Dressage – Ashley Holzer

One of the all-time great top coaches, trainers and riders, four-time Olympian Ashley Holzer changed her citizenship from Canadian to American in 2016 after being based out of New York since 1994. Holzer began riding as a teen, first entering the Grand Prix ring in the 1980s. She was a member of Canada’s bronze medal dressage team at the 1988 Olympics and represented Canada at the World Equestrian Games in 1990, 2002 and 2006, and the World Cup Finals in 1989 and 2009. She won team gold and silver at the Pan American Games in 1991 and 2003, respectively. Holzer has been a regular in Wellington for decades and enjoys sharing her talents while teaching and competing. Holzer had success last season with mount Mango Eastwood, owned by Diane Fellows, winning the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* on the last weekend of the shortened season. She is back in action this season, finding success with her own mare Valentine, taking second place in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during AGDF Week 5.

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Faces of Dressage – Ben Ebeling

Faces of Dressage – Ben Ebeling

Ben Ebeling is the next generation of the well-known Ebeling dressage family, which includes his parents Amy and Jan, as well as farms in Wellington and California. His father Jan was on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in London and also on the 2003 Pan American Games gold medal team and in four World Cup Finals. Ben, 21, has competed in Grand Prix classes in both dressage and show jumping, a rare accomplishment. Even more impressive is that he did so while attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He rode Behlinger at the Adequan/FEI North American Youth Championships in 2017 and 2018, winning team gold in 2017. With Behlinger, he was also part of the first-place team at the CDIY Young Riders Competition at Del Mar in 2018. He is competing this season at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, taking second place in the FEI Grand Prix Special CDI3* during Week 3, riding Illuster Van De Kampert. Last season, he rode for Team USA in the Nations Cup CDIO-U25.

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More Than $1 Million Given Away At 2021 Great Charity Challenge

More Than $1 Million Given Away  At 2021 Great Charity Challenge

What is usually the biggest night of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments, pivoted to a blend of in-person competition for riders and virtual celebrations for charities and supporters on Saturday, Feb. 6. Those supporters cheered as equestrians and their mounts, representing local nonprofit organizations, competed for a share of more than $1 million in prize money.

The GCC is an exciting show jumping event that combines equestrian sports and philanthropy. Three riders made up each of the 23 pro-am combinations, which are paired with Palm Beach County charities. Each team was made up of junior and amateur riders competing side-by-side with top professionals.

In addition to the 23 charities that were part of the competition, an additional 24 nonprofits received funding through grants that were awarded leading up to the event. “Seeing the level of need in our community and knowing how difficult the past year has been, we realized that we couldn’t turn our backs on our most vulnerable neighbors,” GCC co-founder Mark Bellissimo said.

A moment of silence at the beginning of the event paid recognition to all of those lost to the pandemic over the past year. The event featured riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, paying recognition to the many heroes who stepped up during the pandemic, as well as those who have inspired people to push beyond their own limits and “dream bigger.”

The winning team of riders — Lindsey Tomeu riding Bonapart, Ashley Vogel on Lucy in the Sky and Shane Sweetnam aboard Heart on Fire — sponsored by team sponsor Spy Coast and Preston, and corporate sponsor Diamante Dressage, came in the ring representing the United States Army as their heroes and finished with a time of 91.664 seconds. Their strategy and teamwork paid off for the YWCA of Palm Beach County, earning them the top prize of $100,000.

Shay Spencer, executive director of YWCA, was elated by the result.

“We have been live streaming all night, and we are so thankful to the sponsors, the supporters, the riders, everyone who livestreamed, and especially to the GCC for putting this all together. We have been supporters, and it is amazing to now be award recipients,” Spencer said. “We do have some very specific plans for the $100,000. We have an amazing new initiative called the Women’s Health Institute, which helps to target the disparities that women face in the health industry, being both women and women of color.”

Coming in second place was the team for Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches, sponsored by Lothlorien Farm and corporate sponsor La Victoria Farm. The team consisted of Edie Wetzel riding Annabelle, Charlotte McLaughlin aboard Elmo and Daniel Coyle on Essedon, who were just a single second shy of the win in 92.869 seconds, earning $90,000 for their charity.

The Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County finished third and won $80,000. The team was made up of Keira Foster on Ash Ville Rock, Olivia Markman riding Zanta Fee Van T Hofterrijckel and Zayna Rizvi aboard Chaplin W, sponsored by Peacock Ridge and corporate sponsor Rosner’s Appliances.

Visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com to learn more about the competition.

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Dressage Competitor And Trainer Allison Kavey Brings A Fresh Outlook To Riders Of All Disciplines

Dressage Competitor And Trainer Allison Kavey Brings A Fresh
Outlook To Riders Of All Disciplines

When Allison Kavey first made the trip to Wellington in 2002, she couldn’t have dreamed what the world’s winter equestrian capital would come to mean to her. Kavey first visited the Florida winter season with Uwe Steiner in Venice, and then came to Wellington to work with Bent Jensen the following year.

The Wellington horse community, packed full of top-tier trainers and horses from all corners of the world, offered enormous opportunities to her in both the business and competitive sense.

“Uwe Steiner was an amazing trainer, and I’m so glad I had the chance to work with him while he was alive,” Kavey said. “Much of my [training] foundation is due to Uwe. But I needed to be exposed to a much more competitive atmosphere to learn how to really show. The horse show opportunities and the atmosphere of Wellington were so different from Venice, which was very laid back. I just love it here. It is absolutely exciting and inspiring. In this country, you just don’t have the opportunity to watch riding like this very often.”

When she was able to return to the Florida season in 2015, Kavey quickly came to realize how many unique opportunities existed in Wellington. She was especially excited about the chance to watch top professionals of other disciplines compete — all of them existing just a few minutes from each other.

“It was so cool to go to the show and watch some of the best hunters and jumpers in the country, because I also like to train young hunters and jumpers,” Kavey explained. “I work with quite a few riders of other disciplines, so it was really nice to get to see their work as well. Any good rider is somebody I want to learn from and talk to. I enjoy the specificity of the hunter question. If dressage is 26 questions in a row, all of which require extension, collection, submission and all those things, hunters have to answer one question perfectly 12 times. It’s an amazing thing, we ask these horses to make the same shape from the same step over very different obstacles. It’s a real privilege to watch the very best of equestrian sport no matter the discipline.”

Kavey’s passion for the artistry of the sport and her desire to provide the best possible care and training to the horses in her management is central to her business and training philosophy. With those principles as a driving force, Kavey and Andrea Woodner founded Rivendell Dressage Inc. in 2007, and it has since grown into a prominent dressage training and sales entity in Millbrook, N.Y., and Loxahatchee.

Kavey offers a unique training experience through her extensive teaching skills in and out of the arena and her ability to impart the foundational skills of dressage to riders of all levels and disciplines. Whether she is bringing a young horse up the levels, helping a high-level dressage rider fine-tune skills or guiding a hunter rider to improve a horse’s balance, her commitment to honesty and integrity are what drive her to help others.

Kavey has spent the last decade working with Bettina Drummond to improve her artistry and technique, which brought her to the Grand Prix ring with QueBa HM. She also works with Allison Brock and Lee Tubman to improve her ring technique and enhance her understanding of dressage sport. Citha’s Utopia, a 14-year-old KWPN mare owned by Andrea Woodner, was the Region 8 Intermediate II reserve champion last year, as well as earning fourth place in the Grand Prix freestyle at the regional championship. The mare competed in the CDI medium tour at the end of January at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, and Kavey plans to move her up to the CDI Grand Prix after gaining a bit more practice in national level tests.

Her goal this year is to qualify for the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at the Grand Prix level. Her second top mount, Cacharel, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare also owned by Woodner, has successfully competed in the Intermediate II with an upward trajectory into Grand Prix work. Kavey also has a bright string of young horses and client horses competing in the national ring this winter.

“I’ve been based in Wellington for the winter for the last six years, and it’s amazing,” Kavey said. “Last week, I grabbed the chance to watch the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special. The quality of the horses and riding is incredible, and I only have to drive 20 minutes to see it. There are other excellent CDIs, but they only last a few days. And when I’m at the show riding, I’m focused on my horses and do not get to really focus on watching and learning from others. Because there are so many competition weeks here, I make the time to watch. Then I can really pay attention, take notes, and come home and apply it right away. It’s awesome.”

To get the best of both worlds and serve her clients appropriately, Kavey spends the winter season in Wellington and the rest of the year in Millbrook, N.Y. Conveniently located only a few miles from the AGDF facilities in Wellington and White Fences in Loxahatchee, Rivendell Dressage offers full and half-training packages, sales services, clinics and lessons at top-of-the-line stables. Kavey takes pride in her one-on-one approach to horse care and nurturing healthy and happy athletes.

“Integrity and honesty matter to me more than anything else,” Kavey said. “I like to bring a sense of humor to the ring, and if it’s something a client enjoys, I’ll use it a little more. I don’t think people have to compete. If you love competing, that’s great, but if you want to just ride your horse and learn, I’m absolutely happy to help you with that. You can love your horse and the sport all the same.”

Learn more about Allison Kavey at www.rivendelldressage.com.

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Inaugural Council Members Proud Of The Village That Wellington Has Become

Inaugural Council Members Proud Of The Village That Wellington Has Become

On March 28, 1996 — 25 years ago this month — the inaugural Wellington Village Council met for the first time. The new village’s elected leaders took the reins and set Wellington on a course of self-governance that it remains on to this day.

As amazing as it might sound today, Wellington’s incorporation was a controversial idea, and a vote to create the new village passed in November 1995 by a slim margin. Then, a total of 27 people ran for the five seats on the inaugural council. In the end, all but one of the winners had previously served on the board of Wellington’s pre-incorporation government, the Acme Improvement District. Those early voters, it seems, put a high value on proven service and experience.

On that first council were the late Paul Adams, a commercial real estate executive, and the late Michael McDonough, an attorney. However, three of those inaugural council members are still alive and have been enshrined on the Wellington Founder’s Plaque, honored as elder statesmen who were instrumental in the development of the community. They are Kathy Foster, Dr. Carmine Priore and Tom Wenham, who spoke with Wellington The Magazine regarding those early days in village history.

Foster came to Wellington in 1979 when there were just 700 people in the community. “We just loved it,” she recalled, but tragedy struck after they had been in the area for just 15 months. “My youngest son became ill and died of spinal meningitis. We had no hospitals here and had to go to Miami. The community really rallied around us.”

From this terrible experience, Foster bonded with the community that embraced her and became a leading voice among the fast-growing population of residents.

Opening K. Foster Design in 1983, she joined the newly established chamber of commerce and women’s club.

“We worked to bring a school to the community, so our children didn’t have to be bused to Greenacres,” she said. “The school board approved the first school, Wellington Elementary School, which opened in January 1981.”

In 1989, other community leaders encouraged Foster to run for a seat on the Acme Improvement District Board of Supervisors, which was switching over to being popularly elected by residents, rather than being controlled by the developers.

“I ran against an incumbent who represented a utility. When I won, he quit the night of the election. I was sworn in the next morning. At my first meeting, it was me and all men from the existing board,” Foster said. “We met in a temporary building. There was one piece of paper with a consent agenda, and I asked if we could go through it.”

Questioning the refinancing of a loan, she helped save the community $1.5 million. “And that was the first question on the first day,” Foster said.

Others elected from the young community’s residents joined Foster on the Acme board, including Priore and Wenham.

The Priores had been coming to Wellington to visit family since 1980, about the same time as the Fosters arrived. A dentist, Priore moved up from Miami after operating a successful dental practice down there.

“I moved to Wellington and opened an office by Palms West Hospital in 1985,” Priore said. “I was in my late forties. We really liked Wellington. My son was entering college, my daughter was entering high school, so we thought that was a good time [to relocate].”

The area reminded Priore and his wife Marie of Miami when they were young.

Priore remembered getting involved in his new community first through local issues, regularly attending Acme meetings.

He later joined a volunteer committee, then later serving on the Acme board, before becoming very active in the incorporation effort.

“Someone calculated that for the size and revenue being collected, it was nearly $8 million that was paid to the county,” Priore said. “We wanted to incorporate so we could start to use that money more effectively.”

Foster noted that some $700,000 was all of the money that was coming back from the county to Wellington.

Wenham, who then worked as a facilities manager coordinating stations being built by Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, remembers the situation well.

“I thought we should be doing more for the community,” he said, adding that the incorporation effort was a long time coming and that it provided many services and benefits to the residents. “We all thought that incorporation would be the best thing for the community.”

Wenham is most proud of his work on the village’s first comprehensive plan.

“The equestrian element was one of the more important things at the time, and the [limiting] of dwelling units per acre was important, too. We wanted to govern ourselves with councils that were from the community. We were closer to the constituents,” Wenham said.

Priore noted that incorporation was a years-long effort that failed the first time out.

“Incorporation was a systemic effort made by a conscious decision to have Wellington be run by the community itself,” Priore said.

After the first vote failed narrowly in 1990, the idea was retooled with some changes. Making the incorporation area smaller than that covered by the Acme Improvement District rid the effort of some uninterested property owners, and the measure passed the second time. “We would have home rule, make our own decisions and get our own tax revenues,” Priore said.

All three were vibrant, successful members of that inaugural council, with Foster serving as the first mayor from 1996 to 1998, when that position was decided by a vote of fellow council members. Priore served as mayor from 1998 to 2000, then Wenham took the gavel. Wenham later became the first popularly elected mayor in 2003 after a charter change.

Wenham believes that incorporation was not only the right choice then, but it has proven to be the right choice over the past 25 years.

“We had to work on that first comp plan to determine what Wellington would be today,” he said. “The councils that followed us maintained the work. We are proud to have been part of it. It is an honor and a privilege when you can give something back to the community.”

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