Watching an international eventing championship has been a bucket list item for as long as I can remember.

Now to be honest, I’m not an eventer. I grew up riding on the hunter/jumper circuits and have started riding dressage as an adult. But I wholeheartedly believe that eventing is the most exciting of the Olympic equestrian sports to watch.

So when I heard the Wellington Eventing Showcase was returning to South Florida this year, I knew I had to try to get there. I live in Florida, and am lucky to be just a few hours drive away from Wellington and the grand prix events that happen there every winter. But this specific competition meant something more. I really wanted to see an eventing competition from the ground.

So my day Saturday began shortly after 5 a.m. My alarm went off when it was still dark — my boyfriend and dog didn’t bother to stir. I made a big mug of hot coffee and jumped in car. About three and a half hours after driving down remote Florida roads (and passing a couple prisons, a giant lake and many farms,) I arrived at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Showgrounds in Wellington.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights - photo by Heels Down Magazine 750

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights

I was pleasantly surprised by just how friendly the Wellington Evening Showcase was for spectators. You didn’t have to be a die hard eventer to enjoy the show. I had missed the dressage on Friday (actually, I live streamed it from my office during work,) but was able to watch all the stadium and cross country rounds.

Spectators had unbelievable access to the riders and the rings. I walked the cross country course at the same time Boyd Martin (who would go on to win the showcase for the second year and a row) and Phillip Dutton were counting strides between the corner jumps in the far field.

The competition was so exciting. I was rooting for Colleen Rutledge and her superstar home bred gelding, Covert Rights. I hollered for them after both clean rounds Saturday, and smiled as she thanked her horse for a great performance in stadium and cross country. The pair would go on to win second.

While The Wellington Eventing Showcase doesn’t offer the same kind of atmosphere as most CCIs****, it really a cool event. It’s very “Welly World,” in that it happened to be close to 80 degrees and sunny, and the course had no natural hills. But it’s great that another equestrian discipline is finding a home in South Florida.