The 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival - Building a Community with Success

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dressage athletes eagerly prepare for the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) annual winter competitions taking place on South Shore Boulevard in Wellington, Florida. The upcoming season will showcase rider and horse combinations as they demonstrate their steady training progress, reinforce their confidence, set their footing for their federation’s national qualifying specifications and prepare for April's World Cup and the summer US and European competitions. The series gives the athletes an opportunity for feedback from the judges, their colleagues, peers, and support system throughout the twelve weeks. 

The inaugural year of 2012, the AGDF brought a few 70% scores in the Grand Prix arena and now the scores are way up into the high 75% with a few 80%. Riders keep climbing the FEI World Dressage Ranking List in more numbers. Every year the participants continue to become more and more skilled in the balance of movements in their different horses’ biomechanics through the evaluations of the FEI Dressage Judges. 

The twelve-week series is also a valuable opportunity for riders to communicate with one another. The increasing camaraderie among the riders and glimpses into their horse development training systems continues to be evident with strategies for the FEI arena and general goodwill towards each other. The chance for that positive feedback in understanding the pressures, the nerves of the horse and the life-long work in training proves an invaluable treasure to each of the competitors as they hope to climb to reach scores of 80%.Mikala Gundersen and My Lady owned by Janne Rumbough Photo: DH

The public is openly invited to watch the riders and many are slowly becoming long-term fans of the sport. The top athletes willingly speak in great detail about the Grand Prix taking three-to-five years of training a horse. Explanations of training systems and stories of overcoming struggles abound; there is no secrecy among competitors. Mutual respect and support flourishes.

Following each Grand Prix test at the seven CDI competitions, the top three riders attend a press conference where they openly share their training techniques, focus and goals to a group of journalists. All the riders do have their own training systems that they hope will succeed in front of the five FEI Judges. 

How the ADGF was Created

A devotee to the sport of Dressage, Mark Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC led the way by gathering more than seven benefactors comprised of a group of families, farms and businesses to sponsor the CDI international competitions including title sponsor Adequan®. In 2012, Bellissimo built the renowned, world class dressage facility.Mark Bellissimo is being interviewed at the ADGF showgrounds Photo: DH

"The growth that we have seen at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival since its inception has been tremendous and serves as a true indicator of growth and expansion of the sport not only in the U.S., but around the world," said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Parters (WEP) and CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions. "We're looking forward to an exciting 2017 season and we will continue to provide opportunities for competitors and spectators to enjoy the best of equestrian sport during the winter months in Wellington." 

The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival encompasses almost 60 acres and includes a covered arena, four outdoor arenas known as the Wellington Equestrian Realty Arenas with world class footing, 250 permanent stalls and a VIP seating area that is fully catered for relaxing and having an enjoyable experience. It has become one of the world's largest national and international dressage series competition circuits. 

AGDF Competitions

The AGDF features seven FEI events, including a CDI5*, a CDI 4*, CDIO Nations Cup, and many CDI-W 3*, 12 weeks of U.S. national events and seven weeks of FEI international CDI competitions.Canada's Christilot Boylen waves hello to fans at ADGF Photo: DH


The CDIs consist of five levels, the Grand Prix (Large Tour), the Prix St George/Intermediaire I (Small Tour), the Youth Divisions (U25 Grand Prix, Young Rider Division, Junior Division and Pony Division) and the Adult Amateur Division (Intermediaire II and Small Tour). There are national level tests in the National Competition rings (Wellington Equestrian Realty Arenas).

Each of the seven CDIs include a theme from its sponsorship organization. Often the weeks are full of evening demonstrations, dinners, get-togethers, day symposiums and group discussions. There are also all-inclusive clinics in which to learn, including the Robert Dover/ Dressage4Kids HorseMastership Week starting in December.

The Greatness of the Annual AGDF Series

The Adequan® Global Dressage Festival offers more than $800,000 in prize money and awards for the eight international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world.Last year's beginning of the season press conference Photo: DH

It is a place of treasure where riders are made to feel comfortable in high pressure, competitive situations. Every facet of the Festival series is kind and friendly to the athlete, from the horse inspection to the warm-up rings, to the wonderful stewards who look after the welfare of the horses and prepare the athletes for the awards ceremonies and press conferences. The dedication and acceptance in bringing top level international sport to Wellington will ensure that this sport will grow and evolve for many years to come.

The success of the event would not be possible without a team of supportive sponsors who continue to contribute to the enormous growth of the sport. Their dedication and faith ensure that this venue and event continues to encourage many riders, owners and coaches to train their horses up the levels for great futures. 

Dates for 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival:

Jan. 11-15 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI-W, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Jan. 19-22 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI2*, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Jan. 25-29 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI-W, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Feb. 8-12 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI5*, CDI3*, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Feb. 22-26 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI-W, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Mar. 1-5 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI-W, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Mar 15-19 – Wellington, Fla. – CDI4*, CDI3*, CDI1*, CDIAm, CDICh-A, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Mar. 21-26 – Wellington, Fla. – CDIO3*-NC, CDI1*, CDI3*, CDIAm, CDICh, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH