ESP June Spring Series Recap
Wellington, FL – June 30, 2020 – As the month of June concludes, Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) would like to thank the generous sponsors of the ESP Spring Series for helping create the first safe and successful competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center since the pandemic affected Florida. While it was an adjustment for all exhibitors, trainers, family members, and ESP staff, the overall sentiment was positive and encouraging for the future of equestrian sport.
A total of 36 businesses showed their support to the equestrian community this month, including one notable, new partner: Bainbridge Companies. Led by owner, Richard Schechter, Bainbridge has sponsored the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) for the last 20 years. Due to the pandemic, however, Schechter reached out to the ESP team to expand the company’s involvement. “I first considered it once I saw how many other shows were getting canceled, including Lake Placid, which we are a big partner of,” commented Schechter.
“I just felt it was extremely important that these shows continued, both to the sport itself and to all of the people in this business that rely on competitions to support their families,” continued Schechter. “I think we really need to keep supporting [the horse shows] between now and when a vaccine is hopefully created.”
The first week of June saw approximately 750 horses entered, while the following two weeks counted 690 and 659, respectively. Additional staff was brought in to facilitate the increased entry numbers and help enforce proper social distancing. Over 2,000 masks were distributed to staff and exhibitors, while almost 11,500 pairs of gloves were utilized. The requirement of gloves in the warmup rings and the portable sinks with antibacterial soap helped curb the use of sanitizer by the arenas. However, approximately 16 gallons of hand sanitizer were still dispersed throughout the grounds in June.
Upon completion of the three weeks, exhibitors and their family members that attended the shows were asked to complete a short survey to gauge the overall sentiment and collect feedback on the various safety measures. Of the 140 results, 100% said the protocols made them feel safe to attend. A few suggestions included adding more hand sanitizing stations and shaded areas for parents or riders waiting to compete. ESP management is currently exploring adjustments to the protocols for the Summer Series, which picks back up in August, as well as researching how to be more environmentally conscious. However, masks, social distancing, and temperature checks will still be required.
In the survey, family members had a great appreciation for the added safety measures, including Jose Gomez, president of Wellington Agricultural Services. “I have a son that is a junior rider, so we’ve been here almost every day as parents,” commented Gomez. “I think the ESP team has done such a great job preparing safety measures quickly with the [temperature] screening up front, all the sanitation stations, and plenty of water for everyone. I told my kids they were allowed to come because I felt safe. Our son will be back in August competing!”
Wellington Agricultural Services (WAS) is a newer partner of ESP, first sponsoring the Winter Equestrian Festival in 2019 before becoming involved in the Annual Series last Summer. It was also one of the WEF sponsors that was most affected by the early conclusion to the 2020 season due to COVID-19. “It’s been great to be able to do some shows this month and get back a little bit of sponsorship that we lost during the WEF season,” explained Gomez. WAS was positioned to be the presenting sponsor of Week 11 at WEF, which was cancelled along with week 12 of WEF. “We’re thrilled to be partaking over here this summer. I was a sponsor last year as well, but it was still new to me, so this summer, we’ve really been able to get our feet wet and understand more of the process, and we’re looking forward to continuing it.”
In an effort to add value back to WEF competitors, sponsors, vendors, and VIP table holders from the 2020 season, ESP announced that an additional week will be added to the 2021 show schedule. The “WEF Premiere” week will be held January 6-10 and will be presented by Bainbridge Companies. “That’s going to be really exciting, and we’re looking forward to the [WEF Premiere] week,” mentioned Schechter. “I think it’s great that ESP added a week to the season for everyone after, unfortunately, cutting 2020 short.” To learn more about the additional week in the 2021 season, please CLICK HERE.
Schechter continued to offer compliments to ESP in June: “I would like to add that David Burton (COO and Show Manager of ESP) and the entire ESP team have done an incredible job under very difficult circumstances. They thought everything through, and I’ve enjoyed being back out here at the grounds.”
The ESP Annual Series is tentatively set to return in August and continues with six full weeks of competition before the ESP Fall Series begins in October. The Prize List will be available soon with class schedules and updated safety procedures.