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    World Equestrian Center Ohio

    Outdoor Grounds at World Equestrian Center Ohio

    As I’m slowly making progress toward my goal of getting back into the show ring, I thought it would be fun to check out a few shows as a spectator. The World Equestrian Center Ohio Summer Series turned out to be a great opportunity to see some premier USEF rated competition. Even though I don’t imagine I’ll ever be competing beyond schooling level shows, I loved being able to see some highly skilled riders and equally impressive equine athletes up close!

    Wilmington Summer Series

    The Wilmington WEC location is a first class equine facility, which is well equipped for hosting numerous events. The complex sits on over 200 acres and has more than 200,000 square feet of climate controlled riding space, as well as an expansive outdoor competition area. The facility is adaptable for shifting weather conditions and hosts 32 weeks of USEF rated competitions throughout the year. During the two days I visited, several rain storms rolled through, so I got to see how quickly they were able to adjust for the changing weather. Not even the rain could put a damper on a great day of showing!


    The Summer Series included hunter/jumper classes spanning from cross rails to Grand Prix. While I was there, the Grand Prix course was set up in the large indoor arena and I was fortunate to snag a front row seat. It was amazing to be close enough to hear the horses breathing and the riders encouraging them as they sailed over imposing fences. There were more than a few moments where I found myself holding my breath in anticipation!

    Overall I really enjoyed the experience as a spectator. There were multiple events going on simultaneously in the indoor and outdoor rings. It was easy to get around the complex and see multiple competitors. I also really enjoyed watching riders working with their trainers in the practice and warm up areas. It was fun to see what a particular rider had been working on in the warm up and then to watch how they performed later in the ring. I find I can learn quite a bit that helps me in my riding by watching how other riders approach various situations.

    Amenities

    In addition to excellent riding facilities, the complex has some very nice options for meals and shopping.

    Shopping

    Vendor Village was one of my favorite things about WEC. This retail area is tucked into the main thoroughfare connecting the indoor arenas. It’s set up like a little town with several shops and even a cute little chapel. Some of the shops remain year round while others are more like temporary pop ups. Two of my favorites were Sudden Impulse and 2nd Round Equestrian.

    Sudden Impulse is a gift shop where you will find apparel and accessories sporting the WEC logo. They had several very nice options for casual wear and some fun accessories too. I found a cozy sweatshirt there that’s become my new go to.

    Second Round Equestrian is a great place to find riding apparel, accessories and tack. Despite its small size, the shop is packed with a mix of new and quality resale items. I was excited to find their selection of resale show clothing and even more excited to find a few things in my size! I picked up a lovely show coat and show shirt in pristine condition for much less than the retail cost. With the expense associated with this sport it’s nice when you can find ways to save a little bit here and there!

    Dining

    The complex has a few options for meals onsite as well. The three main options are The Paddock Club, The International Cafe, and Dark Horse Coffee Co.

    The Paddock Club is just across the street from the main arena. Since it opens on show days at 4pm, the menu is dinner focused. We decided to head back to our hotel after the days’ events, so we missed out on The Paddock Club. It’s definitely something I’d like to try next time. Their posted menu looked promising and it seemed to have a family friendly atmosphere.

    The Paddock Club at WEC Wilmington

    The International Cafe is in a convenient location, just next to one of the main arenas, and near the Horse Show office. The Cafe opens at 7am on show days and offers full breakfast, lunch and dinner options. There’s a spacious seating area upstairs overlooking the arena as well. I found it to be a nice quiet spot to take a break while still having a great view of the action.

    By far the most unique option was the ride up “drive through” window at Dark Horse Coffee!
    For the horse girl looking for a cup of coffee without having to dismount, it’s the cutest thing ever! The coffee shop opens on show days at 6:30am and serves Starbucks coffee as well as a variety of pastries. It’s a popular spot, so the snack selection was already wiped out by the time we arrived mid morning. If pastries are your thing, I’d recommend getting there early.

    Where to Stay

    When visiting WEC Wilmington, lodging is available onsite as well as in the surrounding area. The on-site options include cabin rentals, larger rental homes, and The Wilbur Estate. RV spots with full and partial hookups are also available as well as a trailering area. There is a small convenience store near the RV sites for supplies. We stayed at one of the nearby hotels recommended on the WEC website, which was conveniently located.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at WEC in Wilmington! Between horses, food and shopping , it was a a fun way to spend a couple of days. I’m eager to check out their even larger facility in Ocala, Florida- it sounds like the perfect destination for a winter trip to me!