Equestrian festival kicks off in Wellington

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 12:10:11-05

It's about to get really busy in Wellington.  The annual Winter Equestrian Festival kicked off Wednesday.

U.S. Olympian Lauren Hough woke up early for the first day of competitions.  Hough, a Palm Beach County resident, is among the top 50 ranked equestrian athletes.

Hough is participating in the winter festival in an attempt to make her seventh appearance at the World Cup Finals in Omaha.  The winter festival in Wellington is a qualifier for the event.

“I feel like I have a very good horse, and I’ll do my best to compete," Hough said.

Competitors from 43 countries are participating in the 12-week event.

The economic impact to Palm Beach County is $120 million a year. The festival is the longest and largest horse show circuit around the world.

"It's wonderful out here. We spend most of our lives traveling and living out of a suitcase," Hough said. "It's nice to be home four months out of the year. It's a real privilege to have such a high quality event right in your back yard."

On Saturday is the battle of the sexes, which is the only time that both men and woman will compete against each other.  Gates open at 6 p.m. The event starts at 7 p.m.