They really do march to the beat of a different drummer down here where the palm trees grow and the wealthy drive golf carts. On Monday, just six days after the Welly World elections swept Bob Margolis into the mayor’s seat, the Achilles heel of Florida elections reared its ugly head (or foot, I should say): a miscount in the votes. This time it wasn’t the ballots’ fault, but that of the computer system, which assigned votes to the wrong candidates. Hence, the boat rocked rather violently, and thrown over the side in the recount were the two newly minted town council members who had been backed by the Bellissimo tribe. Turns out Al ‘the pal’ Paglia and Shawna ‘bulldog’ Hostetler did not win their seats, and now they have to decide whether to quietly swim to shore and get on with life peacefully, or to try and climb back into the boat. If they choose the latter action, and something in the back of my brain tells me there are certain forces who will strongly urge them in that direction, Matt Willhite and John Greene will probably have to lawyer up to take the seats that they rightfully won through the democratic process – oh wait, breaking news: Matt already lawyered up, according to yesterday’s story at If Al and Shawna decide to try and stay in office I plan to submit an official application to have their surnames changed to Bush. Bob Margolis is still the elected mayor  by the way, though the recount shrank his margin from 16% to just a point. But the key is, he still won.

If you haven’t already read them I have a couple of pieces of Welly-Gate required reading for you. The first is Monday’s Palm Beach Post story, which outlines the bare facts of what happened: click here

And if you want to have a little laugh at a very funny, totally tasteless (and anonymous – you know how I hate that) dig at the Jacobs family, have a look at this little gem that was posted on over the weekend. I won’t say it went viral because Welly World is too small for that even if every single resident, horses included, clicked on a link to it; but it certainly did make the rounds.

I can only imagine the sweat running down a few polo shirted backs at Wellington Equestrian Partners over this sudden turn of events. With three  – or four, if Howard Coates continues to cast his lot the way he’s been doing – out of five town council members in the NO  Equestrian Village camp I just don’t see how that hotel is ever going to get built. By the way, I dropped into the Global Dressage Festival last Friday during the show, and thought the place looked rather lovely. As one trainer pointed out, there are acres of great footing – and that alone is a wet dream worth having over and over for any dressage rider .


Taking good care of all that fluffy pink-tinged footing during lunch break

However, I have also heard a few things that portray a less rosy side of the new dressage digs…I’ll be back in two hours to finish this, promise…

I’m back! Just had to dash out and meet a wonderful man from the publishing world named Steve Price who has taken on the daunting task of guiding me through the process of writing my first book: the memoirs of Mason Phelps. My own private working title for the book is The Book of Mason. We’ll be naming it something more naughty when the time comes, of course.

So here is what I’ve been told about the fabulous new shows that have been taking place at the GDF grounds. The first comes from the simplest and most incontrovertible of sources: the day sheets. The show is apparently forbidden from scheduling week day classes earlier than 10 am, to avoid creating more traffic problems than already exist in the vicinity (sorry Michael Stone, but there are traffic problems even if you say there aren’t – this is not a case of   ‘if I say so it is thus’). The show has been starting classes at 8 am. All the time. Which presented a wee bit of trouble for riders who drew unlucky numbers one through about five last week after the clocks had been shunted forward for Daylight Savings Time. They were warming up in near-total darkness. What? No lights at the GDF, you say with a gasp? No silly, of course they have lights. But I guess they didn’t turn them on for those first riders because that would draw too much attention to the fact that the show was operating in violation of the 10 am rule.

Waiting for a few light changes (see the light way up there in the distance?) at Pierson and South Shore on an ordinary weekday afternoon


And in fact it isn’t all that silly to have thought they didn’t have lights, because at the first show in February (which was actually the second show but the first one was cancelled due to there not being a few necessities like rings and barns) there was no power. There were also no bathrooms, manure bins or wash racks. Those all went in later, often during shows and causing no small disruption. There was one other little-publicized SNAFU at that first show. The CDI horses were all installed – with great pride no doubt – to the brand new permanent stalls, and then moved back out of them the same night when the organizers were told the barns could not yet be used – presumably because they hadn’t been inspected. There are probably rules about moving horses at an FEI sanctioned event after it’s begun, but I guess no one could read those rules since it was pitch black (no power, remember?) when the horses were shifted into tent stabling. I’ve also heard about jackhammers being fired up a few feet from a Paradressage warm up and other  other little  inconveniences that you would expect from putting horses in a half-built show venue.

The above is just a teensy little finger nail scratch on the surface of the result of holding dressage shows in a construction zone. The riders have apparently been reluctant to complain because they’re just so darned grateful that a much-needed dressage facility has taken shape in Welly World. The trouble is, so many rules have been treated as being worth no more than the paper they are printed on that the future of the whole shebang is not exactly guaranteed, particularly given the fresh faces on town council.

Meanwhile, over at WEF, surely things are going swimmingly, no? Well, actually, no. I’ve heard numerous reports that WEF plays fast and loose with the FEI rules, though it will take a bit more digging to determine whether or not that has been with the knowledge and blessing of FEI HQ. I intend to poke my pointy little nose into that one over the coming weeks, but to give you some idea of what I’m not yet talking about, get a load of what happened last Saturday. The 1.5 m CSI class was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, presumably to not take away potential spectators from the dressage show, which was trying to sell $1500 tables for the freestyles on Saturday evening. When that looked to be a bit of a nonstarter, the show jumping became plan B for keeping the hoards entertained, and the 1.5 m class was moved to Saturday evening. Now, I have not had a chance to look up the FEI rules for organizers but I’m pretty sure that – short of a hurricane or other such natural disaster – you aren’t allowed to go changing the schedule of an FEI class within 24 hours. The jumpers, who are good and tired of the never-ending show circuit down here, did not take kindly to the sudden loss of a rare quiet Saturday evening slurping up oysters and Santa Margherita at The Grille.  About a third of the entrants scratched, and a few were so fed up they have decided to call it quits early and not show for the last two weeks of WEF at all. Among the annoyed was Canada’s own Captain L’Amazing, who has gone off somewhere else where the sun shines but the horse shows don’t go on forever. And ever. And ever. If you don’t believe me that the hunter-jumper crowd are feeling like bar tenders at last call on Sunday night at The Player’s Club, read Carly Sparks’ witty take on it here.

I’ll be bidding so long for now to Welly World at the ungodly hour of 7 am tomorrow, but don’t worry. I’ll keep my finger on this racing pulse for a while longer. At least until some other shiny object attracts my attention.