Letter: Dressage Facility Is A Treasure For Wellington

Editor’s note: The following letter, in response to last week’s letter “Jacobs Supports Dressage… With Conditions,” was sent to the Wellington Village Council. A copy was sent to the Town-Crier for publication.

Dear Council Members:

The letter from Lou Jacobs to Mark Bellissimo is so shocking that if this situation was not so serious, it’s laughable in its egotism.

This fight is no longer a personal vendetta about Mark Bellissimo, even though some people continue to think it is. Please, it is not. It is, however, about all of the people in equestrian sports and the people who make a living from it, related or not to the sport itself, globally.

This letter shows me, as we in dressage all knew, that the Jacobs family cares little and knows nothing about the sport of dressage and what will make it a success. Who is he to direct what we can and cannot have, or how business should be run in our town? With this letter, he is showing his hand as exactly what everyone thought: that the Jacobs family — a well-known, deep-pocketed family — is now trying to dictate the terms of doing business in the Village of Wellington, regardless of who it hurts. And it will hurt many, many, middle- and lower-income people who make their day-to-day living by providing services for the numerous people who will come to, what could be, an international world-class venue. These dictated terms will kill the growth of the sport as a whole.

Are you as a council going to continue this permit argument and destroy our hope? Again, this is not about the “I Hate Mark Club.” This is about all of us. It is about a dream. It’s about reaching and hoping for something more than the Jacobs will allow. When they ran Stadium Jumping, it was well known that they treated it as their own personal horse show. They treated dressage shows like garbage. We were deemed unimportant and always relegated to dangerous situations with our horses. There was not a decent toilet on the whole grounds. It was disgusting, simply disgusting.

Lou Jacobs has by his own hand lit a massive fuse. If people weren’t engaged before, they are now. Again, this has now gone viral. It is not about Equestrian Sport Productions and permits. It’s about freedom. It’s about capitalism. It’s about the American dream.

I am begging that you to think of all of us. Please do not betray us. Don’t relegate us to the back of the filthy show grounds in tents on the street, with one filthy toilet.

When Global Dressage started, many of us in the community, myself included, were tentative. After going to the shows and experiencing the absolute highest level of professionalism that Global Dressage displayed, there was not one person involved in our sport who was not completely overwhelmed with how fantastic and wonderful it truly is. We could all see the dream, and it was unfolding in front of us. The level of anticipation of what could be was so exciting because finally, it was done right.

Unfortunately, someone started to exert their power, and squad cars started to regularly harass us. The village shut down the shows on technicalities and forced Olympic horses and riders to schlep their gear and horses to tents. Then the village shut off electric. One person — who is extremely vocal at all council meetings and not a member — would show up regularly with a tape measure! When mounds of dirt were moved, the village shut down the show. Some people are so scared, they show their support but hide behind “anonymous.”

This level of intimidation has now culminated in Lou Jacobs’ letter dictating terms. We all have it, he was so proud of it that he had his PR people e-mail blast it.

I implore you: take a step back. Put aside the pettiness and think of the wonderful opportunity you have as a council to create through this ancient sport — an international mecca. Even though some may not like it, sports is entertainment. Going forward with the master plan and Global Dressage will only turn into good things for our village and for all of the hardworking people who live here 365 days a year.

Carol Cohen