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Kilkenny Insurance: A Labor of Love and This Week’s Sponsor of The 2003 Winter Equestrian Festival

Wellington, Florida -- February 7,2003 -- In 1994, Wellington residents Laura and Michael Whitlow sat down and asked themselves how they could combine their love of horses and the horse community with a satisfying and profitable business. Bingo!! Named after Michael’s family’s farm in Virginia and the couple’s farm in Wellington, The Kilkenny Insurance Agency was born. Kilkenny’s logo, built around a D-ring snaffle bit, was Laura’s design.

Now one of the top equine insurance agencies in the country, Kilkenny provides equine insurance to horses and farms involved in the equestrian disciplines of hunters, jumpers, equitation and dressage. Its underwriter, The Insurance Company of Hannover, is a well-known firm in the insurance industry based in Omaha, Nebraska.

How did the Whitlows, starting from scratch, build their business to the success that it is today in a mere nine years? Their own hard work, smarts and outstanding personal reputations certainly had a lot to do with it. But in addition, the Whitlows made a conscious decision to become a major factor as both a sponsor and innovator at The Winter Equestrian Festival.

Each year since 1994, Kilkenny has been a major sponsor at The Festival, to the tune of $50,000 a year and sometimes more. During the entire circuit, from Wellington through Tampa, Kilkenny is and has been the sponsor of the Amateur-Owner Working Hunter Division. Also, during the annual Kilkenny week, Kilkenny sponsors The Festival’s Sunday Grand Prix. This Sunday’s Kilkenny Grand Prix offers a $50,000 purse. There is also a $25,000 Kilkenny WEF Challenge Cup and a 1.5 meter jumper class sponsored by Kilkenny this week.

In 1995, the Whitlows had the brilliant idea to add a 3’3” Hunter Division to The Festival’s roster of divisions. Sounds easy? Anything but. Divisions in the hunter world have long histories and traditions -- adding a new category is almost unheard of. Previously, there had only been 3’ and 3’6” divisions. To the experienced equestrian, the difference in 3” here or there is quite significant. Kilkenny’s 3’3” division took off immediately, and to this day remains an extremely popular division. The division has also received a “rating” from USAEquestrian, a major coup.

Laura and Michael are tremendously gratified that their support of The Winter Equestrian Festival and the horse world in general has worked towards everyone’s benefit. Their business has grown exponentially since 1994.

Each day during The Festival, Laura and Michael reflect on their beloved, Kilkenny-insured horses: from any high point on the showgrounds, they can see multiple Kilkenny horses showing, horses such as Chopard, Glasgow and Oh Star--- and they feel they have made a difference.

Tickets to the Winter Equestrian Festival are available by phone at 793-JUMP or at the gate. Admission is free on Wednesdays. Children 12 & under are free all days. Senior admission is $5 every day. Adult admission is $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. Parking is free.

Winter Equestrian Festival Dates:

(Each week runs Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8:00 AM)

Bayer Gold Coast Classic - January 29 - February 2
Wellington Dressage – January 30 – February 2
Kilkenny/ICH Internationale – February 5 – 9
Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular – February 12 – 16
Florida Dressage Classic –February 13 - 16
Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters – February 19 – 23
Tommy Bahama Palm Beach Open – February 26 – March 2
Cosequin Wellington Finale – March 5 – 9
Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic – March 13 – 16


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