When most people think of Florida, they envision palm trees and beaches, or perhaps Miami high-rises or Orlando theme parks. Less well known is Ocala, Florida, the “Horse Capital of the World” TM. There are more horse farms in Marion County than anywhere else in the USA, with 50 breeds of horses.
This is not by coincidence; the area has the same limestone-rich soil as Lexington, Kentucky and Newmarket, England. Ocala is best known as being the ideal place to launch the training of young Thoroughbreds. In fact, 17 of the 20 horses in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, received their early training in Ocala.
Ocala features exciting opportunities for almost every equestrian discipline. A few examples are:
• When completed in January 2021, the World Equestrian Center will be the largest equestrian complex in the USA, with 1.5 million square feet of riding space.
• The HITS (“Horses in the Sun”) Winter Circuit takes place for 10 weeks every winter. Riders flock in from around the world for this show jumping competition which offers $4 million in prizes.
• Live Oak International features a Combined Driving tournament is held every March.
• The Ocala Jockey Club hosts the most prestigious 3-Day Eventing competition in the southeast USA. The November 2019 “Horse Trials” competition is a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The venue mentioned just above, the Ocala Jockey Club, is now available for sale. Please see the “Florida Equestrian Estate” display in this issue. The 954-acre estate is one of the most beautiful large parcels in Florida. Most of Florida is flat with low elevations, whereas this property features rolling hills and oak trees, and some of the highest elevations in Florida. It appeals to equestrians and non-equestrians, as two-thirds of the property is vacant land awaiting your design. This would be an incredible location for a family compound or a destination resort. Visitors from abroad frequently comment that the property resembles British parkland. The Clubhouse in the center of the property has stunning views in all directions.
Florida is famous for its sunshine and weather. The Ocala Jockey Club is an hour from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, which double the fishing, boating and beach options. Because of its inland location, a hurricane has never hit Ocala. Also, as fresh water becomes more precious each year, Marion County residents and agricultural businesses take comfort in knowing that they are situated above the largest aquifer in North America.
The University of Florida, the 5th largest university in the USA, is located just 25 minutes from the Ocala Jockey Club. Having the college town of Gainesville nearby offers a multitude of cultural activities and a wide variety of restaurants. Also minutes away are Silver Springs State Park, the Ocala National Forest (with its 660 lakes), 80 miles of acclaimed mountain biking trails at Santos Bike Park, and Canyons Zip Lines with runs through 100 acres of oaks with 5 lakes. Three International airports are located 90 to 120 minutes away: Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Ocala has its own private airport, with the distinction that more horses than humans board flights here!
So come join us in Ocala for the ideal combination of Florida weather, a horse industry rivalling Kentucky’s, and farms with Virginia’s beauty. EG