Horse Country – Ocala
There are only four places on earth that are designated “Horse Capital of
the World“. Ocala-Marion County is one and the other three are Lexington,
Kentucky; Newmarket, England; and Chantilly, France.
the uninitiated, it is quite obvious why the U.S. Department of Agriculture
branded Ocala the title of Horse Capital of the World back in 1999. With over
600 horse farms scattered all throughout the county, it is almost impossible
not to see one when driving around town.
The beginning of Ocala’s horse industry can be traced back to one man named
Carl G. Rose who in 1916 came to Florida from Indiana to supervise the
construction of the state’s first asphalt road. After experimenting with
limestone as an asphalt additive, he theorized that the abundance of the
mineral in Ocala’s soil meant that it was an ideal location for breeding and
raising strong horses. In 1943, Rose bought acreage along State Road 200 and
the Rosemere Farm was born. The farm would later become the site of Paddock
Mall and Central Florida College. By the time he died in 1963, Rose was said to
be responsible for establishing at least 30 thoroughbred farms in Marion
Home of the Champions
of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes have been
bred, raised or trained in Ocala, Florida. Most famous of all is “Affirmed” who
is also the most recent winner of the Triple Crown (winning all three above
races) – considered to be the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred racing.
In all, Ocala’s horse farms have produced 45 national champions, 6 Kentucky
Derby winners, 20 Breeder’s Cup champions and 6 Horses of the Year.
Horse Events in Ocala, Florida
Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS) – For five weeks each
winter, HITS hosts one of the largest hunter/jumper shows in the United States.
Held at the Post Time Farms, the annual event draws thousands of competitors
and horse enthusiasts all around the world. HITS brings the area an estimated
$30 million, to Marion County hotels, motels, restaurants, tack and feed
Live Oak International – Since its inception
in 1993, the Live Oak Combined Driving Event has become one of the premier
Combined Driving Events in North America. Since 1995, the Event has hosted
Selection Trials for both the United States and Canadian Equestrian Teams and
in 1998, was granted international sanctioning by the Federal Equestre
Ocala Breeder Sales Auctions – The Ocala Breeders’
Sales Company sells over $100 million worth of thoroughbreds a year in its
seven auctions. OBS also features an Inter-Track Wagering Teletheater where
fans can watch and wager on horse racing simulcasts from around the country.
Florida Horse Park Events – An official
training site for the US Equestrian Team, the park now hosts World- and
Olympic-level equine sports competitions. All-year events in the Florida Horse
Park ranges from combine driving, dressage, eventing, foxhunting,
hunter/jumper, polo and trail-riding.
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides – Ocala has a
wonderful horse culture which includes competitions, breeder sales,
invitationals, horse farm tours, and also the wildly popular horse drawn
carriage rides. A unique attraction in Downtown Ocala in the Christmas
season are carriage rides on the square provided by Horse County Carriage
Company. This festive tradition does not have to stop after the
holidays are over, however, as Horse Country Carriage Rides is open all year
at Kimberden Farms. Group tours and
family tours are ideal. You can find out more by clicking the link above.
Tags: belleview, equestrian, equiventures, Florida, florida horse park, HITS, horse fever auction, horseback riding, horses, horses in the sun, live oak
invitational, ocala, Ocala Breeder
sales, post time farms