I was fortunate enough to take a week off work and visit my family down in FL. We spent some time on a lovely barrier island working on our tans, but the highlight was spending 3 days in Ocala!
I hadn't been to the core of the equestrian scene in Ocala before, but had tried ponies in outlying areas ~7yrs ago. I'll tell you right now, its like christmas morning for horse lovers in the equestrian core. Tack shops everywhere, and all the billboards advertise shaving deliveries, vet clinics, and feed stores!
The farms are so grand with the oak trees and huge rolling pastures! There are endless rows of perfectly maintained farmed with sleek horses soaking up the perfect weather. There are a huge variety of disciplines, everything from Arabian breeding farms to hunter jumpers and everything in between.
We ate at the Horse and Hound and also Dish, both were lovely. We dropped into several tack shops just to oogle the merchandise and suck up the deep seated equestrian flavor in Ocala.
While HITS is over, there are still a few more weeks of 'AA' shows. My sister showed me around as I've never been to the actual show grounds. Its very expansive and very horse oriented with rings and stabling mixed in with little turnouts throughout the property.
Saturday we visited the Florida Horse Park to watch the CSI** cross country. We had VIP bracelets courtesy of an industry friend so we got to sit back in the tent with all the big names. We sure aren't eventing people but I read COTH articles enough to know BNR/BNT eventers when I see them! We cheered on our favorites and got to enjoy a catered lunch and drinks, which my father found relieving since he isn't particularly interested in the horse scene. He was able to sip his cold beer and read a book while my sister, mother, and I watched these incredible atheletes and their horses skip around a big, long course. Pretty sure my sisters jumper mare would be too tired to keep galloping after 1/4th that course!
I'm always impressed by eventer's conditioning. Sometimes with the hunters we keep them a little round and out of shape so they stay mellow but it puts them at risk for injury when they jump and they aren't in tip top shape and/or are carrying extra weight. I took some pictures at one of the water complex's and just have to upload!
All the trails criss crossing through the Florida Horse Park and Ocala the NW corridor made me want to explore the area on horseback. I've always enjoyed trail riding but there aren't many options for me to do so lately.
Additionally I happened to visit WEF earlier this winter for week one so its interesting to compare Palm Beach and Post-Time Farm as the FL hunter jumper metropolises.
I even got a little bit of a tan with all the beautiful weather:
Big big news coming up!!!