All equestrians know that horses are more than just a hobby – it’s an all encompassing lifestyle…a lifestyle which calls Florida home. It’s easy to see why….acres of oak trees, picturesque hills, farm land with perfect climate that’s something out of a fairy tale…it’s no wonder folks who could ride anywhere (really…anywhere!) choose to make Florida a home for not only their horses but for themselves. The first place that may come to mind is Wellington. Wellington, once a sleepy farmland town just under 20 miles from Palm Beach, has quickly become the destination for the true equestrian…riding, jumping competitions, dressage, and everything in-between. See, it’s not just a sport – it’s a life. “When horse shows started in the US, they were on private estates with indoor rings in affluent locales such as Locust Valley on Long Island; eventually they became too large of a business and moved to bigger venues, including Devon and even Madison Square Garden, where attendees wore white tie. Since the 1970s, amateur and professional horse people alike have wintered in Wellington, in part because it is conducive for competition. The weather is warm and the footing safer than the hard soil up north. By the early aughts, the Wellington circuit consisted of a five-week competition without the accouterments of fancy seating or sponsorship funds. Bellissimo saw the potential for growth.” [Robb Report] Ocala, known as the Horse Capital of the World, is actually very far from the Palm Beach area and Wellington, closer to Orlando in Marion County. “The Wellington community is also paying attention to expansion in Ocala, a city an hour from Orlando that bills itself as the “Horse Capital of the World.” A show run by H.I.T.S. (Horses in the Sun, which also manages shows from Virginia to California) boasts purses in the million-dollar range, much higher than Wellington’s. Another nearly week-long horse show called the Live Oak International, sponsored, like many of these events, by the Swiss watchmaker Longines, provides points for World Cup qualification. Over one March weekend, some riders competed in Wellington, then hopped on private jets to compete in Ocala that same day.” [Robb Report]
Greater Sarasota also offers equestrian communities that allow for barns, riding trails and more all just about an hour from the popular Sarasota downtown scene and incredible beaches.