10 Reasons to Put Ocala on Your Bucket List

Most people’s travel bucket lists consist of far off places, like Iceland or Prague, but equestrians know that some of the most amazing places in the world are right here in the good ol’ US of A. There’s a reason why Ocala is called the “horse capital of the world.” The next time you’re looking for a fun horsey vacation, put Ocala on the top of your list.

Watch a Saturday Night Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Center

According to our Ocala insiders on the EN team, spectating a Grand Prix is the place to be on a Saturday night, even for eventers. Watch from the stands as top horses and riders battle it out for the top spot and a generous cash prize in the stadium at the World Equestrian Center. Your view will consist of stately white columns, impeccably decorated fences, and pure showjumping talent.

Gallop on the Beach at Amelia Island

It’s not often you get the opportunity to gallop on the beach. Amelia Island is a short drive away from Ocala and is home to Amelia Island Horseback Riding. This company has been offering daily beach rides on the island since 1993. Honestly, I prefer to ride someone else’s horse when it comes to beach rides. That way you know you’re on an experienced, been-there-done-that type of pony, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the wind in your hair. Or, if you’re visiting Ocala with your horse, you can trailer in and gallop across the sand on the back of your heart horse.

Enjoy the Gypsy Vanners

As eventers, our horses tend to be distinctly featherless. When you want your fill of horses that should be on the cover of a romance novel or featured in a Hallmark movie, take a tour of Gypsy Gold Horse Farm. Open for farm tours four days a week, you’ll be sure to get your fill of brightly colored ponies with long manes and tails flowing in the wind.

Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Ocala isn’t just famous for being the horse capital of the world — it’s also home to beautiful aquatic wildlife, such as turtles, manatees, and many different types of fish. There’s no better way to experience Florida’s wildlife than with a glass bottom boat tour at Silver Springs. Available in 30-minute and 90-minute tours, you can expect to see fish, as well as historic Native American and Spanish artifacts, and underwater movie props from the days when Hollywood productions were filmed in the park.

Compete at Florida Horse Park

An aerial view of the Florida Horse Park – one of Central Florida’s major rallying points for transitory equestrians. Photo via FHP’s Facebook page.

Are you bringing your horse with you to Ocala? Consider competing at the Florida Horse Park! The venue hosts two winter horse trials, as well as the well-known Ocala International Horse Trials. For those eventers looking for more schooling opportunities, check out the Partners of the Park events for competition opportunities in a low-key environment. If you’d rather relax than bring home blue ribbons, the 500-acre park has equestrian trails that are open to riders for free!

Stay at The Equestrian Hotel

Instead of staying at an AirBnB, rest in the lap of equestrian luxury at The Equestrian Hotel. Decorated with vintage-feeling equestrian decor, this hotel actually overlooks the main arena at the World Equestrian Center, so you can watch the events from the comfort of your room. This hotel is also home to two equestrian-themed restaurants and a poolside bar.

Zip through Ocala’s Canyons

Since we all know most eventers are thrill seekers, I found the perfect excursion for those who love speed and don’t mind heights. With The Canyons, you can enjoy Florida’s only true canopy tour. Choose from several different packages ranging from one hour to three hours long. One package includes an 1100 foot zip line that crosses the beautiful Lost Spring Lake and goes through Big Cliff Canyon.

Shop for a New Home Base

Okay, or take your self on a driven tour of all the incredible horse property offerings contained in the Ocala Horse Properties portfolio. If you’re thinking about relocating, looking for an investment property, or simply want to do some real estate research, check out all the properties on offer through Ocala Horse Properties here. You can also stop by and visit the crew at their new office located right in the heart of Ocala!

School to Your Heart’s Content

Ocala is filled to the brim with a plethora of schooling opportunities. Every winter Sara Kozumplik, Will Coleman, Megan Kepferle, and others have partnered to create an ultra-affordable winter schooling show series. But that’s not all — the Florida Horse Park is also home to the Partners of the Park (POP) schooling show series, which caters to lower-level eventers, although show jumping rounds higher than 3’11” can be accommodated on request. For another three-phase schooling event, check out the series hosted by Majestic Oaks Ocala. Majestic Oaks runs schooling shows nearly all year long and offers divisions from Tadpole through Preliminary. Other venues to look at for schooling opportunities include Rocking Horse Eventing Horse Trials and Barnstaple South — plus TerraNova Equestrian Center is only 2.5 hours north.

Bonus: Go Where the People Are

Sara Kozumplik and Rubens D’ysieux. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Ocala is home to some of the most knowledgeable people in our sport. It’s a hot spot for equestrian knowledge, eventing included, which is why it’s known as “the horse capital of the world.” Local eventers include Sara Kozumplik, Will Coleman, Leslie Law, Sharon White, and more. Even Bettina Hoy and William Fox-Pitt are known to frequent the area every winter. Being in an environment saturated with experienced horse people means that there’s no shortage of clinics and learning opportunities to be had in the area.

Ocala is one of those places that everyone has to go to at least once. If you do decide to extend your visit and stay permanently, check out Ocala Horse Properties to find the farm of your dreams.

This article was sponsored by Ocala Horse Properties. Learn why the OHP team loves to live and work in Ocala on their website.

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