Why We Move Our Business South for the Winter

Bobby and Danica Meyerhoff are currently preparing to pack up their base in Statesville, North Carolina, and head south for the winter to Ocala, Florida. How do they go about packing up their business and moving south? Read on as we go behind the scenes with Meyerhoff Show Horses in this guest blog powered by Athletux Equine.

The team behind Meyerhoff Show Horses: Bobby and Danica! Photo via Facebook. The team behind Meyerhoff Show Horses: Bobby and Danica! Photo via Facebook.

Warning: Red Bull, 5-hour Energy, Monster, coffee and jalapeño chips may be required.

For nine months of the year, Meyerhoff Show Horses bases in Statesville, North Carolina, at John and Anna Gilbert’s Eight Bells Farm. To pack up and move an equestrian business south to Ocala, Florida, for the winter is no easy task. As crazy as it may seem, it has become almost necessary to make the move for most competitors with early spring goals and sales-based businesses such as our own.

With a fairly small group in our show string, mainly our competition horses and a couple sales prospects, we pack accordingly to what we need for each horse for roughly a three-month time period.

The packing frenzy begins and usually lasts anywhere from two to three days: straight organizing; cleaning and categorizing tack and blankets; and packing up the jumps, dressage ring, hay and feed. Once the packing is done, we drive 8 1/2 hours from Statesville and set up temporary shop at our new location in Ocala.

We like to get there in one trip, driving straight through and usually leaving at the crack of dawn to be able to show up with enough day light to unload and get settled. This year we will convoy with three trucks, two horse trailers and one camper, one dog and six horses.

Once we arrive, it’s usually a mad dash for two days while we get everything unpacked. Most of our horses are fresh off semi-vacation and need a spa day and new shoes before we start riding. After setting things up, we resume business as usual, with a couple light days of riding before returning to full work.

Just a stone’s throw from the HITS show grounds, we have rented a small farm off 137th Avenue. With Danica mainly riding jumpers and me having some up and coming eventers, it’s an ideal location for training our young horses, showing horses for sale, and still just a short trip to ship in for lessons and events.

For the event horses, HITS Ocala is as close to an Olympic atmosphere as they can be exposed to, so we like all of ours to get the chance to get that kind of exposure.

For us, the winter season is a rare chance to be so close to so many top professionals in all disciplines; it provides a great opportunity to ride and train with the best of the best. We take full advantage and get in as much learning as possible. With such a fun atmosphere, it’s a chance to get a lot of knowledge and motivation to carry with you throughout 2016.

It’s difficult with a small business of two professionals riding different disciplines to make everything run like a well-oiled machine; it basically leaves you feeling like you need a clone at the end of the day.

Until our business expands, we are responsible for a lot of the work on a day-to-day basis, but many of you can relate — that working from sun up to sun down seven days a week. Whether it be to jump in that Sunday Grand Prix or into the Head of the Lake on Saturday, we as crazy horse people wouldn’t have it any other way.

During our three-month stay, I will be shooting for all the local events to get back in the swing, as well as some Adequan USEA Gold Series Cup events in preparation for Rolex 2016. I’m especially excited to be producing a very promising young horse, Rascal Rap, who completed his first one-star last fall and will be improving at the one-star level with goals of moving up to Intermediate this year.

Danica is looking forward to getting more experience in the jumper ring at the upper levels, as well as bringing along a potential Grand Prix prospect in her young 5-year-old, Casanova II.

Our return home usually is based widely on the weather; generally we like to ship home once HITS Ocala has its final week of showing at the end of March. If the weather is cooperative, it’s ideal to get back to North Carolina to work the upper-level horses, both jumpers and eventers, on the hills to better their fitness as soon as possible.

It’s always a little somber when the Ocala season comes to an end, but we are always excited to get the opportunity to be a part of such an upbeat equestrian mecca while hanging in the sunshine and palm trees away from the winter weather up north.