Redefining Ocala’s Equestrian Experience
Thursday, January 26, 2017 -

With an opening set for fall of 2017, the World Equestrian Center at Golden Ocala will redefine the equestrian experience in Ocala. Welcome to the new “Horse Capital of the World.”

Indeed, the new center is sure to be a game changer as far as equine events are concerned, offering a large climate-controlled arena among many other amenities. Having this type of facility will mean equine events can be held there year-round, whether rain, cold or hot Florida summer sun.

While all the details of the facility have not yet been released, it will be located on 1,000 acres adjacent to Golden Ocala. Once complete, the property will also feature three- to five-acre residential lots that will be available for equestrians so they can combine the best of equestrian sports and country club living.

The equestrian industry and community has embraced Ocala and Marion County for many years now.It’s currently home to more than 700 horse farms that represent nearly every discipline of the horse industry, from thoroughbred racing to jumpers, driving and more.A new equestrian facility and residential developmentlike this is sure to draw even more from the equine industry into Ocala.

Horse Lovers Love Ocala

“If you love horses, you love Ocala,” said Amanda Steege, the new Equestrian Lifestyle Ambassador at Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club.“I love seeing all the open land, pastures and baby thoroughbreds running around. It’s heaven if horses are your passion.”

As the equine industry has grown in Ocala and Marion County, so have all the supporting and ancillary businesses. This makes it even more attractive for those who work in this industry. What you’ll discover is not just one of any type of specialty business or equine veterinary practice, but multiples, including feed and tack stores, farriers, horse transportation and so much more.And nearby in Gainesville is the University of Florida, offering the best in animal care and scientific research.

“You’ve got high-level professionals who are easily accessible,” Steege said, referring to the many equine specialists here.“Sometimes you can take that for granted here, but you don’t find that same level of services so easily available to you elsewhere.”

That is certainly a draw for those in the industry. Florida’s friendly tax laws also make Ocala a very attractive place to start a business. With its central location and close proximity to interstate highways and major airports, Ocala makes an ideal location for those who want to base their business in an equine-friendly community that offers beautiful weather year-round.

And then there’s the Equine Studies Program at the College of Central Florida, which continues to provide a highly educated and experienced workforce to support the growing equine industry in Ocala. The program offers classroom and hands-on learning to provide students with the business and science skills needed for success at the “hundreds of different jobs” its graduates can pursue.

Live Like The Locals

Ocala is also family friendly, which is important to equestrian competitors and business owners alike who typically bring spouses, children and significant others with them as they travel to compete and conduct business.

It has a great small-town feel and a growing downtown scene. Anyone who has seen downtown Ocala all decked out during the holidays with thousands of lights can attest to what a draw it is for this community. It includes multiple outdoor concert venues, a twice-a-week farmers market, award-winning restaurants and the brand-new Reilly Arts Center. And then there’s the thriving arts community, including the Ocala Civic Theatre, the Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala Symphony Orchestra and the new Magnolia Art Xchange, which is working to establish an artist-in-residency program.

Ecotourism is also a big part of the Marion County scene and a big draw for horse enthusiasts who love the outdoors. Trail-riding opportunities are abundant here and include the Ocala National Forest, the Florida Greenway, the Florida Horse Park, Silver Springs State Park and the Land Bridge trailhead, which actually crosses Interstate 75.

Parents looking to move their families to Marion County are sure to be impressed with the local school system. All seven of its public high schools made the “Most Challenging High Schools” list for 2016 from the Washington Post. The newspaper ranks schools based on how they challenge students and factors in tests for such magnet programs as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education. US News & World Report also listed two Ocala high schools — Forest and West Port — on its 2016 “Best High Schools” rankings, awarding them both silver medals, their best scores yet.

Ocala’s great central location in Florida also adds to its appeal. You’re less than 90 minutes away from anyplace you’d like to go, whether it’s the beaches, Walt Disney World, St. Augustine or watching such professional sports as the Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Tampa Bay Rays.It’s all just a short drive away.

Location, Location, Location

With its prime location right next to Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, the World Equestrian Center at Golden Ocala is sure to be a hit with competitors and spectators alike. The waiting in between events at horse shows is what most people dread the most.

But imagine having a Golden Ocala membership that gives you access to its many amenities nearby. These include the 18-hole championship golf course, six Har-Tru Hydro Grid® tennis courts, three exclusive restaurants, a salon and spa for pampering, a state-of-the-art fitness center and resort-style pool and of course, its Equestrian Center featuring an all-weather ring and six miles of picturesque, private riding trails.

The dreaded waiting periods in between events can instead be seen as opportunities at nearby Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club for:

• A round of golf or a game of tennis

• A manicure and massage at the spa

• Swimming and sunning by the pool

• Meeting a friend for lunch

• Working out at the fitness center, and more

“Mondays are usually my off days, and I spend most Mondays at Golden Ocala,” Steege said of her current training routine. “I call it my happy place. I go there on Mondays for the spa, tennis or golf, for manicures, pedicures and massages. I love having the amenities and restaurants there.”

Golden Ocala’s restaurants serve as a great place for Steege to take her clients on the weekend. Because they often don’t finish up until 6 or 6:30pm, it can be difficult to get to a restaurant in downtown Ocala or elsewhere for a great meal without a long wait.

“Instead we can just head to Golden Ocala and have an excellent meal with excellent service,” she said. “And we can go in our boots and breeches here. They welcome us here.”

And although the amenities and other benefits of membership would indeed be a plus, imagine also living at Golden Ocala in one of its 10 unique neighborhoods, each conceived and designed to provide distinctive options.

Choose from townhomes and completely furnished residences to luxury estates and more.

Looking Ahead

While all the particulars have not been released about the World Equestrian Center at Golden Ocala, a look up north to the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio may offer details about what we can expect here.

The goal for World Equestrian Center is to return horse showing to its former grandeur while incorporating an element of fun reminiscent of the horse shows of the past, according to owner Roby Roberts, a member of the family who owns Golden Ocala.

Roberts wants to make horse shows fun for the whole family. At World Equestrian Center in Ohio, the family-friendly after-hours social and sporting events have become a hallmark. Once horses are back in their stalls, show rings transform into beach soccer, volleyball or dodge ball courts. Popular movies headline Drive-In Movie nights where families can park golf carts full of kids and dogs to watch movies and enjoy fresh popcorn and snacks.

Through his partnership with Golden Ocala, Roby Roberts has plans to create a welcoming place for all equestrians at the new World Equestrian Center at Golden Ocala. He hopes it will be the “Disneyland of the horse world,” a magical place that will make people smile. “There’s an amazing opportunity in Golden Ocala,” he said.ϖ

Golden Ocala

Amenities

Explore the heart of luxury at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. With its full line of rich amenities, it’s everything you’d expect from country club living and so much more.

•The Golf Club’s 18-hole Ron Garl-designed championship course has eight recreated tribute holes from the world’s finest: Augusta, Royal Troon, Baltusrol, Muirfield and St. Andrews.

•The Tennis Club’s six Har-Tru Hydro-Grid® courts lay on the finest clay surface, with private lessons taught by pros and day leagues available.

•The Fitness Center’s Italian exercise equipment with Technogym and expert trainers help put you on track to your health goals.

• Approximately 6.5 miles of private, carriage-wide riding trails surround the state-of-the-art Equestrian Center, which has private barn suites.

•The Salon and Spa offers the ultimate in pampering services,from massages and spa body treatments to pedicures, facials and more.

•Three exclusive signature restaurants offering a variety of options from casual poolside meals to elegant dining experiences.

•A sprawling resort-style pool featuringa shallow entry area.

 


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