Conversations with Ocala’s Equestrian Women: Sara Fennessy

Sara Fennessy

Executive Director
Horse Farms Forever

Before she could walk, Sara Fennessy was going with her mother to equine competitions, which was not at all surprising for the self-described “fifth-generation horse person.”

Sara’s mother has had a lifelong passion for competing with saddlebred horses and her maternal grandparents were thoroughbred trainers. Sara’s father is a business executive in the thoroughbred racing industry and his dad was a jockey who became the west coast regional manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.

“I always felt I had big shoes to fill and wanted to continue my family’s legacy in the horse world,” Sara offers. “My work with Horse Farms Forever has fulfilled this desire and I am incredibly thankful to be a part of something so special.”

The not-for-profit Horse Farms Forever (HFF) was founded in 2018 to preserve the unique character and culture of Marion County, the Horse Capital of the World™.

“HFF is dedicated to ensuring this title will remain for future generations,” Sara affirms. “When I learned of HFF and its role, I knew this was what I was meant to do.”

Sara, a former hunter/jumper competitor who now has a passion for trail and pleasure riding, says she learned many valuable lessons on a farm and on the back of a horse.

“I hope future generations of my family will be lucky enough to experience these things,” she notes. “I am a firm believer that horses instill a sense of competitiveness, responsibility, patience and a work ethic that cannot be replicated.”

She also credits “many excellent mentors in the equestrian world, including my mom and dad, as well as HFF President Bernie Little.”

Sara says there is one horse for every four people in Marion County and Ocala is the third fastest growing city in the U.S., which means it is important to maintain balance.

“This sense of place and rural character our horses and horse farms create is the reason so many people call Ocala home,” she shares. “To lose the thing that makes Marion County so unique and special would be devastating. Once our farms are gone, they cannot be replaced.”

“Horse Farms Forever continues to work with elected officials and community leaders to establish new policies in Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan to further protect our horse farms, agricultural lands and Farmland Preservation Area,” Sara says proudly. “Additionally, Horse Farms Forever will host a Conservation Summit event in the fall.”

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