Equine Engagement Initiative

A year ago, the CEP kicked of our Equine Engagement Initiative. As the Horse Capital of the World, we knew we needed a focused and directed effort to engage our incredible equine community with both the broader business community and with fellow equine businesses. Our economic impact analysis of Marion County’s Equine Industry had found that equine contributed $2.6 Billion a year to the local economy!

Thanks to the underwriting support of New Millennium Realty, we were able to kick off this initiative late last year. Louisa Barton joined our team as our Director of Equine Engagement and has done a masterful job at reaching out and engaging equine businesses and educating the rest of us. Our monthly Equine Engagement meetings have out-grown the CEP conference room and must now be held at our Power Plant Business Incubator Training Room so we can accommodate the more the 60 participants who now attend.

Many great things have taken place in our equine community over the last year and 2018 promises to be even bigger. Here are few highlights of the past year and the year to come.

Breeders Cup

The richest weekend in racing had a decidedly Ocala feel this year. Ocala-bred horse World Approval from Live Oak Stud won the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Florida-bred Caledonia Road from Vegso Racing Stable had a big wine in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. World Approval was not only bred in Ocala but trained here as well by Mark Casse. Other Ocala breeders and/or trainers who finished in the money at the Breeders Cup include Jacqui and Nick de Meric from Manuden/Eclipse, top breeders Helen and Joe Barbazon at Pleasant Acres Stallions, the McKathan Brothers Training Center, the Nygaards at the Ocala Jockey Club, Eddie Woods Stables, Niall Brennan Stables, SGV Thoroughbreds, the Julio Rada training team, Arindel Farm, Lynwood Farm and Stonestreet Stables.

World Equestrian Center

The term game-changer is probably used to often today, but no phrase better describes this facility. Slated for completion by the middle of next year, this facility will be unrivaled. Located as part of the 3,000 acre Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, the World Equestrian Center will feature four indoor arenas, 17 outdoor arenas, a 3-acre Grand Outdoor Stadium, and 1,500 permanent stalls. The facility is designed to offer the ultimate in equestrian competition. The facility will provide the opportunity to host competitions for nearly every breed and discipline.

Nations Cup

Ocala and HITS’ Post Time Farm have again been selected to host the EFI Nation’s Cup Qualifier in February. The community has hosted this international competition for the last three years and HITS has been awarded both the 2018 and 2019 competitions. Additionally, the competition has been elevated to a CSIO-5*. For the non-equestrian, this means that Nations Cup Ocala will be at the highest level of competition. Seeing the world’s best compete in the Horse Capital is something we can all get excited about!

Nurturing, assisting and engaging our equine community is a key opportunity for the CEP as we seek to lead growth that keeps our community Moving Forward!