The first thing that conjures in the mind when thinking Florida are the normal generalities. The weather, beaches, golf and world class fishing. How about small town recognized as " The Horse Capital of the World ?"
Doesn't that distinction belong to Kentucky or Aiken ? Well back in the 1930's, an equine enthusiast realized that the Limerock foundation was perfect for horses. From there it snowballed to what it is today; A panorama of beautiful horse farms with a registry of over 30,000 horses. Kentucky has the top studs, but their offspring end up in Ocala for all the right reasons. Aside from the benefits of the land, it has the best equine vets, wellness facilities and all the supportive businesses.
Ocala is top heavy with thoroughbreds as it hosts two annual yearling sales. It also is home to a couple of world class Dressage events and sixty different breeds of horses call this part of Florida, home.
Yesterday I had an insiders' look taking a tour offered by Ocala Horse Farm Tours. The tour lasted from 9-12 with a cost of $45. It includes visits to four farms . Each one specializing in it's niche. Our guide Diane, outside her knowledge of horses provided us into socialites of our countries history. Too many to name but all mostly heirs of all our great companies.
Live Oak was our first visit. A cooperative among five owners. One being the farm of George Stienbrenner. His daughter now runs the farm and land curated by the heiress of Campbell Soup. Pretty much the same narrative at the major farms.
The tour also took us into Morriston with a to Pleasure Farm which houses the most expensive stud in Florida. Treasure Beach, son of Galileo will set you back $110,000 to mount your mare. He was out and about as soon as we arrived. https://instagram.com/p/BHFPw2RBIzA/
I can go on and on with the virtues of the visits. It was totally amazing.
We ended the tour at Hennesy's Arabians. One of the most beautiful settings of them all and with one of the most definite beautiful breeds. The owner was a producer of Michael Jackson's Thiller. The platinum record display in his office as well as one of Home Depot's top executives. Strange combo and another eccentric who retired in FL.
My original plan was to jump in a spring at the national park, another reason to visit, but decided to start my 1.5 hour drive back home. I'll definitely be back during a competition or a yearling sale .... and when it's not bitch hot.
Two thumbs up for Ocala. Who would have known.
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