With a moderate year-round climate, mineral-rich water and soil, and many of the most outstanding equine facilities in the country, it’s no wonder Florida is home to nearly every breed of horse in the Northern Hemisphere.
Florida’s horse industry supports a wide variety of local, national and international horse-related events and activities, including breeding, training, racing, polo, rodeo, dressage, show jumping, cross-country and more. These events attract visitors to Florida both nationally and internationally
The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) held each year in Wellington, Florida, is one of the most prestigious and well-attended international horse shows in the world.
“As Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, I know that our state’s equine industry has always played a vital role in our way of life. With a rich history and deep heritage, Florida is home to over 380,000 horses and events that attract world-wide participants,” says Commissioner Nicole Fried.
Thoroughly Appreciated Thoroughbreds
Approximately 100,000 horses in Florida are Thoroughbreds. The state ranks second in North America for Thoroughbred foal production, with more than 600 farms and training centers statewide, as well as 1,300 owners, breeders and trainers. More than 75% of these are concentrated in Ocala-Marion County, a popular destination for those with a passion for horses.
Brent Fernung is president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA), a not-for-profit organization that represents Thoroughbred breeders and owners. The group offers financial incentives to owners who breed, raise, train and race Thoroughbreds born in the state of Florida.
“Our primary responsibility is to promote Florida-bred foals that win races in the state,” Fernung says. Between racing, breeding and stallion awards, we pay out between $8 and $10 million a year.”
Florida is also home to the third largest Quarter Horse population in the country, hosting 22 sanctioned disciplines in annual Quarter Horse events.
See more: Florida’s Thoroughbreds Take Top Prizes
Park it Right There
The Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park (FHP), a 500-acre international equine competition facility with something to offer all breeds and disciplines is a Direct Support Organization under the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). It is both a spacious and multi-service facility located in Ocala, Florida.
“Our goal is to deliver a multi-use facility that provides a safe, family-oriented experience to equine competitors, livestock exhibitors, educators and visitors,” says Jason Reynolds, Executive Director of FHP. Since 2006, the park has hosted more than 800 events and provided opportunities to advance agricultural and equine education for residents and tourists alike.