The brand new World Equestrian Middle in Ocala, Fla., brings magic to life.
For equestrians, the “most magical place on earth” isn’t present in Orlando, Fla., however a few hours north. Generally known as Horse Capital of the World, Ocala/Marion County is house to a staggering number of breeds, world champions and a whole lot of breeding and coaching farms. It’s additionally the positioning of the gorgeous new World Equestrian Middle Ocala (WEC).
Hailed as the biggest indoor/out of doors equestrian facility on the earth, this unparalleled facility offers a no-expense-spared strategy in an impressive setting complemented by meticulous administration.
The venue’s slogan, “High quality. Class. Distinction,” can’t be accused of exaggeration.
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Relocating to Ocala
Though he’s competed in at the least three dozen international locations, Sharn Wordley says he’s by no means been to a different facility like WEC. A top-ranked worldwide grand prix present jumper who’s initially from New Zealand, Wordley moved to the U.S. in 2004.
“Not solely have they got one of the best facility on the earth, additionally they have one of the best angle in providing you with a implausible product,” says Wordley. “It’s all, ‘How can we make it easier to?’ The footing is implausible, the stabling, the rings, jumps, group and the willingness to make the expertise second to none are totally different from each different horse present I’ve come throughout earlier than, particularly in America. It’s a rare feeling there.”
Wordley bought his place within the ritzy equestrian playground of Wellington, a three-and-half-hour drive southeast, and purchased a farm in Ocala, only a few miles from WEC.
“We moved our complete operation right here, and the rationale we got here was due to WEC,” he says. “So many individuals are doing that; Ocala turned an important place to base out of.”
A champion hunter rider, Amanda Steege can be revered as a coach of each skilled and beginner hunter riders.
“We spend the winters in Ocala and have been coming right here since 1998,” says Steege, who’s in Florida from November 1 by means of Might 1. Her Ashmeadow Farm is predicated in California and New Jersey the remainder of the yr.
Steege has proven at WEC because it opened, and he or she is outspoken in regards to the venue’s facilities.
“We love the massive, everlasting stalls which can be matted,” she notes. “Having wash stalls indoors makes it a lot nicer for the horses and workers taking good care of them.”
Steege factors out that at some venues footing is just not constant in all rings. This isn’t the case at WEC.
“There is no such thing as a dangerous ring at WEC,” she says. “All of the rings are high quality, and the footing is ideal. The longing and education areas have the identical footing because the precise present arenas. You’re solely displaying a couple of minutes a day and the remainder of the time you’re working and getting ready, so it’s a very nice profit to have excellent surfaces for this.”
Steege additionally appreciates having the ability to trip inside throughout inclement climate. As a coach who recurrently has purchasers coming in, she finds that having a lodge and eating places on web site is a big perk for them and their households.
For the People
Horses aren’t the one ones who keep in fashion at WEC. The luxurious 248-room Equestrian Lodge opened in June 2021 and features a health middle, spa, salon, and a high-end steak home.
Anticipated to open in mid-2024 is a second on-site lodge with nearly 400 pet-friendly rooms, nearly all of which might be suite lodging.
WEC provides a number of on-site procuring and eating choices, together with eight eating places. Eateries aren’t only for lodge friends and horse present exhibitors—they’re additionally open to the general public.
Imaginative and prescient Turns into Actuality
The magnificent venue that’s WEC was the imaginative and prescient of the Roberts household, a horse-loving clan initially from Ohio.
“My mother was obsessed with horses—we grew up using Quarter Horses and rode in 4-H all the best way as much as Quarter Horse Congress,” says Roby Roberts, CEO of WEC and R+L Carriers, which started in 1965 with one truck and grew into a world freight transportation and logistics firm.
To handle the dearth of present locations in southern Ohio, the household constructed Roberts Enviornment in Wilmington. For many years, they operated it as “The Showplace of the Midwest,” a preferred vacation spot for AQHA and different breed reveals. Roberts Enviornment was rebranded because the World Equestrian Middle in early 2016.
Their Ohio facility was the spark to create a a lot bigger, much more grand venue in Ocala. The Roberts household already knew the world nicely: They purchased a 1,000-acre farm there within the late Nineteen Nineties to launch their Quarter Horse breeding operation.
English, Western, and Extra
WEC formally opened on December 12, 2020, and hosted its first horse present starting January 5, 2021. In its first full yr of operations, 36 WEC-owned reveals had been held on the venue.
Since then, WEC has hosted the nine-show WEC Dressage Sequence and two brand-new WEC Quarter Horse reveals: A Sudden Impulse NSBA & Futurity and The Championship present, a month-long occasion that includes reining, barrel racing, ranch courses, western pleasure, halter courses and extra.
In February 2021, WEC hosted the Premier Equitation Cup, an equitation occasion for elite Junior riders, the place the winner obtained an SUV. The venue held a Youth Problem class for western riders on the Championship Present, the place the winner received a brand new truck.
Many reveals additionally leased the power, such because the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals, the Ocala Worldwide Horse Present, the Paso Fino Horse Affiliation’s Grand Nationwide Championship Present, and the Tom Powers Triple Problem Futurity.
Because of its expansive facilities, WEC isn’t restricted to horse reveals. Amongst specialty occasions held in 2021 had been the Golden Retriever Grand Nationals, bull using, profit concert events, the Ocala Meals & Wine Pageant, Oktoberfest, and a five-week-long Winter Wonderland.
The venue’s huge measurement permits it to host totally different occasions concurrently. Its 2022 schedule included a draft horse present, New Yr Paso Fino Pageant, the Peruvian Paso World Present, the Nationwide Collegiate Equestrian Affiliation Championships, the American Invitational and the Feathered Horse Basic.
At anyone time, there are usually 3,000 individuals on-site attending occasions.
On-Website Vet Clinic
Slated to open in late spring 2022 is a 40,000-square-foot veterinary hospital that can accommodate each giant and small animals. As a part of a strategic alliance between WEC and the College of Florida School of Veterinary Drugs, the power might be often called the UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC and might be open to the general public, in addition to to WEC exhibitors.
Equine companies out there on the facility will deal with sports activities medication, diagnostic imaging and rehabilitation. Small animals can obtain each pressing and first care, with the objective of increasing outpatient specialty companies for each horses and small animals.
Satellite tv for pc Facility
In 2021, the Roberts household purchased The Ocala Jockey Membership, an almost 1,000-acre parcel within the northern a part of the county, a couple of 30-minute drive from WEC. With its rolling hills and panoramic setting, the property has hosted eventing competitions for years.
“The Ocala Jockey Membership introduced a mixture of coaching, competitors and chic hospitality to the venue that’s consistent with our World Equestrian Middle imaginative and prescient,” says Roberts. “Via this acquisition, we intention to proceed these traditions of nice sport and grand entertaining, whereas investing in the way forward for equestrian sports activities in Ocala.”
Renovations are at present underway to allow the power to host weddings and particular occasions beneath the World Equestrian Middle model of hospitality administration. As soon as completed, the power might be often called The World Equestrian Jockey Membership.
By The Numbers
◆ WEC is a 378-acre showplace surrounded by extra acreage for future enlargement. All advised, the Roberts household owns about 6,000 acres within the rapid space, together with the adjoining Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Membership.
◆ WEC boasts 5 spacious climate-controlled indoor arenas and 22 out of doors present rings, all containing custom-blended artificial footing to supply cushion whereas decreasing mud and enhancing drainage.
◆ A centerpiece of the power is the 145,000-square-foot Grand Out of doors Enviornment, which has lined grandstands on three sides and two 30-by-60-foot Jumbotrons.
◆ The venue’s cross-country course was designed by Captain Mark Phillips, Olympic gold medal-winning rider for Nice Britain.
◆ WEC can accommodate greater than 3,000 horses on the property.
◆ There are 25 air-conditioned barns with a complete of three,000 concrete block stalls outfitted with a patented shock-absorbing stall mat system. There are additionally 250 turnout paddocks.
◆ WEC additionally provides miles of hacking trails with all-weather, custom-blended footing, permitting riders to train their horses exterior the arenas.
To be taught extra, go to the WEC web site.
This text about World Equestrian Middle Ocala appeared within the Might 2022 subject of Horse Illustrated journal. Click on right here to subscribe!