As I mentioned in my previous post, the highlight of my Ocala Trip (other than training with my amazing horse Deuce and my wonderful trainer Jaron Verheij of Dutch Dressage), was my visit to Golden Ocala. And, in addition to the new World Equestrian Center Ocala, which is scheduled to open in the fall with a full schedule of events in 2021. Being a competitive equestrian, I am always excited to explore and learn about new equestrian show venues.

I knew the World Equestrian Center

… was going to be special….just had no idea HOW special. We were fortunate enough to get a private tour from Lee Kerr who is the Director of Operations. Lee told me we would probably be saying the word “WOW” a lot…we must have said it a hundred or more times. Furthermore, I have never seen an equestrian facility like this! Not sure anyone has. In addition the Robert’s family has a northern version of the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio.

The World Equestrian Center in Ocala is meant to be the ultimate haven for both horse and rider. Lee told us that the new facility will have approximately 1.5 million square feet of riding space, including on-site riding trails through Ocala’s oak forests and the center’s parklike manicured gardens, a three-acre outdoor stadium, four indoor arenas and 17 outdoor arenas, training/education areas and 2,040 climate-controlled stalls and barns. The tour of the barns left me salivating!

The stalls

… were 12X14 and had pillow cushion stall matts! My horse would never want to come home! If guests come to the Equestrian Center via RV, the full-service luxury RV Park can house 160 vehicles (with power, water and wifi) as well as golf cart parking. The complex will also offer adjacent access to the Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, which I wrote about in my last post. There is going to even be a Vet clinic on site! They have thought of EVERYTHING!

The center’s interiors and exteriors were imagined by Miami Beach designer Ric Owens, whose previous experience lies in commercial retail, hotels and high-end custom homes. The World Equestrian Center complex will feature an as-yet-unnamed five-star, pet-friendly luxury hotel on completion, with 254 balcony suites, 18,000 square feet of retail space and an equestrian boutique outfitted with jewelry, fine art and apparel. The hotel will also feature several food and beverage options, including a fine dining restaurant with seating for 500 guests.

On our tour I had the opportunity of meeting Roby Roberts, owner of the World Equestrian Center. He has stated that the goal of WEC is to set the new standard for how horse shows. Asking me, what discipline I rode and I told him “dressage”. He promised that I would not be disappointed in showing there. I simply smiled and told him that I was so looking forward to it! One of the things that is so unique is that WEC is going to be SO much more than just a place to show horses! They plan on having dog shows (the very first event there next fall will be a Golden Retriever show), track and field events, cycling events, art walks, unique car shows, wine and cheese festivals and SO much more!

If you are planning on being in the Ocala area starting fall of 2020 plan on a visit to Golden Ocala and The World Equestrian Center. Here is a link to their website and all of the exciting horse shows and activities in store!!  See you in Ocala!

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