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Whether it’s the love of competition or enjoying a leisurely ride through our nature trails, the history that comes with a long legacy of champions being born, bred and broken in Ocala/Marion County makes it a true equestrian escape.
In 2007, Ocala/Marion County was officially named the “Horse Capital of the World™,” a testament to the County’s unique involvement in all things equestrian and its record of producing some of the finest champions in the sport. With a beautiful, mild climate all year long and soil rich with limestone calcium for strong bones, Ocala/Marion County is home to more horses than anywhere else in the country.
Needles, so named due to his to numerous injections as a sickly foal, of Bonnie Heath Farm in Ocala, became the first Florida-bred Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner in 1956. This legendary competitor was inducted into the United States National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and his success in racing sparked a boom in Florida horse breeding. Since then, world champions have attributed part of their success to their time in Ocala/Marion County. In fact, the last two Triple Crown winners, one of the highest honors and accomplishments for thoroughbreds, have ties to Ocala/Marion County—American Pharoah trained here and Affirmed was born, bred and trained in the County.
Aside from producing some of the biggest names in racing, Ocala/Marion County is also home to national and international equestrian events and competitions, including the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, Live Oak International and Ocala Breeders’ Sale. From renowned thoroughbreds to jumpers, drivers, hunters and show horses, our County is rich with equestrian legends.
Many local horse farms offer equestrian enthusiasts the chance to get up close with the biggest names in the sport with guided tours of their properties, which are often populated by international champions and legends in the making. Experience a destination rich with the thrill of competition and explore the home of world champions on a local horse farm tour in Ocala/Marion County, the Horse Capital of the World.