Horse Shows & Events
Witness World-Class Competition
Renowned as the Horse Capital of the World, Ocala/Marion County offers horse lovers from around the globe a chance to experience the best equine competitors and horse shows in an array of special events in a variety of disciplines, breeds and more.
Ocala/Marion is home to multiple top international horse competitions the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, Live Oak International, AdventHealth Grandview Invitational and the World Equestrian Center's many events. The competitions are held on picturesque properties in casual settings that provide plenty of room to move around.
Ocala/Marion’s equestrian season runs from mid-December to late March, but continues to expand. These competitions are part of the fabric of Ocala/Marion County’s culture and lure legions of equine aficionados. But we also recommend them to our visitors who may know little about equestrian competitions. The events are easy and inexpensive (or free) to attend, and we are sure you’ll find them riveting and majestic — an ideal way to spend an unhurried sunny afternoon during a beautiful time of year.
World Equestrian Center Shows
The brand new luxurious equestrian facility, the World Equestrian Center is changing the equestrian season in the destination. With numerous large-climate controlled indoor arenas, WEC is now hosting horse events throughout the year. WEC’s Ocala Winter Spectacular is a hunter/jumping show circuit each year from January-March (12 weeks) Additionally, WEC offers a similar summer show series over 10 weeks from June-August. What is at stake at theses competitions? Millions of dollars in money and prizes, and admission to watch the events is free and open to the public! Make visiting WEC an entire experience by also exploring the massive property, stopping into the candy shop and grabbing a meal at one of their delicious and unique restaurants! You can even rent a golf cart to make exploring the property even more fun.
AdventHealth Grandview Invitational
One of the newest equestrian competitions to join the Horse Capital of the World comes with extra-large competitors. Just imagine many one ton horses in a ring at the same time, along with world class hitch wagons, being maneuvered by some of the best drivers in the industry! This is the unique beauty and organized chaos that is on display the first weekend in February at the AdventHealth Grandview Invitational at the Florida Horse Park
As Florida’s largest draft horse show, the invitational pulled in teams from across North America for their three-day competitive event. Clydesdale, Belgian and Percheron breeds are on full display at this annual competition. Spectators can get up close and personal with these majestic animals prior to show, with opportunities to visit the stables of each competing team. Event classes include ladies cart (single horse), junior cart (single horse, with 16 year old and under driver), unicorn (three horse), 4 A Breast (four side-by-side), ladies team (two horse), four horse hitch, all breed six horse and eight horse championship hitches. For more information about the show, visit GrandviewInvitational.com
The draft horses move to the World Equestrian Center the following weekend for Grandview World Nights. An elegant evening designed to wow the crowd with the intensity and power of these massive animals paired with heart pounding instrumental music, Grandview World Nights is a unique way to experience the gentle giants. For more information about the show, visit GrandviewWorldNights.com
HITS Ocala Winter Circuit
This equine extravaganza starts in mid-December with the Ocala Holiday Classic and runs well into March. Beginning in mid-January, a different competition takes place every week — Wednesdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. That’s a lot of jumping and hunting. Prize purses range from $50,000 to $200,000 — culminating in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix — so you’re getting the cream of the show-horse crop.
HITS Ocala — part of a prestigious national series of equestrian competitions (Horse Shows in the Sun) — takes place at HITS Post Time Farm, a postcard-worthy layout of 450 lush acres 16 miles northwest of Historic Downtown Ocala. Attendees can grab a spot in the bleachers, spread out a blanket, open a lawn chair or just plunk down on a patch of grass to take in the spectacle. You can also roam the grounds, grab a bite at the HITS Restaurant or Diamond Hills Paddock Club Cafe. The facility also features a vendor courtyard with souvenirs, apparel, jewelry and more. Admission is free, except for Sundays, when it’s $10. Parking is free.
Live Oak International
One of Ocala/Marion’s heritage events, Live Oak International is a world-renowned show jumping and combined driving competition. Each year, this event draws the leading drivers, riders, trainers, coaches and owners from Europe and North America. The event started out as a small local combined driving event and grew steadily. In 2012, show jumping was added, expanding the appeal.
We all see show jumping on TV, but combined driving is a horse of a different color. It gets pretty rambunctious, with equine teams careening around corners and splashing through water as the drivers bark commands.
Live Oak International take places at Live Oak Stud, a 5,000-acre thoroughbred breeding farm just 12 miles west of Historic Downtown Ocala. It regularly draws some 10,000 spectators during the four days. Attendees can sit under covered bleachers or bask in the sun in lawn chairs and on blankets. The showgrounds are rimmed by stately live oaks.
Live Oak International holds a Tailgating Competition that comes with prizes and bragging rights. Unlike a football game, these tailgate spreads are within easy viewing distance of the equestrian contests. So if you’re just visiting, put on a smile and hope for an invite. Make sure to allow time to peruse the Vendor Village.
For more information about event details, visit LiveOakInternational.com.