Ocala is known as the Horse breeding capital of the US with over 1000 farms in the vicinity. We named our tour to the area, “Let’s go Horse around in Ocala” and we did. We saw $100,000 Thoroughbred studs behind bars that we were warned could bite off your fingers and some fed them apples anyway.
We saw Arabians gentle as a baby and some with their babies that we could feed and pet to our heart’s content.
We heard stories about race winners and their offspring that won several major races up to and including the Kentucky Derby and even the triple crown bred in Florida.
We saw them feed, play, run and literally pose as some of them were show horses that are trained to look good. Ocala Horse Properties in their Farm Portfolio features the following quote, “Horses- If God made anything more beautiful, he kept it for himself.” Another states, “A dog may be man’s best friend… but the horse wrote history.” And finally the great spokesman himself Winston Churchill wrote, “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.” And we think that in this instance he was referring to horses.
We started our tour with a look around the historic area of Ocala which has some special houses plus the seven sisters Bed &Breakfast. This is a property of International acclaim where you can stay in a exotic room decorated as Egyptian, Beijing China, Madrid, Spain, a Parisian Boudoir or the Moroccan Suite. I have sent clients here for a New Year’s Weekend with a Murder Mystery encompassing the exotic rooms and their main dining area to solve the spoof like a sleuth. Ask the owner’s about the paranormal history surrounding the property. “ You only get 52 weekends a year
Make the most of each and every one of them with a weekend getaway. Choose your own adventure at one of our great weekend destinations. Be a Weekender.” (source Hilton) Our next stop is your home away from home for comfort food Southern Style at the new Ivy House in Ocala. We have been dining at the original in Williston (apx. 20 miles west)
but this was our first encounter with the newly remodeled former Felix’s. I must say I love what you’ve done with the place was my first thought upon entering what seems to be a Southern tradition similar to Poogan’s Porch
in Charleston where the rooms are set up like you’re in a large house but small areas decorated in French Country or other southern motifs. The food was ample and tasty just like at their cousin’s in Williston.
Our guide, Karen Grimes, stepped on the coach after lunch and suffice it to say she knows her way around a horse and horse country. We learned a tidbit or two about some very prominent families in the area including Charlotte Weber who resides on the largest of the properties named Live Oak and she owns not only Campbell’s as in soup but Godiva as in chocolates and an incredible property that stretches out for a long while. And then we spotted the Steinbrenner ranch which has a new home under construction in view from the road. Our last stop of the day in Ocala was the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association Building which besides having a very impressive meeting room where I imagined large horse affairs getting sorted out also included some interesting memorabilia on two floors.
Many towns have a theme and our Horse Capital is plainly carrying out theres’ with an art in public places colorfully painted horse statue collection.
We didn’t do the scavenger hunt to find them all since I understand they number over forty but we did see a few in various locations throughout town and country. We’ll be back since 1000 ranches might take a few trips to get through and we didn’t have time to visit John Travolta’s fly in neighborhood yet and this town has its’ own serious contenders for our Blueberry search since they have many Blueberry farms and you pickum’s all around.