World Equestrian Center, Ocala
There have been murmurings of a fancy new horse show facility in Ocala, Florida for months. Curiosity got the better of me, so I went down to check it out. Wow. The World Equestrian Center, WEC, has outdone itself. It has made showing your horse not just exciting and glamorous, but also comfortable and affordable.
Size and Scope
I have never seen something so grand! For starters, WEC is massive. The grounds cover 300 acres of beautiful Ocala land. It includes four gigantic, indoor arenas, each of which can fit four competition size dressage rings. They all have comfortable stands for spectators, and giant screens that zoom in on the performances. It boasts 22 outdoor arenas, and of course the beautiful main stadium situated in front of a five star hotel. There are currently 23 barns that all connect to the indoors, with more in the works to be built. The barns boast 12 foot aisles and spacious stalls, with wash racks and tack rooms in each aisle. I walked through them to the arena and it took a good 10 minutes, you could really get some exercise getting around this place. Nearby you will find turnouts, and there is a vet clinic there to assist if need be. All that is just for the horses.
In addition, there is nearly every amenity needed for the competitors, their teams, and spectators. There are multiple restaurants and cafes for on-site dining. They have a campground and RV park, with RV rentals, a general store, laundromat, and golf cart rentals for getting around. There actually is a spa, and I think I already mentioned the fancy hotel with views of the main stadium. Of course there is shopping as well, which I took advantage of while I wandered around, in search of my first shad belly for Grand Prix. Honestly, there is no need to go anywhere while you show, all of your needs are catered to on the stunning grounds. Why would you want to leave when it is visually so appealing and comfortable to get around?
Besides the grandeur in the sheer size of it all, everything has been created with the comfort, health and safety in mind for horses and their human teams. All of the arenas have state of the art, performance footing set up for the different disciplines in mind. Even the bridle paths have all weather footing. The barns and indoor arenas are all climate controlled, which makes year round showing easier on everyone. The ceilings are high, with big fans to keep the air circulated. All indoor spaces are well lit. The concrete stalls are spacious, and there is matted flooring throughout. There is live streaming of the events, and 24 hour security including camera systems. Besides being functional, it is really beautiful, and that makes showing your horse so much more exciting.
I thought that all of this would come with a gigantic price tag as a competitor. It turns out that one of their areas of focus is making it affordable and accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be a sponsored, international level professional in order to show there and take advantage of the “nice barn”. This is so refreshing!
They keep their entry and stall fees down through an impressive list of sponsors such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Motorola. In fact this year if you are showing, your stalls are free. FREE! Sign me up. It is so nice to have a place take our equestrian sports seriously, because we all work hard and put a lot of resources and dedication into our equine partnerships. We deserve an elegant, safe facility to show off in as amateurs.
The one thing that I did see was that it takes some time for horses to get used to it all. There is a lot to look at from an equine perspective, and your horses might be a bit on the spooky side at first. I walked down the aisle with Liz Lund on one of her green dressage horses on a lead. He was such a good boy, but we were glad he could get a good look around before his big show day.
Of course there is always some sort of conflict that comes with new ideas and change. WEC, USEF, and FEI have been clashing over sanctioned events at the facility. I won’t get into it as it has been covered a lot. Drama at its best. Thankfully they have come to some sort of agreement to work with one another so that competitors are now able to compete at events without being penalized by the FEI. This is good news as a dressage rider particularly, and someone who enjoys watching quality events. Also, I think it is good to give Wellington some competition, it will up the standard for classiness.
I am excited for WEC in Ocala, and to learn more about the facility in Ohio, which has been running for a couple of successful years. It is lovely to see a place that is so classy, where everyone can enjoy competing and taking part in the equestrian sports we love. Maybe Diego and I will check it out next year!
Take a look at the World Equestrian Center’s website here.
Keep riding with Equine Diaries!
Note: Everything on this site is based on personal experience and research. We do not profess it to be an absolute truth, as everything can change based on someone’s experience, situation, horse, and background knowledge. If you see something that you feel needs another perspective, or if you would like to add any factual knowledge, please reach out to us with your thoughts and resources. We are open-minded and welcome constructive input.
[ We respect your privacy and will not share your data with any third parties. ]