When I first planned my weekend trip to Ocala, Florida horses weren’t even on my radar. I was just planning on a great weekend of Florida Travel . Then I started looking at things to do in Ocala and horses just kept popping up on every list I read. I’ll be the first to admit that I personally am not a horse lover, but my mom is.
I like horses well enough, I just don’t know much about them. My mom on the other hand did barrel racing in high school, has had horses of her own her entire life, and now works at and manages (amongst other responsibilities) a therapeutic riding center. Horses are almost as big of a part of her life as her family is.
Horses in Ocala FL
Horse Statues in Ocala
Even if you weren’t planning on seeing horses on your trip to Ocala, they’re almost unavoidable. Just like Cincinnati has pig statues all over the city, Ocala has painted ponies lining the corners of downtown and other streets throughout Ocala/Marion County Activities.
These ones are just statues though, they’re actually for an awesome community project called Horse Fever that started back in 2001 and has had subsequent events with additional horses in 2003 and 2011.
Local companies could sponsor a painted pony and have it placed in the location of their choosing. When the pony sells, half of the money is donated to the Marion Cultural Alliance and half goes to the sponsor’s choice of charity.
It’s an amazing way to showcase Marion County’s horse culture while also raising money for charity. Many of the horses are still sprinkled throughout Ocala and many are on display at the Marion Cultural Alliance office.
And the horses are beautiful works of art. These ones are just a few of my favorites.
Gypsy Gold Horse Farm
One of my favorite moments from my 48 hours in Ocala was the two hours I spent touring the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm. Even without being a horse aficionado myself, I knew that the Gypsy Vanner horses were something special.
And when I texted my mom two minutes into the presentation and asked her if she’d ever heard of this breed, she could tell me all about it. Gypsy Vanner horses are apparently kind of like royalty when it comes to horses, a rare breed that the owners of the current Gypsy Gold Horse Farm actually discovered on a visit to Europe years ago.
As soon as I heard the owner, Dennis, talking about his love for animals, I knew this place would be something special. I can’t tell the history of the Gypsy Vanner anywhere near as well as Dennis, so I won’t even try.
You can read the entire history here, all I’ll tell you is that these horses are beautiful. They’re majestic. And they’re a wonder to see for anyone who loves horses.
Other Horse Attractions in Ocala
Ocala is also the home to various other opportunities to see, ride, and interact with horses throughout Marion County. Whether you just want to take a trail ride or want to tour a farm that breeds award winning horses, there’s something for everyone.