Horses and riders from seven nations, from Sweden to Venezuela, will gather at the Florida Horse Park this weekend to compete for $20,000 in prizes at the Ocala Horse Properties International 3-Day Event.
“Visitors are going to see three events,” said event organizer Richard Trayford of EquiVentures, during the vet check prior to the trials. “We start with a dressage competition. It’s horse ballet. It’s about the movement of the horse, obedience, how well trained the horse is. We do that because it’s beautiful and it’s skilled. We also do it because it’s a good insight into how well prepared the horse is for the other disciplines.”
The cross-country event is “a test of athleticism, bravery, and stamina of both horse and rider,” Trayford said. The cross country course is four and a half thousand meters, with jumps that will test the courage of horses as well as riders. Sunday’s finale will feature show jumping to decide the overall winner of the competition.
“Ocala should be a global center of excellence for eventing,” Trayford explained. “Our sport traditionally, particularly in Europe, runs until about November, and then people literally turn out there horses, hang up their spurs and wait for the spring when they can start again. We used to go hunting in England in the winter, but the serious competition of eventing stops then.”
“Our sport used to boast the largest live audience of any sport in the world,” Trayford said. “Where I’m from in the UK, Badminton Horse Trials traditionally gets at least 250,000 on cross country day. People go to cross country day because they’d kind of like to see someone fall in the water occasionally. No one wants to see a horse hurt, certainly no one wants to see a rider hurt, but we don’t mind a few thrills and spills along the way.”
Admission to the event is free. For more information, visit EquiVentures.com. The Florida Horse Park is located at 11008 S. Highway 475 in Ocala, Florida.