|It's that time of year when the temperatures drop and equestrians seek some fun in the sun.|
Equestrians can never really seem to get away from horses, even when they're on vacation. When those cold, dark, snowy days get you feeling the need for sun and fun, head to Florida on one of the many flight deals and get ready for some equestrian fun. There's something for every horse lover from jumping and polo to dressage and racing, so get ready to plan your getaway.
|Stop in at the Winter Equestrian Festival to see the top horses and riders in the world compete. Photo Chicago Equestrian.|
First stop, Wellington and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. From January 13th - April 3rd, 2016, you can catch Grand Prix Show Jumping at one of the Saturday Night Lights events and treat yourself to live entertainment, food, shopping and children's activities while watching Olympian after Olympian in the ring with some of the top show jumpers in the world. You can also catch hunter derbies, ponies, clinics and more. Over 5,000 horses compete with riders from over 33 countries for over $9 million dollars in prize money over the 12 weeks. If you can't make it to Rio this year for the Olympics, you can see most of the competitors right here. For a complete schedule of events, visit their website at http://pbiec.coth.com.
|See the world's best showjumping and dressage in Wellington, FL. Photo Chicago Equestrian.|
Need a dose of dressage? Don't miss the Adequan Global Dressage Festival until May 1st. Make plans to attend Friday Night Stars, a Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle event featuring food, fun, and the highest level of dressage competition at the Stadium on select Friday evenings throughout the winter and spring seasons. Some of the best dressage combinations in the world will ride their own test to music. Fantastic dressage competition takes place weekly so don't miss your chance to see the world's top rider's in action. See more at http://gdf.coth.com
|Catch fast action polo at the International Polo Club. Photo Chicago Equestrian.|
Polo anyone? Head over to the International Polo Club for Sunday brunch and polo. There are plenty of events and games to choose from to get your equestrian fix while soaking up the sun during the champagne divot stomp. Watch some of the world's top polo players compete for coveted championships. After the post-match Trophy Presentation, guests are invited to meet the players for autographs and pictures. Visit http://internationalpoloclub.com/polo/sunday-polo/ or http://www.wellingtonpolo.net for schedules and more information.
|Pinetree Stables offers a great ride on the beach in the Bahamas.|
Venturing a little further? You can cruise from West Palm Beach or Miami to the Bahamas and catch a fabulous trail ride on the beach from Pinetree Stables. Guides Linda and Chris keep it small and personal, allowing small parties of guests to ride their prized stock, most of which were bred and raised on the island. Their two hour trail ride gives you some history of the island and plenty of personal horse stories to share as you take the horses for a relaxing adventure. Even avid horse people will enjoy this ride - it's not your ordinary trail ride! Schedule early because spots are hard to get. They even take pictures during the ride and email them to you!! Great fun for all levels of riders. Visit http://www.grandbahamavacations.com/horseback-riding/ and tell them Chicago sent you!
Just north of Miami is Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino. Catch live horse racing Wednesday through Sunday. Schedule a VIP Fan Tour which includes the Winner's Circle Presentation, Jockey Room Tour, Announcer's Booth, Backstretch Tour and buffet. Visit http://www.gulfstreampark.com for details and post times. Hialeah Park offers Quarter Horse racing Friday through Monday until the end of February. Check hialeahparkcasino.com/racing for race details.
If you're on the west coast, check out Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa for racing action and Fox Lea Farm in Venice, for more of Florida's equestrian competition including quarter horses, hunter jumpers and ponies. Attend "Showjumping Under the Stars" every Friday from Jan 29th - March 3rd with food, music, family activities and a $25,000 Grand Prix. Visit www.facebook.com, Foxleafarm.com and http://www.tampabaydowns.com for more information.
|Watch the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix at Post Time Farm in Ocala. Photo Rebecca Walton/Phelpssports.|
Taking the kids to Disney? Just an hour and ½ drive north will bring to Ocala, another equestrian mecca. Stop at Horse Shows in the Sun at the Post Time Farm through March 27th, to take in high level hunter jumper competition including the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix and the Furusiyya Nations Cup. Visit http://www.hitsshows.com/ocala/hits-ocala-winter-circuit for the schedule.
In 2007, Ocala/Marion County was officially named the “Horse Capital of the World™,” a testament to the County’s unique involvement in all things equestrian and its record of producing some of the finest champions in the sport. Take an Ocala farm tour to get a behind the scenes glimpse of some of the area's top farms. There's a self guided tour also if you want to go at your own pace. For more information on the tours, click to www.visitflorida.com/ and http://www.ocalamarion.com/equestrian/horse-shows.
Take a tour The Sanctuary Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center for a therapy education. See the latest treatments for rehabilitation such as the hyperbaric chamber, swimming pools, saltwater spas and more. www.sanctuaryequinerehab.com.
You'll find more to do simply by browsing the web for equestrian events in the area you're visiting. Get out of the cold and head to one or more of these great equestrian destinations to soak up some sun and four-legged fun!