So, on that LOOOOOONG drive I made Tom take to the Quilt Festival, we drove through Ocala, and the surrounding horse country. We had no idea that there were so many horse farms in Ocala, but there were! If not for the palm trees, I would have thought we were in Kentucky!
We had passed one farms where we saw huge tents set up, lots of cars, trucks and horse trailers. We weren’t sure what it was, but there was definitely something big going on.
Leaving Trenton before 2pm, we had time to check it out on the way home. We drove into the entrance, and asked a couple just getting out of their car what was going on. They said it was a horse show, and of course spectators were welcome.
We parked the Jeep, and joined them as they walked over to the jumping corral.
As we watched the Jumpers compete, they educated us on the competition – scoring, objectives, and how this whole process works – and we each shared our respective histories, and what brought us to Ocala, FL on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.
It turns out that they were from Ontario, and just in town for about a week. Their 18-year old daughter spent her last two years of high school living at a horse farm in Ontario so that she could focus on competition, and was spending a gap year before college in Florida with the team from that farm.
That was quite a bit of commitment on all of their parts! As her Dad stated, though, this was the Grand Finale. She did not progress to the point of being a professional competitor, so at the end of the winter season in Florida, she would return to Ontario to prepare for college, and her horse was going up for sale.
It’s a beautiful horse, in case anyone is interested!
There was a break in the action, and the gates were all lowered for another class of Jumpers, and re-ordered. The riders and their coaches were given a few minutes to walk the course and familiar themselves with it and strategize their rides.
Afterwards, the competitors readied themselves and their horses.
Then the competition began!
We watched a few of the competitors, and then before we left we decided to walk across to the Hunters competition and see how it differed from the Jumpers.
We only saw a few Hunters compete, but we could really see a difference. One additional aspect that the Hunters are judged on, that the Jumpers are not, is appearance – both of the horse and the rider. They both look much more formal in these competitions.
The course itself also seemed to be much more complex – there were cases where the horse and rider were headed directly towards a gate, but would have to swerve around it because it comes later in the course. They also frequently went into jumps in a curve, rather than just in a straight stretch.
We saw several instances where the horse just stopped dead in its tracks, and did not jump. If the rider was able to stay on, they got to make another attempt. but if they fell off they were done.
We were surprised to find that we had spent 2 hours watching the competitions – Tom thought it was much more interesting than the Quilt Festival!
It was fun – and educational for us – and we were glad we stopped!
We got home and reheated our leftover pizza from Friday night, before heading down to the Spanish Springs area of The Villages for the Cruise-In and music in the square.
We were amazed at the number of people there, and in fact, had to drive around for a while looking for a parking spot. We ended up in a lot several blocks from the main street.
There were a ton of cars there, too! The roads surrounding the square were completely filled with cars, and each road branching off from the square was closed off for at least 1 block.
We walked all around, enjoying the sights of the shiny vehicles and the sounds of 50s and 60s music from the band.
There were some very unique vehicles,
and a few Cobra’s like Grandpa’s.
There weren’t as many Mustangs as we usually see at a car show, but we did find a couple of nice ones for Nicolas,
and a couple of Bugs for Bryce!
The Cruise-In was advertised as going until 9pm, but most of the car guys were heading out when the sun went down – can’t drive them after dark, I guess!
We listened to the music for a little while longer,
and then finished off our day with some frozen yogurt!
It was a long, busy day . . . but lots of fun . . . and the weekend wasn’t over yet! More to come!