What You Need to Know About the New World Equestrian Center in Ocala, FL
Updated: Feb 3
It’s only fitting that the Horse Capital of the World open a state-of-the-art equestrian facility. In December 2020, Ocala welcomed the new World Equestrian Center, which is now the largest equestrian complex in the United States.
The expansive center, set on 6,000 acres, offers something for everyone—from serious equestrians looking to compete at the highest level, to families in search of an action-packed weekend, to corporations seeking a state-of-the-art venue to host their next event.
Even those who aren’t particularly interested in horse shows will find something to love. In addition to best-in-class indoor and outdoor riding facilities, the World Equestrian Center features shopping, dining and a spa, plus a range of other community events and convention spaces.
The World Equestrian Center offers a wide variety of equestrian events throughout the year, including hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing, polo, and various breed shows. Events happen nearly every week of the year, with full details continuously updated on the World Equestrian Center calendar.
The 2021 winter season kicked-off in early January, with the hunter/jumper circuit running through March 28 and dressage through April 18. It’s already poised to be a full season of the highest quality competition, with more than 95% of the stalls reserved for the entire hunter/jumper winter circuit.
Combining indoor and outdoor space, the equestrian facility was designed to provide the best experience possible for horse, rider, and spectator. This is further evidenced by the extensive footprint for competition, accommodations for inclement weather, and easy access via beautifully landscaped paths.
The Grand Outdoor Arena and the World Equestrian Center Stadium are the crown jewels of the outdoor facilities, which include 22 rings in total. Accommodating 2,500 spectators in a covered grandstand, the Grand Outdoor Arena was designed to host equestrian events at the highest level of international competition, in addition to other local gatherings and festivals. Hunter shows exclusively take place at the World Equestrian Center Stadium, which has a capacity of 7,500 under its covered grandstand.
The indoor facilities are modeled after the “Sanctuary” arena at Ocala’s sister site, the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio. These four-climate controlled arenas can seat over 1,500 guests.
For those competing, 2,100 concrete stalls are available for horses of all sizes, featuring 12-foot aisles, temperature control, security-enhanced tack rooms, and wash racks. Additionally, the barns provide turnout paddocks, lunging and schooling areas, lighted arenas, and dedicated access paths for the horses. There is even an equine hospital that is equipped to handle everything from a routine check-up to emergency surgery, not to mention boarding, daycare, and hospital services for smaller pets that are along for the ride.
Shopping, Dining & Spa
The World Equestrian Center also boasts an engaging array of on-site dining, retail, and spa services, providing a full day of activity on their own, or a nice way to break-up the day between events.
A combination of luxury goods within the 13,000 square-foot shopping and dining center, with dozens of carefully selected vendors that set-up shop during horse shows, delivers an unmatched shopping experience while in Ocala. Selections range from riding equipment and horse care products to clothing and accessories to specialty food and home goods.
With multiple restaurants, catering, field concessions and a general store available on-site, the World Equestrian Center has dining options to suit every palate and craving. Serving a variety of different cuisines, the five restaurants currently open range from fast casual to fine dining.
If you’re looking for classic Americana, Ralph’s features a traditional diner menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Filo’s and Viola & Dot’s offer Mexican and Italian specialties respectively, with Miss Tilly’s
satisfying the sweet tooth in your group and the restaurant at the Equestrian Hotel providing a more upscale experience. Three more dining options are also set to open soon, adding a steakhouse, pub, and patisserie to the mix.
After an action packed day on the World Equestrian Center grounds, consider dropping by the day spa to relax and rejuvenate. This 7,000 square-foot salon and spa offers an extensive menu, with services including hair, makeup, and nails.
The World Equestrian Center is a premier event destination, with a mixed-use capacity that includes outdoor fields and indoor exposition centers. Reference the detailed event calendar during your stay in Ocala to see what’s planned, as the line-up could include dog shows, sporting competitions, concerts, or film screenings. And if your corporation or association is looking to organize their next event or convention, be sure to keep the World Equestrian Center in mind.
Five indoor exposition centers, totaling 600,000 square feet in size and featuring state-of-the-art capabilities, are equipped to host a variety of functions, inclusive of major conventions and trade shows. The multiple outdoor fields ranging in size from 400 to 900 feet are perfect for sporting events, especially lacrosse, soccer, cross-country and field hockey.
The combination of indoor and outdoor options also makes the World Equestrian Center the ideal destination for dog shows. Fully equipped to host a range of canine events, the World Equestrian Center provides dedicated bathing facilities, on-site obedience and agility equipment, and a veterinary clinic.
For the recently engaged couple, the World Equestrian Center’s vast array of venues and amenities make it an idyllic setting for a wedding. A variety of wedding packages are available, with a dedicated team of culinary and event specialists on-site to customize options and provide support from planning through reception. There is even a chapel located on the grounds, which can seat up to 100 guests. In addition to wedding ceremonies, the chapel hosts two worship services on Sundays at 7am and 11am, with no dress code.
Planning Your Visit
All competitions are free and open to the public, with complimentary parking located at the front of the facility. Once you’re on the grounds, golf carts are available for use and leashed dogs are welcome. The venue also recently launched an app, which aggregates all pertinent information into one easily accessible location.
In order to maintain a safe environment for all visitors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Equestrian Center has developed a series of guidelines, which adhere to state, local, and federal regulations and recommendations from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The updated list of policies is posted on the World Equestrian Center website, but in general, face masks or coverings are required for staff and visitors, with social distancing practiced on-site.
Book Your Stay
Simply put, there’s no shortage of things to discover at the World Equestrian Center. While you’re in Ocala, choose the Equus Inn as a comfortable, affordable home base for the duration of your stay. Better yet, we’re just a 15-minute drive away!
Don’t delay, book your room with us today and get ready to experience the World Equestrian Center and all the other exciting experiences that Ocala has to offer.