Equus Realty

Area Information

"Horse Capital of the World"

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Census, Ocala/Marion County, Florida has more horses and ponies than any other county in the nation. Over 1200 farms and as many as 50 breeds graze on the area's rich green grasses. Ocala is also home to a wide variety of equine businesses. Farms that breed, raise and train horses, as well as off-track betting parlors, show jumping, polo, rodeo, trail riding and various breed shows bring horse-related business to Ocala.


As far back as 1917, building contractor Carl Rose recognized Marion County as a potential livestock- breeding gold mine. The limerock-rich soil would provide outstanding grazing, and the mild climate was ideal for year-round breeding and training. Mr. Rose developed a 3,000 acre thoroughbred horse farm called Rosemare Farm. Marion County's first foal was born there in 1939.

The industry took off in 1956 when a Florida-bred horse named "Needles" won the Triple Crown. Co-owners, Bonnie Heath, Jr. and Jackson Dudley decided to stand their star in Florida, giving the state instant credibility as a breeding ground for champion horses.

A second major event took place in 1956 when Dickey Stables, the farm that bred "Needles," was sold to a Maryland syndicate. That syndicate went on to form Ocala Stud. Managed by the legendary Joe O'Farrell, Ocala Stud produced its first racing crop in 1958, and within two years had become America's leading commercial breeder.

Gradually other breeds and other farms made their way to Marion County. Since 1958 the area's horse industry has grown from just 28 farms raising a limited variety of breeds to a staggering 1200 farms and over 50 breeds today. Marion County proudly owns the title of "Horse Capital of the World".

World Champions of several breeds currently hail from Marion County. The area hosts horse sales, demonstrations, individual breed shows, jumping, polo, reining, rodeo, educational seminars, and trail-riding events each year. If you love horses, Ocala/Marion County is a great place to call home!


The Ocala National Forest offers 100 miles of designated riding trails which are located at the southeast corner and southwest section of Marion County.

The Greenway Trail System was created from land that was originally intended to be used for the creation of a Cross Florida Barge Canal. The 70,000 acre, 110 mile long corridor is a multi-use recreation and conservation area that can be enjoyed by people and wildlife in Florida.

Riders on the Greenway will pass through a collection of landscapes capturing the natural beauty of Florida. Trails offer two different difficulty levels; laid-back relaxing rides and more challenging areas with a variety of obstacles.


The Greenway land is a mile wide corridor that bisects Marion County, crossing I-75 near the southern most exit of I-75 in the county. An innovative project created a land bridge over the Interstate suitable for wildlife and trail users alike. The project is the first of its kind built in the United States incorporating established trails and natural vegetation and linking trails on both sides of the highway.

Ocala trail riders also enjoy traveling a short distance to established equestrian areas in the Withlacoochee State Forest and Goethe State Park.

Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce
URL: http://www.ocalacc.com

Ocala Star Banner
URL: http://www.starbanner.com

Marion County Public Schools
URL: http://www.marion.k12.fl.us

Central Florida Community College
URL: http://www.cfcc.cc.fl.us

UF Large Animal Veterinary College
URL: http://www.vetmed.ufl.edu

Florida Farm Bureau
URL: http://www.floridafarmbureau.org

Office of Greenways & Trails
URL: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt

Florida Horse Park
URL: http://www.flhorsepark.com

FL Thoroughbred Breeders' & Owners' Association
URL: http://www.ftboa.com

Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.
URL: http://www.obssales.com

HITS-Horse Shows In The Sun
URL: http://www.hitsshows.com

Goethe Trail
URL: http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/goethe.html

Ocala National Forest
URL: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/florida

FL Dept. of Agriculture
URL: http://www.doacs.state.fl.us

Lands of America
URL: http://www.landsofamerica.com