Work begun on New Climate-Controlled Indoor Arena and 7 Outdoor Rings for Prospective Expansion of Dressage at Ocala’s World Equestrian Center
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June 19, 2023
By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
Work has already begun on a new climate-controlled indoor arena and seven outdoor rings for a prospective expansion of dressage in 2024 at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida.
The indoor arena will be the sixth at what is already one of the world’s largest equestrian show grounds on more than 300 acres/121Ha that opened at the beginning of 2021, initially with 15 outdoor rings and five climate-controlled indoor arenas.
The additional competition facilities are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year in time for the first of a proposed competition schedule of seven dressage shows in 2024, up from five this year.
Applications have been made to the U.S. Equestrian Federation for new dressage dates of Feb. 4-8 and Mar. 27-23, expanding the existing schedule of CDI3*s in April, May and September and World Cup qualifiers plus CDI3*s in November and December.
Expansion of dressage came after meetings with riders and others involved in the sport arranged by Kimberly van Kampen of Hampton Green Farms, a founding sponsor, and WEC.
Christine Baxter, WEC Director of Equestrian Operations, said the winter dates were selected so as not to conflict with competitions at the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington that has seven CDIs over the first three months of the year.
Although the growth in the number of competition arenas was designed to accommodate dressage, she said, dressage would also be rotated in the Grand Arena in front of The Equestrian Hotel and the WEC Stadium to provide different environments for riders and horses.
The dressage competition area was announced as part of expansion projects including a second hotel of almost 400 rooms and suites, named The Riding Academy Hotel, to be ready by the summer of next year; current construction of a parking deck in the heart of the property; a state-of-the-art University of Florida physician offices; a 180,000 square-foot, five-story Event Center with a grand ballroom, meeting areas and other facilities with work expected to start in about a year, and an 80,000 square foot outdoor shopping mall adjacent to The Riding Academy Hotel and the Event Center.