Florida is big horse country.

In fact, the Sunshine State is the third most populated horse state behind Texas and California, with more than 500,000 horses and a $6.5 billion economic impact.

Sarasota and Manatee are a growing part of this horse world. Our more affordable rural land and proximity to the two major hubs of winter equestrian show circuits in Wellington, Florida, and Ocala, Florida, as well as closer-to-home show opportunities in Venice, make the region a top choice for hunter-jumper facilities and equestrian professionals like trainers, veterinarians, chiropractors, massage therapists—and even horse psychics—who support them.

The hunter-jumper sport is a rarified one. In places like Wellington, a village west of Palm Beach that hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival that runs from January through March, the sport is a world filled with Gucci bags, Patek Philippe watches, Maseratis and million-dollar horses ridden by those who can afford them. (Three of the top-ranked riders are the daughters of billionaires Steve Jobs, Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates.)

But here in Sarasota and Manatee, the hunter-jumper world is understated and welcoming. That appeals to horse people who don’t like the glitz, pressure and pace of the major horse hubs. And you don’t even have to own a horse to enjoy the sport. You can watch top-ranked riders and horses at Fox Lea Farm in Venice for eight weeks during the Venice Equestrian Tour, Jan. 15-March 8.

In This Feature:

Fox Lea Farm Is Bringing in Riders, Horses and Dollars

The 46-acre farm hosts 42 events every year.

12/02/2019 By Susan Burns

Debbie Stephens Can Jump Higher Than Any Other Female Horse Rider

For the last 37 years, Stephens, now 69, has held onto the outdoor Ladies’ High Jump record.

12/02/2019 By Hanna Powers

It Takes a Pile of Money to Compete in High-Level Equestrianism

Equestrian pursuits are known as the “sport of kings” for a reason.

12/02/2019 By Hanna Powers

You Can Watch the Ponies and Stomp the Divots at the Sarasota Polo Club

James Wrigley Miller has put more than $2 million in improvements into the club so far.

12/02/2019 By Susan Burns