History of the Park

1988

Richard Hancock moved from Kentucky with his family to become the new Executive Director of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. With him, he brought and shared his vision of the Florida Horse Park with F.T.B.O.A.
1990

Congresswoman Karen Thurman, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was working on the Florida Greenways. Richard Hancock approached her on acquiring a portion of Greenway property for the Florida Horse Park. Thurman was excited and immediately jumped on the opportunity to help.
1991

Marion County Chamber of Commerce established a committee to assist in establishing The Florida Horse Park in Marion County. The committee visited several possible sites. Richard Hancock served on the committee and introduced the group to the Florida Greenway. The committee unanimously chose the Greenway site and worked through the Chamber and the Florida State Agriculture Committee to establish the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park Authority and secure a lease for the Greenway site.
1994

The construction of an Agriculture Center and Horse Park was authorized by the Florida Legislature on the Cross Florida Greenway. After reviewing with the Ag Commissioner, the legislation had given the Authority the power to oversee the operation and construction of the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park.
1995

The construction of an Agriculture Center and Horse Park was authorized by the Florida Legislature on the Cross Florida Greenway. After reviewing with the Ag Commissioner, the legislation had given the Authority the power to oversee the operation and construction of the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park.
1997

250 acres within the Cross Florida Greenway was established as the Horse Park.
1998

The existing 2 barns on the site were purchased from Cashel Stud Farm with proceeds from the 1998 Florida Horse & Ag Festival.
1998

January 2

A 50 year lease commences between the Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
2000

The Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge over I-75 was designed.
2001

Land Bridge opened offering access to both the east and west Greenway Trails for Hikers, Bikers and Equine traffic.
2002

The Florida Horse Park was expanded from 250 acres to the current 500 acres it is today.
2005

May 1

Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority Board is vacated by state statute. Tom Warner is then appointed by Commissioner Charles Bronson as the new Chairman of the Board.
2005

June 1

International Event Organizer Shelley Lambert is hired as the first employee of the Park.
2005

August

Olympian David O'Connor is hired to design first cross country course at the Park.
2005

August 5

First Full Board Meeting of the newly formed Florida Horse Park.
2005

October 5

Florida Horse Park ground-breaking ceremonies were honored to have Charles Bronson, Chairman of the Florida Department of Agriculture (white cowboy hat with shovel) and US Senator Bill Nelson (astronaut) along with Mayor Gerald Ergle, Jay Ballie, Jim Hiltie, Joan Plecher, Richard Hancock and many others participate in this very special day.
2005

October 5

Darren Chiacchia, Olympian Rider jumps to open the Cross Country events following the ground-breaking ceremonies.
2005

November 5-6

The first event, Ocala Fall Horse Trials and Sunshine State Driving competition, is held at the Park.
2005

November 14

Construction of the All-Weather Arena Commences.
2006

January 16

First Dressage Event is held at the Park in the newly constructed All-Weather Arena.
2006

April 8

Children's Home Society's Dozer Days makes its debut and the first arena Polo Game is held at the Horse Park.
2006

April 7-9

The first Show Jumping show, the Ocala Jumping Classic, is held at the same time as the first international event is held at the Park, The Sunshine State CAI International Combined Driving Event.
2006

April 20-23

The first international 3-Day Event is held at the Park: The Festival of the Horse International CCI**/* 3-Day Event.
2006

August

Florida Horse Park Polo Club forms.
2006

December

Ocala Breeders' Sales make a generous donation to the Park and are granted naming rights to the All-Weather Arena.
2007

January - March

Florida Horse Park hosts for the first time the CFCC Equine Studies Class in Event Management.
2007

February 17-19

Florida Horse Park hosts largest Horse Trials ever in the Southeast Region with 509 entries.
2007

March

The Equestrian Center at Horse Creek Entry Level Cross Country Course, donated by Mrs. Parker J. Collier is completed.
2007

August 10

Florida Horse Park office gets its first flushing toilet. The office staff is no longer required to use port-a-potties.
2007

August 21

Governor Charlie Crist tours and meets with the Florida Horse Park Representatives for a tour of the Horse Park.
2007

September

The Horse Park is awarded a CCI**/* International Event to be held in conjunction with the Ocala Fall Horse Trials.
2008

January

Whitfield M. Palmer, Jr. is elected as interim Chairman of the Park. Craig G. Bachrodt takes over as Chair for the second half of the year.
2008

August

Whitfield M. Palmer, Jr. is elected as interim Chairman of the Park. Craig G. Bachrodt takes over as Chair for the second half of the year.
2008

October

State of Florida Office of Tourism, Trade & Economic Development awards Park a grant of up to $1 million dollars to fund basic infrastructure.
2008

November

IDEO, a global design consultancy out of California, begins a project to hone the strategic vision for the Park and to envision the horse park of the future.
2009

January

Connie Duff Wise, State Farm Agent in The Villages, Florida, is elected as Chairman of Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority.
2009

May

The Horse Park's Master Plan as a conceptual design that will be used as a development guide as the Horse Park continues to grow was completed by GH2 Gralla Equestrian Architects.
2010

The Florida Horse Park receives a grant through the Office of Tourism and Economic Development for the construction of a new development center.
2010

October 1

The Florida Horse Park license plate was enacted on on this day! The Florida Horse Park is grateful for Craig Bachrodt, Palm Chevrolete, for playing on of the very important roles in making this happen!
2011

The Florida Horse Park completes construction of the new concession building that includes restroom facilities and showers.
2012

July

Shawn Doherty is hired on July 1st as the Executive Director for the Horse Park.
2013

January

The Florida Horse Park was approved to have the land lease agreement extended from October 26, 2043 to March 31, 2072.
2013

November

Site work begins on the new for the construction of the new 79,500 square-foot covered arena.
2014

December

The Florida Horse Park declares that the newly constructed 79,500 square-foot covered arena is open for business. The massive structure is the size of a covered football field. The Southern Junior Rodeo Association was the first Rodeo at the Horse Park and the very first event under covered arena!
2015

May

Under the direction of Florida Horse Park's Executive Director Shawn Doherty, the first five permanent barns are completed. Each one has 32, 12×12' stalls. With this addition between the permanent and temporary buildings, the Horse Park now offers 282 stalls.