Jacksonville Equestrian Center Wraps Up Another Successful Spring Classic Series

For the third year in a row, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center wowed riders and spectators alike during the Jacksonville Spring Classic, held April 4 through April 15, 2018.
The facility, which boasts an impressive set-up including a larger-than-life indoor stadium, several outdoor rings and a derby field, attracted 500 hunter and jumper pairs from as far as Dallas, Texas.

The highly anticipated two-week series featured a myriad of hunter and jumper classes, with favorites including the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby sponsored by Glen Kernan Gold and Country Club, and the $35,000 Regional Grand Prix sponsored by Sidelines. Prize money totaled more than $260,000, adding to the allure of the springtime show.

The show also offered Opportunity Classes for those riders who are not USEF members and wanted to compete at a USEF-rated competition – cementing the series’ ideal environment for all types of riders, including junior, amateur and professional competitors ranging from unknown, local amateurs to household names, like Kelley Farmer.
Farmer, known by the hunter community as a derby queen, captured the coveted the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby aboard her new partner, David Glefke’s Verdict. The impressive pair blew the competition out of the water with 20 points above the runner-up in a field of 23.
This year, many competitors were return customers, after enjoying the simultaneous comfort and excitement of previous years’ events. Derek Petersen, of Archer, Florida, for example, commented about how thrilled he was to return to the show. After taking second in last year’s grand prix, much to his pleasure, this year he took the blue in the $35,000 grand prix.
Equally happy to participate in the show, first-time Jacksonville Equestrian Center rider and winner of the $7,500 Welcome Jumper Amanda ‘Happy’ Comly, also expressed her enjoyment.
“It’s so nice to be here with the Classic Company,” she said. “It’s a lot more personal than other shows I’ve been to — it feels like the organizers care about what I think and how I’m doing. I’m grateful to be a part of this community.”
Of course, the show is just as thrilling for spectators as it is for riders. Conveniently located near lodging and attractions, like the Jacksonville Zoo and the Riverside historic district, spectators, who enjoy free admission and parking to the series can, find lots of entertainment.
To learn more about this year’s Jacksonville Spring Classic series, go to http://www.classiccompany.com/. For more information about the Jacksonville Equestrian Center and the myriad of equestrian events that call it home, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call 904-255-4215.
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Photo 1: Derek Peterson and Diamant’s Legacy winners of the $35,000 Grand Prix during the first week of the Jacksonville Spring Classic. (Photo courtesy of Allison Hartwell Photography) http://www.alisonhartwell.com/
Photo 2: Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2 owned by Westwind Equestrian winners of the $35,000 Sidelines Grand Prix during the final week of the Jacksonville Spring Classic. (Photo courtesy of Allison Hartwell Photography)http://www.alisonhartwell.com/
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Jacksonville Equestrian Center Brings in the Outstanding- Tim Jones Takes The Helm as the New Executive Director

Jacksonville, FL (January 3, 2018) — The Jacksonville Equestrian Center grounds first got its start as a former U.S. Naval base. When the Navy closed down the base, they donated 2,000 acres of forestland to the city of Jacksonville, earmarked for a regional recreational park. The city then created an 80-acre, world-class equestrian center on the property, capable of hosting many kinds of events and often has multiple events simultaneously.

The task of running the versatile, multi-faceted facility in Jacksonville, Florida, is now in the capable hands of Tim Jones. Although Jones spent the last several years in Kentucky horse country, he is happy to now call the warmth and balmy beauty of the sunshine state of Florida home.

Jones graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture (agronomy/animal science). “I grew up on a farm in far western Kentucky,” he drawled softly. “But I really did not become involved with horses until I attended The University of Kentucky where I began working part-time on a local Thoroughbred farm to help pay for college.” After starting off hot-walking racehorses, an enthusiastic Jones began to learn the horse business from the ground up. He went on to become a groom, and then an exercise rider.

After a short stint as an assistant farm manager in Ohio, Jones moved back to the Lexington area as the event-coordinator of the legendary Kentucky Horse Park. “Although my position at the park wasn’t hands-on with horses any longer, I was heavily involved with the Mounted Police unit there and was fortunate to ride with them on several occasions, including a musical ride and many public relations functions.” It was at the Kentucky Horse Park that Jones learned about the horse show industry. “I loved the job, and I grew with the department during the next 17 years. We added rings and barns, and it was a really good time to be there.”

Next up for Jones was a seven-year stint as the director of Western Kentucky University’s Agricultural Expo Center in Bowling Green, where he was in charge of the operation of a climate-controlled 2,000-seat indoor arena, an outdoor arena and event stabling. “The Expo Center hosts a number of equestrian and livestock events annually,” Jones explained, “as well as providing classroom and support to the Agriculture Department of the University.” Bowling Green was a much smaller facility, and he says he “missed the larger events at a place like the Kentucky Horse Park.”

“So that’s what brought me to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center,“ explained Jones. “More than anything, I like diversity and the variety of lots of different events. Horse shows have similar aspects but there are differences. A barrel racing competition is different from a dressage show, which is different from a hunter/jumper show, which is decidedly different from dog agility. Every day is different.” Then he happily added, “ I’m definitely excited about not having to put my snow-and-ice-removal skills to the test!”

Jones’ vast experience will serve him well as he heads up the exciting new phase of construction at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. Ground breaking will commence next month for an additional covered arena and cattle cover to complement the 5000-seat indoor coliseum, stadium jumping field, four permanent barns, and seven outdoor arenas The Jacksonville Equestrian Center staff has already developed a reputation for hosting family-friendly exciting events all year round, with most events open to the public. The facility is a favorite destination not only for horse lovers and competitors, but also for recreational events that take advantage of miles of hiking and riding trails, a picnic pavilion and even an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool center abutting the equestrian facility.

For more information about the facility and to find out about upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or Tim Jones at (904) 255-4225.

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Photo 1: Tim Jones the new Executive Director at Jacksonville Equestrian Center.
Tim Jones new Executive Director

Photo 2: Areal view of the Jacksonville Equestrian Center grounds.

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Dressage on the First Coast Kicks off December Events at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center

Jacksonville, FL (December 11, 2017) – The Jacksonville Equestrian Center recently kicked off an eclectic month of events with the Dressage on the First Coast
Fall Show this December. The show was put on by the Northeast Florida Dressage Association, and featured nearly 40 classes ranging from Training Level through Grand Prix. Riders competed for top scores in the Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s beautiful outdoor show rings.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has been known for years as a host of successful dressage shows in Florida. “The staff was professional and on the ball” said show manager Carlie Evans. Organizations like the Northeast Florida Dressage Association benefit from the facility’s knowledgeable staff, first-class amenities, over 400 permanent stalls, superior arena footing, and close proximity to major highways, downtown Jacksonville, and sunny Florida beaches.

At the Dressage on the First Coast Fall Show, the horses arrived at the equestrian center for a weekend of fun and friendly competition. “We received lots of great comments on the facility from the old regulars and a few new people that had never been there before that said they will definitely come back” said Evans. Winner of the FEI Freestlye Test of Choice, Shelly Van Den Neste said that, “The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has always been one of my favorite but the outdoor arena is so much better now with the new all weather footing!!”. Van Den Neste rode The Governer SRF to a win with a score of 67.525. The show included Great American/USDF Regional Qualifying classes, USDF/Dover Adult Amateur Medal Program classes, and a USEF Dressage Level 3 Competition. Now that the show has concluded, the Northeast Florida Dressage Association plans to return to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in March 31 – April 1, 2018, for the Dressage on the First Coast Spring Show.

In an East meets West scenario the Jacksonville Equestrian Center also hosted the Florida Quarter Horse Association (FQHA) Last Chance show in their beautiful 150’ x 300’ indoor arena. The event featured two days of competiton ranging from trail classes to driving for juniors, amateurs and professionals alike. This show was the last show of the calendar year to earn points and double points towards the year end awards.

In the meantime, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will continue to host a variety of exciting events for equestrians and the general public. Next up will be the USDAA Pals & Paws Dog Agility competition on December 8-10, 2017, in which dogs and their handlers will work as a team to race through a dog obstacle course. Then, on December 16, humans will have their turn in an obstacle course at the All Terrain 5K race.

The month will finish up with Community Schooling Day on December 27, which horses and riders are welcomed from 10am-4pm to ride in the state-of-the-art indoor arena for a fee of $10 per rider ($20 if the rider has more than one horse).

Nearly every event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is free to spectators. To find out more about the facility and about upcoming events in December and throughout 2018, please visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com.

Photo 1: Shelly Van Den Neste rides The Governer SRF to victory in the FEI Freestyle Test of Choice at Dressage on the First Coast Fall. (Photo courtesy of Shelly Van Den Neste)shelly van de neste

Summer Fun Continues at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center with the Bubble Run 5k and Action-Packed Upcoming Events

Jacksonville, FL (August 11, 2017) – Jacksonville, Florida was the place to be this past Saturday, as the Jacksonville Equestrian Center found a way to keep running cool in the summer sun in a unique 5k race. The Bubble Run 5k took place at the 80-acre Jacksonville Equestrian Center on August 5, giving runners of all ages a chance to run through what race producers compared to “Willy Wonka’s factory.”

Despite the Floridian summer temperatures, runners were able to beat the heat while dashing through the three-plus mile course. Every three to five minutes, waves of foam rolled through the 5k route. Each kilometer was marked with a different colored mound of foam – taller than any racer – to run through. By the time the racers were done, none had avoided being covered in foam from head to toe.

Though every event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is as uniquely different as the Bubble Run 5k, all have the same goal in mind – to give every participant an excellent experience and a great time. The Bubble Run 5k certainly achieved this, and the remaining events slated for this summer at the facility are sure to not disappoint in comparison. Next up will be the Doug Schembri Memorial Horse Show on August 19 – 20. This is an ApHC, ARHA and Open horse show, featuring a Yearling Round-Up Futurity in which yearlings can compete in Halter, Lunge Line, Hunter In Hand, and In Hand Trail. The following weekend will be an All Breed Horse Show, held on August 26.

September will keep the fun going with the Jacksonville Fall Festival, a USEF “A” rated hunter/jumper show set to take place from September 21st – 24th, followed by the First Coast Classical Dressage show on September 23rd – 24th, and the Country Boy Olympics on September 30, in which both men and women divisions will test competitors’ strength, speed, and endurance. A $5,000 cash prize is up for grabs in this competition. Events will include the Country Mile 5k – with plenty of mud and tough, country-themed obstacles – and the Country Boy Olympics fitness challenge, which will demand competitors to perform such tasks as truck pulling, hay throwing, and barn building.

Nearly all events at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center are free for spectators, so head to this popular facility to get entertained, grab tasty food and snacks, and enjoy the facility’s beautiful nature trails. Adjacent to the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is an Olympic-sized public swimming pool and golf course. The spacious facility itself includes two outdoor show rings, an enormous indoor coliseum, four permanent barns, 422 stalls, and 78 full hook up RV spaces. For more information on how to register to participate in exciting upcoming events or to learn more about the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, please visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4215.

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Jacksonville Equestrian Center Brings A-Rated Hunter/Jumper Competition to Northeast Florida with New Show Series

Jacksonville, FL (June 26, 2017) After the debut of the 2017 Jacksonville Show Series at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center this month, hunter and jumper competitors can look forward to getting in the A-Rated show ring once more during part two of the new series. Part one, the Jacksonville Spring Encore, ran June 1-4 and offered rated hunter and jumper competition at the state-of-the-art Jacksonville Equestrian Center. The series will continue on September 21-24 with the Jacksonville Fall Festival, and will offer new and returning riders another chance for big success in the show ring.

One of the successful competitors from the Jacksonville Spring Encore was rider and trainer Nashae Powell. Powell rode Temptation, a Warmblood owned by Alexis Newman, to the first-place finish in the USHJA Hunter Derby. The seven-year-old gelding was recently imported to the U.S., and trainer Powell has been riding and showing him for less than three months.

The Jacksonville Spring Encore offered a chance for Temptation to get into the show ring and “get some miles” at an A-Rated show, according to Powell. The show demonstrated his potential. “He’s come a long way really fast, so we’re all really excited about him,” Powell said.

Powell works with Coriander Farm Inc. owned by Katie Young and based in Jacksonville, Florida. The team had great success at the Spring Encore with placings with multiple different horses throughout. The performance from Temptation was a clear highlight for the team during the show.

“His personally is actually really neat,” she said. “He’s like a little human, really; like a little puppy dog.”

The rated status of the 2017 Jacksonville Show Series was a huge draw for Powell. “An A-rated horse show right in your backyard is pretty hard to pass up,” she said. Powell and her team have competed before at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, including circuits earlier this spring. They are familiar with the many amenities that the facility offers exhibitors, including a 125,000 square-foot indoor arena inside a coliseum that seats 3,700 and over 400 permanent stalls and 78 RV hook-ups.

“The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a nice, big place,” Powell said. “The barns are nice, and the indoor ring is probably the biggest perk. The fact that you can get indoor ring experience is great because we don’t have a lot of those around here, so you can get experience indoors for competitions at the national level. 

Hunter/jumper competitors can next plan to attend the USEF “A” Rated Jacksonville Fall Festival on September 21-24. This show will feature special classes and classics that will capitalize use of the facility’s turf field and enormous indoor coliseum, making it perfect prep for the upcoming indoor shows that many riders will head to afterwards.

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center’s close proximity to downtown Jacksonville, hotels, and restaurants, as well as pristine beaches and outdoor activities, makes it the ideal location for equestrian, educational, community and sporting events throughout the year. The upcoming event schedule includes the Bubble Run 5K in August and horse shows throughout the summer. For more information about the approaching Jacksonville Fall Festival, or other upcoming events at the premier Jacksonville, Florida, venue, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call 904-255-4215.

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