The Jacksonville Equestrian Center (JEC) held an official groundbreaking ceremony on May 3rd, 2018 for its new covered arena, part of its long term plan for progress and expansion.
“The new arena will be the largest clear-span covered arena in the southeast providing the necessary space to support a wider variety of activities and multiple events at the same time”, explained Peggy Fuller, DVM the Jacksonville Equestrian Center Board of Directors Chair, addressing the attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony. The new covered arena will be 300’ x 300’ and will attach to the existing 150’ x 300’ coliseum via a covered 130’ x 80’ livestock pavilion “Essentially we are doubling the number of covered rings we currently have available. We’re thrilled that this new building will increase our capacity to offer diverse events to all members of the community.” Fuller thanked the City of Jacksonville council members and officials, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center Board members and staff, World Development Group International and the many members of the community who have supported the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, making the improvements possible.
Jacksonville City Council members, Doyle Carter, Joyce Morgan, Al Ferraro, Greg Anderson and Parks and Recreation Director, Daryl Joseph joined the Jacksonville Equestrian Center executive board members in commemorating the groundbreaking event.
The celebratory evening included an introduction to therapeutic riding by H.O.P.E. Therapy Director, Becky Davenport. She highlighted the benefits hippotheraphy programs provide to individuals with a wide range of special needs. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center will allow all Premiere Accredited Therapeutic Programs use of the facility. This will enable the facility to be utilized, even when not booked for events. H.O.P.E Therapeutic is currently the sole local Premiere Accredited Therapeutic Riding Program, and plans to make use of the facility. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center has a specially equipped carriage with a wheelchair lift and special needs mounting ramp that accommodates wheelchairs and walkers. The new covered arena will enable The Jacksonville Equestrian to host more events like the Special Olympics Area Qualifiers and Championships, which were held at the facility in 2017 and 2018 and provide an all-weather training and teaching location.
The commemorative evening also honored winners of the “Take it to the Jax” Agricultural Art Contest. Two Duval County Schools, Fort Caroline Middle School and Enterprise Learning Academy, participated in the contest. Councilman Doyle Carter and Councilwoman Joyce Morgan presented the students with their awards. Fort Caroline Middle School 7th grader Bria McClary was a first place winner for her piece titled, The Rooster. Elian Salami was awarded second place for Horses and Isabelle Hampton was presented with third place for Orange Horses. Fourth graders from Enterprise Learning Academy were also recognized for their artistic talents. Kayle Lewis received first place for Teal Owl, Ava Linn was awarded second place for Horse and Barn, and Keira Collins received third place for Zebra & Tigers.
Attendees were treated to a celebrity barrel race that featured Jacksonville City Council Members and Jacksonville Equestrian Center Board members. Carolyn LaRose Jacksonville Equestrian Center Board of Directors Vice Chair raced to the fastest time. City Councilman Doyle Carter was second and the Center’s Board of Director’s Chair, Peggy Fuller, was third. Local supporter and experienced barrel racer, Jodi Coxwell announced the event and provided expert coaching to the celebrities who braved the race. The barrel horses were graciously provided by Diamond D Ranch and Michael Griffin, all of which earned “equestrian saint” status for taking care of their riders during the fun event.
The celebration was capped off with a delicious Taco Bar Dinner by Anthony’s Catering, followed by a team roping demonstrations from this week’s NTRL Rope For The Truck competitors. To catch a recap of the some of the evenings highlights follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWezFjmE0Hw
The evening’s events highlighted the venue’s versatility and capacity to host a wide variety of equestrian and community events. The facility hosts an extensive range of popular, family-friendly gatherings throughout the year, such as car shows, family fun days, dog agility trials, bicycling events, and equestrian competitions for every breed and riding discipline. For nature lovers, the property also features miles of hiking and riding trails as well as a picnic pavilion. Visit Jacksonville Convention Services Manager Becky Parker and Senior Manager, Courtney Hartert were on hand at the event to remind guests that this easily accessible center is only a short drive to the city and Jacksonville’s beautiful beaches.
Known for its varied amenities and ideal location, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is now expanding to offer more to both the equestrian community as well as the Jacksonville community, alike. For more information and to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call (904)-255-4215.
Photo: Jacksonville Equestrian Center Ground Breaking officiants (from left to right) Councilmen Greg Nelson, Councilwoman Joyce Morgan, Councilman Doyle Carter, Chair of the Board Peggy Fuller, Vice Chair of the Board Carolyn LaRose, Construction Chair for the Board Joanne Connell, Secretary of the Board Betty Griner, and Director of Parks and Recreation Darly Joesph. (Photo courtesy of JRPR, no photo credit necessary)