Whirlwind Recap: There’s Just Something about Ocala

I feel like our horse trips are always “whirlwinds” in a sense, because if there’s one thing we’re really good at, it’s packing a whole lot of stuff into a fairly short timeframe. This trip was no exception. We started out last Monday, hopping on a plane from Austin to Orlando. We rented a car (which was drama, but we ended up with an upgrade to a Subaru SUV, which you can make a whole lot of jokes and rhymes using “Subawuuuuu” so it was fun to drive at least) and made the trek up to Ocala, getting into town just after lunch time.

This place, I swear it’s heaven on earth

I still can’t reveal exactly what’s happening or the full reason we were there (I don’t want to jinx anything until it’s all done and dusted) but we spent our first afternoon doing stuff related to that. I swear you’ll get the full details sooner or later but for now just trust me it’s exciting and will be worth the wait.

we had some assistance

On Tuesday morning we hit up a couple of our favorite local tack shops and poked around for a while. I really wanted to pick up a new winter vest and maybe some breeches on this trip, but I struck out on both counts. Michelle found some halters though (if you ever need to know what to get her, the answer is always halters – foal or yearling size especially) and I found the D&S Pasta socks that I’ve been looking for, plus stumbled across some fun things in their whip section. I stood there debating between the green and navy dinosaur whip and the navy and silver glitter whip for probably what was an embarrassingly long time, but in the end I went with the glitter one because the dino one was just a bit too long for my preference. It was pretty great though.

That kind of turned out to be a fortuitous decision though because even the shorter whip didn’t fit in my bags so I ended up toting it through all the airports with the top of it sticking out of my backpack. I’m not sure what the dino would would have looked like, sticking up a freakin foot out of the top. I did get some real funny looks as it was.

Anyway, after some tack shop time we spent a while driving around the area getting a feel for where everything is located and how far things are. Spoiler alert: nothing is far. A 10 minute drive in basically any direction will take you somewhere amazing. After that we stopped at a friend of Michelle’s farm to see what all is currently being built out there. Super cute place, and she had a lot of insight on the area and some things that could be useful to know later on. After that we popped over to WEC for lunch and to see what shops were open.

still feels like Horse Disneyland no matter how many times I see it

Not many were open on a Tuesday but Romitelli Boots was, and I couldn’t resist a quick pop in there to show Michelle what they had. When I was there with Bobby in April he basically had to pry me out of there with a crowbar… I love boots and that store is just chock full of gorgeous things. I was tempted to try some on since I actually DO need new boots now, but I didn’t have any breeches or socks with me and we were kind of crunched for time, so I was like “well if we have any time tomorrow and end up back here, I’ll see that as a sign from the gods to try some on and just see“. Ya know, leaving it up to fate and all that.

After a quick lunch we headed over to the OBS yearling sale. We had some friends who were there looking, and some other friends who were there selling, and they both said we should come check it out, so how could we resist? We did see some really nice horses. We wandered around through the barns looking at the ones that were brought out, then stood out in the back by the holding ring, then inside behind the sale ring, and then went and sat inside the sale room itself. Definitely got the full OBS experience. It was fun to see so many young thoroughbreds in one place, and true to form the ones I picked out as my favorites in person were also ones I liked a lot on paper. Some sold for lots of money, some didn’t, but it was definitely my idea of a good time.

I may or may not have ended up stalking the dam of one of them and found out that the owner is selling all his stock so like now do I want a rando broodmare that I’ve never actually seen? Perhaps. Her yearling in the sale was by Empire Maker and I would definitely have put it in my pocket and taken it home if not for the tiny detail of the price being like 40x what I could afford. No horses were purchased by us that day though so whether or not you consider that a success or a failure depends on your point of view I suppose.

On Wednesday we went out to a another friend’s place to check out her stallion and foals. Well, I’ve seen him before but Michelle hadn’t, so I figured we may as well go by while we were out there. After that we ran one more errand and then found ourselves with a little time to kill before meeting another friend for lunch, so we headed back to WEC, I put on some breeches, and tried on some boots. What can I say, the gods have spoken.

I got a little overstimulated in there so I forgot to take good pictures, but Michelle snapped a few when I wasn’t paying attention. Basically my approach was that I’d try some on and see what I thought… if I liked them I’d ask what pricing was for all the options I wanted… if the price was under $X then I would order them.

And well. The stars aligned. I fit well into one of their standard sizes so I didn’t have to go full custom, which kept the cost down. The modifications I wanted didn’t add much to the base price of the boot, which was pretty well under the dollar amount I had in my head. They’re nice boots, were comfortable, and honestly felt pretty similar to my Tucci’s. When I’d researched the brand beforehand it was hard to find many people that had something negative to say (which… is rare for a boot brand…). So, ya know, whooopsyyyyy I ordered me some semi-custom boots. I opted for a black dress boot with brogue foot and a a black glitter top – just the top 1-2″ inches.

the brogue foot details

They’ll be a little bit fun but not so wild that they aren’t appropriate for whatever show I’m doing. That’s the idea anyway. They said it’s taking about 5-6 weeks to get them from Italy right now and then another week or so to get them to me once they hit Ocala, so I’m just planning on about 8 weeks and we’ll see what happens. I’m excited to have some pretty new boots that actually fit. And I’m really really really glad that I was able to go get fitted and order them in person at the Romitelli store because looking at the size chart I never would have picked the size I ended up in. I thought I was a 39 regular tall, but actually the 38 slim tall fit best when we played with some insoles. Never would have figured that, but there ya go – good reason to get fitted in person by a pro!

We capped off our Ocala experience with lunch at the Yellow Pony inside the hotel at WEC (the hotel wasn’t open last time I was here – omg y’all it is BOUJEE to the extreme) which had amazing food, then we had to head to the airport to catch our flight to Philly.

the stained glass is gorgeous

It was a quick 2 days in Ocala but we got to do and see a lot, and as usual I really enjoyed my time there. There’s something just a little magical about Ocala that really calls to me as a horse person. It’s a little slice of equine paradise, and more than that there’s something about it that feels like home. Which is NOT a feeling I have about Florida in general whatsoever, but Ocala really is a different world.

To be continued tomorrow with the start of our Northern adventures!

15 thoughts on “Whirlwind Recap: There’s Just Something about Ocala

  1. Ocala sounds wonderful. I wanted to look there when we were moving, but my husband didn’t want the humidity of Florida. I know of a different horse blogger that is moving there soon, I’m anxious to read about how it goes for her and her horse.

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  2. Ocala is definitely magical. I’ve been here for about 14 years and I absolutely love it. It’s fun living in such a horse-centric place and as an outdoorsy person, there’s lots of local adventures to do that are not horse related as well. I ship in to all my horse shows and love being in close proximity to so many good trainers and coaches! Hay prices are stupid expensive but it’s worth it to me!

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  3. I totally agree with Ocala being magical! I felt like I would instantly be in a better mood anytime I just drove around, there’s so many gorgeous horse farms. I can’t wait to hear what the news about Ocala is, it’s a hop and a skip away from me!

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  4. I am leaning towards the purchase of property as well. Perhaps a joint farm partnership purchase in the works? Done correctly, it would be a sound, long-term investment for both parties.

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