Does Ocala, Florida sound enticing?
Getting a case of the winter blues? Get out of the barn and get horse showing! There are winter options for everyone.
It’s Always Warm – Indoors!
If you need to stay close to home, try the shows at Ledges Sporting Horses in Roscoe. Showplace Productions Show Management puts on two “A” shows and one “B” show monthly December through April. Both the stabling and the attached show ring are heated and they serve some of the best horse show food around including a Saturday night exhibitors’ party.
The “A” shows are a great opportunity for mileage before the outdoor shows or for earning points to qualify for larger competitions. The shows offer divisions from short stirrup to 1.30m jumpers including classics for all divisions. Specialty classes include the $2500 Junior/Amateur Showjumping Hall of Fame class and all the NAL and Washington International classics. You can also participate in equitation at all levels from age group equitation up to the national medal classes.
Ledges Sporting Horses Facility
The IHJA “B” shows offer three days of classes for all levels as well from short stirrup to 3’3” jumpers. Showplace Productions is also one of the few show series in the area to offer special USHJA (United States Hunter Jumper Assoc.) Outreach classes, which offer not just local awards but national awards and a trip to the Capital Challenge Horse Show. In addition, each show offers a 2’6”-2’9” Chicago Equestrian Hunter Derby where riders can qualify for the derby finals in September.
Ledges is a great place to beat the winter blues and get out of the barn without traveling great distances in sketchy winter weather. For more information on these shows go to www.Showplaceproductions.com.
Still need a change of scenery??
About a five hour drive from Chicago is a series of shows in Lake St. Louis, Missouri put on by Queenie Productions. The facility has two indoor show rings and two schooling areas with attached stabling for about 500 horses. The Lake St.Louis Winter Festival consists of two “AA” shows a month December through March. These shows also offer a variety of classes from ponies up to the Grand Prixs including several $15,000 and $25,000 Grand Prixs, Hunter Derbies, a Leading Jumper Rider Bonus, exhibitor’s parties and more.
Several Chicago area riders have made the drive including Thomas Cerra and Lillie Ross, both winners of Grand Prixs held in December.
Pictured Left: Lillie Ross and Pako
Right: Thomas Cerra and Wocello
Photos by Lili Weik
St. Louis is another great indoor horse show location for those getting restless at home. Queenie Productions also runs a show in Omaha, NE, which has been named by the North Amermican Riders Group one of the top 25 horse shows in the U.S. in its first year. For more information on the St. Louis Winter Festival go to www.Queenieproductions.com.
Need to escape the winter all together?
If you have vacation time and extra cash, you can always consider escaping winter farther south. Several circuits have shows throughout the winter at various locations. HITS (Horse Shows in the Sun) has three locations; Ocala, Florida; Thermal, California and Tucson, Arizona. The circuits run January through March, you can go for the entire circuit or just a few weeks. (www.hitsshows.com)
There is also the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. Olympians and World Cup Champions come here to show for the winter. The competition is the best you will find in the United States. Set on 150 acres, the show grounds are complete with shopping, restaurants, over a dozen show rings and activities for kids and adults of all levels of equestrian knowledge. (www.equesdtriansport.com)
Heading farther west you can try the Gulf Coast Winter Classic at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Gulfport, Mississippi. The show has three all-weather rings and a large grass field plus a covered arena. The show offers a Grand Prix each week ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 in prize money. In addition to the horse show, the area offers newer hotels, casinos, entertainment and great gulfcoast restaurants. (www.classiccompany.com)
Plan to bring your horse or just escape Chicago. Check out the shows, the horses and enjoy the sunshine on a vacation.
Whatever your level or size of your wallet, there are winter showing options for you to get you out of the barn while waiting for the spring thaw.