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Work and Leisure in Ocala, A Horse Community

Updated on November 26, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Grazing at sunset near Ocala FL.
Grazing at sunset near Ocala FL. | Source

Wild Horses and the Iron Horse

Imagine Central Florida in the late 1700s to early 1800s with cattle and wild horses tended or pursued by new Americans, the Spanish, and Black cowboys as well as Seminole, Ai, and Timcuan native groups. Records of this can be found in Ocala's historical museums and libraries as well as on cowboy-related Internet sites.

By the mid-1800s, Henry Flagler, a wealthy man in other industries, brought the American Railroad through Florida as well. At least one Florida county and one regional hospital are named in his honor and his history is well presented in the book called Last Train to Paradise, seen below.

Traces of scrub cattle, a number of large horse farms, but little railroading are found in Ocala and Central Florida today. Flagler's trains were disabled by inclement weather, but Amtrak appeared in 20th-century developments. Wealthy business people used to ship their cars to Florida from the Northeast for pleasure and business, and today, an auto train will bring your car along with you on Amtrak.

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A markerOcala Amtrak Station -
531 NE 1st Ave, Ocala, FL 34470, USA
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B markerThe Villages -
The Villages, FL, USA
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The Ocala, Silver Springs and Park Street Railroad Company was incorporated on June 7, 1887.

Horse Economy

Horse farms are a large part of the Ocala and Marion County (named for the American Revolution's Swamp Fox, Francis Marion) economy today.

At least 30,000 residents of Ocala. Marion County work in the horse-related industries, including tourism. Tours of Ocala horse farms are available and some are free-of-charge. A carriage tour through a number of farms is convenient and available with a starting point just south of Ocala.

The Ocala Chamber of Commerce in the Downtown District keeps a list of these horse farms for visitors and calls Ocala the Horse Capital of the World. A public art project in recent years resulted in painted and decorated horse statues throughout the city along the sidewalks.

In addition, Olympic Equestrian medalists and rodeo champions also make their home in Ocala, where horse shows and rodeos are always popular. Florida Horse Park in Marion County is an official US Equestrian Federation training site as well.

New England Shires

One local horse farm is named after the breed of horse that is its specialty, the New England Shire. This breed is one of the largest draft, or working, horses. This horse center is one of the largest shire breeding farms globally at a size of 125 acres of limestone-rich land, important for horses' bone health. It is difficult to imagine horses larger than Percherons or Belgians, but some of the shires are larger.

Two shire farms are located in Ocala:

  • New England Shire Centre at 4877 S.W. 134th Terrace; Ocala FL 34481
  • Sterling Shire Stables at 998 NW 63rd Ct; Ocala FL 34482

Horses of nearly every other breed are raised in and around Ocala, Florida in addition to shires, on over 200 different farms and horse/rider training centers.

Ocala Living

The City of Ocala bills itself as a city-country mix with affordable housing. Apartment living runs from an average of $570 to $1300 a month.

Home sales in 2014 ranged from $120,000 to nearly $500,000+ and that includes horse farms. Mean and median values are around $225,000. Some of the housing subdivisions are named exotically, like Lady Lake and On Top of the World .

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A markerOcala FL -
Ocala, FL, USA
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B markerDaytona Beach FL -
Daytona Beach, FL, USA
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C markerTitusville FL -
Titusville, FL, USA
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This city is near to NASA Florida launches.

Best Places for Photos and Memories

Horse and Country Venues to Visit

  • Appleton Museum of Art. 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd.; Ocala FL 34470. This is a great family place that is maintained by the Central College of Florida. it is set on a former estate known for horse breeding. The famous John James Audubon is celebrated here with several pieces of his original art.
  • Crystal River Archaeological State Park. 3400 North Museum Pointe, Ocala, FL 34428. This park is one of discovery and is family friendly. The park is within a larger preserve and state park of the same name. This one is full of the oldest Native American mounds and artifacts before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. These Indigenous Peoples built temple and burial mounds, a central plaza, and other structures. The park is a registered US Historical Landmark. Manatee tours of manatee watching and snorkeling are also available.
  • Florida Carriage Museum & Resort
  • Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida

    Official website of the Florida Agriculture Center & Horse Park Authority Inc. Ocala horse shows, Event news, calendar of events, visitor information, maps and more!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Appleton Museum of ArtBobwhite (Virginia partridge), painted 1825.Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!) (1891)
Appleton Museum of Art
Appleton Museum of Art | Source
Bobwhite (Virginia partridge), painted 1825.
Bobwhite (Virginia partridge), painted 1825. | Source
Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!) (1891)
Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!) (1891) | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Juniper Springs in the Ocala National ForestAlexander Springs Creek inside the forest area.Silver Glen Spring
Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest
Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest | Source
Alexander Springs Creek inside the forest area.
Alexander Springs Creek inside the forest area. | Source
Silver Glen Spring
Silver Glen Spring | Source
  • Museum of Drag Racing - 13700 SW 16th Avenue; Ocala FL 34473. Many folks do not realize that drag racing is organized, has a history, and is celebrated in museums.
  • Ocala National Forest
  • Ocala Speedway - 9050 North West Gainesville Road; Ocala FL
  • Ocala Jai-alai. The game of Native Americans and everyone else. 4601 Northwest Highway 318 Orange Lake Fl. This is the oldest Jai-alai playing arena in the Eastern US.
  • Santos Trailhead. Southeast 80th Street & US Highway junction 441/301/27. This entrance leads to wonderful walking and hiking trails, equestrian trails, and a picnic area.
  • Silver Springs: Nature's Theme Park. 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd.; Silver Springs FL. Nature park and zoo: 10,000 years of historical displays, amusements rides and a large springs that pumps 550 million gallons of water daily. People used to come to Florida for respite in its the healing waters and hot springs back in the 1800s, and they still come to enjoy the water and the sight of the springs.Wildlife, native plants and exotic flowers fill the park and glass-bottomed boats will take passengers into the Silver River to see the underwater life.
  • Timucua Nation Village. Marion County Historical Museum.

Timucua Nation dwellings on display in Ocala at the Marion County Historical Museum.
Timucua Nation dwellings on display in Ocala at the Marion County Historical Museum. | Source

Business and Employment Market

Summer jobs are usually filled by May or June each year, but in the Ocala area, at least 5,100 jobs were listed in Mid-July 2011. Numbers of job postings increased 27% in the 18 months ending May 31, and are still on the rise.

The Top 10 Hot Jobs in Ocala are all involved in the high-paying Heathcare occupations including Medicine, Dental Medicine, Mental Health, and Public Health. Number Eleven includes all types and levels of Trucking Transportation.

Top 10 Industries Increasing Fastest to 2018

  1. Wholesale Electronics
  2. Truck Transportation/Freight
  3. Merchant Wholesalers for Durable Goods
  4. Specialty Trade Contractors
  5. Couriers and Messengers
  6. Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores
  7. Construction of Commercial Buildings
  8. Investments in Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other
  9. Food Manufacturing
  10. Hospitals and Clinics

Job Market to 2018

State and local job bureau predictions for fastest growing jobs for Ocala:

  1. IT - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  2. Truck Driving
  3. Construction - Sheet Metal Workers, Cost Estimators, Mixing and Blending Machine Jobs, Heating A/C and Refrigeration (HVAC) jobs
  4. Sales Representatives
  5. Mainstream Preschool Teachers
  6. Dental Hygienists
  7. Construction - Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers, Electricians Helpers, Excavating and Loading Machine jobs
  8. Pharmacy Technicians
  9. Dental Assistants
  10. Compliance Officers
  11. Education - Instructional Coordinators, Special Education Teachers for Middle School and for Preschool - Elementary (Grades Pre-K thru 5th)
  12. Nuclear Medicine Technologists
  13. Dishwashers
  14. EDUCATION - Mainstream Elementary and Middle School Teachers
  15. Employment Specialists

High Demand Jobs: Healthcare, IT, Sales, Logistics

  1. Registered Nurses
  2. Occupational Therapists
  3. Physical Therapists; Physical Therapy Assistants
  4. Sales Jobs - Salespeople and Sales Representatives
  5. Dental Assistants
  6. Dentists
  7. Physicians
  8. Nurse Practitioners/Physician Assts
  9. LPN Nurses and Home Health Aides (HHAs)
  10. Engineers; IT Analysts

Retirement Communities

  • On Top of the World Communities - Housing developments for the Active 55+ person. These housing subdivisions have their own shopping, cultural centers, hobby airplane modelers, golf, and a lot more. Prices start in the $100,000s.
  • Brookdale (a local top employer) - Chambrel at Pinecastle, located at1801 SE 24th Road in Ocala, FL 34471.
  • Camelot Chateau Assisted Living - Advertises affordable rentals.
  • Stone Creek - Built around 2006 off Rt 200, southwest of Ocala.
  • Summer Glen - This community receives many positive comments on Internet forums.

Apartments for Seniors

  • Carlton Arms - In 2011, efficiency and 1-bedroom apartments starting at $497, up to 3 bedrooms. Three miles from I-75 at State Route 40.


  • City of Ocala, Florida: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report - For September 30, 2016. p. 175. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  • Standiford, L. Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean. Broadway Books; 2003.

© 2011 Patty Inglish


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    • angelina1607 profile image

      angelina1607 6 years ago

      Excellent Hub..Patty.!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      It sounds a perfect place to retire. its paradise.

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA

      Interesting article and well written, thanks for this introduction to Ocala.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      I've never heard of Ocala before. What a fun place!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Ocala is a gorgeous place to camp, too, which I did years ago with friends who owned property on a lake. Also toured beautiful azalea gardens and other local areas of interest like Big Daddy Don Garlit's Museum of Drag Racing. We've often thought of retiring there. Nice article.

    • caretakerray profile image

      Ray Van Hoff 6 years ago from Michigan U.S.A.


      Great Hub! You are my mainvien Travel and relocation agent. Thanx

    • naijawriter profile image

      naijawriter 6 years ago

      nice hub,Patty well done

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the compliment, Cardisa!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Very interesting Patty. I always find that the places you present have an interesting bit of history and pretty easy to read, unlike other articles. Thanks.