Work And Leisure In Ocala, A Horse Community
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.
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 th horse related industries.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 (see links below).
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.
An Ocala New England Shire at 2 Week's Old
Auto Train - Orlando Area
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 .
Best Places To Visit And Take Pictures
Horse and Country Venues to Visit
Interesting Places to Visit in Ocala
- The 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 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 fronton in the Eastern US.
- Appleton Museum of Art - 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd.; Ocala FL 34470. This is a great family place.
- Silver Springs: Nature's Theme Park - 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd.; Silver Springs FL. Nature park and zoo.This place offers 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.
- 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 Historial Landmark.
- Snorkeling with the Manatees In Crystal River: www.snorkelwithmanatees.com
- 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.
Business and Employment Market
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.
The Top 10 Industries estimated to increase fastest in this area to 2018 are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets
- Truck Transportation
- Merchant Wholesalers for Durable Goods
- Specialty Trade Contractors
- Couriers and Messengers
- Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores
- Construction of Buildings
- Investments - Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other
- Food Manufacturing
Numbers 2 and 10 above are already increasing more rapidly than others in Ocala.
Job Market to 2018
Official predictions for fastest growing jobs in and around Ocala include the following job titles:
- IT - Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
- Truck Driving
- Construction - Sheet Metal Workers, Cost Estimators, Mixing and Blending Machine Jobs, Heating A/C and Refrigeration (HVAC) jobs
- Sales Representatives
- Mainstream Preschool Teachers
- Dental Hygienists
- Construction - Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers, Electricians Helpers, Excavating and Loading Machine jobs
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Dental Assistants
- Compliance Officers
- Education - Instructional Coordinators, Special Education Teachers for Middle School and for Preschool - Elementary (Grades Pre-K thru 5th)
- Nuclear Medicine Technologists
- EDUCATION - Mainstream Elementary and Middle School Teachers
- Employment Specialists
High Demand Jobs: Healthcare, IT, Sales, Logistics
Hot Hiring Companies
- US Air Force
- Brookdale Senior Living – Retirement and Assisted Living
- Kangaroo Express – Convenience Stores
- Central Florida Health Alliance
- Leesburg Regional Medical Center
- HCA – Healthcare, all divisions
- Taco Bell, KFC, Other dining and food service
- Rush Trucking
- Petco, Staples, Other Retail
- Medical Connections
- Winn Dixie - Groceries, etc.
- Swedish Medical Center
- Halcyon Rehab
- Wells Fargo – Financial
- Lady Lake Specialty Care
Higher Education and Training
- College of Central Florida
- Marion County Community Technical and Adult Education
- Online College Degrees, Classes & Courses - Rasmussen College
Regionally accredited college offering bachelors and associates degrees. Programs offered online and throughout the U.S. on campuses in MN, IL, FL, WI, and ND.
Shopping and Entertainment
- Blakely House Bakery and Cafe
Discover an all day experience at Blakely House. Call 352-547-4218 to hear our current specials. FREE parking. In-house or on location catering services.
- Grumbles House Antiques & Garden Shop
GRUMBLES HOUSE ANTIQUES AND SPECIALTY SHOPS buys and sells quality antiques, collectibles, vintage jewelry and apparel, in the Historic Village of Dunnellon, Florida.
- The Market of Marion - a Flea and Farmers Market – a Flea and Farmers Market
- The Paddock Room Galleries - Horse gifts for the discerning horse lover
Internationally recognized for Unique, Fine Equine Art, Gifts, Jewelry & Apparel depicting the Horse, Fox and Dog in Equestrian settings since 1968.
- 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.
- 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.
Nearby Optimum Retirement Communities: The Villages
- Megan Boone's Home: America's Friendliest Retirement Town, The Villages
The Villages is welcoming community near Ocala, Florida between I-75 to the west and the large Ocala National Forest to the east. It offers many neighborhood clubs and lots of things to do.
Neighbors Along I-75
© 2011 Patty Inglish