With well-groomed outdoor rings, a 123,000 square foot indoor arena, and over 400 permanent stalls, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center offers everything an aspiring dressage rider could need to enjoy campaigning his or her equine partner. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is quickly becoming the ‘go-to’ destination for dressage-focused equestrians in the local Jacksonville, Florida community and to riders traveling to north Florida from across the United States.
Host to the First Coast Classical Dressage Society’s annual shows and clinics, the premier Northeast Florida venue offers a world-class showing experience to the society’s members. Lisa Beardsley, Vice President of the First Coast Classical Dressage Society, said, “We have been having shows at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for two years, since 2015. We have five two-day shows per year – 10 showing days.” The First Coast Classical Dressage Society plans to stick with the Jacksonville Equestrian Center long-term. “We have dates booked with the Jacksonville Equestrian Center through 2018, and ‘requested to reserve’ show dates through 2020,” said Beardsley. “We also hold educational lectures there at each of our shows on Saturday evenings.”
With approximately 45 members, the First Coast Classical Dressage Society has about 15 horses on average competing. The February 18-19, 2017 Winter Dressage Schooling Challenge Showposium, judged by USEF “R” Beth Barritt, included impressive test rides from Training Level through Intermediare II at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, and offered judge feedback following each ride to enhance rider education. On Saturday evening, riders attended an Ask the Judge Q&A for an opportunity to ask anything they wanted to know from a judge’s point of view.
The First Coast Classical Dressage Society’s next event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will be the Spring Dressage Schooling Showposium on March 24-26, 2017, which includes a Classical Dressage Friday Clinic with Dee Loveless, USEF “R” judge, and Winter Schooling Challenge Show Classes on Saturday and Sunday, judged by Loveless.
Jacksonville’s first-class equestrian complex has a unique history that started with a citizens’ initiative called the Better Jacksonville Plan. After closing its base at Cecil Field, the Navy gifted 2,000 acres to the City of Jacksonville for a regional recreational park. The crown jewel of that park is the 80-acre state-of-the-art equestrian facility, which provides riders the opportunity to compete in a multi-purpose coliseum with a championship 150’ x 300’ arena and ample spectator seating. Easy trailer access from artery roadways and up-to-date footing designed to promote sound horses are just some of the benefits discerning riders enjoy when competing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center. Additional features include climate-controlled restrooms with showers, RV hook up sites, night security, on-site facility managers, lighted stabling and wash areas, concessions during events, and close proximity to hotels and restaurants. Attendees can also visit the nearby 18-hole golf course, an Olympic-sized pool, and miles of hike, bike, and riding trails with direct access to the Jenning’s Forest of over 3,225 acres.
Competing in Jacksonville takes the uncertainty out of the show ring experience, with affirmative answers to important questions regarding footing, stabling accommodations, and security. “The Jacksonville Equestrian Center is a quality facility and meets our needs for shows,” confirmed Beardsley. “For our members, high quality, safe footing for dressage horses offered in the center’s newly redone Dixon Square outdoor arena ranks high! For show management, the air conditioning and refrigerator in the show office are quite nice, as well as having onsite staff to deal with ring set up and maintenance or trouble shooting any issues, which are then fixed immediately.”
The First Coast Classical Dressage Society’s next event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will be the Spring Dressage Schooling Showposium on March 24-26, 2017, which includes a Classical Dressage Friday Clinic with Dee Loveless, USEF “R” judge, and Winter Schooling Challenge Show Classes on Saturday and Sunday, judged by Loveless. Additional 2017 shows are slated for June, September, and November. Confirmed 2018 show dates include February 17-18, April 21-22, June 23-24, September 22-23, and the November 17-18 Championship Show. For more information, please call (902) 252-5170 or visit www.fccds.org.
Photo: The indoor arena at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center set up for a First Coast Classical Dressage show (Photo courtesy of the First Coast Classical Dressage Society)