OCALA, Florida - The hottest event in Florida this week is the Live Oak International, scheduled to begin Thursday and continue through Sunday. Top equestrians and equine athletes will compete in show jumping and combined driving and the stakes are high. Live Oak is hosting four USEF National Championships in combined driving including Four-In-Hand Horse, Pair Horse, Pair Pony and FEI Single Pony. Driving begins with Dressage on Thursday and Friday, continues with the thrilling Marathon on Saturday, and concludes with Cones on Sunday.
Wednesday's FEI Horse Inspection for the Driving competition saw 60 equines of every size and shape pass before the Judges, from the very small yet tough "Gangster Squad" of Al Capony and Bugsy Maloney, who will compete in Pony Pairs, to elegant, matching Dutch Warmboods who are in the Four-In-Hand division.
Following the Inspection, Dr. Jack Snyder, DVM, Veterinary Delegate for the CAI, said, "We were very impressed with the soundness of the horses presented today. They all look fit and ready for a spectacular weekend of competition!"
Competition begins at 8:00 a.m. Thursday and continues through the afternoon. General admission tickets are available online or at the gate for $10 per person, with proceeds going to Marion Therapeutic Riding Association. Children under 12 receive free admission. Parking for the event is free.
Live Oak International is also the last chance for show jumping riders to qualify to compete at the FEI World Cup Final, March 29-April 2, in Omaha, Neb.
In the last leg of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League, riders not yet qualified for the World Cup Final will be pulling out all the stops to win the $100,000 CSI-W3* Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, on Sunday. Leading up to the big class will be the $10,000 Waldron Private Wealth 1.40m Power and Speed and $35,000 Hollow Creek FarmCSI3* Longines World Ranking Class Qualifier on Friday and the $35,000 Sovaro CSI3* Longines World Ranking Competition on Saturday.
"We are very excited to be the final qualifying leg for the Longines FEI World Cup," said Chester Weber, co-president of the event. "We are expecting competitors from some 20 countries and the stakes are high, so this will be an intensely exciting event that no one will want to miss!" Attendance at Live Oak International offers spectators a rare chance to visit the normally private Live Oak Plantation, known for its outstanding race horse breeding operation as well as its 1,000-head beef cattle operation. Now in its 26th year, the event counts among its competitors some of the world's leading drivers, riders, trainers, coaches and owners from over 20 countries in both disciplines.
For the non-horse enthusiast, come test drive a new Porsche, shop the beautiful jewelry designs of Lugano Diamonds, or let Joan Pletcher show you the hottest real estate available in Ocala.
"We would like to thank all of our sponsors who have made Live Oak International possible," said Juliet W. Reid, co-president of the event. "Several of our sponsors have been with us from the very beginning!"
General admission tickets and week passes are all available online at liveoakinternational.com