It's true - if you are looking for warmer weather, WEF beats Ocala hands down. It's been several years since I did Ocala but my main memories of that circuit are RAIN, RAIN and more RAIN... and it was cold!!! We've done WEF for a few years now and I much prefer it.
WEF is larger and I would say that while the top horses at Ocala would be competitive anywhere, there is more depth at WEF. Ocala is more like a regular HITS show, IMO. WEF is more of a spectacle. Lots more vendors, etc.
********** We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
Very true, and HITS is 'accessible' to more people, meaning that there are a lot more unrated divisions that an adult re-rider could do (and be successful) or a younger kid who isn't ready to do the greens or regular ponies yet. The divisions (on the most part) are smaller, and in my experience less competitive at HITS.
WEF definitely has fancier horses and is much more competitive. Showing at WEF, its normal to have 70-100 horses in each class. Ocala is still large, but you might have 30 horses.
Ocala weather can be wet and cold. I remember lots of golf carts getting stuck in the mud. I also know that HITS Ocala has turnout paddocks you can rent... not sure about Wellington.
WEF is probably a nicer showgrounds, better footing and more rings. Footing at Ocala has been off and on when I was showing... I remember one year the whole barn was lame because it was just so hard. Not sure about how it has been recently though.
There are nice vendors at both places, but WEF is going to have more expensive stuff and a larger variety.
I loved Ocala.. however, it rained the first day I went the second year, I bought a super nice (expensive!) Rambo rain coat... hot and fabulous the rest of the two weeks we were there. Go figure. The footing is pretty good in the jumper rings and the gate crew is pretty fabulous (unless you catch Kiwi on a bad day, or make him wait, and then watch out!)
However... WEF is someplace I desperately want to go.. PLUS if you go to WEF, you can support JustWorld International!!! Their annual fundraising dinner, which rumor has it is going to be AMAZING, is on the 23rd in Wellington - Fiesta themed, how can you top that? - and numerous other events are going on through the circuit.
There are fabulous competition and course designs at both places (or at least, so I hear about WEF ) but the price tags are different, and the competition at WEF is a bit bigger. Both would, I'm sure, be a brilliant experience!
The last time I was in Ocala was 2004, so it's been a while. But it was cold. And it rained. A lot. My horse had almost no coat, and it was a toss up regarding whether we'd clip him before he went down, just so he'd look like all the other clipped horses. We opted not to, mostly because we were lazy. It was the best decision ever- it was SO COLD. There were a few hours of "kind of" warmth in the afternoons, but mornings and evenings were pretty bad.
I've never been to WEF ($$$$) other than in a spectator capacity, but if money is no object, I hear it's a better experience, hands down. It will cost a ton more, but it's also HUGE, and definitely WAYYYY warmer. That being said, you also need a very competitive horse to do well, even in the 3' divisions, so if that's important to you, it might be a consideration. HUGE divisions with TONS of beautiful, perfectly turned out horses.
I have to point out that the numbers at WEF are not what they used to be 5-10 years ago. In 2009, at least, the numbers were not huge in many hunter divisions. There were certainly some nice horses, but the divisions were not as big. And any hunter division with more than 50 entries would be split anyway.
We moved from NYC to Gainesville, FL just to be near the HITS Ocala and Jacksonville winter circuits. We've found that there is something for everyone from our young jumpers/hunters/equitation horses to our more seasoned show horses. Love Ocala!
Cold --- maybe a few days scattered here and there , but North Cold -- NO way!
I would say you need layers , cause usually by 11:00 you feel cozy warm.
Now granted I cannot compare WEF to HITS I donot have the $$$$$ .
The only reason I can Ocala is Family lives there and I keep my horse off grounds at a friends place.
Numbers - depending on what you do I have posted in the 50 -70 range .
But it will be interesting this year with both shows.
Footing- I thought I heard everyone grump about WEF last year????
Hits- They try to improve it and I love the former grand prix ring --- do I think the owner is a money ponkey,
Course Designers - Are awesome at Hits
Competitors -- Well I can list several that do Ocala that do awesome at indoors, but then again truth is that allow riders like me to show too!!!!
WHen I imagine WEF it seems glamourous
Not realistic for my checking account, I feel it is for more affluent people.
I have no regrets that I can't go there, it is just important that all talent have a chance . It also depends on what you are used to.
Gosh Golly I remeber 6 or 7 years ago I would sit up at the warm-up ring on Mon and Tuesday and watch with my puppie for 2-4 hrs grand prix riders school their horses.. I thought wow , what it must be like to come down here in the winter and do this!!! ANd now I do --- Ya hooooooooooo!
I will say I sure do miss the Millar Family and Erynn Ballard riding at hits!!!
Ian was sooooooo awesome.
WEFis where I'd go with a great horse who I thought I would do well showing.
Ocala is where I would go wih my good horses to continue to train during the winter, do well, and be on point in time for the summer shows.
Money wise Ocala is obviously more doable and it just seems more training oriented. I wouldnt want to show at WEF on a horse that I still needed to work the kinks out of or a rider that was not on top of their game. Its so expensive and seems more pressureful. Why not do a lower key, more economical Hits in that situation.
But if i ever am rolling in the dough and have an awesome horse Id go to WEF for a few weeks.
\"A smart lady knows its ok to change her mind, a damn fool never does\"
I've always felt like HITS is more of a regular horse show while WEF is an experience in and of iself. In my opinion, anyway, even though the footing at WEF wasn't perfect last year, it was still about a zillion times better than any other horse show. I think WEF it amazing: it's beautiful, sunny, and generally amazing. Every Saturday night you get to go watch some incredible, World Class showjumping event. Also, in my experience, pretty much every horse/rider in a division at WEF can win at least at a smaller AA show. It's rare to see someone go in and just botch the whole thing and you can put in a freaking nice round (80s) and not get a ribbon or be close. Usually there are about 40 in all the big hunter divisions and the numbers in the jumper divisions vary, but for some reason I remember this from last year: Low Jrs - approx. 70, Medium Jrs. - 40, High Jrs. - 25.
I've always felt like HITS is more of a regular horse show while WEF is an experience in and of iself.
I think WEF it amazing: it's beautiful, sunny, and generally amazing.
this says it all. when i showed in ocala one year it was pouring pouring pouring rain and cold. i had fun and i liked ocala but when i went to WEF the following year riding borrowed horses i thought it was such a neat experience. what i love about WEF is there are so many places to ride! there are so many neat bridle paths all around that are really fun to hack and view the gorgeous barns all around. there are some really nice houses. i like littlewood facilities where its just one endless ring that you can ride in. its huge the schooling rings that connect to the show rings and the rings at WEF are really pretty.
i was down at WEF a couple weeks ago and they are totally redoing the footing. there were stones where the rings are. so they will be adding footing soon i am sure. the footing at WEF was really neat too. it looks like pink bermuda sand with soft fibers in it.
i think the choice between the 2 would be what do you want out of showing in florida. if you want to win ribbons and be really competitive i think showing in ocala would be the right choice. but if you dont care as much about the ribbons and just want a wonderful showing experience i would choose WEF in a heartbeat. its amazing.
i am hoping that my young horse will progress in a year or two that i can take him to WEF. while i know its much more expensive and its much further for me to travel to, its really worth it! and as far as flying in from the north, WEF is so much easier. when you fly down for ocala, you have about 1.45 hours of driving, VS flying into west palm beach i think its about 15 minutes.