Too many things to say to do it all in one post...
I lived there for 8 years... wasn't a huge fan.
Some good barns:
- Centennial Farms (Debbie Stevens) even though she has a lot of jumpers...
A lot of places are laid back relax... and you can find good turnout
One of the best places for that is Stonewood Stables (Odessa)- wonderful turnout, great trails, you can use who you want as a trainer, etc.
Otherwise- shows: Tampa Fairgrounds (you can check out their website) has good schooling and rated shows.
We use to go to Ocala (Hits) in the winter quite a bit.
Depending on where you live- I can give you better info (aka closer boarding places, etc.)
Feel free to PM me when you get closer- I'll try to fill you in as much as possible
Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!
I am long removed from living down there (I had the grand idea after college to move to Boston, which while amazing, is FREEZING and expensive!!) but it is not a bad place to be. The cost of living is extremely reasonable and that helps with boarding/training costs. The Tampa Fairgrounds hosts a number of shows ranging from some very good schooling shows (PCHA) through AA shows - they used to host the last 3 weeks of WEF before ESP took over. Lots of permanent stabling at that venue and generally good footing, although it is blinding in the sun.
Fox Lea in Venice hosts a few A shows a year - one of my favorite horse shows of all time. They have (had?) a big grass jumper field and it is just a well run horse show. Ocala and Wellington are not too far away either.
I would recommend ravenwood in palm harbor, the eufemia's are so knowledgeable, they have excellent staff and clients for all age ranges and a beautiful facility! they do all sorts of different levels of shows too!
I trained with Clair at Kingsmeade for several years, and she found me and many of my friends WONDERFUL horses. She's an incredible trainer and an awesome person, plus the facility is flawless. Definitely recommend them! I also have a friend who boards at Centennial, and she loves working with Debbie.
I loved riding in Tampa and having access to the fairgrounds, HITS and WEF. Plus Venice and Jacksonville aren't too far either. Good luck!