Grandview Invitational to showcase magnificent equines
A team of horses pull a carriage in this file photo of the Grandview Invitational. The third annual event is scheduled for Feb. 5-7 at the Florida Horse Park. [Logan Peck/Ocala Gazette file]
Getting up close and personal with a towering Belgian, Clydesdale or Percheron is an awe-inspiring experience on its own. Now, pair that with the chance to see the powerful and beautiful horses pounding the turf in an open-air arena, and you have the Grandview Invitational.
During the third annual event, which will take place Feb. 5-7 at the Florida Horse Park, visitors can go into the barn and staging areas and meet the drivers and the horses. The event will showcase a record 23 teams, up from 11 last year.
“This is the one weekend a year you can see the best draft horses and teams in the world, right here in Ocala,” said Karen Cobbs, who owns Grandview Clydesdales in southwest Ocala with her husband Shannon.
Their Clydesdale breeding program is one of the largest in the world. They also are frequent competitors at events around the nation and are the organizers of the local invitational.
Over the three days of what they refer to as “organized chaos,” several classes, including junior level, will fill the calendar. The classes range from teams of two massive draft horses pulling a wagon to the jaw-dropping spectacle of eight-hitch teams thundering around the arena.
Majestic music accompanies each class. Once the first note sounds, the horses, many of which weigh more than one-ton, begin to put on a show, their manes flowing as they display dexterity and precision.
“Ours will be one of the largest shows in the world,” noted Shannon Cobbs. “But even with all the teams and vendors, the Florida Horse Park is the perfect venue. It covers more than 500 acres, so there is plenty of opportunity for social distancing.”
“There is all kinds of room to spread out,” Karen Cobbs said. “The shows are under covered arenas, and there are bleachers, but people also can bring their own chair to move apart.”
There will be numerous hand-sanitizing stations on the property.
Ticket options range from single-day to three-day passes, with options for box and VIP seating and camping. Tickets are available online and at the gate.
The public also is invited to attend a casino night fundraiser on Feb. 5, with games, entertainment and food, and the Grandview Gala on Feb. 6, with a meal, a live performance and dancing. Karen Cobbs urges people to purchase tickets for these two activities in advance.
“Some of these teams will travel more than 1,000 miles to be here,” Shannon Cobbs said. “These truly are the best in the world. Don’t miss it.”
If You Go
Grandview Invitational, Feb. 5-7
Florida Horse Park, 11851 SW 16th Ave., Ocala
Gates open 8am; shows begin at noon
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to grandviewinvitational.com