Florida... Where Winter Shoeing Is Jumping

There's plenty of excitement and shoeing work when 4,000 horses, 5,000 participants and 228 farriers head to southern Florida for the winter equestrian season.

WHEN TEMPERATURES dip below the freezing mark in the northern states, hundreds of thousands of retired folks head for Florida for anywhere from a week to a few months to enjoy the warm winter weather.

But these folks aren’t the only ones heading south at this time of year. That’s because two locations in southern Florida serve as the equestrian competition capitals of the world from January through March.

Over a two-month period at West Palm Beach and Tampa, the Winter Equine Festival brings together 4,000 horses and 5,000 participants from all over North America and even the world.

A “cheap” horse on the show grounds may be worth $125,000. There are also $3 million and $4 million horses at the competition.

“You knock a nail down wrong on one of these expensive horses and you have not only cost the owner $10,000 to $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for the winter season, but the chance to win $100,000 or more in prize money,“ says T.J. Jones, a Boynton Beach, Fla., farrier who specializes in shoeing the elite of show jumpers.

$21 Million Benefit

Sponsored by Stadium Jumping, Inc., this $2.9 million tournament includes show jumping, hunter/jumper classes, dressage classes and other events. It pumps $21 million directly into the Florida economy each winter.

Last year’s competitions included 17 major Grandprix events, and four of these served as selection finals for the World Cup Championship in Europe.

It’s not unusual for an owner to spend $15,000 on the care and upkeep…

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Frank_lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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