Exciting times are underway at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, an 80-acre equestrian and recreational venue that recently came under new management. The facility is in the process of making several new improvements. This includes the installation of new footing in the riding arenas–an investment built on the teamwork of talented professionals, dedicated new management, and an equine veterinarian who used her expertise to choose just the right footing to promote sound, happy horses.
The Jacksonville Equestrian Center features a 123,000 square foot multi-purpose building enclosing a 150’ x 300’ indoor arena. Over 3,500 permanent seats surround the arena. The Jacksonville Equestrian Center also includes an outdoor turf arena, outdoor show rings, and more than 400 permanent stalls. With a multitude of RV hookups and spaces for vendors, the facility ensures exhibitor comfort and convenience. Installing new footing was the logical next step towards a better experience for all horses and riders at the equestrian center.
Dr. Peggy Fuller, veterinarian and vice president of the Northeast Florida Equestrian Society (which is the management group for the Jacksonville Equestrian Center), explained, “When we took over the management, footing was our first and top priority. All of the arenas have now been resurfaced, with a base and a special blend of footing added. All rings and schooling areas have been enlarged, and a sand fiber mix was added to the Grand Prix ring and new schooling arena.”
Fuller first became involved with the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in 2007, when she was invited to become a board member of what she knew could one day become a world-class venue. Fuller graduated from The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. She began competing in the hunter/jumper world at the young age of six, and has been practicing as an Equine veterinarian for almost 30 years. “My background is in the hunter/jumper world, although I have done some eventing along the way. I currently show in the AA/AO hunter ring (3′ and 3’3″) and in the jumper ring when time permits. My main focus and area of interest is in equine sports medicine,” she explained.
When it was time to install the new arena footing at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, Fuller was the perfect consultant to ensure that the facility got the best quality footing it could. “As both an equine veterinarian and a rider, I know footing is the number one priority an equestrian venue should focus on for the health and continued soundness of our equine athletes,” Fuller said. “I am fortunate enough to be able to travel around and show at various venues, and also get continual feedback from clients on which venues have the best footing.” In preparation for choosing footing for the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, Fuller took footing samples from several successful riding venues and analyzed the components. “Key features of great footing, I have learned, is to start with a good base and drainage (slope and grade), then find materials that are local, non-abrasive, and–most importantly–proven.”
Fuller and the Jacksonville Equestrian Center management came together to select and install the footing, which has since been highly praised by riders who have schooled and shown at the venue. Now, it’s on to the next step in continuing to improve the facility. “We have many more improvements on our list that we are excited to get busy with,” saidFuller. “To name a few: more rings, covered arenas, landscaping, shaded picnic areas, and restrooms close to the barns.”
The Jacksonville Equestrian Center will continue to host events for equestrians of all disciplines and non-equestrians alike throughout the rest of the year. Next up, on October 17, the facility will host the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair Association 4-H Horse show. The AKC Pals and Paws Agility Trials will be on October 23 -25. November events include the First Coast Classical Dressage Challenge Schooling show, the Backwoods Country Jam Concert with Lee Brice, and the Fiddler’s Turkey Run Barrel Racing Competition. To wrap up the year, in December, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center will host the Winter Dressage on the First Coast Competition, as well as USDAA Pals and Paws Agility Trials.
For more information on the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, located at 13611 Normandy Blvd. in Jacksonville, Florida, visit www.jaxequestriancenter.com or call Penny Gorton at 904-225-4227.