Equestrian Center breaks ground for new arena

Equestrian Center breaks ground for new arena
Jacksonville Equestrian Center Ground Breaking officiants: Council members Greg Anderson, Joyce Morgan and Doyle Carter, Equestrian Center Board members Peggy Fuller, Carolyn LaRose, Joanne Connell and Betty Griner, and City of Jacksonville Director of Parks and Recreation Daryl Joseph. (Photo courtesy of JRPR)

The Jacksonville Equestrian Center (JEC) held an official groundbreaking ceremony on May 3 for its new covered arena, part of its long-term plan for progress and expansion.

“The new arena will be the largest clear-span covered arena in the southeast providing the necessary space to support a wider variety of activities and multiple events at the same time,” said Peggy Fuller, DVM, and Jacksonville Equestrian Center Board of Directors Chair.

Known for its varied amenities and ideal location on the Westside not far from Cecil Field, the Jacksonville Equestrian Center is now expanding to offer more to both the equestrian community as well as the Jacksonville community, alike.

The new covered arena will be 300 feet by 300 feet and will attach to the existing 150-foot by 300-foot coliseum via a covered 130-foot by 80-foot livestock pavilion.

“Essentially we are doubling the number of covered rings we currently have available. We’re thrilled that this new building will increase our capacity to offer diverse events to all members of the community,” said Fuller.

Jacksonville City Council members Doyle Carter, Joyce Morgan, Al Ferraro, Greg Anderson, of Ortega, and Parks and Recreation Director Daryl Joseph joined the Jacksonville Equestrian Center executive board members in commemorating the groundbreaking event.

The evening’s events – which included an introduction to therapeutic riding by H.O.P.E. Therapy Director Becky Davenport, local celebrity barrel racing, roping demonstrations, and presentation of the third annual “Take it to the Jax” Agricultural Art Contest awards – highlighted the venue’s versatility and capacity to host a wide variety of equestrian and community events throughout the year, such as car shows, family fun days, dog agility trials, bicycling events, and equestrian competitions for every breed and riding discipline. For nature lovers, the property also features miles of hiking and riding trails as well as a picnic pavilion.

The new covered arena will also enable The Jacksonville Equestrian Center to host more events like the Special Olympics Area Qualifiers and Championships, which were held at the facility in 2017 and 2018, and provide an all-weather training and teaching location. The center has a specially equipped carriage with a wheelchair lift and special needs mounting ramp that accommodates wheelchairs and walkers. 

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