Mike Clark smiles as he cares for his mare before his show at the Sunshine State Open Pleasure Series. He is a showman who has been performing alongside his mares for over 20 years. (Alex Gonzalez/WUFT News)

Show Series at Florida Horse Park in Ocala offers variety and family fun


Mike Clark has been a horse showman for over 20 years and enjoyed what he saw on Saturday at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala.

“This is a fun show to get your horses out and show them off,” said Clark, 59. There are 9 shows every year for this organization at the Florida horse park where Mike and his wife, Kimberly, 55, involve themselves.

“They do a really good job here,” he said. Mike Clark won the Palomino worlds in 2019 with his mare, which he considers one of his best achievements.

The Sunshine State Open Pleasure Show Series is packed with families who love horses and ponies alike. The show took place Saturday and Sunday at the Florida Horse Park, 11008 S. Highway 475 in Ocala.

The show featured horses and horse lovers who watched a variety of events. The events included showmanship, English pleasure, western pleasure and various horse trails. The showmanship and ranch conformation events finish off with a grand and reserve champion as well as second -and first-place horses. Different levels of showmanship as well as divided showmanship by age group are included in the showbill.

Showmen and showwomen wait for the judge to place them. Each horse was judged on its posture, coat, handling, etc. (Alex Gonzalez/WUFT News)

Families cheer and clap for all the horses, whether they place or not. Dave Burgess, 65, and his wife, Lee, 65, were there supporting their 14-year-old granddaughter. “I like looking at all the different types and colors of horses,” Dave Burgess said.

“The unique thing about her is that she’s allergic to her horse,” Lee Burgess said. Their granddaughter has been participating since the age of 9 and has now been part of over 50 shows.

As a carpenter, Dave Burgess built his granddaughter a shelf to display all her medals and ribbons that she won over the years, including her bulky medals that she won at the grand champions. They have attended many shows in arenas around the United States.

“We’re outdoor people,” he said. “We’re not ranchers, but we could be.”

Kimberly Clark has been showing horses for about 50 years.

“These shows are a good way for little kids, big kids, everybody to get out and have a relaxing time,” she said. She’s a horse trainer who loves her occupation and enjoys spending time with her family and the horses, which she schools at a young age.

Anyone is free to attend the show and enjoy a relaxing, welcoming experience. To the families that attend these shows, it’s all about horses, having fun and gaining experiences with their loved ones.

“You just have a good time,” Kimberly Clark said. “It takes a lot of the anxiousness out of showing because you just come and have fun.”

Adults weren’t the only ones that showed their horses. This girl was seen showing her pony, Marshmallow, along with other teens. (Alex Gonzalez/WUFT News)

About Alexander Gonzalez

Alexander is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Check Also

‘Birds are citizens of the world’: Climate change affects bird migration

Every bird watcher’s dream is to find a species they wouldn’t normally see wandering through …