Where is the best place to live with your horses?

Ask thousands of people to name the best equestrian areas in America and chances are you’d get hundreds of different answers. Are you looking for warm weather or four distinct seasons? Culture, fine dining and easy access to an urban center, or a quiet, rural retreat?  Equestrian Living readers voted in the 2016 Gold List, and the winners are:

#1 Lexington, Kentucky

Calumet Farm. Photo by Peiter Estersohn/Monacelli Press

Calumet Farm. Photo by Peiter Estersohn/Monacelli Press

The city of Lexington, Kentucky, is often called the Horse Capital of the World. Home of the Kentucky Horse Park, a truly unique facility dedicated to a variety of equestrian sports, it has become a mecca for horse lovers. The town combines history and southern gentility with a surprisingly contemporary flair. The endless pastures of the Bluegrass State have been home to racing Thoroughbreds for centuries, and horses from every other equestrian discipline have joined them.

#2 Ocala, Florida

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Chester Weber’s Live Oak. Photo George Kamper

Warm sun and a relaxed lifestyle make Ocala a winter favorite for horse lovers, but readers chose it for year-round living as well. With over 1,200 horse farms, the area is a bastion of equestrians of all disciplines. “Ocala is the home of southern hospitality,” says combined-driving international champion Chester Webber, an Ocala native. “Unlike much of Florida, Ocala’s roots are southern, with magnificent live-oak trees, sweet tea, and warm hospitality.”

#3 Middleburg, Virginia

Middleburg's Red Fox Inn.

Middleburg’s Red Fox Inn.

Middleburg is an idyllic village in Virginia hunt country. The close-knit community is full of interesting people, many of whom are working hard to preserve the area and its rich tradition of equestrian sport. The cozy main street offers interesting shopping alongside the historic Red Fox Inn.

Runner-up favorite places to live include Wellington, Florida, and Southern Pines, North Carolina.

 

The Best Places to Spend the Summer

Many great equestrian communities are too steamy in the summer months, while others are just right for enjoying the sunshine.

#1 Woodstock, Vermont

The Woodstock Inn

The Woodstock Inn

The small town of Woodstock, Vermont, is the favorite place of readers to live in the summer. The area offers a cool summer climate, seemingly endless network of trails, the famous Green Mountain Horse Association facilities, and a wonderful equestrian community.

The Best Places to Spend the Winter

As cool winds begin to blow, many equestrians head for warmer climates, where they can continue enjoying their horses.

#1 Wellington, Florida

Competitors at WEF. Photo James Parker, The Book LLC

Competitors at Wef. Photo James Parker, The Book LLC

Voters favored Wellington for winter warmth and the world-class competitions held there each year at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center, the International Polo Club, and many more venues. The proximity to Palm Beach is an added plus.