Horse Farms Forever is a compact and powerful nonprofit,
founded in 2018 to:


Marion County’s Farmland Preservation Area was established in 2005. Its mineral-rich soil and water, and spring sheds are subject to increasing development and roadway threats. We participate and defend.


The culture, character and vibrant economy of greater Ocala is uniquely based on the presence of horses and horse farms. We share the facts.


Landowners who love their land and wish to see it passed along to future generations have many options. We show the way.


The blueprint for Rural Land Management is written at the county level and made strong by collaboration and community influence. We facilitate progress.


The Threats Are Real

From new roadways to rezoning. We are here to gather and multiply all of the voices that understand the value of our rural heritage and seek to preserve it forever.


Signs of Change

Who remembers the “Save It, Don’t Pave It” signs from 2017-18 that were all over Marion County when the Florida Department of Transportation was proposing a toll road through the Farmland Preservation Area? Those signs did a lot to raise awareness and public input that organized citizens to stop the coastal connector and led to the birth of Horse Farms Forever.

HFF Welcomes Chi University Among New Corporate Sponsors

We are thrilled to introduce four new Corporate Founders at the start of this new year: Chi University, JP Morgan Private Bank, Duke Energy Foundation, and UF Health These conservation-minded organizations are partnering with us to preserve Ocala/Marion County’s open spaces and beautiful places. This bodes well for the future of the Horse Capital of the World®! We heartily welcome them to the herd.

Perdue Emphasizes Community Engagement in Road Planning

At Horse Farms Forever’s Conservation Summit on November 14, Jared Perdue, Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Tracy Straub, Assistant Marion County Administrator, shared detailed information about Florida’s transportation approach and goals, and specific road improvement projects in Marion County. Secretary Perdue, who took over the post this past April, gave an update on the improvements to I-75 and the Northern Turnpike Extension project, which will resume in one to two years. He also emphasized FDOT’s new emphasis to recognize and protect the unique heritage and culture of Florida’s communities while at the same time improving road safety and efficiency.

The partnership between FDOT and Marion County was also highlighted as a vital component to completing nearly 42 road improvement projects that will widen and extend roads, build several flyovers, and a new interstate interchange at NW 49th Street. These projects will help divert traffic off of I-75 and allow residents to travel both north-south and east-west without having to access I-75. This blog will highlight important aspects of Secretary Perdue’s presentation. We will cover Administrator Straub’s in detail in the next release. To Summit livestream was recorded, and is available for viewing here.

Congestion-Relieving Road Projects in Marion County: Where and When

There was never a time where Marion County wasn’t home to Tracy Straub. A fifth-generation Marion County Floridian, she has a deep perspective on the changes that have taken place in the County and its needs going forward. Straub’s career at the County began 21 years ago. She has been the County Engineer and now leads both Public Works and Growth Services. We were honored to have her share the latest on road construction in the County at our Conservation Summit in November. In her presentation, she shared timelines and details for the major projects coming to fruition around the County, particularly those that will help alleviate congestion and pinch-points on I-75 and those impacting horse farms and the equine industry.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road: A Conversation About Transportation

Over 250 people attended the Third Annual Conversation Summit on Monday, November 14, 2022. Nearly 300 people watched the live stream and video replay. The goal of the Summit was to be a catalyst for conversations about transportation and road improvement projects on our horse farms and equine industry.

John and Leslie Malone To Receive The Acorn Conservation Award

The Acorn Conservation Award is presented by Horse Farms Forever to a Marion County landowner who has made a significant contribution to the preservation of horse farms. The Award is a one-of-a-kind bronze sculpture crafted by renowned wildlife sculptor Bryce Pettit from Durango, Colorado. The phrase “From tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow,” aptly describes how we envision the conservation movement in Marion County. A few landowners are leading the way by putting their vision into action as they protect their land. Each time, they become an example to other landowners who see the possibilities, and the movement grows. In the end, a magnificent tree has grown, with branches that spread throughout the County, and the Farmland Preservation Area is sheltered in its shade.

Like Our Horses, We Are Stronger Together

This year’s Conservation Summit is focused on one of the most important issues facing Marion County – traffic and transportation. Horse Farms Forever is delivering on our mission to raise awareness about this key issue and how it effects horse farms and the equine industry.

The community, like a herd of horses, has come together to show their support, and the herd keeps growing! This year over 60 Sponsors have stepped up to support the Conservation Summit. Their generous support makes this event possible and helps build a broad base of support to help protect Marion County’s high quality of life.

We are honored to have Brook Ledge Horse Transportation as the Title Sponsor for the third year in a row! We also welcome several new Sponsors, including Long Creek Wines, Laura Connolly, Duke Energy, and William Kearns.

Special Delivery: Brook Ledge Horse Transportation’s Commitment to Conservation

Horse Farms Forever is honored to have Brook Ledge Horse Transportation as our Title Sponsor for the third year in a row. This year’s topic about transportation is especially important for their business.

An HFF member since 2018, Brook Ledge is a family business that cares about Marion County’s horses and horse farms.

In 1955, Bill and Bob Gotwals started in the trucking business with one truck. Since that time, the family owned and operated business has grown to include Brook Ledge Inc. and XpressWay. Brook Ledge Inc. is now one of the largest Horse Transportation companies in North America. In addition to operating out of its home office in Oley, PA, Brook Ledge Inc. maintains terminals on small farms in Lexington, KY and here in Ocala. There are three generations of Gotwals currently working at Brook Ledge.

Questions About Transportation and Traffic in Marion County? Let’s Hear Them…

We’re excited to bring you two deeply experienced transportation leaders with demonstrated care and concern for environmental impacts in Marion County and our state as a whole. They will both answer a few moderated questions as part of our program on the 14th. But since our Program is just 1-1/2 hours long, we only have time for a few questions to each speaker, selected beforehand. We want to hear from you! Please use the comments section at the bottom of this blog to ask your question. We will compile the questions and look for common threads to present to our speakers. We will also forward all constructive questions to the speakers for their own edification.

DarkHorse joins Horse Farms Forever® as a Founder Member

Laura Connolly recently bought a new farm in Ocala and moved her private show jumping barn from Wellington to Ocala for the winter season. In the summer, she trains and competes out of one of the most beautiful barns in the Northeast, her DarkHorse Farm in Ridgefield, Connecticut. She joined Horse Farms Forever® (HFF) as a Founder Member as suggested by Matt Varney, a Realtor with Ocala Horse Properties.

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Like our horses, we are safer and stronger together.