The combined driving and show jumping competition is one of the biggest of its kind in the country and a local tradition.

The kickoff this week of the 30th annual Live Oak International continues a tradition that started humbly and is now one of the most prestigious shows of its kind in the country.


Chester Weber, who helps organize the show, sometimes wonders where the time went.


""It kind of creeps up on you... You look back, and you’re like, ’Oh, wow. We just did 25 years, didn’t we?’" he said. "It’s really exciting. Susan Gilliland and the team that began the event were real visionaries."


The event started as a small draft horse show and morphed into a combined-driving event as that discipline gained popularity. A decade ago, show jumping joined the event.


It is now one of the signature horse shows in the area and draws competitors from around the world. Billed as the largest spectator event in the area, it draws some 10,000 people to Live Oak Plantation, Weber’s family’s idyllic farm in Southwest Ocala.


From early on, it’s been a family affair. The Weber matriarch, Charlotte, was there from the start. Later on, Chester Weber, who developed into a standout combined driver, helped shape the event into a championship-level competition for the discipline. Eventually, Juliet Reid, Chester’s sister, brought show jumping into the mix.


Reid’s daughter, Chloe Reid, is an accomplished show jumper, who like her uncle, competes and helps with the event’s organization. She runs the event’s social media campaign and handles merchandising.


"She’s taken on many more responsibilities as the years have gone on," said Juliet Reid. "She’s the third generation."


This year, in addition to the sporting events, the show also will feature multiple breeds, including the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Young Living Percherons and Paso Finos presented by the Ocala Paso Fino Horse Association.


"This is the horse capital. We realized that people actually wanted to see some of the different breeds of horses," Chester Weber said.


Live Oak will also present The Horse Capital Parade in downtown Ocala on Saturday from 1-6 p.m. The Budweiser Clydesdale hitch is scheduled to appear at the free event. The parade is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.


"Horses are a huge piece of Ocala," Weber said.


For a complete schedule of competition times and dates, visit liveoakinternational.com.


— Contact Carlos E. Medina at 867-4157 or cmedina@starbanner.com.