While there, we heard about another campground, well, er, I guess it is called an RV Resort. (Some day I hope to discover what the tipping point is, where a campground becomes a resort!) We decided to check out the resort for possible 'camping' next year. The campground is on the grounds of Grand Oaks, a large equestrian complex with lovely paddocks, huge arenas and a focus on carriage driving. The new developers of the facility envision a winter destination for equines and their owners who would like to continue training in the Florida sunshine.
The Florida Carriage Museum is also on the grounds. This is one of the world's largest private collections of antique carriages. There are carriages from around the globe, spanning many years of horse drawn (and some people powered) conveyances. All of the carriages were collected by Gloria Austin, who can still be seen driving carriages in the collection, on occasion, on the grounds of the resort.
The carriages are breathtakingly beautiful. Most have been restored down to the tiniest detail. The collection includes European carriages and those from America's early beginnings. One can see a humble buckboard and gaze in awe at gold decorations on the carriage of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. The carriage displays include miles of leather harness and other accoutrements to create a realistic picture of the times.
However, the fascination for me was found in the horses. Many of the carriages included teams of horses, and they were as authentically reproduced as any I've seen. One almost expected a horse to turn and nuzzle your hand looking for a carrot!
The horses are the creation of the sculptor, Don Hersberger. He modeled the horses after one of Gloria's Friesians, sculpting them out of fiberglass and adding exquisite coloring, texture and real horsehair manes and tails.