On Saturday February 23rd, Matt Varney was honored when he received the 2018 “Carry Back Award” from the Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers, Inc. This award, which was established over 2 decades ago, honors a person in the Ocala horse community whom they believe has impacted the thoroughbred industry through their service.
The Florida Thoroughbred Farm Manager’s is a non-profit, charitable and educational organization which encourages cooperation and understanding among farm managers to help promote and protect their professional interests. They also assist families within the local community who are in financial need or who have lost a loved one by providing assistance with housing, utility and grocery bills. They have established a 501C3 which awards scholarships to children within the membership who are qualified college aged students. Their membership is well over 200 horse farm workers, and they proudly have served the thoroughbred industry since 1992.
We caught up with George Isaacs, who is the treasurer at Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers, and nominated Matt for the award due to his leadership in rallying the community during the proposed Coastal Connector issue.
“The Carry Back Award is given out when we think that someone has done something noteworthy for our industry. It’s not given out every year, as it’s our highest honor for someone who’s done something exemplary in our community.”
George is both well known and respected in Ocala as he has also been the General Manager at Bridlewood Farm, a leading training and breeding facility, since 1989. He elaborated on his reason for selecting Matt for this award, “What impressed me the most about Matt’s response to the Coastal Connector issue, was that it came about almost overnight. We had very little time to respond to it and I recall having one day’s notice before the meeting at the Hilton. Matt was driving force and impetus in having everyone at the commissioner’s meeting. His presentation and speech was a real service for the equine community. It was such an important event and he helped mobilize the public so the County Connector road project received attention and got taken out of consideration.”
Matt is pictured here with George Isaacs during the awards luncheon presentation, which was held as a surprise for the award recipients. In addition to Matt’s award, the Farm Employee of the Year was given to Steve Vargas, and Horse Person of Year was given to Barbara and Francis Vanlangendonck of Summerfield Sales.
As a direct result of the Coastal Connector issue, Matt and Rob were instrumental in pulling together key people within the community to help form Horse Farms Forever. Their mission is ‘to inspire the conservation of horse farms through education and awareness so as to preserve natural pasture land focusing on horses and their habitats, and to protect the soil and water on which they depend, while minimizing land use conflicts in Marion County.’
Bernie Little, one of the founding board members and President of Horse Farms Forever, has worked closely with Matt and OHP since its inceptions. Bernie commented that, “Horse Farms Forever would not have been able to make such an impact so quickly without the expertise, leadership, and tireless efforts of Matt Varney and Ocala Horse Properties. Through his knowledge of real estate and passion for the preserving the Horse Farms, Matt has been able to work with multiple entities creating solutions to protect farmland and maintain proper developmental growth.”
Ocala Horse Properties and Matt would like to send a special thanks to George Isaacs of Bridlewood Farm and the members at Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers for this honor. Ocala shines as one of the countries’ finest horse communities through the efforts of area programs like the Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers and Horse Farms Forever.
Matt also added his appreciation to the team at Ocala Horse Properties, “Thank you to my best friends and business partners at Ocala Horse Properties, Rob & Chris Desino, who have done more for Marion County, Florida than people will ever know – And thank you to all the people that came together so quickly to save our local horse farms. I’m proud to be just a small part of this wonderful Ocala community.”
Ocala Horse Properties encourages you to get involved with either of these organizations by visiting their websites listed below.
Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers
Horse Farms Forever