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View Full Version : Where is the best place in CANADA for dressage?



Forte
Dec. 15, 2007, 07:10 PM
I'll be graduating from school in a few years and will be considering relocating. My professional certification will only be recognized in Canada, so I'm wondering what the best place in the country is to be a dressage rider. I live in Vancouver now. The temperature is mild, we have access to several good FEI trainers. However, the cost of living is so high here! A 2 bedroom condo is going to cost a half million dollars. There are no CDI competitions, and the price of board at a good barn is $600-$700! Are there other parts of the country that have stronger dressage communities and are more affordable? I'm thinking Ontario or Quebec. Any input appreciated.

Bravestrom
Dec. 15, 2007, 07:34 PM
I would have to say southern ontario -north of toronto.

cheekyhorse
Dec. 15, 2007, 07:39 PM
I don't know how much more affordable Ontario or Quebec would be when it comes to board and training....but there are definitely more options when it comes to competition and such. But why would you want to leave us?????

Moonlight
Dec. 15, 2007, 08:10 PM
There are a few National comptetions in Ontario, most of them are just North of Toronto, plus a couple in the East, in the Kingston area. When it comes to boarding and training, I think Ontario is very much at par with the Vancouver area, if not more expensive. But the price of a 2-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto - do not even get me started. It seems to be more affordable if you look for one in the outskirts of the city.

If you want to check local dressage groups, here is a link to the list of their websites:

http://www.cadora.ca/cadora-ontario/display.asp?pageid=25

Gucci Cowgirl
Dec. 15, 2007, 08:43 PM
I live in Vancouver now. The temperature is mild, we have access to several good FEI trainers.

thats more than an understatement.

Having lived and trained in vancouver for 20 years, I have to agree that the weather is not really an issue for riding, as almost every single large dressage barn have an indoor arena, and all-weather paddocks. There is a very good recognized show-circuit with affordable show fees. If you are serious about competing, and need to do CDI's, you go south in the spring with the rest of the caravan and do the california circuit.

Also, if you need CDI-level competition, chances are good that board fees at 6-700 dollars per month are not that big of an expense when you weigh in your monthly training fees, farrier, show fees (at thousands of dollars PER week at a CDI) etc. If you are playing in the big leagues, you must know that!

There are many new townhomes in cloverdale, delta, maple ridge, langley, richmond, port coquitlam, etc that are close enough to the city it's not too bad, and they are actually very affordable, not even close to half a million dollars. Unless you want to live downtown, you don't have to pay half a million dollars for two bedrooms....

Ibex
Dec. 15, 2007, 09:01 PM
Having lived in Ontario (Toronto and SW Ontario) and Vancouver, Vancouver is far more expensive! That being said, the weather is worth it.

Ontario has lots of options, and as soon as you get out of the GTA lots of reasonably priced properties. BUT, you also have the cold/snow in winter, and extreme heat and humidity in summer.

Board *can* be less, and pasture more plentiful.

I don't know about the Ottawa-Montreal area, but for some reason I think there's an active dressage scene there too.

Forte
Dec. 15, 2007, 11:08 PM
Hi.
I guess I should clarify, that I would want to live in a place where buying a small farm (5 acres) or so, would be possible for the normal working person to buy. In Langley or Delta, that is easily going to cost 1 mil or more. I'm trying to break out of downtown condo-land living. Access to high quality trainers would be a number one priority. We are very lucky in the Vancouver area to have so many Level III coaches.

Ibex
Dec. 16, 2007, 12:38 AM
Hi.
I guess I should clarify, that I would want to live in a place where buying a small farm (5 acres) or so, would be possible for the normal working person to buy. In Langley or Delta, that is easily going to cost 1 mil or more. I'm trying to break out of downtown condo-land living. Access to high quality trainers would be a number one priority. We are very lucky in the Vancouver area to have so many Level III coaches.

I'd try Ontario then - somewhere on the Toronto - Guelph - Kitchener - London corridor. North of Toronto (i.e. Newmarket, King) is getting increasingly expensive for what you want. I expect that you'd find good prices going east as well, but I don't know the market there and can't comment.

My sister and BIL bought a house in a small town north of London, 3 bed, renovated century home, big yard etc etc for $159k... :eek: You can't even get a decent 1 bed condo, in the suburbs, for that out here...

Fire_fly
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:24 AM
I will throw in my two cents as I have lived lower mainland BC, Alberta (Calgary area), Sask. and Ontario (newmarket area). Yes, I dragged my horse all around with me !
At the time of all of my moves, I was boarding, but now own my own place. Honestly boarding at a the good facilities with good feed and good footing turnout etc. did not vary as much between the bigger centers. However, I did find Vancouver and area the priciest for all things horsie.

Southern Alberta is very scenic beautiful and I think the winters are milder. I think Calgary is the area for dressage in AB. I think board can be just as high in Calgary as what you pay now.

I recently bought property in Sask and it is dirt cheap but, there is no access to bigger shows and instruction is lacking. Very affordable here for horsekeeping, buying land etc. Board here is closer to 500/mo.

Personally I am dream of the day I could afford a place back in Vancouver area so that I can ride at home all year round, and ride in a T shirt in the middle of Feb :-)

cheekyhorse
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:52 AM
OK WHOA! Are you thinking of the same Vancouver Firefly???? There is NO WAY you would catch me riding in a T-shirt here in winter..........brrrrrrrrrrrrrr... LOL!!

Forte.......why don't you try looking east of Langley if you are looking for property? The further you go towards Chilliwack, the less expensive it is. We are just starting to get busy building an equestrian center between Maple Ridge and Mission. It's very doable in this area (and GORGEOUS), and even here there are many nice horse properties that are affordable. There is no way we could afford to do this right in Vancouver.......nor would we want to. Just a thought.

shadowdancer
Dec. 16, 2007, 07:48 AM
My wife used to train with Ishoys near Toronto many years ago. Cindy in particular is a very knowledgeable trainer. I think they are still in the area.

Flamboyant
Dec. 16, 2007, 12:06 PM
The Ishoys are near Hamilton (in Binbrook), Ontario. There is a girl at my barn who currently trailers into their barn every other week and definitely enjoys their coaching. I believe land in that area is reasonably priced too.

Leena
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:47 PM
In Quebec, the dressage aera is St-Lazare, Hudson. That is where most of the top riders and trainers are. Boarding is around 500-600 range I believe.

Dorienna
Dec. 16, 2007, 03:01 PM
I would vote for the area around Toronto as well, maybe Ottawa as a second choice. I am in the St-Lazare region in Quebec, board has gone up consistently over the years, and Good dressage coaches are very rare (there are quite a few "average" trainers, but nothing to move here to, in my opinion).

Liz Steacie
Dec. 16, 2007, 03:11 PM
I am in south eastern Ontario, very near the Quebec border, and just 45 minutes south of Ottawa.

The cost of living here is reasonable, compared to Vancouver and Toronto areas. The price of land is very reasonable. For example, I know of a property, 5 acres, limestone house, 8 stall barn, good fencing, etc. and a short hack to a large indoor that is on the market for about $160K.

We are close enough to the Quebec circuit for shows, as well as lots of national shows in the Ottawa-Kingston areas. One of only two CDIs in eastern Canada will be in Ottawa. The other is in Toronto, and it's about a 4 hour drive (on mostly highways). So we really have our pick of the shows. Additionally, there is easy access to the Northeastern US shows, as we are just a stone's throw from the US border.

The dressage community is very active all around here. Ottawa has several good trainers/Level III coaches, St. Lazare in Quebec is full of barns, trainers, coaches and lots of doings (just back from a clinic with Neil Ishoy in St. Lazare). Even right here in the Brockville area is both my barn and Gina Smith's barn, within 5 minutes. We are only 20 minutes to Merrickville/Kemptville, where you can find Ruth Koch and Suzanne Dutt-Roth, as well as a number of Level II coaches, all with super facilities.

So my vote would have to go out for eastern Ontario. The weather is not as nice as Vancouver, but mostly it's OK (well, not so much today, as we are getting 40cm of snow and it's -10C). Typically along the St. Lawrence it is a bit milder than say, Ottawa. And definitely nicer than a big city, yet within reach of three of the biggest cities in Canada (Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto). We often go to Ottawa for dinner or the theatre, and it is not all that hard to go to Toronto for the day and still be home before midnight.

Board around here runs from $250-$700/month, and full training from about $1000-$2200/month. That's for dressage, not sure about other disciplines, but less, I think. Many places have heated arenas, and most barns are well insulated and warm.

It's nice here!

Liz

Donella
Dec. 16, 2007, 04:58 PM
Hmm. I would say Ontario or BC..Vancouver area.
Alberta has the highest cost of living of I think anywhere in NA right now..it's insanity to even FIND somewhere to live near or in the cities. And again, thats if you can even find somewhere to live. I am not exagerating.
It's FREEEZING here too half the year and the number of competitions and trainers ect is much lower than in the other two mentioned areas.

CatOnLap
Dec. 16, 2007, 05:39 PM
Alberta has the highest cost of living of I think anywhere in NA right now..it's insanity to even FIND somewhere to live near or in the cities. And again, thats if you can even find somewhere to live.
hmmm. that would explain why all my BC friends are selling their places, buying nicer ones in southern calgary, and living off the profit?
Seriously, coastal BC OUGHT to be THE place for dressage given the mild climate, but it sux in many ways if you want to compete.


For example, I know of a property, 5 acres, limestone house, 8 stall barn, good fencing, etc. and a short hack to a large indoor that is on the market for about $160K
That is incredible. That's almost worth flying out for a looksee to invest.
That property near Victoria or Vancouver would be a million or more.
I wonder how long the market will remain like that? Even Saskatchewan has shown a marked upturn in the last 12 months.

Dancinglite2
Dec. 16, 2007, 05:46 PM
Calgary, BC and Ontario are still the best areas. Unfortunately like right now Ontarion can get some heafty snow storms.

Liz Steacie
Dec. 16, 2007, 07:35 PM
That is incredible. That's almost worth flying out for a looksee to invest. That property near Victoria or Vancouver would be a million or more.
I wonder how long the market will remain like that? Even Saskatchewan has shown a marked upturn in the last 12 months.

The market has been like this for many years. Our property, which would fetch several million in a market like Vancouver, was purchased and built on in the 90's for less than a quarter million.

Of course, the downside is that when you sell, you only GET the market value for this area. But there are many truly lovely properties around for under $200K. And even groceries are less costly here :-). (I used to work in the food industry, and I know that pricing is several cents cheaper in certain areas.) But, we have all the amenities, and it's a really nice place to live. I was in Toronto last week for two days and I cannot honestly fathom how people live in such a place, with the traffic, SO MANY people, such long distances to even get groceries or simple things. I am 7 minutes to town, where I have everything except a Starbucks, and I believe one of those is going in soon. We have a HUGE Canadian Tire :-), 6 Timmies and two superstores within 10 minutes. And no traffic.

It's great.

Wait, why am I telling everyone?

No, it's terrible. You can't go anywhere without meeting people you know, the shop keepers know your name and what you want, the dry cleaners deliver to your house (it's on the way home!), and the bank manager greets you like a long lost friend. My husband even knows a limo driver. When I go to the dump, the dump guys even ask about the horses. The vet is 5 minutes. The vet is our friend and comes quickly when we say it's an emergency.

Terrible. Horrible place to live. DO NOT COME HERE.

Liz :-)

Gucci Cowgirl
Dec. 16, 2007, 08:46 PM
I have everything except a Starbucks


with 6 Timmy's, why would you even NEED a starbucks?! I am craving a large Double Double SO badly out here in AZ!!! It's been a looong 2 years with no Timmy's in town..

HFK
Dec. 16, 2007, 09:04 PM
OK. My 2 cents worth having grown up in Ontari-ari-ari-o. North of the city is good, west is also good. Don't know about east.

I lived in California for a few years (loved every minute of it). I learned that riding well and competing requires quality time in the saddle. Lots of it. If you can find a comparable level instructor I would opt for the better weather in BC and rent for a while. I also believe that where the cost of living is higher, so are the salaries, and it you might be able to swing a long commute to either ride or work to save money - but then you spend that money on gas...

I can't tell you of how many Ontario winter nights I spent
*Riding long past when my toes went numb.
*Out in the country with snow up to the running board of the 4WD hoping I didn't run into trouble on the way home.
*Learning that whiteouts are dangerous even if you are only a couple of miles from a main highway.
*cooling out a hot horse on a frigid night.
*not being able to ride because it was tooooooo cold.
*not being able to ride because of the thick layer of ice between the barn and arena making the footing unsafe, even with straw etc. on the ground.

On the other hand, I loved the crisp cold nights with the stars shining above. The crunch of the snow/ice underfoot.

Yup, I would sacrifice my living space to ride in better weather. Yup, especially if I had family and/or friends already in the area.

ksbadger
Dec. 16, 2007, 11:20 PM
I'd have to second SE Ontario for a coupe of reasons:
1. The price of housing in the Hudson/St.Lazare has skyrocketed in the past 5 years (our 3 bed ranch we sold for $125k seven years ago would be worth more than $300k now we've been told) and new 5 acre farms ("fermettes") are going to be severely restricted if some new zoning laws go through.

2. You don't say your qualification but working in Quebec could cause some problems as there are often additional Professional requirements often including French language proficiency thanks to the Office de la Langue Francais.

The majority of the horse fraternity we knew seem to have moved to the Hawkesbury area & south. This is probably just a continuation of the pressure on stables to move west - not that long ago they were on the West Island and some older hunt riders remembered riding along the gravel roads of Cote Vertu (now a major divided city highway).

cheekyhorse
Dec. 17, 2007, 02:39 AM
with 6 Timmy's, why would you even NEED a starbucks?! I am craving a large Double Double SO badly out here in AZ!!! It's been a looong 2 years with no Timmy's in town..

mmmmmmmmmmmmm, Timmy's. This is why I'd never leave Canada! LOL!!
Liz, that's insane, you couldn't even buy a townhouse here for that price!! I'm going to work on hubby to move out that way! What is the business like for builders out there?? Doubt he'd ever want to leave here though, he'll be busy here for YEARS..... But it IS rather expensive to live here.
Oh, wait, I hate snow though........

Backstage
Dec. 17, 2007, 04:07 AM
How close do you need to be to a major city centre? That could have a big impact on the answers, especially with regards to reasonable commute times! You don't need to get too detailed, but if you were to move to Maitland...could you make a living in Brockville, or do you need to commute to Ottawa? By the same token, would Hamilton or London be big enough, can you go smaller centre?

I'm sure we can find you lots of farmettes within reasonable distance to good coaching/shows, but that doesn't help you if you can't make a living.

CatOnLap
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:57 AM
Our property, which would fetch several million in a market like Vancouver, was purchased and built on in the 90's for less than a quarter million.

Liz, you couldn't even build your indoor arena here for that anymore.

Donella
Dec. 17, 2007, 03:06 PM
hmmm. that would explain why all my BC friends are selling their places, buying nicer ones in southern calgary, and living off the profit?
Seriously, coastal BC OUGHT to be THE place for dressage given the mild climate, but it sux in many ways if you want to compete.


Well I have no idea what your friends have done but I just heard on the news the other day what I just wrote previously. Alberta has such a strong economy with the oilsands and really, they cannot seem to build houses fast enough to keep up with people moving in. The premier actually issued a statement a while ago that warned people wanting to move here about the fact that they may have a real hard time finding any form of housing. I am talking about places located around Edmonton (Calgarys prices are similiar) but to give you an idea, we live just outside edmonton city limits and my neighbours place just sold , without being even listed for one and half mill.

It is an older 70's style house, about 2000 square feet. It has been upgrade, but its not fancy. It has twenty acres. Nothing has been done with the twenty acres.

On the other hand, I am sure it is much more affordable farther out of the city.

ksbadger
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:10 PM
Just a thought as a Canadian already living south of the border, but what are the prices like over the border from southern BC in extreme northern Washington state? I appreciate that Bellingham might be pricey but the Blaine area & east used to be a bit of a dead zone.

Fire_fly
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:24 PM
Original poster stated she needed to stay in Canada for professional reasons.
Would be interesting to compare real estate prices in the various areas if you do get serious and look around.

CheekyHorse, when I was living there we had some *really* nice early spring days in Feb !! Believe me, these days I am *often* reminicing of those warm Vancouver days...the sun..the daffodils...the mountains...the rides outside are breathtaking.

ksbadger
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:35 PM
Fire fly,
My idea was US real estate within commuting distance of a major Canadian city. For example, Blaine looks to be within half-hour of a Skytrain station so maybe not much more than an hour into Vancouver centre? Similarly prices for New York real estate (south of the St. Lawrence were much lower than the equivalent in Ontario as were some in Vermont relative to Quebec (but probably out of commute range). Don't forget that the majority of Canadian cities are within 50km of the US border.

cheekyhorse
Dec. 18, 2007, 03:33 AM
CheekyHorse, when I was living there we had some *really* nice early spring days in Feb !! Believe me, these days I am *often* reminicing of those warm Vancouver days...the sun..the daffodils...the mountains...the rides outside are breathtaking.


yes, occasionally mother nature has a brain cramp and is nice enough to send those warm moments our way for a week or so, here and there during our normally just awful and damp, cold winters here in Vancouver. But I must say one thing about this place...although I hate our winters as I don't like being chilled to the bone by damp air, I rather enjoy the FRESHNESS and the summers just cannot be topped. :)

vandenbrink
Dec. 18, 2007, 09:19 AM
Southern Ontario is getting more expensive, but from what I understand it is still cheaper then Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

I live in Niagara. There are a number of good shows in the Toronto area a short drive from Niagara. Our area is often called the banana belt!!! It is noticeably milder then other areas of Ontario because it is further south and between two large lakes.

We've had pretty mild winters the last few years and there are a fair number of coaches in the area.

Browndog
Dec. 22, 2007, 06:52 AM
The market has been like this for many years. Our property, which would fetch several million in a market like Vancouver, was purchased and built on in the 90's for less than a quarter million.

Of course, the downside is that when you sell, you only GET the market value for this area. But there are many truly lovely properties around for under $200K. And even groceries are less costly here :-). (I used to work in the food industry, and I know that pricing is several cents cheaper in certain areas.) But, we have all the amenities, and it's a really nice place to live. I was in Toronto last week for two days and I cannot honestly fathom how people live in such a place, with the traffic, SO MANY people, such long distances to even get groceries or simple things. I am 7 minutes to town, where I have everything except a Starbucks, and I believe one of those is going in soon. We have a HUGE Canadian Tire :-), 6 Timmies and two superstores within 10 minutes. And no traffic.

It's great.

Wait, why am I telling everyone?

No, it's terrible. You can't go anywhere without meeting people you know, the shop keepers know your name and what you want, the dry cleaners deliver to your house (it's on the way home!), and the bank manager greets you like a long lost friend. My husband even knows a limo driver. When I go to the dump, the dump guys even ask about the horses. The vet is 5 minutes. The vet is our friend and comes quickly when we say it's an emergency.

Terrible. Horrible place to live. DO NOT COME HERE.

Liz :-)

Too late!

I moved out of Toronto eight years ago to Eastern Ontario - sold my 20 foot wide lot with a semi-detached house on it (lulled to sleep in night by streetcars, police sirens and my neighbour on her elipical - swoosh, swoosh, swoosh - I can hear it still....), gave up my one hour bumper to bumper drive (each way) to the barn where I paid over $600 in boarch each month, paid off my mortgage and bought 15 acres with a house, fenced paddocks, 36x36 barn, sand ring, hacking distance to an indoor, National shows less than half an hour away, CDI's about two hours away, Level 3 coaching, loads of clinics, an active local dressage club, an enourmous, fabulous tack shop, the nicest people I have ever met........all for less than 1/8th of a million.

Oh wait, Liz is right - it is terrible. Horrible place to live. DO NOT COME HERE.

CatOnLap
Dec. 22, 2007, 10:58 AM
Donella,

20 useable acres (not rocks or steep slopes, which a lot of the acreages here are) and any sort of house, just outside of the capital city here will be about 3 million here. There is a lovely about 17 acre parcel for sale, about 20 minutes from Victoria, beside the airport. Nice barn, nice house, nice indoor. 3.6 million is the asking I've heard. You will find cheaper but, it will not be useable land. If it is, it will be in something called the agricultural land reserve which means you can't build another house on it, and if you do not farm it, you will pay 5 figures in taxes annually (remember, horse boarding/training is NOT a recognized farming activity- you actually have to grow stuff and make a profit to qualify for farm taxes)

My friends who are moving/have moved within the last 2 years include the following:
A professional couple who last month purchased a quarter section of land 20 min south of Calgary, fenced and cross fenced with a liveable mobile home. They have just sold their 5 acre farmette on central Vancouver Island, engaged a contractor to build a 3 BR new home and expect that they can both retire on what is left over.
My horse trainer friend, who recently purchased over 100 acres of hayland, an hour east of Edmonton, with a small indoor arena and barn, and a 1980's house, with the money she got from selling her 3 acre Victoria farmette- the one with the 1950's house and no indoor...and she has about a quarter million left over from the Victoria sale after buying the Edmonton farm.
My carpenter friend, who bought a 3 acre parcel in Airdrie complete with 1990's house, heated machine shop, quadruple garage, from the sale of his small city lot house just outside of Victoria.
Dunno, if I could stand the howling winds, I might be moving too. There's a lot of good horse people in Alberta, and a lot of really good warmblood breeders!