View Full Version : Moving to Wash DC--ISO barn/trainer

Jan. 10, 2008, 09:03 PM
I am relocating to the DC area this summer from west Texas, where I have a fabulous barn/trainer for my Thoroughbred mare. I am a Training level dressage rider and have a 9-year old daughter who is an aspiring eventer. I am in search of a family-friendly, dressage-focused boarding facility in the area and trainers who can help us compete and have fun!

Can anyone help? (After we find the right barn, we'll find a place to live, but that's another story!)


Jan. 11, 2008, 06:00 AM
Our new farm is an hour west of DC, in the very horsey Warrenton area. Our website is below. Good luck!

Jan. 11, 2008, 06:49 AM

Good luck with your move. Choosing a barn for your needs is a personal choice. There are great barns on both the Virginia and Maryland side of DC.:):):)

Jan. 11, 2008, 07:07 AM
Email our instructor, Stefany Wolfe, tempisw@aol.com. She teaches for our pony club, and helped my daughter go from Training level to 4th level on our Irish Draught. She can tell you the pro's and cons of the barns where she teaches.
One of our pony club families has a dressage barn and they take a couple of boarders. 703-759-4894. Lucy charges a lot, but it is a nice facility that is in the close in suburbs. She would allow you and your daughter to work off some of the board by helping out with barn chores.
Do you know where you will be living?

Jan. 11, 2008, 08:35 AM
Are there any restrictions on your move? I'm assuming you're moving due to a job/career, but maybe not.

There are lots of options, but the key in this area is to size up where you'll be working,... The commutes to and from work and barn can be so miserable that you will not have time to ride if you don't plan well.

Are you working downtown? If so, which part? NW? NE? It all makes a difference. If you are working in NW, there are lots of places in Montgomery County MD that would be worth looking at.

If you're working in the suburbs of Virginia (Tysons, Rosslyn, Ballston, Alexandria), having a barn in Montgomery County would be nothing short of a disaster.

Can you give us any more information? The people who live here know the commuting issues pretty well.

As an example, I live in Fairfax Virginia, and commute downtown (near the White House) for work. It would be absolutely impossible for me to have time to ride if I kept a horse in Maryland. If I kept a horse on the East side of the city in Maryland, my commute in rush hour would probably be 60-90 minutes to the barn, then another 60 minutes to get home to Fairfax (assuming it was AFTER rush hour)

DC is a great city, but the traffic is a bitch.

see u at x
Jan. 11, 2008, 09:43 AM
DC is a great city, but the traffic is a bitch.

:yes: What she said!

I've been living in Alexandria for the past 5 years (first Old Town, now near 395/Landmark Mall area). I too, work in DC, but near 15th and M and I usually bus and metro it to work. When I first moved to Old Town Alexandria, my horse was in Leesburg, VA, which was typically about an hour commute for me. I eventually moved her to Southern Maryland to a farm that was about 25-35 minutes away. However, I had to cross the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and deal with the psycho Maryland drivers and endless stop lights going down Indian Head Highway/Rte. 210. (No offense meant to the NON-psycho Maryland drivers who post here! :lol:)

In October of last year, I ended up moving my horse over to Nokesville, VA, which is about a 40-50 minute drive on a good day. If I drive out there after work during the week, depending on how bad traffic is, sometimes I'll wait to leave until around 7ish. By then, the traffic on 66 doesn't seem to be quite as horrendous, unless you have nights like yesterday when it was raining and traffic was just terrible EVERYWHERE. For me, leaving that late isn't a problem - I don't have children and I'm single. However, I could understand for you, as a mom, that might not work as well. Even though my drive is longer now, I don't mind it because I'm not dealing with the bridge and all those annoying stop lights. Plus, I can listen to the traffic report and hear where the bad areas are, and in a worst case scenario, take another route to the barn.

You've definitely come to the right place by asking this question on here. The people from NOVA and MD who are on this board, have traffic commutes to the barn down to a science! ;)

Jan. 11, 2008, 10:52 AM
deal with the psycho Maryland drivers

Haha we get a kick out of you VA drivers as well! Do they teach you in driving school that you NEED to be in the left lane, no matter your speed? :lol: Just kidding. It's pretty amazing how different driving is in each state, even neighboring ones.

OP, if you aren't decided on your living location yet, I would highly suggest Montgomery County, MD. Traffic is, of course, hellacious but it offers a good midway point between the nice upper-county farms and working closer to metro DC. Personally, I am avoiding any living accomodations near the beltway. I can't imagine spending my laid-back weekend trying to get somewhere in heavy, below-the-speed-limit traffic on that damn road. I have the same feeling about VA - seems there is ALWAYS traffic. I could certainly be wrong, as my exposure to VA is limited due to that annoying factor. Trying to take a nice leisurely trip out to Skyline Drive one Friday afternoon, I sat on 66 for at least 2 hours, if not more. By the time I got there, it was dark, we needed wood for the fire and the ranger cautioned that three bears had been seen at the campsite that evening. Thanks 66, for not letting me brave the bear-infested woods in the daylight.

see u at x
Jan. 11, 2008, 12:02 PM
Haha we get a kick out of you VA drivers as well! Do they teach you in driving school that you NEED to be in the left lane, no matter your speed? :lol: Just kidding. It's pretty amazing how different driving is in each state, even neighboring ones.

Hey, I'm originally from Iowa of all places, so we drive slow and cautiously because we're used to being stuck behind all sorts of farm machinery. :lol: You are absolutely right, though - the difference in neighboring states here IS shocking. But you know what? At least neither one of us are DC drivers, because we all know that THEY are really the worst ones! ;)

Jan. 11, 2008, 12:12 PM
Northern Virginia is fantastic. Take a ride through Middleburg and you'll be hooked. I haven't found traffic to be horrendous unless you live near, and depend on, I-66. I prefer Loudoun County. It's very easy to get to Maryland and Virginia for events and the traffic is not terrible (IMO).

I think you may find it difficult to find a dressage barn that's kid friendly. You may be better off asking on the eventing forum as most of those barns have dressage and jumping facilities - and some even have cross-country.

Jan. 11, 2008, 01:02 PM
Thanks everyone--VA and MD folks alike--for your help. This turned out to be more of a friendly sparring concerning driving styles! :lol:

Someone asked for more info from me to help me better, so here goes:

1) Hubby has to get to the Pentagon every day without divorcing me
2) I have lived in DC before for 10 years but without a horse and a school-aged child, so my priorities have vastly changed. I know the area well, but not from a horseowner perspective.
3) As stated earlier, I will search for a human home AFTER I find a horse home (how's that for dedication?)
4) I am thinking about finding a human home in either Great Falls, VA or Potomac, MD. Yes, a little pricey, but good schools and great locations--reasonable commute to Pentagon.
5) We are arriving in the area sometime over the summer, maybe July.

And, with all you've stated in your messages, you've pretty much captured my dilemma about a barn. Hard to find one that competes and welcomes children. Hard to find a great facility that is "not too far out" from the city. And, need a barn with an encouraging trainer.

PS: Does anyone know Bascule Farm in Potomac? Website looks interesting...Wyndham Oaks looks fabulous but prohibitively expensive...also in Montogomery Cty.

I appreciate all your help. Please keep the suggestions coming.

Jan. 11, 2008, 01:05 PM
Do you happen to know the name of the friend's dressage barn? Just wondering if they have a website. Thanks for your kind response. I found yours to be very helpful. Also, does Stefany travel or is she situated in one barn? I will certainly give her a call. If you see her, please tell her someone from TX might be calling--a heads up might smooth the way. These horse people are usually very busy and time is precious.

Thanks for your help again!

Jan. 11, 2008, 01:12 PM
Also, does Stefany travel or is she situated in one barn? I will certainly give her a call.

She does travel and teaches out of several barns :)

Will second the recommendation for her, as well. I don't take lessons with her often but she's excellent :)

(she teaches a couple of us here (http://www.southwindfarminc.com/))

Jan. 11, 2008, 01:21 PM
Traffic is definitely something you want to plan on....I have a friend who lived in Alexandria, his kids went to private/Catholic schools and he commuted daily on the DASH bus to the Pentagon (which if you husband is a govt or military employee his office will pay his commute up to $115 a month if he uses mass transit). I myself work and live in/near Crystal City (Crystal City & Pentagon City are right next to the Pentagon, all are in Arlington, VA). I commute to a barn in Montgomery County that takes me 45 min most days (there can always be a wreck on any commute). We have a few kids at our barn (it is small but nice with an indoor) so feel free to PM or email me (baylady7@aol) with any questions. Good luck finding something on Potomac or McLean- you may want to also look at Bethesda. I have boarded in Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties (think near Annapolis, was during a prior PCS), so feel free to ask away on questions.

Appy trails
Kathy & Cadet

Jan. 11, 2008, 01:27 PM
I would contact the National US Pony Club office and find out which clubs are close, then speak to the District commissioner of those clubs. They may even have membership in the same boat....
I belive Annapolis, St margarets, and Ironbridge pony clubs may be helpful,,, However it has been 18 years since I was involved...

Jan. 11, 2008, 02:20 PM
PS: Does anyone know Bascule Farm in Potomac? Website looks interesting...Wyndham Oaks looks fabulous but prohibitively expensive...also in Montogomery Cty.

Bascule is actually in Poolesville. So would require a trip up River Rd to White's Ferry to get there (15 mi?). The farm is great, many many places to ride. There are a good number of boarders there, quite a few teenagers. It IS, however, a training barn. Meaning you are expected to be lessoning if you are boarding. Julie is a very friendly and encouraging instructor, as is her husband Dick. There are other trainers available for riders who work at some of the lower levels. The place is run very well - clean, organized, efficient. With a more serious younger rider, it'd be great. If the child is young enough to still want to cowboy around on occasion, probably not a top choice, owing to the "training barn" aspect.

I'd love to be of help with suggesting other barns, but I'm a bit out of the younger age group so not so familiar with their hangouts :)

Also, for the poster who mentioned Bethesda - only a good choice of location for those who won't miss the country! It's a nice, close-knit neighborhood kind of area, and convenient to many amenities, but no horses or open land and the people are just NOT the same kind you encounter elsewhere. I'm from Frederick County and about done with this city after 2 years.

Jan. 11, 2008, 02:42 PM
I sent you a PM.

Jan. 11, 2008, 02:56 PM
I highly recommend Bascule Farm. I boarded there for nearly a decade (when I was doing both dressage and eventing) and remain friendly with Julie and Dick and lots of folks who are still there. It's a really nice facility, great group of boarders (lots of adults, but children also), has lots of eventers, and Julie (particularly) is a wonderful instructor. Some of the boarders there do live in VA. It's about a 50 min. (or so) non-rush hour drive from downtown DC. You might also want to contact the local Pony Clubs for other suggestions. http://potomac.ponyclub.org/ and/or http://www.senecavalleyponyclub.org/
Wyndham Oaks is fabulous, but nearly all adults and nearly all dressage. It's right next door to the private farm where my mares live now.
Good luck with your move!

Jan. 11, 2008, 03:34 PM
Sent you a PM!

Jan. 12, 2008, 08:54 PM
B1Wife. I live in Great Falls, so feel free to pm me if you have questions about Great Falls. There are several pony clubs in our general area. Our neighborhood pony club is Rocky Run. Our pony club has a small group of older kids (14-24) who do mostly dressage and some eventing. My friend's dressage barn is here in Great Falls. She doesn't have a website since she only takes in a few boarders, since they have so many of their own horses that she, her daughter and her niece compete.

Jan. 12, 2008, 09:19 PM
I'll third the Stefany love :) I board with caffinated and take occasional lessons with Stef, when my horse is sound, as well as with the eventing trainer who's based at our barn April-Dec. There are a couple of PC kids there, too, and a really great, laid-back mix of pleasure riders, eventers, and dressage folks.

A lot depends on when you're driving. I'm a night shift worker, and have made it from my BF's apartment in Ballston out to the barn in Damascus in just over an hour leaving at about 2PM, which isn't unreasonable for this area, particularly given it normally takes me 35 minutes from my place in Gaithersburg.

Jan. 13, 2008, 12:05 PM
I loff Stefany too--boarded where she worked when she was in high school--but that is a far commute from the Pentagon I think. You'd need to be close to 270--maybe Good news farm in barnsville MD off 270. There is a MARC train to DC and Metro in Shady Grove goes to Pentagon.

Or try VA out toward Purcellville, Leesburg area. Live in between somewhere off the Greenway like Ashburn or Sterling or Chantilly.

I am in WV on the MARC train route to DC but no good public transit to Pentagon. My husband commutes to the Chantilly area in an hour and 15. If he leaves at 6:30 it is 2 hours driving to the Pentagon with no traffic problems. So living in between here and Arlington as hte crow flies is doable--finding an hour commute is possible. But if you want open space and horses, that is hard to find close to work. Great falls is very expensive but nice. Probably arenas and trails but little cross country for eventing. Out by The Plains you have the O'Connors and Great Plains for shows. More hunt country and land but not cheap.

Jan. 13, 2008, 01:56 PM
AKB: Great Falls seems like a great place to live. I assume the schools are all good--did I guess correctly? I really appreciate your help. Moving kids, schools, husband, horse, etc is daunting. It is the universal military spouse complaint that just when you get your life in a happy place, it's time to move again! I hope we'll cross paths in GF some day! If you can think of anything else that would help, let me know. Many thanks again!

Jan. 13, 2008, 02:04 PM
Just to throw out another option, you might consider Clifton VA. It's right next to fairfax, and I don't think as expensive as Great falls. We have our own place, so I don't know a ton about boarding facilities, but I do know there is a place named Olivers stables in Fairfax Station just down the road. Lots of people board there and live closer to D.C. They like it because it has an indoor. This way they can ride during the week in the winter months.
The other thing about Olivers is that I know Alison Sprenger gives lessons there. Lots of event and dressage riders I believe.
Anyway, another thought.
Good luck

Jan. 13, 2008, 04:36 PM
Hi, I too live in Great Falls and have a daughter in middle school here. Yes, the schools are great, probably some of the best in Fairfax County. On the horse boarding and training situation, I have my mare out in Frederick, MD with a wonderful dressage trainer, however, we have no kids in my barn apart from my daughter who rides sporadically. That said, there are two other barns on the property, run by the owner of the property and I know there are kids there and that there are trainers who come in and give lessons. It takes me about an hour to drive between my house and the barn, which is worth it to me as my mare is very happy there and I feel fortunate to have access to such a great trainer and facility. If you'd like more info on the Great Falls area, feel free to email PM me and I'd be happy to answer any questions I can.