I'm thinking about heading south with my horse for the winter for 2-3 (maybe 4 if I can come up with the time) weeks. This will be my first winter south, and I need to gather as much info as possible....where to go, who to train with, where to board (wouldn't mind a DIY situation), what events to enter, etc.
I know Ocala and Aiken are popular destinations. Any reason to chose one over the other? I'd love to get some lessons from some of the upper level/great teachers of eventing.
I feel like this is pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity, since I doubt I will have the chance to take off 3 consequtive weeks any time in the near future.
Aiken has more different events in close proximity, lower rates for boarding, etc, lower rental/hotel rates because of HITS (h/j) people also being around Ocala rates there are higher. There are many great trainers, including BNTs Phillip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Allison Springer, and others and other very good people that are URLs such as Susie Beale, Kim Ziegler, etc
Florida has better weather, enough events, though only a couple of different venues and less expensive airfare if you are flying in and out. I make it less expensive by boarding and staying in the Orlando area, which is convenient and way less expensive. In addition it is near GOHJA show grounds, where there are lots of h/j and dressage shows (not as big a deal as HITS obviously) There are also great trainers there such as Bruce and Buck Davidson, the O'Connors, Missy Ransehousen, Gretchen Butts, and the person I ride with in the Orlando area, Hilda Donahue (www.ashmoreequestriancenter.com) and many others. If you want to ride with jumper trainers, I think more tend to be in Florida because of HITS.
I'm thinking about heading south with my horse for the winter
Newbie - don't think... Just DO IT!! Life's short. Carpe diem & all of that. If you have the time & resources available, pick a place (Aiken sounds good!), find a place to stay, contact a few trainers (you'll be able to do more 'networking' once you're there) & GO!!!! I wouldn't get caught up in wanting to do events while you're there. You'll only be there a relatively short amount of time. Do the training, enjoy the weather, soak in the atmosphere, watch/volunteer at the events instead of getting stressed out by feeling the need to compete. And every now & then, think of the rest of us poor slobs skating around the paddocks in our winter boots to catch our fuzzy ponies so we can ride in the frigid frickin' freezer while schnoz drips down our faces & our toes freeze.....
But don't feel bad....really.
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe
i am thinking about taking on a couple maybe. i just had a stall open up from a sale horse getting sold. would be more than happy to board a fellow eventer for a couple of weeks over the winter if i have the space.
I've never been to Ocala but I sure love Aiken. I have an ULR friend who USED TO always go to Ocala. Funny, she's in Aiken every winter now and even bought a place of her own. There are hundreds of fantastic coaches in Aiken, the events are wonderful and plentiful, the food is great, the company even better. Come on down, we'll be there Feb. 1-Apr. 15.
The significant benefit for Aiken over Ocala for me is I HATE DRIVING TO OCALA. It is a long, painful drive. I will admit that my last trip there (which has been several years now) ended up being a very, very bad trip home (multiple flat tires, begging the Bumpus Brothers in Middle of Nowhere GA to replace a trailer tire right at closing time, rain from GA to MD, hitting the Springfield mixing bowl at early morning rush hour in the rain after 20 hours of driving...I still have nightmares). Aiken is cute, fun, easy to get to, great footing, and lots to do. Love it.
Thanks for the responses. I think I'm leaning towards Aiken
Since this will be my first time there, I really don't have any contacts in the area. How did you set everything up the first time? I'm thinking in particular about horse board. There seems to be several good options from the aikenhorses link (thanks for that, btw)...but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to sign/pay for a place before visiting.
Also, where do you get your hay from? I'll have some room in my trailer, but not enough for 3 weeks worth of hay.
Lastly, does anyone have a list and/or contact info for the trainers that will be in Aiken area over the winter? I'd love to get input from people like P.Dutton and B.Martin...do I just email and request lessons for the weeks that I will be there? Not sure how this is done. I kind of like the idea of being an independent lessoner, and taking a few lessons from several people...though having some continuity (ie sticking with 1 trainer) might be better for me at this point...still trying to weigh the +/-.
In a rush to meet the farrier but here's a quick list off the top of my head...
Babette Lenna, Suzi Gornall, Carol Kozlowski, Sally Cousins, Jan Byyny, Alison Eastman, Heather Carlson, Philip Dutton, Boyd Martin, Richard Lamb...That's all I have at the moment, I'm sure I've left out a few. Sorry. Don't forget, the lower level upper level coaches can often give you what you need in a less pressurized environment, for less $$. We'll see you down there. We'll be on Redds Branch Road