I'm new to the Chicago area and I'm looking for to spend around $500 a month on board. I don't need to have a trainer on site, but it would be a plus. I've been riding 20 years and many barns are telling me I can't jump my own horse outside of a lesson. I am in the Evanston area and don't want the barn to be father then a 30 min drive. Suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!
While I am more of a west side girl, I have to say you probably need luck to find a place with good care, in your price and driving range, and have amenities (I assume indoor arena and jumps, since you're wanting to jump outside of lessons?) you'd like. I'm betting you're going to have to loosen your restrictions a bit. In rush hour, it'd probably take you 30 minutes to even get out of Evanston!
I lived most of my life in the NW suburbs and I agree...you are probably looking at a much longer commute from Evanston if you want decent turnout and facilities. And most of the barns I boarded at in the area had the "no jumping without a lesson" rule, unfortunately.
As someone who lives in the Chicago area I will tell you that you are very likely going to have to pay more than $500/mth for board in the area, or go farther out that you intend. I would honestly tell you to give yourself a max drive time of an hour and look north. There's a place in Oswego called Judgment Farms that looks nice, although I have not ridden there myself.
I was just out at Judgement last week, first time I've seen the new digs and it is such a lovely place! But, I bet it could take 2 hours to get there from Evanston on some days, it's not anywhere near a freeway.
OP, Chicago is a really tough place to do the horse thing. And truthfully, you can't get anywhere in 30 minutes in this town. You have two options, have a lot of money, or have a lot of spare time to drive back and forth to the barn. The closer the barn is to the city the more expensive it will be, and real estate is a premium here so it will likely lack turnout. If it does have good turnout, and also nice amenities, it will be mega money.
From Evanston, I would look towards Lake Forest, or the Gurnee/Wadsworth/just south of Wisconsin area - which is closer than you probably think. Zipping north from Evanston is usually not too bad in traffic, though just getting to the freeway can take 10-20 minutes.
There is a fairly big time HJ show scene around here and those people are not going to let you jump outside of lessons. They only fill those stalls with people that are also going to pay back into the lesson/training programs. Those stalls are usually in order of $800+/mth.
More casual barns can be a little tough to find, most of the ones I know of are far far west from you. I would say $500/mth is more common out near Elgin and Rte. 47.
It's a really, really, really tough city to do horses in...
Dags had a good recommendation in looking in the Lake Forest/Gurnee/Wadsworth and southern WI areas. Since you are wanting to jump outside of lessons or not be tied to lessons, I would look more to barns that are not strictly H/J. They tend to be pretty all inclusive and very pricey. Look at barns the may have some H/j and eventing. They seem to be a little more flexible. I board in Elgin, so not as familiar with all the farms farther north, but I am sure some folks on here will know of some. Frankly, Evanston is one of those towns that isn't easy to get to or out of.
Sorry to bump an old thread, but figured it was better than starting yet another on the same topic. OP, did you end up finding a place? I, too, am on the north side of the city and looking for a barn on a budget. Definitely not looking for a show barn, but rather a smaller facility, more the "we keep our horses here and decided to start taking in boarders" type. Less than 20 horses would be ideal, would definitely need an indoor since this is the Midwest we're talking about here, hopefully an outdoor too, all day turnout, trail access would be wonderful but not a dealbreaker, and trying to stay in the $400-500 range and ~50-60 miles away from zip code 60618. I don't mind if it's lacking in amenities (trainer, hot washrack, stuff like that) but owners need to be competent and truthful.
I know it's a tall order, but since those "hidden gems" seem to largely be known by word of mouth, figured it couldn't hurt to post on here in case anybody has any leads. PMs are fine of course Thanks!
Freedom Woods in Morton Grove (Skokie/Glenview) is tucked back a wee bit, but basically off Golf Road & Harms Road. 15-20 minutes from Evanston (I used to work on Central Street in Evanston, and lived at Golf & Harlem in Glenview. My daughter rode at Freedom Woods for 6 months until we unexpectedly moved further west. I have no idea what their board rate is, but that is the only one in the near NW suburbs I can personally recommend.
9501 Austin Ave
Morton Grove, Illinois 60053-1505
When I moved here, I was looking for pretty much the same thing, and ended up at a barn in southern WI and spending more than I had originally intended. I looked at about 10-15 barns in the area and it was the first one that had adequate turn-out (truly all day, and in actual pasture) with people I felt completely comfortable with, knowing I wouldn't be able to get out to my horse as frequently as I was used to. I'm in the Ravenswood area and it takes me 1 hr and 8 mins to get out there in good traffic.
ETA: This barn also has trails, an indoor and outdoor, lovely facilities, and no training/lesson requirement. I just found that to have what was most important I had to compromise on distance and price.
Last edited by izzy98; May. 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM.
Reason: additional info
Look for barns that require you to take 94 and avoid anything that requires taking 90. I live in Chicago and have been riding in Lake Forest, Libertyville, and Antioch/Zion. During rush hour, my commute is 1hr30. If I can avoid rush, I can easily make the drive in 45m-1hr. There are lots of nice barns out that way and a variety: small barns, private stables, big show farms...
The only places I know of that are $500-650 per/month that offer decent care are 2+ hours away. If you're in the Northern Chicago area you might have to increase your budget unless you're looking to do some of the work yourself (but if you're looking at a commute I'm assuming that's not possible)
Additionally, most barns do not allow jumping without a trainer as a safety precaution. At my barn, I only do pole/cavaletti exercises I set but never when there are other clients around as I don't want to set a bad example for lesser experienced kids or adults. So, while you may feel comfortable jumping without a lesson, it's important to keep the demographic of the barn in mind. Considering there are lots of lessoners in the area, that requirement may not be met. And the barns I've experienced or heard of that do allow people to do whatever they want with their horse because "riding is fun" are downright scary.
Izzy98, would you mind PMing me/if I PM'd you regarding where you are (provided they even have openings)? We're at a bigger place in Wadsworth right now but I've found that with that many horses, a lot of things get missed. I know of the big barn in Bristol WI; not sure if that's the one you're talking about but I didn't think they had trail access so maybe not. I've had mare up to 1.5 hours away before but at an amazing facility, so I fully understand the sacrificing commute time for peace of mind.
I've signed up for an account on the IL horse board because I want to post on there too, but it hasn't been "approved" yet...
I would second freedom woods! I went there for the last two years of my high school before going off to college. And before that I basically grew up at glen grove equestrian center off of harms rd, around the corner from freedom woods. Both are north suburbs of Chicago in Glenview/wilmette area. Wonderful stables! Might not be the cheapest though. I took 9 years off and started again two years ago in Tampa now and immediately my new trainer asked me where I grew up because they could see a GREAT foundation. I credit it all to those two barns in Glenview IL. In less than a year I was back to jumping long stirrup hunter and equitation and am loosing weight and getting back in shape wonderfully. I now am the proud owner of a beautiful bay TB/QH mix and she's training me to her diva ways quickly. Seriously freedom woods and glen grove were awesome growing up and I'm sure they still hold a high standard and great training! Check them out.
Thanks guys! I've been in touch with a couple places and may have one that sounds like it could work our for us *crosses fingers* and even if it doesn't I've got a few more to contact thanks to this thread. I'm familiar with both the barns mentioned in MG and while they are closest, the turnout/lack thereof would not work for my horse. I'm definitely doing the longer commute in exchange for better turnout/lower prices route
Four Winds in Salem, WI seems nice. I havhant boarded there but they have pasture, trails, indoor/outdoor, nice stalls etc.
I live about 15 minutes from 4 winds (used to ride there) and it is a nice facility.. they hold schooling shows as well. If you are looking on the WI boarder PM me - there are a handful in the area I would steer clear from.
I'm definitely doing the longer commute in exchange for better turnout/lower prices route
Just be careful; as someone who commuted an hour to the barn and back in the Chicago area, the "cheaper board" evens out when you factor in increases in gas, mileage put on your car, frequency of oil changes.