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  • #21
    I was on the verge of joining the community at Bridle Creek in Aiken, SC. What stopped me from going forward was a personal injury, not the covenants or other residents. I like/d the idea of a shared arena, XC area and hacking trails...as that is far cheaper than having to build/maintain everything on your own property IMO and experience.

    It is/was a group of high performance riders/owners, so a tight knit group with a single focus - successful competition at the upper levels of sport. That is vastly different from other equine communities I visited where it seemed to be about a ginormous home, 4 stall barn and 5 acres and a few ponies out in the pasture.

    I did look at Three Runs and it had too many snowbird/hobbyist types in residence for my liking. Not trying to be judgmental when I say that - just honest. There was also more roll to a lot of the available parcels and I had nightmares of shoes being yanked off constantly. So for me - Bridle Creek was the only choice that made sense.

    Just my .02 cents.
    Watermark Farm
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    • Original Poster

      #22
      Thanks, this is very helpful.

      I am definitely looking this in terms of trade offs when trying to hopefully maximize my retirement days: the amount of riding areas/options I can afford and can maintain by myself, versus the cost/restrictions etc. of being in a community where I don't have total control. As many a small business owner would attest, being the boss comes with costs of its own.

      Appreciate the thoughts!
      Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!

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      • #23
        Originally posted by Tasker View Post
        It is/was a group of high performance riders/owners, so a tight knit group with a single focus - successful competition at the upper levels of sport. That is vastly different from other equine communities I visited where it seemed to be about a ginormous home, 4 stall barn and 5 acres and a few ponies out in the pasture.
        The upper level riders are only in residence at Bridle Creek for a few months in the winter. The rest of the year, there are only three houses with full-time residents, two of which trail ride (one of those was on the market) and the other is non-horse couple.
        Hindsight bad, foresight good.

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        • #24
          I live in the Hatchaway Bridge Farms equestrian development in Aiken, SC and if I had it to over I would never live in one again. Major problems here that now have the POA embroiled in a lawsuit with the former developers. And it is a nasty and co$tly one. I hear that there is some similar issues (no lawsuit at this point) going on in the Fox Hollow development in Aiken.

          Looked at Three Runs but didn't like how it was laid out. Not enough green buffer between lots. Also looked at Bridle Creek and though we thought it was nicer than Three Runs, both were also on the wrong side of town for us.

          The Storm Branch polo equestrian development in Aiken is now a golf driving range.

          If you are set on looking at Aiken (development or not) do your OWN homework. Drive around and get to know the area, talk with the local people. Some of the real estate agents that "specialize" in equine property prey on less than knowledgeable out of town buyers. I have many specific examples of some very sketchy dealings and unhappy buyers.

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          • #25
            Not to hijack and derail, but does anyone have any links to equestrian communities in other parts of the country besides Aiken?

            We have a failed one in my area-- it was the hoity toity, gated community type with McMansions on small lots built around a "world class" equestrian facility. Now the barn is independent of the community, even though it's smack in the middle of the housing development:

            http://jaecklecentre.com/

            These days they have tacks sales, concerts, a couple shows, and the occasional clinic, but I don't think a single horse lives there.

            I found a recent realtor video of it on YouTube that really gives you an idea just how vacant the place is:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RqmqiAQxHQ

            I was surprised in one of the shots you actually saw a horse in a pasture, but I think it may have been a neighboring farm since the fencing is different.
            Last edited by Texarkana; Feb. 24, 2013, 09:21 PM. Reason: Added video
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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            • #26
              To answer your question on one in the PNW they tried on in Arlington, Wa about an hour north of Seattle which FAILED miserably...not sure who thought it would work by selling lots on a flood plain
              I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.

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              • #27
                I like the idea of living within riding distance to a riding club with facilities like arenas and cross country courses that one would pay a fee to use and contribute to the upkeep and maintenance, while still having your own property that is not subject to the rules of a HOA. Seems like the best of both worlds to be able to keep your horses in your backyard and care for them how you see fit, while still having access to nice amenities without having to carry the full cost and maintenance.

                The downside to these types of set-ups, at least what I've seen at two in my area is that over the years the lots have been divided and fancy houses put up and the horses pushed out.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by Badger View Post
                  The upper level riders are only in residence at Bridle Creek for a few months in the winter. The rest of the year, there are only three houses with full-time residents, two of which trail ride (one of those was on the market) and the other is non-horse couple.
                  *sigh* I should have clarified further.
                  PD is less than 8 miles from our farm in PA. I would have been transient as well, so the seasonal intensity would have been just fine with me.
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                  • #29
                    The Oaks is a beautiful equestrian community in Lake City, Fl. I don't know what it would be like to live there, but it seems to be very well run with a lot of flexibility. I go there to ride sometimes with Dean and Megan Graham who are the trainers there. The equestrian facilities are first class.

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                    • #30
                      My husband and I hope to soon become another set of full time residents in Bridle Creek. We have five acres across from Ryan Wood's training facility, which is in front of Phillip's. We will be building on our land there as soon as we sell our farm in Lexington, VA. I ride my Arabian, Willie, in small dressage shows and we both trail ride. We liked the layout of Bridle Creek, and the layout of the trails. Three-Runs was too open for us, although the newer section lots are more like Bridle Creek, with winding roads and property buffers. We will be coming from a private 17 acres, so did not want to be able to see many other houses, although we are downsizing to 5.22 acres. The horse community appealed to us as we have not yet decided if we will keep our horses on our property or board, but we want to have them near to us if we decide to board. Also, we like to have someone to ride with, and having the rings and trails already there was a big plus in our decision. We are seriously excited about the move, and hope that we don't regret the decison.
                      I do know that it is somtimes hard to get the developers to keep their promises, and takes a strong HOA to make them keep their part of the deal. I personally am ok with the group as a whole limiting what can be built, and keeping the neighborhood on par with the covenants. In NJ we ended up with horrible neighbors across the street from us, and the only relief and help we got was to keep calling the Board of Health on them. They just about ruined our property value, and I don't want to go through that again.
                      stained glass groupie
                      www.equiglas.com

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                      • #31
                        We live in a small horse community where the lots must be 5 acres or more. Horses are not required, but the covenants require majority vote for 'minor' changes and 100% vote to modify the covenants.
                        That said, we have several residents who like to see horses in green pastures - not necessarily horses in real life. We have had a few 'tense' years a while back but things have settled down.

                        FYI - none of the really nice farms in our community have sold. . . for the past 3-6 years.

                        A developer offered an Equestrian Community essentially across the street from our very high profile steeplechase/training track facility. The major problem is there was no trainer, of any discipline, to entice prospective buyers. Not to mention the neighbors, normal in town subdivisions, were not really excited to have more horses around. There are loads of small flat and jumping racing barns all around that area bordering the steeplechase/training facility - across the street so 'ok'. After about 3-4 years another developer(s) started building mcmansions on very small lots. So that 'equestrian community' went under.

                        Know of one facility just in SC south of Charlotte, NC. As I understand it is a H/J and dressage facility with ajoining properties. Don't know how long it will survive as Charlotte subs are drifting southward.

                        My only concern with places like PD's in Aiken and the O'Connors in Ocala is what happens if and when they move, retire, get out of the business or are unable to teach. Is there a process in place to bring in their replacement, as in are they mentoring the person(s) who will take over the facility? What do I do if I am a H/J rider and the new person is into Western only or take your pick? The main thing is everything is wonderful for the first 5-10 years, but what will protect everyone after the "new" is gone? Our comunity is 20+ years old and we have dealt with several major changes in residents which has resulted in major changes in how our trails and such are used.

                        Personally I still prefer to have 40-100 acres for enough room to ride on my own land and maintain a buffer against non-horse neighbors. Too many horror stories abound of established farms or facilities being run out of business or forced to move by "new" neighbors or changes in the county tax codes.
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
                          Oh man, that sounds like a nightmare in every respect. I don't know anything about the OP's area, but here in Central Texas, before I bought Dreadful Acres, I shopped around at a couple of "equestrian communities." The acreage was limited, it was more expensive than comparable acreage outside the subdivision, the people were creepy, and there were all kinds of really horrible, oppressive rules governing everything from a ban on chickens to how much money you had to spend building your house. At one place everyone had to have identical, and if I may say so, really flippin ugly-ass entrance gates. Another one started out life with a high-end equestrian facility as its hub, but of course it didn't survive the recession so now it's a dump. The barns are all rented out to an ever-changing parade of trainers and assorted self-care boarders who may or may not be particularly tidy, the fences are falling down, and there's a CVS and a gas station in what used to be the polo field. I would be pretty sad if I'd shelled out for a house there only to see the main attraction dilapidate into a strip mall/shanty town for the hoi polloi.
                          Daamn, Crone, I'd love to meet you some day!

                          As someone who plans equestrian communities, including the successful Las Campanas in Santa Fe, I have a few tips:

                          1) Look at the plan and facility, and apply the "Does this make sense?" test. I haven't seen many equestrian communities planned by an arms-length equestrian with experience (and one with a sense of reality). That is why I got into this business.

                          2) It is imposible for a true equestrian community (with the exception of one in a very dense and thriving equestrian location like Ocala, Aiken, Southern Pines, Rancho Santa Fe), to be discipline specific. Training barns can be discipline specific because the person running it knows (supposedly) what they are doing and you can leave if you want. Not so with ECs. Anyone can buy in, and they may not ride or waant their horse cared for like you do, so the best plan in those cases is a simple, affordable facility that is very versatile.

                          3) Developers are focused on selling lots, at maximum profit. Equestrian facilities add cache'. This is fine, as it brings me work, but make darn sure things are well planned and thought out. At a minimum, there should be a solid, written facilities and operation plan with long term funding mechanisms that you understand and agree with. The funding mechanisms must match the level of facility and costs of upkeep, just like your own property.

                          4) If the facility was planned by and will be run by one trainer, hope it is your relative, because it is really a training barn disguised as an equestrian community barn. A good, well paid and benefitted facility/barn manager running the facility is the best thing, one reason I like the golf-equestrian model, as there are enough employees to have a benefit plan. Otherwise, it is likely to be a revolving door of eq facility management, never good.

                          5) Drama is directly in proportion to interaction. You must have your own space, own roomy tack locker, multiple tack-groom areas, multiple arenas, turnouts in a centralized barn.

                          6) Ridiculous covenant squashing is one of my jobs as a community equestrian designer. If I have a big part in writing them, they will be what a considerate horseowner would want anyway. If I am not involved, you get covenants like "No loading or unloading of horses before 8 am or after 8 pm." Sigh.

                          I think there is more need than ever for equestrian communities, but the 90s model of luxury developments waaaay out from employment centers is past. Affordable retirement equestrian communities near open lands and "equestrian New Urbanism" are interesting to me now.

                          For those who think the whole idea is nuts, fine. Not for you. However, for many, equestrian communities in a few well-tested models do work well and are the best of both worlds for quite a few people. Just use common sense and remove the rose colored glasses when looking.
                          Last edited by Plumcreek; Feb. 25, 2013, 08:34 PM. Reason: added
                          Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design
                          www.lynnlongplanninganddesign.com

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                          • #33
                            Although Phillip currently owns his training facility in Bridle Creek, and Ryan and Boyd just rent their facilities, I don't see what difference it would make to my husband and I living there if it was taken over by people riding a different discipline down the road. We don't plan on training with Phillip. We are fairly involved with eventing as we are on the organizing committee with Brian and Penny for the eventing at the VA Horse Center, and currently volunteer at many horse trials in area II and III, so we are happy that the eventers are there. But if they weren't, I would still trail ride and do small dressage shows. It's not like there is a central barn with a trainer, or that we are moving there to train with a specific person.
                            I, too, would prefer to have 40-100 acres buffered against the world. But, alas, time marches on and at 63 and 65, hubby and I are getting beyond taking care of the large horse property and will have to settle for a smaller place that we can still have our beloved horses at least near us. We are hoping that this will meet our needs, and give us several more years of having time to actually enjoy our horses, instead of doing nothing but work to keep and take care of them.
                            stained glass groupie
                            www.equiglas.com

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                            • #34
                              Be sure you look into what type of equestrian activities are permitted. A driver friend of mine built in a local equestrian community, nice houses and very near the Florida Horse Park... - then discovered she would not be permitted to drive her horses on the roads, because it might upset the riding horses. They sold and moved out.

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                              • #35
                                Originally posted by pds View Post
                                I live in the Hatchaway Bridge Farms equestrian development in Aiken, SC and if I had it to over I would never live in one again. Major problems here that now have the POA embroiled in a lawsuit with the former developers. And it is a nasty and co$tly one. I hear that there is some similar issues (no lawsuit at this point) going on in the Fox Hollow development in Aiken.

                                Looked at Three Runs but didn't like how it was laid out. Not enough green buffer between lots. Also looked at Bridle Creek and though we thought it was nicer than Three Runs, both were also on the wrong side of town for us.

                                The Storm Branch polo equestrian development in Aiken is now a golf driving range.

                                If you are set on looking at Aiken (development or not) do your OWN homework. Drive around and get to know the area, talk with the local people. Some of the real estate agents that "specialize" in equine property prey on less than knowledgeable out of town buyers. I have many specific examples of some very sketchy dealings and unhappy buyers.
                                I agree, I think some of the bigger name realtors are a bit misleading.
                                I live in a small deed restricted community, and would not do it again
                                save lives...spay/neuter/geld

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                                • #36
                                  My husband and I bought a 5 acre lot and built in a small equestrian oriented development in Texas. What drew us here were the common equestrian facilities (deeded equestrian easements and HOA common areas) which allow us to trail ride our horses directly out our back gate. Roughly half our neighbors here own horses while the others were simply looking for a lot on larger acreage.

                                  While there have been some conflicts among the HOA, overall it has been a harmonious group. I think what has contributed to its success is that the common areas (trails and HOA parkland) are fairly maintenance free other than mowing and don't require a lot of money for upkeep. The non-horsey neighbors don't feel that their HOA dues are being spent on facilities that they don't use.
                                  Yes, there are deed restrictions, but for the most part the restrictions are in the best interest of all of the property owners. Living here has given us access to trails that we couldn't afford to own.

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                                  • Original Poster

                                    #37
                                    I have a question - why would non-horse people buy into an "equestrian community" knowing there were dues for equestrian facilities that they didn't plan to use...and then resent paying them?
                                    Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!

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                                    • #38
                                      Good question..my husband and I oftentimes wonder why our retired next door neighbor decided to build here. It seemed to us that a golf course community would be more his style.
                                      One day when more horses got loose I arrived home to find him and my across the street neighbor (also retired) having haltered the horses and brought them home. I was surprised to discover that Mr. golf course had owned and ridden horses as a young man and enjoys having them around! Likewise our neighbors down the street who enjoy seeing me hack out and even stopped to give me a tin of Christmas cookies while I was hand walking one of my horses.

                                      Horses make a landscape more beautiful (as long as you're not shoveling manure!)

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                                      • #39
                                        A few years ago, there was talk of a race track being built here.

                                        A developer right by that supposed track location organized one of those equestrian communities and sold plots and built some big houses in them.
                                        I have heard they had to reorganize thru Ch 11 bankruptcy, but don't know if that went thru or they were bought out.

                                        Now, that area is maybe 20 houses and no connection at all to any horses.
                                        That is also one place where water is very short, definitely not a good place to have livestock of any kind.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by mortebella View Post
                                          I have a question - why would non-horse people buy into an "equestrian community" knowing there were dues for equestrian facilities that they didn't plan to use...and then resent paying them?
                                          Because the salesman was very good.

                                          This is not a "flip" answer. Good salesmen sell; it's what they do.

                                          I can't say much for the buyer, here, as they should know what salesmen do.

                                          Plumcreek gave pretty good advice. It something doesn't pass the "smell" test then move on down the road. Where I might disagree is that I'm not sure the developers of these things have realized that the American equine industry is in contraction and will be so for many years. The Boomers are aging out and the kids are more interested in video games and Tweeting than riding. This shift is likely permanent and bodes ill for all manner of equine ventures.

                                          I'm one of those "not just no but HELL NO" types when it comes to planned communities. When I'm too feeble to live without intensive support I'll likely change my mind, but that means a condo with support services, not a "planned" community.

                                          G.
                                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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