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Relocating to the Bay Area

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  • Relocating to the Bay Area

    Hi, I am thinking about relocating to the Bay Area and would like to move my horse there. We (horse and I) currently train with top trainer in my area and I would like to find a top notch trainer and facility. Any suggestions for places? We (husband and I) haven't picked out a place to live - it will depend on work and barn location. So in general- I guess its South Bay (don't know the lingo yet)? Either west of Palo Alto or East of Palo Alto and north to either San Fran (on the west side) or Berkley on the east side.

    Also, here's a bunch of other questions I will just toss out there for someone:
    1) What do I need to watch out for in bringing my horse out there? (snakes, hay, that kind of stuff)
    2) How much does transport cost from New England to the Bay area?
    3) Are there great tack shops/feed stores in that area?
    4) Are there dressage shows in that area?
    5) Any traffic advice?? (like avoid 101, etc.)

    Thanks everyone! I appreciate the help.
    Last edited by GoinBacktoCali; Apr. 7, 2013, 06:19 PM. Reason: Edited to clarify that "we" in the first sentence refers to my horse and I, "we in the 2nd sentence refers to my husband +me.

  • #2
    I think that finding a trainer is a personality fit as much as a training/teaching fit so I recommend that you spend some time watching a few trainers' lessons to help you decide. Also, without knowing where you are currently it's possible that a top trainer in your area would be not worth mentioning in another area. It's more helpful to know what you're riding now and what your goals are. Having said all of that, the big name trainers tend to be in SoCal far more than northern Cal.
    But here's some local info:
    It's the Peninsula, not the west side. . There are three horse areas on the Peninsula: Woodside/Portola Valley (most expensive), Pacifica (lots & lots of fog) and the coast (Half Moon Bay). There are horse places in the South Bay but the biggest tend to be all of the way down in Gilroy/Hollister. If you're in the east bay then focus on areas off of the 680 corridor (Pleasanton to Walnut Creek) or in the hills between Hwy 24 & Hwy 4. The north bay is a whole 'nother topic but most big barns are Petaluma or farther north.

    Traffic is bad here. Don't put your horse on one side of a bridge if you're living or working on the other side of it. And sometimes our commute direction doesn't have anything to do with where the city-core is. Apple/Google/Facebook/etc campuses can all create their own traffic jams. The 80 corridor through Berkeley is bad nearly 24/7.

    Yes we have snakes in California but I've lived here forever and I've never seen a rattlesnake when I've been with my horse. I've seen other types of snakes but even knowing they weren't poisonous I was way more freaked out than my horse was.

    I can't compare our hay to yours because I don't know where you are. My barn offers alfalfa as part of board & grass hay is extra. I've been to barns that also feed oat hay. Because of the cost to remove bedding I know of at least two really big barns in Portola Valley that won't feed hay at all - it's cubes or pellets. So ask about all of the things that really matter to you. A local feed store delivers hay & grain to boarders at my barn if they don't have the time or vehicle to go pick it up. A single bale of Timothy is running about $30-$35 these days.

    Yes, we have tack stores just about everywhere there are horses. And Smartpak delivers for free.
    Last edited by WasthatC; Apr. 7, 2013, 09:43 PM. Reason: Typo's


    • #3
      I live inland - probably about 3 hours from where you are headed, but can tell you there are tons of shows - Santa Rosa Equestrian Center, Yarra Yarra, Greenville, Woodside, American Sport Horse are all going to be within two hours. Drive a little further, and there is Golden State Dressage, Rancho Murieta, Starr Vaughn, and other top notch shows and facilities. I haul into the Bay Area occassionaly to show or clinic.

      There is another thread just below yours about someone moving to Berkeley - so follow both threads.

      Totally agree with WasthatC - traffic is horrible. It is one reason I don't haul there more often But just to give you a few names available in various parts of the greater Bay Area - Lilo Fore, Rachel Savaadra, Sandy Howard, Tracey Lert. There are many others - that is just a small sampling in various directions.

      My advice to anyone coming to Cali - join CDS! They will send you a roster of members - which includes a list of judges, trainers, etc - very useful info. You can look up the chapter(s) in your area and see who is in the area.

      Tack stores - yes. Feed - expensive. Traffic - sucks. Trainers - many. Shipping - $1500 - $3500. Shows - lots.


      • #4
        Echo the ideas to join CDS.

        A few thoughts

        1) snakes - no worries. Fires - yes a worry in summer
        2) hay - hideously expensive- either grass or alfalfa. Avoid places that only do cubes
        3) west of palo alto is the pacific ocean, east of palo alto is the bay. Our area names are Peninsula/South Bay/East Bay/The City/North Bay. :-)
        4) we have more shows than you can shake a stick at from march to october. Literally every weekend there are options
        5)tack stores - not so much. Nothing great for sure and really nothing good either. We all wait and shop at the mobile vendors at the shows or mail order
        6) traffic = horrendous. Avoid bridges to get to your horse. Avoid 101, 280, 580, 680, 780, 880, 80. Oh wait - that's all the roads out here. :-)
        7) turnout is different, at some facilities may only be sand paddocks. Grass is expensive to irrigate here in the south/east/north bays
        8) shipping. Consider flying your horse. To truck a horse from New England is a solid week on a truck. Flying is more expensive but only takes 1 day
        RoseLane Sportponies
        Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
        Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
        Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


        • #5
          When building your commute, you can also consider BART. If you can BART to work and live near your horse, that seems to be a better arrangement than living near work and having to drive to a horse.
          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


          • #6
            I agree with the posts above, and would 'second' Honeylips' comment about turnout. I moved out here from Virginia, and it surprised me a lot to find that a few hours in a small sandy paddock is often considered 'turnout' here...very different from the big grassy pastures in VA.

            Also the price of hay is staggering compared to E. Coast, as mentioned above. I pay $25/bale for 70/30 Grass/Alfalfa (though they are heavy bales).


            • #7
              Originally posted by honeylips View Post
              Consider flying your horse. To truck a horse from New England is a solid week on a truck. Flying is more expensive but only takes 1 day
              SFO accepts horse planes?
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • #8
                Oakland often has fedex horse shipments for "inside the USA" race horses that are shipped. I don't know about SFO. The only international airports in the USA for horses are JFK, LAX and MIA.

                I had a barn mate who shipped her horse from Oakland to NYC. When she moved there to go work at Columbia U.

                Another friend has been moving to Florida and hers trucked down to LA, the flew to Ocala.
                RoseLane Sportponies
                Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                • #9
                  I lived in the Bay Area and Sacramento area for 11 years (but about 10 years ago). When I lived in SF I would take BART to the East Bay and carpool to a riding facility once a week. Then I moved to Berkeley and got a car and rode in Walnut Creek (but that trainer has since moved to Fl). I would ride early morning but was going against the traffic so it wasn't so bad....35-40 minutes each way. There is A LOT of traffic at all times, but somehow you habituate to it and 40 minutes in a car seems normal. The East Bay has many barns and smaller shows. The North Bay also had many boarding facilities (that seemed to be more spacious...like Petaluma, Santa Rosa area) but not the shows. The "big" shows we went to Rancho Murietta which was about 1.5hrs further East. I then lived in Davis area for years (while in school) and obviously there is more land, barns with pasture and nice small shows.

                  I now live in NC which is much more "habitable" for horse keeping. We have green pastures pretty much all year, hay prices are much cheaper, farrier/ vet much cheaper. In the Sacramento Valley during the winter the pastures were green but turned dead dusty brown all summer with no rain. Hay was much more expensive but the bales of hay are about 2X the weight of what I have here in NC.

                  Things we had to watch out for were blister beetles in alfalfa hay, yellow star thistle (although most horses avoid it if not starved), enterolith formation with high alfalfa diets, heat in the summer, black widow spiders in hay loft, rabies...I'll see if I can think of more...it's been awhile!

                  Loved it out there though and would have stayed had I been able to afford the same life style I can here out there.
                  Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses:


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you all for the great suggestions! This was so very helpful. I will definitely join the local dressage group too - where ever we end up. Feeding and turnout is so different in CA. My horse is used to basically free choice mixed grass hay and beet pulp - no pellets. So many changes to get used to, but horses do make the change. I think my horse will definitely like the weather better

                    Sounds like traffic wise, we are better off on the peninsula (look at me talking like a local now!). Just have to find a good trainer and barn there.

                    Feel free to post more ideas if more come to you - I so appreciate the input!!


                    • #11
                      BTW I just shipped my horse Bay Area to New England a few months ago and it was $3500 for her to go in a box stall with a very good hauler. It took 2.5 days because they go basically straight through with one overnight layover.
                      Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


                      • #12
                        Here's the CDS Website and also Bay Area Equestrian Website...may be helpful for a listing of local facilities and/or trainers, to get you started anyway.


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by x-halt-salute View Post
                          BTW I just shipped my horse Bay Area to New England a few months ago and it was $3500 for her to go in a box stall with a very good hauler. It took 2.5 days because they go basically straight through with one overnight layover.
                          I would love the name of the hauler. Personal recommendations are so appreciated.

                          Looks like this isn't going to happen for a little bit now, so I have time to plan and get my ducks in a row. Thanks!


                          • #14
                            Where you live and board depends on where you work. So where are you going to work?

                            Tell us that and we can be more helpful

                            As everyone else has mentioned, traffic is the biggest issue you'll want to plan for.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by exploding pony View Post
                              Where you live and board depends on where you work. So where are you going to work?

                              Tell us that and we can be more helpful

                              As everyone else has mentioned, traffic is the biggest issue you'll want to plan for.
                              And housing expectations/budget
                              RoseLane Sportponies
                              Golden State - 2012 Bundeschampion & 2014 USDF Horse of the Year
                              Golden West - 2014 & 2015 Bundeschampion Pony Stallion
                              Petit Marc Aurel- FEI Dressage Pony Stallion


                              • #16
                                I used BrookLedge for my Bay Area - New England hauling and they were fantastic. I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience.
                                Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by honeylips View Post
                                  And housing expectations/budget

                                  Job is in San Mateo. I've already been on real estate websites, so of course I've had heart failure. But I would prefer not to have a 90 minute commute to work (for my husband)/barn (for me. I will probably work from home with any luck). We are looking anywhere from Half Moon Bay to Los Gatos. We prefer either small town (like Half Moon Bay) or country (like rural Los Gatos). Schools are very important but depending on job situation, private school could be an option.

                                  For boarding I am looking for excellent care, great footing, an adult dressage community. 4 feedings of hay or more would be great. Turnout is very important or at the very least a large run. I am describing my ideal here so obviously, I will have to make trade-offs as I understand that the hay and turnout situation are very different.

                                  I would like an FEI level rider trainer who is looking for a partnership with me in training my horse - someone who will jump on her to show me something in a lesson, or if I am stuck at work, will ride her along with doing 1-2 training rides a week. Someone who's had experience bringing horses past 4th level.


                                  • #18
                                    There are a lot of nice barns along the 280 corridor - Portola Valley, Los Altos, Woodside, etc. None cheap, of course. Turnout, well....I'm not that well informed about Peninsula barns, but some do have stall/paddock arrangements, if not full turnout.


                                    • #19
                                      Good luck to you with finding something you want! The Bay Area is a hard place to live and I would say the Peninsula especially is not great when it comes to horse-friendly lifestyles. Many barns don't feed hay, only cubes, and they feed twice a day. Turnout is in a dirt paddock (maybe as big as a few stalls, if you're lucky) for just a couple hours a day. You'll find more horse-friendly amenities not on the Peninsula (Gilroy, for example), but you'll have a crappy commute to get there if you live in San Mateo.

                                      Sigh. Sorry to be such a negative nelly. I grew up there and it is so different than it used to be. I had to leave the area to give my horses the life I wanted them to have.

                                      No advice on trainers as it has been many years since I left and I'm not plugged into the show scene.
                                      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                      • #20
                                        Just thought I'd add that as far as schools go, I think you'll be fine with public schools anywhere in that area, even if at first glance a particular school doesn't have a great rep. There is a lot of interest in education from the community in that area and it is reflected in the offerings. Take the time to go inside and visit before you turn down a school and decide to pay out of pocket for private.
                                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket