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Eventing near cities with limited traffic?

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  • Eventing near cities with limited traffic?

    A few months ago, some of you may remember me writing this post about striking a balance between city life and riding. Many of you suggested that I look into smaller cities. It took me a little bit of time realize that I may have to dash my DC dreams and open my eyes to new places. Man, I'm glad I did!

    I'm graduating in May, and I'm well into the job search. However, I'm curious to know if I've passed any small city Eventing gems? My only requirements are that they have 2-3 event venues in a 3 hour radius and they handle traffic well. I know I won't be able to breeze through rush hour but knowing that I'll be able to get out to the barn in 30-45 minutes max would be nice. Another important aspect for me is to find a city whose culture recognizes the proper balance between work and play. Let me know if I'm dreaming of the impossible here!

    A few cities high on my radar are Charlotte, Minneapolis, and Denver. I've looked at but have yet to research Nashville, Lexington/Louisville, Michigan, Madison/Milwaukee, Kansas City/St. Louis, Cincinnati/Cleveland, and the Northeast/New England.

    FWIW, I don't presently own a horse, and I'd like to get back into competition after several years of light riding due to school. My ultimate goal is to compete at a Training/Prelim classic, depending on where I chicken out at. Ha! Might want to venture into Dressage for new challenges when the time comes. I love to clinic. After school plans include a long-term lease with plans to purchase a horse a few years later.

    Thank you for all of your time and help!

  • #2
    I would say find the job first then make your life around where you'll be living. You can't set everything up perfectly, and you'll be moving several times in your life before you find Nirvana.

    By the way, Nirvana is NOT in Delaware. I've been looking here for 25 years for it....
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


    • #3
      I live in the DC area and while the traffic is bad, there are smaller cities outside of that are still close to events, assuming that you both live and work outside the city (that is what I do--I am about 25 miles west of DC, horses at home, work another 10 miles west of that). That puts me on the fringe of traffic, but the further out you get the better.

      Culpeper to the south, Winchester to the NW are still close to the eventing scene. Smaller job markets though, for still a relatively high cost of living.

      I grew up in Vermont (Upper Valley Area) and was less than 1 hr away from 5 events, 3 of which still run, and the MA events were very doable. Zero traffic, lower cost of living, but a very small job market. Also a much colder climate/shorter event season.


      • #4
        I can only tell you what I found. I am from DC and do like a lot about the area but traffic is so horrible you have to plan your life around the two long rush hours. Plus the cost of living is so high. I moved to Florida many years ago and went back up to DC for a few years and then came back to Florida. I probably won't ever leave Florida but if I did only place I would consider would be coastal North Carolina, just my preference.

        Central/North Central Florida offers Rocking Horse and Ocala event facilities. Homes are cheap and no income tax. I love living close to the beach, tons of trails and plenty of horse action in the winter/spring and enough schooling/local action in the summer/fall. Horsey costs are reasonable especially compared to places in NE, Mid Atlantic.

        I think people here do generally try to achieve work/life balance. Most people here enjoy some type of outdoor activities and make time for it. (Horses/Beach/Golf/Fishing, etc.) Yes the summers are hot and long and buggy but I just consider mid June to mid September to be our "winter" where we let the horses have a bit of a break. Jacksonville does not have terribly bad traffic.

        So you might want to consider Jacksonville, Ocala or some place in between.


        • #5
          It has been my impression that the midwest and the south (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Nashville, Charlotte, Charlottesville) do a better job of valuing work-life balances than does the Northeast (Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC). The further NE may be better about it (Vermont, upstate NY), but I am such a cold weenie that Michigan is pretty much at the edge of my tolerance. If you can find a job in Wilmington, DE, I would respectfully disagree with Retread because I think it is a great community and lower commuting hassle than many to several great trainers and event venues. Getting outside of DC into Maryland also seems possible, the Gaithersburg area for example would fit many of your criteria. Good luck, but since working will be paying the bills and you will still be spending more hours working than riding (sad as that is), find the great job first and then figure out the rest.

          That said, highest on my list would be Michigan (though the job situation isn't so great there these days), Charlotte, Charlottesville, Wilmington, Nashville and Louisville with the possibility of Orlando in there (now that they have a pretty nice new medical center)
          OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


          • #6
            In your case, I actually would look into DC. And live in the city. Get your career established first and make that money. Then surrounding DC, there's a ton of riding. Much more than any other city. If you had a horse already and trying to get to ride every day, then it would be more of a problem. But a ton of stables have lesson programs and you'd have a choice.

            Charlotte is not small and the traffic is there.

            Charlottesville is great if you have a family, already married, looking to retire. Not much in the career market. The goobers I work with that went here straight out school really don't have a lot of experience. And would be in deep kimchee if our contract goes away because of it.
            Even duct tape can't fix stupid


            • #7
              Look at Grand Rapids. An hour from one of the best venues in the midwest, if not the US (Richland Park), 2 hours from Cobblestone and 3 hours from Hunters Run. An active state Eventing Association and 8-10 unrecognized HTs per year. Chicago is 3 hours the other way (Wayne/Lamplight), the Hoosier Horse Park is 5 hours, there are five events in Ohio within a 5-6 hour drive and Kentucky is an easy seven. Traffic in GR is modest to nonexistent, depending on where you live. Decent sports/arts/food/entertainment scence, and see above re: Chicago being an easy, easy trip. And out here in the lakeshore area, you would be 25 minutes from downtown and a hop, skip and a jump from a CCI*** level trainer who is the best!
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                I live in Delaware right outside of Dover, Delaware and I think it's an amazing place to live. The cost of living is much lower than D.C, Philly and Baltimore which are all within a 2 hr drive. There are so many events within 3hrs. Tons of places to xc school and lots and lots of shows. Endless amounts of top level instructors in all disciplines. I can load my horse up and be at a top vet clinic in under 3hrs.

                I have a really good job 20 min from my house that pays me very well and gives me plenty of time to fit in my horse business. Traffic..what traffic. Maybe an amish buggy

                I may not be in the mecca but we sell a lot of horses and have people fly in to see them. I'm less than 2hrs from BWI or PHL airport.

                Land is also more affordable. I have been able to buy my own farm and afford to build it up all by age of 30!

                My hubby is in the Air Force so we could have to move but I try not to stress about it.


                • #9
                  I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you that Lexington/Louisville are worth a look. If you move to Michigan, be cognizant of which areas you go to--Metamora, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor are the best locations if you intend to work and event. Grand Rapids is a really hip little town and doesn't get enough credit from most folks. Metamora is a sleepy town itself but is within 30 to 45 minutes' drive of some of the Detroit Metro area. I don't know which job field you're in, but of those three cities, Ann Arbor has the healthiest local economy. YMMV depending on job field.

                  If you're going to event in Ohio, Cincinnati will put you in striking distance of Yellow Springs Park outside of Dayton (home of Greater Dayton HT and Gemwood HT, both very inviting move-up events) and well within 2-3 hours' trailer distance of the Kentucky Horse Park. Cincinnati's actually a pretty hip town, too, the cost of living is decent, and they're well south of the lake effect snow. Cleveland's got a very active eventing community but the weather is brutal (right on the lake) and it's a more distributed, spread-out urban area.

                  FWIW, I grew up in northern Virginia/DC area. I loved it there. I lived Ann Arbor for 5 years and liked many things about it, but the weather would make me think twice about putting down permanent roots there. I am LOVING Ohio and would gladly stay here the rest of my life. Low cost of living for humans and horses, and as long as you stay close to a major city the folks are pretty cosmopolitan and fun.
                  Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                  • #10
                    If you were to live on the North or Northeast side of Atlanta, you'd have plenty of opportunities. Charlotte would be good. Charlottesville or Richmond in Virginia.
                    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.


                    • Original Poster

                      Wow, y'all! Thank you so much for all the suggestions. Please keep them coming.

                      Ohio and Michigan are sounding very appealing. FWIW, I'm in graphic design, and I know there are a few design firms in Cincinnati and Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor. My career field is one of the things that intrigues me about Minneapolis. Design is literally everywhere there! Despite the cold weather...

                      Originally posted by FitToBeTied View Post
                      If you were to live on the North or Northeast side of Atlanta, you'd have plenty of opportunities. Charlotte would be good. Charlottesville or Richmond in Virginia.
                      My hometown is actually just north of Atlanta, and while I do enjoy the city, I don't think I could live there. My dad tells me horror stories all the time of his 22 mile, 45-70 minute commute everyday. Getting out to the barn tacks on another 30 minutes to that. The board prices around there are also outrageous. At least $700 to $800 minimum, which I'm pretty sure my designerly budget can't hack. This is one reason I'm thinking of striking out on the abundant DC all together as well and aiming towards a lower key area.


                      • #12
                        So why not the Aiken area? I'm told there's a lot of eventing opportunities around here, board seems to be pretty cheap (I'm a field boarding place so your mileage may vary) and you would only be a couple hours from your home town. (Of course if you don't want to be that close to family that's a different thing, LOL)

                        That and, I just moved to Augusta from Maryland this past summer and I can tell you traffic is nonexistent compared to the Baltimore/Washington corridor.
                        The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                        Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


                        • #13
                          If GR winds up on your "check out in person" list, our guest room is yours for the asking. I can point you towards some of the local barns as well.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FitToBeTied View Post
                            If you were to live on the North or Northeast side of Atlanta, you'd have plenty of opportunities. .
                            Lots of opportunities to get stuck in traffic
                            I found it harder to commute to decent riding facilities in a reasonable amount of time in Atlanta than I do living in DC (and more than when I lived outside of Boston too). Granted it varies based on where you are (I lived on very northern side of city and rode north of the city) but if you are actually working or living anywhere in Atlanta, traffic is going to be a problem.
                            There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                            • #15
                              Minneapolis has limited season/opportunities, tho there's very passionate eventers there; Otter Creek is great.

                              I'm not a Denver eventing fan, but it's a great area to live in.

                              Charlotte fits your eventing specifications perfectly, although traffic has gotten pretty bad.

                              Michigan is good (Richland is my #1 favorite eventing venue in the entire world) but season is relatively short to us southerners and when you have to put signs 10' in the air so emergency vehicles can find the firewater hydrants in the winter ..........................

                              I'm biased, but I think Kentucky (closely followed by Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee) fit your requirements perfectly. There's some competition EVERY WEEKEND in Lexington from April through the end of October, many times TWO in the same weekend. And we usually show a couple of times a month even in December and January indoors at Lakeside.

                              So, considering both traffic & eventing opportunities (with a splash of $$ costs) my #1 recommendation for a metropolitan area to you would be Lexington, KY, followed closely by Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, and Knoxville.


                              • #16
                                Lived in Cincinnati for 16 years (and can't wait to move back!) and I agree with what others have said...TONS of great events within just a few hours' drive. I was within 2-3 hours from the Kentucky Horse Park, Hoosier Horse Park in Indiana, Flying Cross, Greater Dayton/Gemwood... as well as many smaller events, dressage and hunter/jumper shows, you name it. The farthest I ever drove to an event was 5 1/2 hours, and that was Richland Park in Michigan! Plus you have a number of great vet clinics within a couple hours.

                                Work-wise, Cincinnati traffic is not great, but certainly doesn't compare to cities like DC. We lived on the northwest side of Cinci, 15-20 minutes from the barn, and it usually took my husband 30 minutes or so to get to work downtown (taking back roads, MUCH longer on highway). I used to haul completely across town for dressage lessons, and it took me pretty much an hour door-to-door.

                                And I agree with Secretariat - although I haven't lived in Lexington, I've spent quite a bit of time there, and it's pretty fabulous.

                                Adams Equine Wellness


                                • #17
                                  I lived in Charlotte previous -- the traffic is horrendous. I still hate every time I have to drive there, it makes me what to poke my eyes out with a dull object.

                                  Raleigh is easy and smaller, I am content with it. I feel within fairly easy reach of a fair bit of eventing, Carolina Horse Park and VA Horse Center keep me busy. If I wanted to compete more often, well, I'd need a different career and a heck of a lot more money anyway.

                                  I grew up just across the river from Cincinnati, that's pretty easy to get around in too, although it has grown a lot since I moved away in 1997. But I go back to see parental units and it still seems ok, if jammed full of more people, bleh. I miss all the old horse farms...
                                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                  Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                  We Are Flying Solo


                                  • #18
                                    Nashville is a nice place for eventers and close to several venues but does NOT handle its traffic well. When I worked there, my 35-mile commute regularly took 1.5-2 hours each way, and I was on one of the "easier" sides for commuters. Atlanta traffic is notoriously horrendous, so I wouldn't recommend there...

                                    Of the places I have lived, I'd recommend you check into Lexington and Knoxville. Lexington for the obvious reasons - horse-centric, large enough for culture/career opportunities, very pretty for a city of it's size, and the traffic is for the most part not terrible. Knoxville slips under the radar but is, I'm finding, a nice city to live in and a surprisingly horse-y area. We're within 3.5-4 hours of Nashville, Atlanta, and Lexington. Traffic is nonexistent here compared to Nashville, and the cost of living is reasonable (slightly lower than both Nashville and Lexington, in my experience).


                                    • #19
                                      Not sure what area of work you are in, but look at Providence. With Brown, RISD, Trinity Rep, there is lots of culture. Never a rush hour. Much lower key than Boston. Overall, a really nice place to live. Access to all of the New England events as well as the NY ones.


                                      • #20
                                        DC isn't the easiest place to live. It has the worst traffic problem in the country (according to the 2011 study) and it's very expensive. Yes, there are tons of fabulous event venues in the area, but IMO, it doesn't make up for daily congestion and costs. I've lived here on and off for many years, and would prefer to live someplace smaller and more manageable.