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Distance to boarding

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    Originally posted by SugarCubes View Post
    I drive an hour to my current barn and would happily drive further if necessary to stay with my trainer and to receive the standard of care our barn provides. It does mean, however, I'm only at the barn 3-4 days per week versus 5-6 if I lived closer.

    I will say, the drive is all country back roads so I don't deal with traffic (unless I get behind a tractor lol) so the commute doesn't feel that far to me.....if I got stuck in rush hour traffic it might not be as feasible.
    I was in the same boat as SugarCubes when I was competing heavily. An hour and twenty minutes one way to the closest good facility in my area and I never regretted it. I did that drive three days a week for over 5 years. That being said, I worked from home and I don’t mind driving, so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience for me. I got way more out of it than trying to board at a closer facilities with undesirable amenities, or lack thereof.
    Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness


      With a barn commute, you have to find some sort of reasonable balance between the work commute, barn commute, working hours and number of times that you ride per week.

      I have driven 20 minutes at times (so nice, and easy to ride almost everyday), and I have driven a little over an hour at other times. Currently, I drive about 40-45 mins on average (35 minutes on a day with zero traffic, and over an hour when driving from the office at rush hour).

      In normal times, 3-4 days a week is manageable - this would be only two weekdays with the 1hr+ commute with awful traffic. I have done more, but it starts to wear and cut into your ability to get anything else done on those evenings, esp if work has been busy or its winter.

      Recently, with COVID and working from home, I was riding 6 days a week, and that was very nice - but was a period without social engagements, no work commute and essentially no other life commitments. Riding 6 days a week under normal conditions would chip away at my ability to do anything else - see my husband, see friends and just stay on top of "life". I recently cut back to 4 days a week again for non-horse related reasons, and while I do miss those extra rides, it is much easier to stay on top of my various obligations, and not feel a resentful about spending so much time in the car.

      Everyone is going to be a little bit different - I would be inclined to find a good facility and try it out. See what balance works for you and you lifestyle.


        Originally posted by SCI View Post

        You sound like you are in Southern Pines.
        Exactly my first thoughts!!


          Originally posted by Backstage View Post
          With a barn commute, you have to find some sort of reasonable balance between the work commute, barn commute, working hours and number of times that you ride per week.


          Everyone is going to be a little bit different - I would be inclined to find a good facility and try it out. See what balance works for you and you lifestyle.
          Pretty much this With OP working from home, to me that gives a degree of flexibility others may not have and should be explored further before dedicating yourself to a long ass drive that will get you home 8ish every night. To me, THAT will get old. OP mentions military but I'm also in a military town, and there are military members who live off-island to be closer to jobs for dependents, so they commute onto the island 30-60 every day to come on base. Why not split the difference between a better barn for you and base for your military member?
          COTH's official mini-donk enabler

          "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


            My first choice would be to flex my schedule to ride at the closest high quality barn available. However, if my schedule truly wouldn't let me get out to a barn and in the saddle until dark in the winter, I'd prioritize quality care with lights even if it was further away.

            I'm in a similar situation and it has been hard to weigh the options. For the past few years my job has afforded enough flexibility that I could take lunch at 4, haul butt to the barn, toss on tack, and get in a solid 30 minute ride even in the dead of winter. With a pending job change, I'm prioritizing a barn with lights even though it will be at least twice as far away. If I can't get to the barn by 6 and it's dark at 5:30 I don't gain anything with the barn being 5 minutes down the road.


              IMO, it doesn't matter how close a barn is if you can't accomplish much half the time you go out due to lack of facilities.

              I've gone up to 40 minutes before. Sure the drive time sucks, but being 5 minutes away doesn't matter if I'm working past dark anyway and don't have a lit area to ride.


                Admittedly, I'm not from an area were lights are enough to keep us riding through the winter (we def need a roof and walls!), so take this with a grain of salt, but... could you possibly provide some lights for your current boarding situation if it ticks all the other boxes? I'm not talking about putting in a proper, pro "saturday night lights" system - especially if the military is going to make you leave this barn at some point. Just... something... that might adequately light up even part of the arena for some quiet evening flatwork. Save the jumping for weekends (or those extended lunch breaks others have suggested.) No idea if that's feasible, but if so it could be a good middle ground.


                  Originally posted by Pally View Post
                  Admittedly, I'm not from an area were lights are enough to keep us riding through the winter (we def need a roof and walls!), so take this with a grain of salt, but... could you possibly provide some lights for your current boarding situation if it ticks all the other boxes? I'm not talking about putting in a proper, pro "saturday night lights" system - especially if the military is going to make you leave this barn at some point. Just... something... that might adequately light up even part of the arena for some quiet evening flatwork. Save the jumping for weekends (or those extended lunch breaks others have suggested.) No idea if that's feasible, but if so it could be a good middle ground.
                  They do make some very bright battery powered motion activated lights, so this does seem like a good idea for the OP if it is at all doable.


                    A few years ago, I moved from a barn that was 30 minutes away to one that was an hour away M-F. I moved because I felt my growth was stagnated, I was the only working adult so I was often at the barn at night by myself, there was no covered and the winter rains were either freezing the footing or flooding it, and I was no longer feeling a great connection with my trainers.

                    The new barn had a show program, so I supplemented with training rides 2x/week when possible. I really gained from the enormous improvement in the facility, training, structure, show schedule, and talent of the new trainer. When it was raining for days on end and I could ride in the covered, it really made that drive worth it. Or when it was dark and late at night, having other adult amateur riders who also worked as riding mates gave me a lot of peace of mind. I ended up achieving more than I ever dreamed was possible with my horse, and it was truly worthwhile. Even after my horse retired from an injury, I kept him at that facility as I knew that the assistant trainer had a great bond with him and that I could absolutely trust her to make great decisions for my horse if I was traveling.

                    A nice facility, great trainers, and camaraderie from other riders will make a drive worthwhile!


                      I've commuted anywhere from 15 minutes to over 2 hours to get to my barn - the 2 hours would be a heavy traffic day from work. But average for me has usually been 30-45 minutes, now it's shorter because my job is closer to home.

                      My sister rides at my current barn - we used to ride at a place that was same for me but much closer for my sister but it had become run-down and concern for my horse (and myself) safety. While my sister initially balked at having to add -15-20 minutes to her commute the new place, she said, made it all much more worthwhile. So you also need to think of added travel time in that regard. How much more value does adding 15 or so minutes to your barn/riding experience? If it's greatly improved than adding the time is well worth it IMO.


                        Original Poster

                        Thanks all for sharing your experiences, it has given me lots to think about!


                          As the crow flies, my barn is about 8 miles away; however, there is no bridge to cross the river, so I have to take a ferry. My commute can be anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes depending on the ferry. if it is closed due to flooding/ice, I have to allow 50 minutes to drive around. I work from home and can ride in the morning going against traffic, so that helps. The ferry can be a PITA, but it's worth it because I really like the barn where I ride.


                            Hi cberry , I'd suggest you think about a few other aspects of this. The riding conditions and the training are important. But for the long-distance option to work, you must have complete confidence in the staff and others, who will take care of your horse in an urgent situation, or a longer-term care situation. You won't want to be driving these longer distances/heavy traffic to go to the barn every day, and in emergencies, it will take you awhile to get there. If you have that confidence, great. If that confidence is with say the trainer, who then is gone a lot for showing (right, this currently hypothetical ), you'll need to be confident with the backup staff. I don't know if anyone asked you about moving to a facility with a different discipline. If that's an option, it might be the best one for you. Some place closer would be worth investing in your own small set of jumps, for example. I wish you the best of luck with this dilemma. I've been in this situation before and know the compromises!


                              Original Poster

                              hillary again This is actually what I was just sitting down and thinking abut last night. Care is of course super important. Where I am now the care is fantastic but the dressage arena is too deep/uneven and none of the paddocks are a good choice. I have looked outside my discipline and a 99% sure I have found a GREAT option. Unfortunately I am yet to find a trainer of my discipline who will come me... so time to look for a trailer I guess or cross over to the dark side (aka eventing ). This new place is an easy 30 min drive and where I shop for groceries etc is all on the way so that helps.


                                I used to board my horse 10 miles away but work was in another direction and 20 miles away (where I lived was along the way between work and horse). It really sucked to drive to and from work (40 miles round trip) and then out and back to the horse (20 miles round trip). Then I moved and now my horses are in my yard work is only 9 miles away. I am very very lucky. I suppose one's decision depends on how much time you have and what you are willing to do. For example, could the OP purchase some lights that would work for a nearby place that she boards and then trailer to a fancier place once or twice a week for lessons?

                                I have some of these lights that work well enough to ride in the dark




                                  Depending on where I’m based, one of the barns where I board is either ~1,200 miles, 214 miles, 23 miles, or 12 miles away from my house 😂

                                  I have farms in Florida and Vermont, but will be working in Boston so I board 1 (soon to be 2-3) at a stable close to my MA home bases. Care and amenities (excellent turn out, heated barn/arena, stalls with windows, preferred veterinarian, etc.) were what dictated my selection. To be quite honest, getting to the barn from my town home (23 miles) during rush hour can take up to 70 minutes, but what the barn has to offer vastly outweighs being stuck in traffic IMHO. I keep another home out in the suburbs which is much closer to the barn (12 miles and 20 minutes during peak traffic hours), but it’s a pain to get to and from Boston, so that’s the trade off.

                                  In the past, I’ve boarded horses that I rode 4-6 days a week as much as 90 miles away because I wanted to ride with a specific trainer. I learned to love audiobooks and podcasts! Now that I have my own farms, I do quietly bemoan having to commute to my boarding barn when I’m in Boston, but I feel extremely lucky that I’ve found such an incredible place to keep my horse(s).
                                  Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.


                                    I recently relocated and went from a 15 minute commute to work and a 15-20 minute drive from either home or work to where I boarded (the three locations were in a triangular arrangement) to a 50-65 minute commute to work and a 70-75 drive from work to the barn or a 35-40 minute drive from home to the barn. I consistently ride 4 days a week (2 week days and both weekend days) and several months require lights for the weekday rides. I am single (so no one is waiting for me to have dinner except the dogs!) and driving really doesn't bother me - it's my thinking time or I listen to music or podcasts, so the change hasn't really been that difficult.

                                    I am very particular about finding boarding places where I trust the staff so I know that things will be handled properly in an emergency as I can't get there right away, or if my horse needs extra care for some reason, but I also travel a fair amount so this is an issue/expectation even when I live close to the barn.

                                    I will say, I think I would feel differently if the weather wasn't pretty decent year round at my new location (SoCal). At my previous location (eastern WA, which regularly gets significant winter weather), I did try boarding about 45 minutes from work and 30 minutes from home (and I had to drive right past my house to get there!) and I definitely went less often through the winter - it was too easy to stop at home and/or the roads were bad so it just wasn't worth the risky drive.

                                    I have tried boarding closer to home with quality care but less amenities and/or no trainer and trailering to lessons and I hate it. It just takes way too much time and effort to hitch, load horse and gear, lesson and then do everything in reverse. I would much rather drive further to have the riding amenities, quality care, and onsite trainer I like. I also ride less if its more difficult because footing is questionable, or there are other issues that I feel limit our progress.

                                    All that said...come to the dark side....eventers have way more fun than hunter jumpers....


                                      Been doing about an hour drive (each way) all summer to be able to board/ride with my trainer at an ok facility. Even with working remotely and not having a work commute on top of that, it's not great. Even though I generally trust the care my horse is getting, there are still days that even though it's miserably hot and I don't want to ride, I'd at least like to have eyeballs on my horse - or just do a short hack. But when you drive an hour there, spend 15-30 minutes, and drive an hour back - it gets old very quickly. I really don't have the time or energy to dedicate to shipping in for lessons and boarding somewhere closer. I have decided that the obvious solution is to find a new house


                                        My barn is 1 to 2 hours away depending on traffic, I've been doing this for 4 years. It would not be doable 5x a week, mentally or time-wise, but I don't have the funds for that so it's a moot point. When it's 1 hr I really don't mind and it goes quickly. 2 hours, most of it in traffic, does wear you out. But once I get out of the car, I never regret making the drive.

                                        There's a nice line in Bill Steinkraus' book about how it bothered him that he was a 'weekend rider' with long drives to ride, and thought it put him at a disadvantage to his competitors who lived right by their horses. I believe at the time he was living in CT, working full time, and driving to NJ to ride at Gladstone? Possibly when team riders still had to be true amateurs? He says in hindsight, he thinks that time alone in the car to think about his horses, process his rides, and plan was actually a great benefit to him. Just another way of thinking about it that reassures me sometimes!


                                          I'm in the '45 mins is too long' camp. It's very draining to know you have an hour and half in the car to get a 30 min ride.

                                          It's what i have been doing for 5 years and it's gotten a little bit better working from home now, but still there are some days where it's so nice out and while I would LOVE to ride, i dont want to waste a beautiful afternoon in the car.

                                          Good luck!