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Horse scene out west

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  • Horse scene out west

    Can anyone tell me what the horse scene is like out west (any state with mountains will do, I do a lot of hiking and backpacking when I'm not riding) and can recommend which areas I should look into? I'm thinking of moving that way within the next year.

    I used to do hunter/jumpers with my horse as a junior, the past 2 years took some dressage lessons, and now want to dabble in low level eventing. My horse is 18 but I'm thinking of what I want to do with my next horse as well. But good care/facilities and nearby trails are more important to me than access to a ton of trainers and shows, I don't have a huge budget for showing and love to trail ride but don't have a trailer.

    I'm from Michigan so winter is not a big deal but I don't want excessive heat like Phoenix, and I would miss the trees and grass and lakes/rivers. Also I'm not a fan of huge cites, right now I live in Ann Arbor which may be a bit too small/centered around the university for my tastes - can't complain about being 1 mile from work and 5 miles from the barn though! I work in statistics/biomedical research so rural areas are completely off the table.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Boise, Kalispell, Spokane, Bend, Reno, Denver,Portland Seattle Vancouver BCS and Washington

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    • #3
      This might work better if you list some places that interest you at this point- "Out West" is a pretty big place and you have hundreds of areas to choose from.

      Your work would indicate a good-sized city- so Bay Area of CA, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Diego... places like that but those would all be pricey if that is an issue. You could find nice trail riding options and some eventing options in all those places probably...

      COTH is so good at providing input... but if you have some places that have seemed interesting already, maybe mention them... Hope you find your Happy Place!

      Comment


      • #4
        well with your work in Biomed and stats I will be the first to recommend my employer Seattle Genetics. Located north and aof Seattle in a suburb you could easily live near work, have a major Metro at hand and mountains with glorious hiking 45 minutes to the east. There is also the Hutch and other smaller start-up in the Seattle region. Excellent work life balance . Tons of fellow hikers on the campus. This area of the county is the "horsey" area and Dressage and 3 Day scene is as good as you will get in the state. Travel and traffic, however is challenging in this region given our long large lakes . If you can work "off hours" you have more liberty to adjust your drive time. living inside the Seattle city limits presents huge traffic challenges for a horse person. Lived in Redmond when I had my horse and had an easy reverse commute to work and out after to Redmond Ridge

        Apart from all the universities, other major biopharma is SF area with a small pocket in Portland.
        _\\]
        -- * > hoopoe
        Procrastinate NOW
        Introverted Since 1957

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        • #5
          I’m not sure what the horse scene is like in Michigan, as I’ve never been, but the west coast tends to have a lot less shows than the east coast, and those shows are more spread out. For instance, many of my Seattle friends will travel 6 hours down to Oregon to attend an AA show there, and 3 hours up to Tbird to attend shows there, because there used to be only one AA show a year. (It looks like it’s up to 5 now, however I’m not sure those are all AA level). Where I live now I could easily attend 7-10 A and AA shows a year without ever driving more than 2-3 hours. It is similar with unrated, with them being much fewer than on the east coast. They regularly sell out and stop taking entries, because there just aren’t enough of them for the amount of horses! I usually have 3-4 within an hour and a half to choose from each weekend out here, but back in Seattle it wasn’t uncommon for me to find several weekends in a row with none at all.
          From what I know eventing is smaller than the H/J scene but growing. The cle elum horse park is newer and has a full CC course. There are a few unrated horse trials in the area, but the big one is Rebecca farms in MT which is a 10 hr drive. You may find yourself doing jumpers and dressage more, which have a larger following in the area.

          Another thing is that show season completely stops in Washington after October and doesn’t resume until about May. The weather is just too wet to be able to hold shows and there isn’t a venue in the area that can hold indoor only shows.

          California has more rated shows but because California is so big it isn’t uncommon to have to drive a long, long way to get to them. If you can afford to live in between San Diego and LA, you will have the best variety, but even then expect to drive drive drive to get to the shows. I also no nothing about eventing down there, sorry.

          All the west coast states have mountains much higher than anything on the east coast and have great snow sports, if that interests you. You will also find no where more beautiful than the west coast. Despite being kind of a rated show backwater compared to where I live now, ( sorry my west coast friends) I would move back if I could afford the cost of living!
          Last edited by StormyDay; Aug. 30, 2019, 01:35 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by StormyDay View Post
            From what I know eventing is smaller than the H/J scene but growing. The Monroe horse park is newer and has a full CC course. There are a few unrated horse trials in the area, but the big one is Rebecca farms in MT which is a 10 hr drive. You may find yourself doing jumpers and dressage more, which have a larger following in the area.
            There's a horse park in Monroe with a full cross country course? Do tell. I live near there and haven't heard anything about it. Sure you don't mean Cle Elum?

            As far as unrated, there's also a number of rated USEA shows - Aspen, EI, Spokane, Caber, Young Riders, Inavale....

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            • #7
              Originally posted by 16 Hands View Post

              There's a horse park in Monroe with a full cross country course? Do tell. I live near there and haven't heard anything about it. Sure you don't mean Cle Elum?

              As far as unrated, there's also a number of rated USEA shows - Aspen, EI, Spokane, Caber, Young Riders, Inavale....
              Yes, Cle Elum not Monroe. Brain fart. It’s supposed to be nice I hear, but it was built after I left.
              Glad to hear the eventing scene is growing still. I haven’t lived in Seattle in years now and eventing was never what I did, but I had barn buddies who did. They complained quite a bit about the lack of showing options and the issue with the difficulty level in WA vs the difficulty level on the east coast.

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              • #8
                The Treasure Valley in Idaho has what you're looking for. The Boise area has two really great eventing barns. There are mountains and hiking trails galore. Fairly easy winters (some snow, but often it is just an inch or two that melts off in a day or two). Although we do have hot summers, it isn't scorching hot (think high 90's).

                We are kind of isolated, especially in the winter. The show scene can be a little on the light side, compared other, less isolated regions. But the two barns that specialize in eventing do travel out of state for shows.

                The down side is that housing has become pretty expensive (compared to what it use to be), and rentals can be hard to find. Also, as they build more and more housing, we are losing horse facilities. Traffic is getting bad, but still not "big city bad".
                Sheilah

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                • #9
                  The WA Horse Park is lovely and they're working on an enormous covered arena. Lots of different xc options, woods, creeks, stalls, wash racks, plenty of parking, stadium jumps, big arenas. I'll be there in 3 weeks for a recognized event. Western WA is a good place to settle down except for the traffic; but if you live and work east or north, it's not too bad. Tons of hiking, the ocean isn't too far, temperate climate, summers are bearable as are winters.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by indiaink1 View Post
                    I don't want excessive heat like Phoenix, and I would miss the trees and grass and lakes/rivers. Also I'm not a fan of huge cites, right now I live in Ann Arbor which may be a bit too small/centered around the university for my taste...
                    These desiderata rule out much of the west -- at least most of the interior west. Even in a place like Denver you get some very hot summer weather and some very parched landscapes. Anything south of that, in the west, is hot and arid, and the expanse between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada is mostly desert as well.

                    Cities larger than Ann Arbor without being very urban are also difficult to come by. SLC/Utah Valley, Phoenix/Valley of the Sun, Denver/Front Range are all sprawling metro areas now, with all of the downsides of urban life (especially commuter woes, which tend to impact equestrian life). None of the cities in the interior to the north, where the climate might suit you better, feel any bigger than Ann Arbor. Boise, for example, is significantly bigger than Ann Arbor, but IMO doesn't really feel any bigger or less insular, thanks to its relative isolation.

                    Given what you say about your career and your equestrian interests, I think you'd do better to look on the west coast -- Seattle or outskirts of the SF Bay Area, maybe Portland, OR. Be prepared for significantly higher costs of living and horsekeeping anywhere in the west that has jobs in your industry, though!

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                    • #11
                      New Mexico (Albuquerque, specifically) is under-appreciated, I think. At least with Breaking Bad more people realize it’s a state these days. It has some pretty hot weather in the summer, sure, but it’s nothing like Phoenix or many parts of CA, and has a true (albeit brief) winter and if you like you can drive for a few minutes for higher ground and actual skiing. Lots of hiking/rock climbing/camping opportunities in easy driving distance, ranging from typical desert to lava flows to high pine forests. Some of which have hot springs, lakes, etc. I never got into it much, personally, but I had many friends who were into that sort of thing and they never seemed to be pining for better opportunities or feeling a burning need to go someplace else. I haven’t been involved with the horse scene there in decades, but growing up there were all sorts of activities and just about any breed/sport you could name had some kind of presence that was accessible, mostly in the Rio Grande valley. Wanna try cowboy mounted shooting? SURE! Fox hunting? Ok, but I’m afraid coyotes will have to do. Carriage driving? Come to the seminar next week! Regarding job opportunities, Lovelace has been a presence in biomedical research for decades, plus there’s UNM and I’m sure other venues.

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                      • #12
                        I ride in the Bay Area. It's not cheap. Board for an extra-large paddock and stall is $1200/month, and I pay an extra care fee to my trainer for graining and turn-out. And lessons/training are on top of that. Of course, that's for a really nice training facility - you can go farther out into the countryside and find cheaper options, but people in farther locales have issues finding good trainers. Of course, everything is expensive near San Francisco, so it goes with the territory.

                        I do love that there are tons of year round rated shows and a good amount of excellent trainers nearby, if you're willing to pay for it. The salaries here are good as well - it's all relative. I'm from Canada and I also appreciate the year-round riding outside (well, mostly - there's rainy times too). Also way fewer bugs than I've ever seen in my life. If it weren't for the money and fires, California would be total paradise.
                        Mr. Sandman
                        sand me a man
                        make him so sandy
                        the sandiest man

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                        • #13
                          Not cheap, per se... but what about the Santa Cruz area? Close to Silicon Valley biotech and device companies, cheaper than Bay Area proper, close to hiking and outdoorsy stuff, not a “big town”, and Shannon Lilley trains eventers near there, I think. An idea, anyways...

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                          • #14
                            Portland would be a good place to look. Thriving hunter jumper scene— though it’s true we only show rated from May to October but there are very competitive indoor shows at the unrated level too indoors.

                            Eventers travel farther to be sure but there are 4 recognized events in a 5 hour radius from Portland.

                            On the outdoors, mountains and no heat scale you can’t beat the Portland area. So much hiking, climbing, skiing, beach and high desert activities in a 3-4 hour radius!! You can literally ski on Mt Hood in the morning and surf the Pacific by afternoon.

                            It gets hot here for a few days in a row, several times each summer— like 90-100 for 3-6 days then cools off into low 80s or upper 70s. Low humidity too. It’s wet and gray for days and weeks from October to March. Gray. Cloudy. Drippy. No sun. But we just go about our business and get stuff done. And we’ve got great beer!
                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                            • #15
                              Well, I’m in California, and I’d say the “horse scene” is pretty big here. My current barn hosts large rated events (Woodland Stallion Station), and there are several other venues close enough and big enough (and believe me, many, if not all of the events you find around here will have a rather large amount of riders) like Fresno County Horse Park, Twin Rivers, etc. I could go on explaining, but to keep it short: I love it out here. Lots of competition out where I am for any type of age group or level. Not to mention that everyone I’ve met through eventing is so kind and friendly.

                              For barns, I highly recommend Woodland Stallion Station. Lots of trails, great cross country course (not just for competitive XC! I take my boy out there all the time for the trails), indoor arena, two outdoor arenas (one is huge and will soon be considered as two), and a dressage court. It’s a large, nice facility where everyone is really friendly and there are a lot of resources available to you. WSS hosts hunter/jumper (and show-jumping) shows roughly every month, though sometimes skips a month, and of course the rated horse trials. So yeah - large, friendly, lots of opportunities. It sounds like a busy environment but it’s really very calm.

                              There are plenty of other barns besides WSS that are great options as well, and the same goes for trainers.

                              Weather wise... it can get pretty hot here during the summer and early to mid fall. Highest temperature I remember is 113°F but that’s not often. Most of the time during a hot summer it’s around 105°F. Winters can get pretty cold, usually in the mornings it can be around 40 degrees and be around 67 - 75 degrees by noon-ish. It doesn’t rain too often, but there’s been a lot of rain when it does rain. Once you get used to the different seasons here, it’s not that bad. At least there’s no snow around where I am and farther south.

                              I’d say pricing around here as far as boarding and/or lessons is pretty good, at least compared to other places - more on that later if you’d like to know. (At my barn it’s around $575 per month for a stall with an outdoor run I believe, and cheaper {around $425?} for a paddock or pipepen. Same goes for stalls without an outdoor area)

                              Dressage scene is a good size as well, though I’m not as involved in that so I don’t really know what it’s like.

                              That’s my summary (for now) of northern CA. If you’ve any questions after all that, I’m happy to elaborate haha. 😆

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                              • #16
                                (any state with mountains will do, I do a lot of hiking and backpacking when I'm not riding)

                                I work in statistics/biomedical research so rural areas are completely off the table.
                                I realize you said "out west" but I believe you should also look at North Carolina or Georgia given your desires either can fulfill those

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by clanter View Post

                                  I realize you said "out west" but I believe you should also look at North Carolina or Georgia given your desires either can fulfill those
                                  Absolutely the truth.
                                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                                  • #18
                                    OP, I think where you live in any of these "Wests," including the Carolinas, will depend on how much money you have to spend. I have lived in the SF Bay Area and on the Western side of Oregon. I kind of have a clue to the western side of Washington and Boise and a bit of New Mexico. I now live in South Carolina but checked out North Carolina, too. What it will cost you to Do Horses (and what your standards of knowledge and care will be) will vary a great deal!

                                    If you told us what you can/wish to pay for board and some basic sense of what you think a house you'd live in would coast, I'll bet we can get a better sense of which West you mean.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat

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                                    • #19
                                      If you are interested in the Seattle area, you're better off living to the north of the city or on the Eastside. I live near Tacoma and it's impressively devoid of pretty much everything except really shady backyard boarding facilities. You'd be looking at a minimum of a 30-45 minute drive to get to a place that's acceptably nice. And at one point I even spent a couple months driving that long to get to one of the aforementioned shady places...

                                      That said, the backpacking can't be beat! PM me if you want some recommendations!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Toblersmom View Post
                                        New Mexico (Albuquerque, specifically) is under-appreciated, I think. At least with Breaking Bad more people realize it’s a state these days. It has some pretty hot weather in the summer, sure, but it’s nothing like Phoenix or many parts of CA, and has a true (albeit brief) winter and if you like you can drive for a few minutes for higher ground and actual skiing. Lots of hiking/rock climbing/camping opportunities in easy driving distance, ranging from typical desert to lava flows to high pine forests. Some of which have hot springs, lakes, etc. I never got into it much, personally, but I had many friends who were into that sort of thing and they never seemed to be pining for better opportunities or feeling a burning need to go someplace else. I haven’t been involved with the horse scene there in decades, but growing up there were all sorts of activities and just about any breed/sport you could name had some kind of presence that was accessible, mostly in the Rio Grande valley. Wanna try cowboy mounted shooting? SURE! Fox hunting? Ok, but I’m afraid coyotes will have to do. Carriage driving? Come to the seminar next week! Regarding job opportunities, Lovelace has been a presence in biomedical research for decades, plus there’s UNM and I’m sure other venues.
                                        ^What Toblersmom said

                                        There are definitely a lot of places that have Abq beat in terms of the density of horse stuff or proximity to lots of rated shows etc, but I find that it has a good balance. Cost of living is reasonable, minimal traffic, decent sized city right up against the mountains with hiking/biking/skiing etc very accessible. There are areas of Albuquerque that have enough trees to feel like you're not in the high desert (the "North Valley" or "South Valley") - and many boarding barns back up to our version of trails (paths along the irrigation ditches). Corrales is a town right next to Albuquerque that also has a really nice feel with lots of cottonwoods and ditch bank trails. There's a xc course on the west side of town open for schooling, and some low-key horse trials are held each year in Abq, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. As Toblersmom said, UNM or Lovelace (specifically the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute), or maybe Sandia National Labs could have the types of jobs you're looking for.

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