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Horsey resources near Portland, Maine?

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    Horsey resources near Portland, Maine?

    Hi, thinking about relocating to the Portland, Maine area within the next year, currently in MD. I have two middle aged OTTBs. Currently, I rent a barn and field very close to my house and they are the only ones—they have stall fans during the summer, good grass in a 5 acre field, and access to trails (only ride one). They come in to eat in stalls and, during good weather, they go back out. They haven't been in overnight in the last 6 years but it is nice to have the option to keep them in in bad weather, etc. Barn has hot water outside, no wash stall or ring.

    How do I go about finding something like this in Maine? What is the horse scene like up there? I would definitely be open to renting a house+barn combo if it's in my price range (atm price range is very low as I am getting divorced, depends on what the job situation is like up there in ME and how things go here in the next couple months). I am prepared to have to board them, but it is absolutely not my first choice as I have done their care every day for the last 6 years. How common is self-care board? Co-op? What is horsekeeping in general like, I know it is cold in the winter but is there grass in the summer months or dry lots with hay year round? I have been to Portland a couple times recently and only saw one barn as I was heading out toward Cape E, and was told by a friend who lives up there that the guy who owns the place is a whackadoo.

    So, how do you recommend I find the horse community up there? Is there a FB page maybe? I know these are a lot of weird questions but all part of making the decision to move. I adore the Portland area and plan to spend lots of time up in the Whites and other parks, too. Just need to figure out the horses...

    #2
    I grew up in Maine and still have family and many friends there. Maine is beautiful and the people are friendly.
    And you couldn't pay me enough to move back there.


    It's a miserable place for horses. Are there barns? yes. But you really need an indoor if you want to ride between Dec-April (May in a bad year). Horse keeping at home (I had just two at home for a while, and also boarded for years) is so much harder when you're pushing the wheelbarrow through snow, digging out the path to the barn every day for a week, knocking snowballs out of hooves, and trying to keep the horses hydrated when the buckets freeze every few minutes.
    It's not impossible. I know people who had horses in Alaska. But it's hard to be serious about horses there. You either let everyone get fuzzy and forget about riding, let alone showing, for half the year, or plan to head south for the winter months (which takes money, obviously).

    It's going to be hard to find a place to rent/buy with an indoor that's still small scale for a single person and just a couple of horses. Most of the boarding barns do have indoors, but they're still cold, and it's still cold and dark out, with icy roads and paddocks. It's that cold that sits in your bones, and you simply can't put on enough layers. Horses do fine as long as they have blankets and adequate food and shelter. I don't know of any self care or co-op places, but some barns will let you work off some of your board. I might have some POCs for you if you're a H/J person, or maybe even event. The local hay is decent, and most places have at least some grass and large(ish) turnout, but trees take over the land quickly, and a lot of areas have a lot of ledge or rock. Or clay which turns into boot-sucking-off mud in spring/fall.

    Maine has no rated show options. There are some semi healthy local circuits, but the're small and tend to run for just a few months while outdoor weather is reliable. If you have any national-points aspirations in any discipline, don't live north of Mass. You can always trailer a few hours south to some decent shows, but again, New England summers are short, so the season is too.
    A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

    http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

    Comment

      Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by ElementFarm View Post
      I grew up in Maine and still have family and many friends there. Maine is beautiful and the people are friendly.
      And you couldn't pay me enough to move back there.


      It's a miserable place for horses. Are there barns? yes. But you really need an indoor if you want to ride between Dec-April (May in a bad year). Horse keeping at home (I had just two at home for a while, and also boarded for years) is so much harder when you're pushing the wheelbarrow through snow, digging out the path to the barn every day for a week, knocking snowballs out of hooves, and trying to keep the horses hydrated when the buckets freeze every few minutes.
      It's not impossible. I know people who had horses in Alaska. But it's hard to be serious about horses there. You either let everyone get fuzzy and forget about riding, let alone showing, for half the year, or plan to head south for the winter months (which takes money, obviously).

      It's going to be hard to find a place to rent/buy with an indoor that's still small scale for a single person and just a couple of horses. Most of the boarding barns do have indoors, but they're still cold, and it's still cold and dark out, with icy roads and paddocks. It's that cold that sits in your bones, and you simply can't put on enough layers. Horses do fine as long as they have blankets and adequate food and shelter. I don't know of any self care or co-op places, but some barns will let you work off some of your board. I might have some POCs for you if you're a H/J person, or maybe even event. The local hay is decent, and most places have at least some grass and large(ish) turnout, but trees take over the land quickly, and a lot of areas have a lot of ledge or rock. Or clay which turns into boot-sucking-off mud in spring/fall.

      Maine has no rated show options. There are some semi healthy local circuits, but the're small and tend to run for just a few months while outdoor weather is reliable. If you have any national-points aspirations in any discipline, don't live north of Mass. You can always trailer a few hours south to some decent shows, but again, New England summers are short, so the season is too.
      Thanks for this! This is very helpful. I should say I do not show, I do hunter paces and stuff but my horses are older and I don't have the funds to show like I did as a kid. As it is, I barely ride in the winter due to weather and schedule, so an indoor or lights would be an upgrade but I can do without them. In MD, it might not be as cold, but the ground still freezes, it's till dark early, and it is so flipping windy all the time. And it's so humid here year round that the cold is a wet, bone-chilling cold. I might do a minor blanket clip but otherwise the horses get fuzzy and look like wild beasts. So, not so different, lol.

      I mostly wonder how difficult it is to find a horse community if I wanted to hunter pace or schooling show with a buddy, needed a good vet, etc. I'm already having nightmares about finding a good farrier and seriously thinking about having my current farrier teach me. FWIW, I have a dressage background and do regular flatwork with my old man but I also rode fox hunters and race horses so we get around a cross country course pretty well. I guess my "goals" are to keep the horses easily and cheaply enough and still be able to ride casually. An hour commute to the barn is not realistic for me.

      Comment


        #4
        I don't think there are any hunter paces or hunts. I can't speak for the whole state, but definitely were't any in the southern half when I lived there.

        Oh, I lived in MD for several years, it's WAY less cold/snowy/icy than ME. In Maine, it starts snowing in Dec. And that same snow stays on the ground until April (with lots more on top of it. of course.) and then it turns into terrible mud. MD has mud too, but Maine is orders of magnitude worse.

        To put it in perspective: every year as a kid, a bunch of us from our barn would go spectate at the Devon Horse Show Jr weekend. It's always Memorial Day weekend, so the end of May. We were always so excited to drive south to PA, because THEY ALREADY HAD LEAVES ON THE TEES! Yes, not kidding. Leaves don't even come out until June (though the grass is mostly green the end of May)

        If you're a mostly recreational rider with enough competence to fix some basic problems on your own, and can recognize bad vs good farrier and vet work, you might be fine.
        A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

        http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by ElementFarm View Post
          I grew up in Maine and still have family and many friends there. Maine is beautiful and the people are friendly.
          And you couldn't pay me enough to move back there.
          I am going to endorse this comment as another native Mainer who moved SOUTH (NC actually! Not far from ElementFarm)

          I highly doubt you will find a rental with a barn. I had never heard of a co-op boarding barn until I moved south. The barns range from private to commercial. Grass is usually good from June-September/October if your lucky.

          I also don't think there are many hunter paces. Plenty of open local shows. However, after leaving the area for a few years I returned to spectate and the same ladies were winning the same classes with the same judge, as they had been doing for the last 15 years...It's a halter class in the morning, switch to english tack mid-morning then the western pleasure classes start after lunch sorta deal.

          Vet care can be excellent. However, the burnout rate is very high. Farrier care can be excellent.

          Having traveled to MD several times throughout the year I would tell you that horse keeping in Maine is VERY different. Even Southern Maine, which is the Portland area. I grew up in the mid-coast, about 2 hours northeast, right on the water. The ground is usually frozen from late November through February at a minimum. Snow on the ground plus you are that much more east than Maryland that you really notice the sun setting earlier. It is miserable. Double that if you have horses.

          Comment


            #6
            Well, you might try reaching out to Ellis River Riders (http://www.ellisriverriders.com/), and to Southern Maine Association for Riding Trails (https://www.smartriders.net/). I don't know these groups other than that they exist, but they at least should not scare you away. I think you will be happier boarding your horses at a place with other people, and preferably an indoor. You will need the camaraderie to get you to the barn when it's dark and it's 15 degrees out. In a normal weather year, you may not be able to ride in an outdoor ring or on trails until the end of April, as there could still be snow, ice, and mud. (I love riding in the snow, but in Massachusetts, there is too much ice under the snow. Maybe Maine doesn't get the freeze/thaw that we get in Massachusetts.) But I also wouldn't be scared away if everything else was telling you to move to Portland. People do manage, and people do love it there.

            FWIW, I have a friend -- world's nicest, easiest-going, most-approachable, pretty, fun, smart, etc person --- who had a hard time making friends in Portland; people just took awhile (around a year) to let her in. She loved it there in the end, though. And, this was literally 20 years ago, and I think the area has warmed up (socially) since then.

            If you are feeling the urge to move, go for it. Maybe it will be a great adventure and you will love it!

            Comment


              #7
              I'm from Maine, but up North! The only barn that I know (and also really like) is Hideaway Acres in Cumberland. They may be a good resource for you, for boarding or for just general local horsey knowledge. They're under new ownership in the past few years. One of the new owners leased my semi-retired horse to be a lesson horse there right before I went off to college. I found the care there to be great, despite my horse's many age related concerns (Cushings, EMS, later developed EPM...), and ended up giving my horse to a girl that had been riding her there after a few years (with the understanding that I'm always happy to take the mare back if needed).
              I kept horses up in central Maine for many years before moving south. I had an excellent vet and farrier. I was fortunate to have a good space to do rotational grazing and was able to keep horses on decent grass mid May-late September.
              Winter SUCKED (kept horses at home and did all the work), but again I was fortunate enough to have a set up that made it much easier for me than some and generally had no major issues. My horses lived in a large, very deep run-in with free choice hay and a decent sized paddock. I blanketed and always had an extra water heater or two and lots of hand and toe warmers.
              I only had an outdoor, but managed to ride decently often in the winter, provided it wasn't icy. Did we do jumping or anything particularly advanced in the winter? No. But it was a good time to brush up on some basics. I also lived at the end of a dirt road, and was able to do a lot of work along that road (perfecting lateral work at the walk anyone? This actually really really helped both mine and my horse's dressage work come spring).

              Comment

                Original Poster

                #8
                kiwihill3000 and SharonA thank you for your input!! I grew up in CT and have also lived all over the southeast and HATE it so I'm really not too disturbed by the warnings about winter. We had plenty of snow, ice, and power outages when I lived in CT, and myself and all my animals truly struggle with Mid Atlantic summers (horse has lymphangitis episodes brought on by heat/humidity and cat has severe summer allergies that almost turned into pneumonia last year). As it is, my horses are older (will be 18 and 20 this coming winter) and we don't do that much. In good weather, we get enough fitness to do hunter paces or jump around a course once a week in our grass field, so that means riding 3-4x times a week including long walks. In the winter, we take walks on the weekends because the days are short and I just don't have that much time. My horses are TBs and even though they're old it doesn't take much fitness to get them too sharp lol. If I moved, I am hoping to have a truck and trailer (don't currently have either) so I could trailer to an indoor perhaps (but I'm also fine to do road work!). I didn't purchase these horses, they are my heart horses from a previous job and I was given them when they retired (at separate times), and I'm not sure I'd have horses if I didn't have them, so I don't have big ambitions for my horse career.

                Re: making friends, if I do move, I am prepared for it to be tough no matter where I go. I moved a lot before I came to MD so, while it sucks, I understand. My parents live in GA and SC and they aren't moving any closer to me, and I only have one really good friend here in MD. When I was most recently in Portland, I took my dog to the off-leash dog hours at a local beach a couple days in a row and was pleasantly surprised how friendly people were. I got to chat and meet their dogs and could totally see that being a part of a community. I also really like how small Portland is, while still feeling like a city and still being really close to lots of outdoorsy things. I enjoy hiking and trail running and would like to get a little more serious with kayaking so it seems like a nice area in those regards.

                While horses aren't necessarily my main focus, they are still a huge part of my life and I have to consider them in any big life changes. My other thought was Colorado, but aside from not wanting to move to a desert (which Denver is still basically desert, even though it's at elevation) and the risk of wildfires, horse keeping is SO different there (dry lots, hay, no grass) and I wondered if it was terribly different in Maine since I really didn't see horses up there. I would never consider selling my boys so I gotta figure out what's best for them Thank you both again for the kind replies and especially for those links, I will check them out!

                Comment


                  #9
                  Finding a house with a barn and fencing isn't that hard. Stuff like a good vet is even harder and a competent farrier is basically impossible. To make a long story short multiple vets misdiagnosed one of mine and almost killed her and the one good vet retired. Portland area might be better. Coming from CT, the vet and farrier care where I am is barely adequate. Especially since the vets especially will not listen.

                  Insects can be a real problem...running joke is the mosquito is the state bird. I've seen really, really big ones. Can be a problem if your horse has allergies.

                  If you wind up with your own farm, I'd suggest having at least a good tractor.

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by ABDR4 View Post
                    Finding a house with a barn and fencing isn't that hard. Stuff like a good vet is even harder and a competent farrier is basically impossible. To make a long story short multiple vets misdiagnosed one of mine and almost killed her and the one good vet retired. Portland area might be better. Coming from CT, the vet and farrier care where I am is barely adequate. Especially since the vets especially will not listen.

                    Insects can be a real problem...running joke is the mosquito is the state bird. I've seen really, really big ones. Can be a problem if your horse has allergies.

                    If you wind up with your own farm, I'd suggest having at least a good tractor.
                    Are you currently in ME?

                    I feel pretty comfortable doing a lot of basic medical care on my own and also knowing when the call to the vet is an emergency or "when you're in the area." If I do move up there, I will hopefully have truck and trailer so I could haul to a good vet or hospital if I had to.

                    Mosquitoes sound awful, luckily my boys aren't too sensitive to bugs but I will likely suffer, lol. I get big welts from mosquito bites.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      So, OP, I think you might be a good fit with Portland. Southern coastal Maine is not that terrible, weather-wise (compared with northern central Maine, or with the Midwest, in my opinion).

                      Also, you might look into coastal NH/the north shore of Massachusetts. The north shore of Massachusetts probably isn't great if you are single, and it's expensive for horse-keeping, but it's horsey and also lots of sea kayaking, large state parks for trail-running, easy to get up to the White Mountains for hiking and trail-running. And, I think the town of Newburyport, just before the NH border in Massachusetts, might be more "happening."

                      Every place has mosquitoes or bugs of some sort, except the desert, where it is hard to kayak.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        There are no hunter paces in Maine. There are hunter paces just over the border in NH. Wentworth Hunt runs in seacoast NH and holds a couple of hunts in southern Maine.
                        They are just over the border in NH. There are local show clubs, and Maine Horse Association, Maine Hunter/Jumper Association and New England Jumper Association in Maine--none of them run USEF rated shows. There are no USEF rated hunter or jumper shows in the state of Maine. Maine Horse Association is an affiliate of the USEF, and Maine Hunter/Jumper Association is an affiliate of USHJA, but again, none of the shows are USEF rated. Everything show-wise is local and there are also local show groups, such as Ellis River Riders, Cumberland, Mousam, etc. There are organized trail rides run through out the state of Maine. SMART runs trail rides in southern Maine, various other clubs throughout maine. There is I believe at least one USEF rated dressage show held in Maine, if you do dressage.

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