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Bay Area/Silicon Valley - any horse areas within commuting distance??

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  • Bay Area/Silicon Valley - any horse areas within commuting distance??

    I've finally started my dissertation research and should be finishing up my PhD at the end of summer. So the job hunt begins I'm looking to leave Florida and hopefully head west if the job situation allows. I'm finding that the Silicon Valley/Bay Area looks to have the best concentration of jobs in my field. While I've been to that area before as a tourist I've not considered it as a potential place to live. I'm planning a trip out there in early May to get a better feel for what the area is like and I could really use some help on scouting horse friendly areas within commuting distance. I currently have an hour and a half commute by car here in Florida and I would really like to decrease that a bit if possible - an hour is fine, or maybe a bit more if it isn't all driving.

    While my dream is to have my horse at home I realize that being fresh out of grad school and the crazy cost of living in the area I might be better off to rent a small place and board initially to save for a later purchase. I currently own a stallion though, so boarding can be a bit more difficult to find than with a gelding or mare. Either way (boarding or at home) having him close to home is a priority for me at this point as he is currently an hour away and I rarely see him. Areas that typically have small or limited turnout are fine with me as I have a reiner that is used to being in a stall or small (36'x36') paddock.

    What areas should I put on my must visit list for May?

  • #2
    The Bay Area/SF is pretty big.

    Pleasanton has a fairly active horse community and has a beautiful stable that has a Eurowalker, two arenas (one covered) with an active show community and there's a grocery store three blocks away...and I know they have at least one stallion.

    I used to ride the Hayward hills (Garin Park) for hours when I lived there, and same with the trails in Redwood City.

    None of this is inexpensive, though - land prices (while still depressed) are sky-high in the Bay Area, and the whole area is congested.
    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


    • Original Poster

      I would most likely be working in Silicon Valley (Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Cupertino, or San Jose).


      • #4
        I've heard good things about Portal Valley Training Center in Menlo Park.

        Going back almost 30 years, I used to save my pennies to ride at Garrod Farms in Sunnyvale - the trails (miles of them!) are wide and well-groomed, there was an indoor arena to boot. It would be an older facility, but you might go look there.

        I can ask a friend who lives in the Bay Area now, and see what she might recommend you look at.
        Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


        • #5
          Try this site for boarding information:

          Good luck, I love that area!
          When people show you who they truly are, believe them. Maya Angelou


          • #6
            Originally posted by hunt_jumpfl View Post
            I would most likely be working in Silicon Valley (Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Cupertino, or San Jose).
            I just moved to the area and also wanted to live close to my horse and commute. I was in the same boat with him an hour away, and now he is ten minutes.

            Your three choices working in Silicon Vally are going to be :

            Peninsula: Should be a good number of options in the Portola Valley area. Several big boarding barns with various stall/paddock options and trainers. Downside is that housing and board are quite expensive.

            South Bay: Morgan Hill and Gilroy are South of San Jose. Depending on how far up the Peninsula you are working the commute could be 45 mins to 75 mins. There are lots of horse farms in the area and both housing and boarding are cheaper than the peninsula. This was the option I took.

            Pleasanton/Livermore: This is east bay area. The worst commute of the three option. A pretty horsey area with lots of barns and shows. Less expensive than the Peninsula, not sure how it compares to south bay.

            Another area is Milpitas, there are a few farms out that direction, but I didn't hear great things about the area so didn't spend much time looking into it.

            Good luck!


            • #7
              Good advice so far, I think we can better advise you if you give us a boarding price range.

              Peninsula is generally very expensive. Last I heard Portola Valley Training Center(been years since I was there, but you also had to be in full training back then), was $1,200+ for board, PLUS add full training.

              Many other barns in PV are going to be up there in cost, well well over $600 a month.

              South bay Morgan Hill / Gilroy tend to be much less. When I was working in South San Jose I could be at my barn in Morgan Hill within 40 mins. Down there you will find board in the $400 to $600 price range. Check out Red Fox Farm.

              If you end up more on the Peninsula, if you are willing to drive up into the hills, Williams Ranch has a very nice place, affordable and lots of turn out.

              On the same note, Clermont up on skyline is a good facility that isn't quite as pricy as ($700 - $850) Woodside / Portola Valley.

              Indian Hills up in Milpitas is decent, and well priced.
              APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


              • #8
                Stuff in and around Portola/Woodside great. You would probably want to find a private facility. For example, I found a horse to free lease at a woman's farm there (some time ago) just by driving around the area. Martinez has some places as well. South Bay and East Bay both less expensive, but the convenience factor, gas cost, possible tolls, etc need to be factored in. Some time ago, this was a reasonable place for folks mostly doing trail riding/pleasure stuff

                This place in San Jose

                I've a feeling it would cost a gazillion dollars, but is a great facility in a lovely place

                You can do pasture board at Stanford, not cheap, but convenient

                I don't know about this place, but it is convenient and inexpensive

                Rancho Viego is in Portola Valley

                Have also heard good things about this place
                OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for the great leads so far - and keep the info coming I'm still trying to get a handle on all of the different aspects of cost of living out there to figure out budgets. This information really helps a lot at this point though. I'm just starting on the job hunt so don't have firm plans yet, but I want to know what I am potentially getting into moving out there if I do find myself with a job offer in the area.


                  • Original Poster

                    Actually, I have to say that so far I'm surprised that boarding costs aren't more. In my current area basic board (feed/stall cleaning/bedding/turnout) typically runs $550-$800 and over $1000+ if you are at a training barn. These prices so far don't look to be a lot more unless I'm missing something important in the details. Does board typically include grain and hay out there?


                    • #11
                      I think your biggest limiting factor may be having the stallion, a lot of the big boarding barns like Stanford and Garrods don't take them. I believe Portola Valley training Center can take stallions, and I know their sister facility, Gilroy Gaits ( does, but in both cases, you have to be with a trainer.

                      Pricewise, it usually includes hay but I haven't encountered a lot of places that include grain. Turnout can also be an additional charge.


                      • Original Poster

                        Yes, oreobob, that is my expectation. Here in FL finding boarding options for a stallion is difficult - even in some training barns. His current trainer actually does not normally allow stallions, but I was an existing client and the trainer agreed to arrange accommodations to take him before I purchased him. The fact that he is a reiner may make it even more difficult as I suspect that rules out most training barns that might be able to handle a stallion, but have a full training requirement. I did note that there are two reining trainers in Gilroy including one at Gilroy Gates. I will definitely add that area to my list of places to visit in May.


                        • #13
                          I've lived in the SF Bay Area my whole life and am HAPPY to help you. I've boarded over the last 30+ years in the following areas:
                          - Woodside
                          - Portola Valley
                          - Los Altos Hills
                          - Palo Alto
                          - Cupertino
                          - Saratoga
                          - San Jose/ Almaden Valley

                          Also - stayed a couple years near Santa Cruz in Aptos/Soquel/Watsonville area.

                          and now....we have our own 5 acre ranch in South County, just south of San Jose on the border of San Martin and Gilroy. WE LOVE IT DOWN HERE!

                          I've also worked in High Tech since 1997 - working at companies like Silicon Graphics, IBM, Borland, Juniper Networks and Brocade. So I've ALWAYS worked in Silicon Valley and boarded (until 3 years ago when we bought our ranch and moved the horses home)

                          I LOVE LOVE LOVE Morgan HIll and Gilroy! And I've lived and boarded all over. No matter what, you are going to have a long you might be disappointed there. The horse facilities are always on the "outskirts" of the valley - usually where the foothills start going. But often the jobs are IN the valley.

                          Lots of great Reining trainers down in South County. The Peninsula is more H/J/Dressage/Eventing oriented.

                          Please PM me with questions or ask on BAYEQUEST.COM, on the CHAT BOARD We are a helpful bunch....
                          Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                          **Morgans Do It All**


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks again guys. I am definitely adding Morgan Hill/Gilroy areas to my places to visit in May.

                            Is commuting out there exclusively by car or is there enough mass transit to be worthwhile? I noticed that at least one train line seems to go as far south as Gilroy, but is that a reasonable option?

                            I've also been looking into the Santa Cruz/Soquel areas so interesting that you mentioned those areas Fancy That


                            • #15
                              SF has a very good mass transit (MUNI + BART) system, but outside "The City" itself, you would want a car. You can do car + BART in many areas, but public transportation most spots.

                              Santa Cruz = gorgeous. I had a friend who lived north of Santa Cruz (Davenport) and the area was just lovely. A neat little tidbit of info: the Monarch butterflies winter over near Santa Cruz. They will cluster in the trees - it is just spectacular! Add that with whale migration and seal pups...such a wonderful wildlife area.
                              Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom


                              • #16
                                The Caltrain, which goes from San Jose down into Gilroy would work well if you worked very close to a station in San Jose. If you were going to have to switch trains, it would probably be quicker to just drive. I would have to take two trains and bike 2 miles, so it would increase my 45 drive to a 2+ hour ordeal, and the cost of the tickets are about the same as my gas for the drive. If I worked right at a stop I'd strongly consider it though.