Ok this is a really fun blog hop from Sarah – A Soft Spot for Stars. It has been so much fun reading about everyone’s general location. I’m a few days late to the party, but I figured I’d add my own, even though I’ve seen a couple post NOVA ones already.
I moved to the Middleburg, Virginia area in 2015. This is truly horse country. I am so lucky that I get to live in a city where live nearly always revolves around horses! It is about an hour outside of DC, which is convenient, but you would never know you were that close to a big city! It’s got the small town charm, and residents want to keep it that way – i.e. refusing to let anyone build a cell phone tower to disrupt rural setting (aka why my cell service sucks!). But this area is truly beautiful, so it’s worth it!
The best part of Middleburg is the hacking. In this area, it’s an automatic assumption that you open your land to the local hunts, which means and recreational riding is welcomed too. This was a really weird idea for me when I first moved up. In Georgia I would knock on neighbor’s doors asking if I could even walk across their land, and I would almost always get a big fat no (and not always a nice one either!). I can ride for hours is essentially any direction. And there are hills everywhere! I had to seriously scale my hill work when we moved here because the terrain is that intense. We’ve had plenty of fun getting lost and finding our way back 🙂
Dolla, Dolla Bills
The biggest setback of this area is the cost. Everything is expensive. When I first moved up here, I had Justin at a small, private barn just outside of the ‘heart’ of Middleburg. It was $850 a month for stall/turnout, outdoor & indoor area, and access to miles of hacking! I found this pretty average for a place with an indoor.
After some time here, I quickly realized though it was amazingly fantastic, I just simply couldn’t afford it, and I moved Justin to the farm where I lived. Here, he switched to full 24/7 turnout, and I paid $200 a month, which is the lowest cost I’ve ever seen for horse care. I was living on the farm, which gave me a discount to get to this number. Overall, board in this area is insanely expensive. When I moved up here, I was told that finding a place with an indoor in the upper hundreds or $1,000 range would be pretty normal. Training board is at least $1,000/month and higher, depending on the instructor. I’ve personally seen $60/day with a dressage trainer.
Four shoes on Justin runs me $200 (compared to the $150 I paid in Georgia). I’ve seen this price between 2 different farriers in the area, but I’m happy to pay it for the expert care my farrier gives Justin! Now that I’ve pulled his back shoes, each visit costs $140.
I honestly have not bought hay, I’ve paid it off here and there through my landlord, so I can’t exactly speak to this!
One of the biggest assets this area has to offer is instructors. Middleburg is a mecca of sorts for eventing so the opportunities to train with world-class athletes are abundant. For example, I share a property line with Kelli Temple and Mara DePuy, both Olympians. This area is just amazing in that way. But, that does mean you could pay for it. Lessons run about $50-$100.
Taking a lesson with Clark Montgomery this summer.
This area also offers me outstanding veterinary care, but again you will pay for it. A typical lameness exam puts me into the mid hundreds, not including any other veterinary therapies.
Really hot in the summer, really cold in the winter. I was surprised when I moved up here that the summer is just as hot AND humid as Georgia was. I mistakenly thought there would be some leeway in moving farther north. The winters get colder, though. (This is where the indoor comes in). Although we did get a monster snow storm, I’ve been told that isn’t the norm. I will see this winter. Spring and fall are absolutely delightful!
There’s a little of all the riding disciplines here! Foxhunting is huge and a way of life for many people in the area. Eventing is also big in the area. I could keep my entire show schedule in a 30 minute drive and see a variety of venues throughout the year! Venturing into Maryland (about an hour) will get you even more amazing venues. My jump trainer rents a farm that backs up to Great Meadow, so the opportunities for eventers are endless.
Though I feel like foxhunting and eventing are huge, there are also a TON of hunters, jumpers and dressage riders. There are also an abundance of schooling shows in addition to the many recognized ones. This year I’ve had the opportunity to pop into a jumper show and a dressage show to sharpen my skills.
Like most NOVA people have said already, cost. I am fortunate that Justin is an easy keeper, so that I can keep him at such a cost-effective place with the most amazing ride out. Another thing that can be a little difficult is the footing in summer – it’s concrete. Fortunately, we do have so many hills, and I found it easy to keep a Training/Prelim horse fit by walking these bohemith hills when the footing was too hard! Honestly, this place is heaven on earth – the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.