I didn’t originally plan on doing this Blog Hop, but it’s been so interesting reading everyone else’s (and none of the other Austin bloggers have chimed in – what’s that about guys?), so here we are! A Soft Spot for Stars asked for details about life and horsekeeping in our area…
Where do you live?
The great thing about Austin is that it’s probably one of the most liberal, progressive cities in the south, which makes it bearable to exist here. The people are generally pretty nice (although our traffic sucks) and there’s always tons of stuff to do and lots of great food (good Mexican food is a life necessity). I like the fact that Austin is relatively small as far as cities go. We have all the big city perks, but without being a sprawling out of control metropolis like Dallas or Houston. The cost of living here has definitely gone up in the past several years, but it’s still fairly reasonable especially compared to either coast. I have to be honest though, I don’t find this area of Texas to be particularly attractive (its not the desert wasteland that most people picture, but our grass is generally kind of meh and our trees look stunted), nor am I that attached to it. I’d happily move if the right job came along, as long as it was somewhere prettier and more horsey (but still without a real winter, I don’t do winter).
Costs of horse keeping?
- Trim – I think $50-70ish? Been a while since I had one barefoot, it’s tough to keep a riding/show horse without shoes here due to our footing (hard and a bit rocky).
- Shoes – $150-200 for a full set of steel, depending on whether or not he’s drilled and tapped for studs
- Average cost of a month of full time training- $600ish plus board. Lessons are around $50-60 average.
- Average monthly pasture board – craigslist tells me around $350? I don’t pasture board, my horse would die of heat stroke in the summer without a fan.
- Average monthly stall board – $500-600 seems average from what I’ve seen. Less for places without great facilities, more for fancy places with great facilities/trainers on site.
- Coastal is pretty much the only grass hay here, which I hate, but such is life. Small squares are about $7-8 a bale depending on quality, delivery, etc. Alfalfa is usually more like $11-15 for a small bale.
Well, I mean… how do you feel about the idea of living inside of an oven? There’s no sugar-coating it, summer is May-September (sometimes April-October) and it’s HOT. Like… many days above 100 degrees, melt-your-skin-off kind of hot. While our humidity is not as bad as Houston, it’s still certainly not a dry heat. Horses require fans and shade, humans require extra hydration and we usually have to ride early or late to avoid heat stroke. The good thing is that our winters are mild. It can swing back-and-forth between temps in the 70s and temps in the 40s, with a lot of in between. Just enough to make winter really bearable, yet not enough for us to ever actually acclimate to cold. Hence all the whining from Texans on cold days.
We might have a few days where it stays at or just below freezing, but mostly it’s just windy as hell in the winter. Every few years we get an inch of snow or a little bit of ice (which causes the entire city to shut down) but that’s about it. The worst part really is the fact that it can’t seem to rain in a normal pattern… it won’t rain for a couple months, and then it’ll rain like 12″ all at once. Over and over. There is no such thing as moderation. Very annoying unless you love long periods of super hard ground followed by a long period of mud.
Riding demographic for the area?
Western riding certainly dominates, but Texas in general has a lot of horses and a lot of different sports. Unfortunately the Austin area itself is kind of a dead zone for shows or a ton of great trainers for h/j or eventing; Dallas and Houston both have a lot more to offer in both regards. Our closest recognized event is 2 hours away, with the others being more like 4-6. The closest rated h/j show is 2 hours away as well. Everything is a haul, basically, there is no such thing as trailering in for the day and showing unless you do the local h/j circuit or very small schooling shows. There are a few eventing trainers in Austin, but my own trainer is a 2 hour haul away (WHY IS EVERYTHING TWO HOURS) so I definitely do not get as many lessons as I’d like.
There are pros and cons to this area, for sure.
- very mild/practically non-existent winter (we’re huge babies, but really we have it easy compared to most)
- still a lot of open space and land
- you can show pretty much year-round if you want to
- there are a few tack shops in town (I live 5 minutes from Charlotte’s Saddlery and 10 minutes from Dover)
- there are also a couple of big vet hospitals nearby, lots of massage/chiro/acupuncture people, rehab facilities, etc.
- not a lot of good boarding/training/local eventing options
- it’s hot as mother-effing balls 6 months of the year
- critters, lots of critters. Rattlesnakes are not uncommon.
- when you get outside of the city, you encounter a lot of… um… less open, less tolerant people…
- EVERYTHING IS FAR
Frustrating things about your area?
Mostly just the fact that nothing is close. We spend a lot of time driving. And driving. And driving. Events cost more because it’s always a haul and requires staying over a couple nights. The void of good trainers and barns in this area are kind of a bummer, too. I would loooooooove to be in the same area as my trainer and be able to take a lot of lessons/always have her eyes nearby, but the 4 hour round trip turns a simple lesson into an all day affair. I spend a lot of time riding on my own, so sometimes it starts to feel like progress is ridiculously slow.