Gutted.

So, I got an email yesterday around lunch time saying that our barn has been sold, is closing, and the horses all have to be out by June 9.

Yeah, not kidding.

img_5642-1.jpg

I’m equal parts sad and upset. Sad because I have really enjoyed being at that barn. The fields are huge and beautiful, it’s small enough to where I could do whatever I want and no one cared, it was 20 minutes from my house, it has lots of turnout, and it was NEVER too wet to ride. The barn worker is fantastic and takes amazing care of my boys. Plus I was getting a great deal for having two horses there. The place wasn’t fancy by any means, and it had plenty of short-comings, but all-in-all it’s worked really well for me for the past 2.5 years.

A place like that is hard to find around here. Land is at a premium, there isn’t a lot of space to be found anymore, and good ground is even more difficult to find. A lot of places have that terrible black gumbo soil that will suck the shoes right off a foot when it’s wet, but gets huge gaping hoof-swallowing cracks in it when it’s dry. We won’t even talk about how much the standard of care can vary at boarding barns, y’all know how that goes. Boarding is EXPENSIVE here, and traffic in Austin is so bad that if you don’t find something relatively close, you’ll end up with a wicked commute that just isn’t doable for the 7 days a week that I go to the barn. Something will have to give, I just don’t know what yet.

img_5658.jpg

I’ve had the feeling for a while that the owners were going to sell the place, but they’ve hinted at it several times before and never actually followed through. This barn used to be out in the middle of nowhere, but as Austin has exploded, development has moved in all around. The big chunk of land that it’s sitting on is worth a buttload to those gross subdivision guys, and the barn owners are elderly. I don’t blame them for cashing in, but I was hoping they’d hold out. Which they have up to now, but I guess my time has run out. The barn as been sold… to developers. Just the thought of those fields being bulldozed and covered with houses legit makes me want to cry. I’m devastated. It’s a fucking travesty.

img_4950.jpg
Houses don’t belong here

It’s also a travesty that we’ve been given such short notice. 5 weeks isn’t much when you’re talking about moving 3 horses. Finding somewhere suitable is hard enough, finding somewhere suitable without a waiting list is even harder. So now here we are, scrambling, trying to find another needle in the haystack. I have no idea where to even start with finding a place that will suit our needs. It’s even tougher now that I have to consider that I need the right facilities to keep a Prelim horse fit and sound… that adds a whole ‘nother layer of footing and space concerns that I didn’t have when Henry was competing at a lower level.

img_5552
these jumps are ghetto but they’re mine

Luckily we won’t be hung out to dry completely, no matter what happens. I’ve had several very kind friends that have generously offered me space at their own farm as a temporary or even longer term solution, if needed. Most of them would be quite a long drive, but they’re options that are there if it comes to it, and that peace of mind is definitely appreciated right now. It’s the only thing stopping me from entering full blown panic attack mode, to be honest. That and I basically put all my feelings inside a whole bunch of brownies last night and ate them until I wanted to puke.

So far, from all of the internet scouring I’ve done since yesterday, there’s nothing that seems particularly promising yet. Big compromises are going to have to be made somewhere. I’m so sad, y’all. It’s the end of an era. I LOVE MY FIELDS, and they’re going to be murdered, and then disgusting cheap cookie cutter houses are going to be erected on their graves. Just the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. It’s not right.

52 thoughts on “Gutted.

  1. I hate quick moves, ran into that issue last year with my trainer and her two horses, and ended up in a pretty crappy barn that was over crowded for 6 months before finding a fantastic place. I’m crossing my fingers for you, and hope you find a perfect place, if not a good landing spot for a short time.

    Like

  2. As I texted you last night I am so sorry! Having ridden in those fields it is a travesty and those houses ARE UGLYthey are building! UGH…..

    I wish I could help in some way but 600 miles away doesnt help! I am here for you to vent to as you search. I hope you find the perfect place for your boys.

    Maybe it really is time to move!! OUT OF AUSTIN! UGH

    Sorry again. Nice barn too, i hate to think of all that being bulldozed!! 😦

    Like

  3. Ugh, that’s awful! I share your heartbreak, those fields are gorgeous. My barn had the opposite happen; they beat out developers and got an amazing piece of property. And they’re now completely full with a waiting list less than a year after buying it. I hope you’re able to find a suitable place for your boys soon.

    Like

  4. I grew up in southern California and rode at a amazing barn that was surrounded by subdivisions. It was owned by a old man who rode show jumpers back in the day. I don’t think he was cold in his grave before the bulldozers came and started prepping it for new homes. So many amazing child hood memories were made there. 30 years later and I am still heart broken over it. I can still see, hear and smell that place like it was yesterday but it is gone forever.

    Like

    1. Emily, same here. Both of my childhood barns in NJ are now McMansions. The one from one I was really little hurts the most, because my very favorite, FAVORITE horse of all time was buried in a back pasture. I can’t even think about them possibly having dug him up. All I have to do is close my eyes, though, and I am back in what I called paradise from ages 5-12. The sight, the smell, the horses and ponies who I will forever hold dear… they’ll always be with me.

      Less painful but nonetheless annoying and sad is that my barn from 20 years ago is now houses. That one didn’t surprise me too much, though. Like in Austin, the suburbs are ever-expanding here (St. Louis). The owner got an offer he couldn’t refuse and built a new facility only three miles away that was bigger, better and nicer in every way. So everything worked out fine in the end for him and everyone else.

      Having said all that – I’m only a lesson student. I’ve never had to move a horse, or horses, at all much less on short notice. Amanda, I’m SO sorry you’re going through this. I hope and pray the right situation will be found. You are held in much esteem and friendship by many so I’m glad others have already reached out!

      Like

  5. Oof. Man, I’m so sorry. I’m with you. Those fields should not have houses on them. We’re in a freakin desert, the lake is 100 ft down, and they’re STILL building houses. Bonnie Springs Ranch that had a barn, an Old West experience and outdoor theater finally sold out, and now we’re getting MORE houses there. I hate it.
    I really hope you find something promising soon!

    Like

  6. It is NOT right. Such a gross disgusting waste of good land. Subdivisions make my blood boil. ESPECIALLY when you know what the land looked like before. Our barn is getting creeped on by subdivisions and warehouses and it makes me so angry when I drive by them.

    Good luck finding a new place- and I don’t mean that sarcastically. Just straight up hope you find a gem!

    Like

  7. This isn’t just happening in Austin or even Texas. Sprawl has been around for the last 60 years and while slowing down in some areas its worse in others. We are facing the same challenges in the Midwest, good barns are closing because they are worth a fortune to developers not to mention people just don’t make money boarding. Horse owners are getting pushed further and further out. It is gross and probably won’t change in Texas since they are so anti regulation/zoning but there are places that are using things like farmland preservation zoning (Midwest) and growth boundaries (Portland) that help limit sprawl.
    Even more frightening that some of the most fertile soil in the country is getting sold to developers for 1 acre subdivided lots… it’s cool, not like a food shortage/crisis is in our future or anything…

    Like

  8. I had this same thing happen to me last year, my favorite boarding barn that I had worked at through college and then was finally able to afford a boarding spot at got sold out from under us. Luckily we had about 4 months notice instead of just one, and an equestrian did end up buying it and keeping it as a horse property. However, trying to find another barn that compared was impossible! I ended up giving up quality of facilities and took on a longer commute in order to board with my trainer and continue to be able to have regular lessons. But I’m still frequently sad about losing my old barn and the wonderful barn family that I had there.

    Like

  9. This is a big big bummer. Good luck in the search. I hope you will keep us posted on the search and how you make your decision. There are many barns not on the internet so ask around (even though tack shops are few and far between) the local horse/eventing community.

    Like

  10. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I’ve been in this situation 3 times in the last 4 years. I thought my current barn would be our forever home but that isn’t looking likely. I, too, am on wait-lists. It’s a very stressful situation, for sure. Wishing you the best!

    Like

  11. That is indeed sad, I hate to see good land go to waste like that! Makes my heart hurt. My sister lives in the Manor/Elgin area and has the wonderful grace to own thirty acres, half on the sand and half on the gumbo!! I hope she and her husband can keep it until we are all in our graves. I’m located further south, but New Braunfels sprawl (yes, there is such a thing) is slowly creeping my way too. Hubby and I joke that the first half mil gets our 14 acres, but now I’m thinking it should be more like 1.5 mil instead. Fortunately we’re on a creek that floods often, and the land (but not the house, it’s on a built up area) is subject to flash-flooding on a regular basis. That may be the only thing that saves us from being swallowed up too. That being said, good luck in your search. I remember how hard it was for you to find that place! Maybe your farrier will know of a private facility you could partner with or something.

    Like

  12. So sorry to hear that. I can offer at least temporary in Kempner but that is probably too far for what you need. Sometimes I just look around and wonder who are all these houses for? What do these people do? It just seems like too much. But what do I know. Ditto what someone else mentioned. Ask vet offices and feed stores. You may find a nice private barn that can meet your needs.

    Like

  13. Ugh, I hate developers! It’s happening here too, and it makes me so sad. Lovely farmland getting plowed under right and left with no thoughts to the ecosystem or even the infrastructure, because money… Boarding here is already tough and we just lost another one to the developers, so at this point we are looking for our own little chunk of the earth. We had planned to wait another 5-10 years but at this rate the only land left will be too far away to make it work with our jobs, especially since no one feels like widening the roads so all these slapped together subdivisions are on 2 lane country roads so the traffic is horrendous. It makes me sad and angry, once farmland is built on it’s gone for good, lost forever… Big hugs to you and the barn family, hopefully you can find a new barn with few compromises…

    Like

  14. That sucks. I grew up in an area that used to be all farm land and is now all subdivisions and shopping centers. It’s a horrible shame. If the barn I had been boarding at in CA closed, we would have had to move in order to find another place close to board at since that was the only place in our commute range with decent care. I hope you find something.

    Like

  15. So sorry!!! I remember when my childhood barn closed, the place I got to know and love and ride my first horse at. I was devastated (and I didn’t even ride there anymore!!!). My horses are at home and I’m so thankful for that. Boarding here in Northern CA is becoming insanely expensive and its super hard to find somewhere trustworthy. My trainer predicted that eventually, we just aren’t going to have many barns left here. Its sad. I hope you find something soon!

    Like

  16. God that sucks. There are a couple of boarding facilities on the verge of being taken over by developers in my area too.

    The barn I was boarding at for the last 4-5 years just got listed. But I had already given my notice since the care had gone to absolute shit.

    Like

  17. I’m so sorry. This sucks majorly. I wish I could help. I get what you’re saying about the owners, and I don’t really blame them either. But the short notice really is shitty. They could have negotiated that better for their loyal customers.

    Like

  18. It is not right… ugh I have to drive by these stupid subdivisions that are where my childhood lesson barn used to be and it still hurts after all these years. I hate that you are having to deal with all this.

    Like

  19. We’re twinning today on the single-word-titled-sad-posts. I have been in exactly your shoes (twice, UGH) with a month’s notice, and it SUCKS big monkey balls. I’ve also found a barn and barn family that I love and there are musings about a timeline there as well. All I can say is that it’s definitely a saving grace to have a fall-back plan, even if it’s temporary. Fingers crossed that you find something soon!

    Like

  20. Developers suck. It is happening all around the country and I want to cry every time I see another field turn into houses. I’m sorry you are dealing with this.

    But…you know…you could always use it as the perfect signal to move to Aiken. Lots of farms with everything you want, tons of competition and schooling opportunities and good weather. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I am so sorry for you. Also six weeks is not enough time, I’m glad I’m not you. It is happening literally everywhere. I live near Boston (not super close so it could be worse) and I cannot even begin to tell you places that used to be green spaces that have since been built up (and it shows no signs of abating.) I’m sort of hopeful for my childhood barn (though I am no longer there) because it is in a sort of historic area and the area I live in has a somewhat strong conservation movement (I’m hoping the owner sells the development rights to the state or something to that effect so it never gets built up) but I still worry for it (along with a lot of other places.) I bet the houses at your place will be made out of plastic and crumble so fast it isn’t even funny. Developers are the worst! I could go on all day! Good luck.

    Like

  22. Ugh, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Like others have said, this is happening all over. Equestrians are being edged out by skyrocketing property values. I live in Orlando and the same thing is going in here. But, just 2 hours north, in the Ocala and Gainesville area, there are many large sprawling farms. I hope you are able to find a new place that works for you. If not, move to Ocala.

    Like

  23. Nothing I can do but commiserate. Pave paradise – put up a parking lot. Or ugly tract home. Take your pick. I’ve seen it happen in CO, and Nor Cal, So Cal was already pretty built out by the time we moved here which really limits boarding options.

    I’ve been lucky enough to find a small private place in one of the few equestrian community holdouts, but I want to throw rocks at the idiots who buy up cute little farmettes that were designed back in the 1970s to be part of an equestrian community, tear down the barn, put tennis courts over the arena and build hideous mcMansions. The zoning code is not supposed to allow it, but I guess if you are a millionaire ex NFL guy you can bribe enough people to get your way.

    I really hope you can find something special – King Henry needs his trot sets and “look at me I am SOOOOO fast” gallop fields!

    Like

  24. I’m so sorry 😦 This sucks.

    Leaving post up for fiancee so she can see why I’m insisting next place (which will be much closer to a large city than our current uber-rural setting) needs to be at least 30 acres, tho!

    Like

  25. I am so, so sorry! It breaks my heart to think about those green fields covered in concrete and filked with same/same houses.
    It happened to both barns I learned to ride at and it is like a knife through my heart even thinking about it, even years later.
    I hope you’ll find a barn for the three boys. I am gkad to know you have a space as back up if nothing fitting comes along.
    Jingling for you!

    Like

  26. Would they not entertain offers for someone else to purchase the barn and take over? I imagine what the developers are offering is a pretty penny, but I wonder if someone could change their minds? 😦

    I’m so sorry.

    Like

  27. I saw on hillary’s IG that it was being sold to developers and it made me so sad. A similar thing happened to a barn near me, really nice place but they subdivided their best fields off to developers. now the barn has almost no turnout and is sat crammed in the middle of a development.

    I don’t understand bc horses>people so why get rid of horses and add more people???

    Like

  28. Not surprising given the US population has grown by close to 48 million in the last 10 years or so – all those people have got to go somewhere! Just try to think more like an economist – all growth is good right!?

    Like

  29. We are facing it here in SoCal too. Our local community launched a ‘Horses not Houses’ campaign a couple of years ago after a developer swallowed up half our equestrian center, bulldozed the historical barn then tried to change zoning despite overwhelming opposition from the community. So far no zoning change but half the size equestrian center and by bye historical barn while he sits on the land trying to figure out ways to win. As equestrians we all need to be aware of the impending threat of development. ELCR is a great organization that is fighting the development of equestrian lands. They estimate that 6,000 acres of open land a DAY is being lost to development and offer ways to combat it.
    It’s particularly apparent in high rent districts like Austin and Los Angeles, but in these areas, the reality is that its usually people who have to live close to urban cities so that they have higher paying jobs which allow them to keep a horse and ride. So its catch 22 and the poor horses end up suffering as they get squeezed further and further out and their owners can’t just run down the road to check on them. That could be a whole other post in itself….We totally feel your pain…..at our own barn the trainer in the bulldozed barn got less than 5 weeks to move 80 horses and there is literally NO vacancy around here. She ended up having to make a deal with a private horse property to even have a shot at making it work! So sorry for you and the gang – hope it all works out!

    Like

  30. Should have mentioned the web site is https://elcr.org/ stands for EQUINE LAND CONSERVATION RESOURCE. We have a city near us – Temecula_ that just built an equestrian zoning into its county bylaws. Basically a certain area of the city has to be preserved for equestrians and equestrian pursuits. Temecula is the biggest eventing community in SoCal so the county had a lot of pressure to keep the land protected.

    It starts at the county level – counties need to preserve this land just like they take care of community parks and football fields. Otherwise our great grandchildren will only get to see horses in zoos in the future….

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I’m so sorry. I’m running into a similar issue looking for a barn in the Chicago area. I had a little more advanced notice (I’m moving for a new job), but everything is super expensive and far away from where I’ll be living. I wish you all the best!

    Like

  32. Man, i am so sorry. Us Californians don’t even understand pastures like that, our barns we long ago shrunk or sold out. Hope you can find a good alternative, so sad to see another open field gone to houses and urban sprawl.

    Like

  33. I am going through the same thing, the owners of my place have decided to sell. I have a bit more time because this place hasn’t sold but, yup needle in a hay stack trying to find a place

    Like

  34. Ugh, all the empathy on this – of the 15 barns I’ve ridden at, all but four of them are now subdivisions, most of which I pass on a regular basis. It’s utterly depressing.

    Like

  35. One of my friends lives literally down the road from your barn, and they’re getting annexed, which doesn’t help either. Frustrating though; it’s a nice facility. I can’t imagine it all being torn down.

    The commute to my old barn in Cedar Creek, and ever rising cost of boarding is why I just threw in the towel and told my husband we needed to buy land, because I was sick of it.

    Which, of course, brings its own unique set of challenges, but at least I don’t have to worry about it being sold out from under me, or the BO jacking the rates because they can, or the facility being used for whatever idiocy they desired (nothing better than a Warrior Dash with HUGE FLAME TOWERS right by the paddocks where the horses are stabled…and getting NO WARNING).

    Fingers crossed you find something for everyone and you have a soft landing for them!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s