Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location

Quite a few of the blogs I follow have been doing A Soft Spot for Star's blog hop about location, which not only gives me something fun to write about, but a new blog to follow!
I reside in central Missouri. I am in a unique position of both owning a small farm, and also boarding one of my riding horses out. I'm in a pretty rural area, and my horse-owning friends seem to be pretty evenly split between boarding out and keeping horses on their own property.
Aerial shot of our property before we bought it.
Horse keeping costs in this area are fairly reasonable, but of course there are trade-offs. All answers are just going to reflect my personal experience! For anyone else reading this in my area, YMMV.
  • Trims - $25-40
  • Shoes- although everybody is barefoot right now, I've had horses shod in the front, and I typically paid about $90 for a trim and front shoes. I've never had a horse shod all the way around, so no idea!
  • Average cost of a month of full time training- I honestly don't know for around here, but the one time I paid someone else to train a horse for me, I paid $650 a month with board included (this was on the western side of the state, not in central MO)
  • Average monthly pasture board- $150-200
  • Average monthly stall board- $300-400 depending on the amenities. You can find it cheaper or more expensive depending on the options you want.
  • Hay:
    • Round bale, mixed grass- $25-$40 (depending on if you need it delivered/dropped or if you can pick it up and move it yourself)
    • Square bales, mixed grass- $2/bale picked up out of the field (avg. 50 lb bale). We work for a farmer, so we also get really nice brome and lespedeza for around the same price. I know other people pay more, especially if they want it delivered and stacked, but we are willing to do most of the work so we can get a price break. You can get other options (alfalfa, orchard grass, etc) if you're willing to pay more, but my guys do just fine on grass hay.
It's not Kentucky bluegrass, but we still do grow some nice hay.
Weather? Personally the thing I dislike most about this area is the weather. We have hot and humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Some years are better than others -- last year we had a pretty mild winter, which was nice, because the winter before last we got stuck in the "polar vortex" bullshit where the "feels like" frequently hovered well into the negatives for days or weeks. Our summers have lots of 90+ degree days, and when you add in the super gross humidity, there are days where it feels like you're trying to breathe through wet cotton. *other people might not find the weather so awful, I just seem to be really negatively affected by extremes in temperature, both hot and cold* Our spring and fall are typically pretty nice, although we've had a couple years in a row with a TON of rainfall, which means outdoor shows were being canceled left and right.
Like this. Two feet of snow is fucking dumb. Ughhhhhhhh.
Riding demographic for the area? We have a little bit of everything. There are several local show circuits that cater to stock horses (although I like to mix things up and take my Andalusians haha). There is a small, but fun dressage and CT community, as well as some eventers (although they have to leave the county for true eventing competitions, I don't think there are any full cross country courses for shows unless you drive at least 2 hours away). We have tons of western people and trail riders. Callaway County is also home to one of the most famous Saddlebred farms in the country, so lots of saddle type riders as well. There is also a thriving hunter/jumper community with some great local show series. While I know there are people around here who drive or do endurance, I don't actually know of any competitions for those things (although since I don't do them, could be that I am just out of the loop!).
Plenty of little fun shows you can dink around at and win little ribbon strips.
Nice things about my area:
  • Low cost of living (our mortgage on 17 acres is lower than a lot of the board costs I've seen in this blog hop -- however, obviously it will increase when we build a house!)
  • Less than an hour to a major university vet hospital and one of the top repro clinics in the country
  • Awesome local tack store
  • Two universities with equestrian programs (leading to lots more equine events/boarding options than your typical Missouri county)
  • Tons of low-key schooling shows to get your horse mileage without spending $$$$$
  • Two hours from both STL and KC, with much bigger shows scenes
  • Plenty of big show venues within a day's drive (Illinois, Kentucky, Oklahoma, etc)
  • Very lax (aka nonexistent) zoning laws or regulations -- we can literally build whatever we want without permits... haha. Of course, this goes both ways! Some of our neighbors have some sketchy as shit buildings....
I mean, who doesn't want to dress up their horse as as unicorn for a costume class? haha

Frustrating things about our area?
  • Lack of good instructors and clinicians (or when available, they're cost prohibitive). There are a handful, but not a ton. I'm also a little picky on who I'll spend my money with, so this might be more of a "me" problem than a "local" problem... lol.
  • Lack of large indoor arenas (the local university has 2, which is great if you're a student there, but less great for everyone else -- except when they hold shows!). Probably 75%+ of the local show venues are outside, because very few people have an indoor large enough for a dressage court (even a small one). That's wonderful when the weather is nice, but since it's the Midwest, the weather is frequently NOT nice. If you can trailer, there are definitely more indoor venues in the KC/STL area.
  • Lack of variety in available feeds (you can get the big brands like Purina and Nutrena, and a few others, but it's pretty basic)
  • Limited equine trails (We have a super trail system in Missouri called the Katy Trail, but horses are only allowed on two small sections. There are a handful of state parks that allow trail riding, but a lot of them have pretty rough terrain.)
Where else could I have something like this in my backyard? haha
All in all, this part of the Midwest is pretty decent to live in for horseowners, unless you have really high aspirations for showing/training. If I were diehard about dressage and really wanting to advance, I would definitely need to move somewhere else... lol. But lucky for me, I'm perfectly content being a lower-level AA, and right now I'm more focused on having fun with my horses than anything else.


  1. Good god it is CHEAP there! But yeah it isn't exactly horse show central.

    1. Yup, it's the only way I can afford so many horses 😂 At least being centrally located in the country means I can hit some pretty good shows if I'm willing to drive! Maybe that will be a 2017 goal....

  2. These are so fun to read! I should probably write one up.

  3. The prices sound great, but the lack of trail riding opportunities would get to me.

    1. If your horses are shod or have tough feet, there are definitely more possibilities. But my "spare horses" are barefoot weenies, so there are quite a few trails I pass on. Where I keep Ruby has good trails (although they're typically closed during hunting season) and I know of a few other good private ones, but good public ones are definitely limited 😔

  4. Wow, I never would have thought that Missouri got that much winter considering how (relatively) far south you are. Interesting to read about your area!

    1. It's very hit and miss! Some winters are mild with limited snow. Some are horrific with lots of snow! (Lots being relative of course haha)

  5. Your region is beautiful! It seems that there's always the choice between access to equestrian trainers/events or affordability!

    1. Thank you, I'm fairly partial to it!

      I know by choosing to stay here, I made my bed, I just don't always love laying in it 😉 haha.

  6. Sounds like here, but without the mountains! Costs, weather, all of it. Little better access to good vet care and shopping stuff than here; my travel times are more. But I"m impressed and happy to hear of another cheap-to-live and keep horses locale!

    1. I'm totes jealous of your mountains though! Maybe I need to move your direction..... Haha.

  7. <3333 Equine Medical! Also now I feel like I can't do this blog hop, you wrote all of my things for me! :P

    They're talking about trying to get an xc course set up for schooling at Sunny Oak..someday..maybe..and I guess that fancy dressage trainer L has some xc stuff sitting out in one of her fields, because why not? So maybe someday there will be closer eventing things!

    1. No you should still do it! You're a county over, slightly different perspective 😉

  8. Sounds about like the Tulsa area. You should come to or USDF rated shows when you're ready!

    1. I have recognized shows a little closer than Tulsa, but maybe someday! 😁 I know Tulsa has some terrific show venues!