there’s a slight possibility I could be moving to Toronto and I was wondering what the best hunter/jumper barns were in the GTA. I’m looking for somewhere where the people are friendly and the coaches are kind and knowledgeable. I’d love to hear about places you love and places you didn’t, experiences, etc!
The GTA is massive - perhaps you could post a little more detail about what end you would be interested in? Or how much of a drive you’re willing to make? There will be a huge amount of travel involved if you live, say, east end suburbs and the barn is in Milton (west of the city).
We aren’t sure where yet, just keeping options open, and the location of a good barn will influence our decision on where to move :)@SolarFlare ! Willing to travel up to 30 minutes, preferably less.
You will DEFINITELY have to live outside of the city to achieve that travel time. Probably have to live at least 45 minutes from downtown if you plan to ride on weekdays in under 30 minutes.
After work hours (4pm to 8pm) the traffic is some of the worst in North America, making the closest (note not best) barns a minimum hour commute.
If I were to do it with horses in mind, I would live in the North or West suburbs and commute by GO train.
What kind of riding/competitiveness are you looking for? This city is so awesome, I highly recommend it.
As others have posted, there are a ton of great options, but it really does depend on where you are going to live and/or work. There is ALMOST ZERO CHANCE of a 30-minute rush hour commute if you live and work in the city proper, however.
Other factors include your training and showing goals, whether you already own/lease a horse or need the barn to mount you, what amenities you want, what training style suits you, budget, etc.
I am familiar with a lot of the barns and trainers, so if you’d rather shoot me a PM with your specifics, I’m happy to help!
So. I also live in the GTA. I live almost downtown (just east of the Don Valley on the Danforth) and it takes me from forty minutes to a hour and a half to get to the barn. I am an experienced rerider (took several years off to have a kid) and I rode at five barns before making my choice.
For me, I was looking for a coach I could learn from (sounds easy, right?), a barn that showed local up to the As, and that I’d feel comfortable keeping my inevitable new horse at. I was trying for an hour radius, because less than that meant I’d be at the Horse Palace and I don’t have the $$ or inclination to ride there. Like others here, I have lots of knowledge about styles and environments of various “local” barns and would have zero issue with you PMing me.
@Katona @DarkBayUnicorn @Lace We’re definitely planning on living outside the city and using the train to commute! I want to do Hunter/Jumper (but preferably a barn with an XC course for fun), and hopefully be able to work my way up to showing on the A circuit. We’d be looking at Oakville, Vaughan and Aurora/Newmarket. It’s hard to tell what a barn is like so I wanted to see what others thought I’ll definitely Pm you if you know of some in those areas
Price range is important. You’re looking at anywhere from $500/mo to $2000+/mo. I imagine there are places that offer outdoor for less.
Feel free to PM me. I know lots of places in those areas. Budget will be VERY important, as @aristokat says, as will the horse factor – do you have one or do you need the barn to provide one?
Tiara Equine comes to mind when you say cross country course… but they are eventers. Most barns that specialize in H/J will not have a cross country course.
When you say “work your way up to the A’s”, what do you mean? Start off at trillium and then half way through the season go to A’s? That limits your barns quite a bit. If you move to Vaughan or Aurora, I would check out the Meadows in King City. They are a mainly Trillium barn, but quite a few riders are on the A circuit there. Facilities are stunning too. Skyland Stables (Bradford) may also be an option for you if you’re looking to move to the Aurora/Newmarket area; they are primarily A’s but do some Trillium.
Tiara is near Stouffville while Skyland is close to Bradford but farther west. They are some distance away from each other. The Meadows is in the middle of the two geographically but I don’t believe either Skyland or The Meadows have a cross country course if that is on your list. As far as commuting from downtown Toronto all of them are going to take some time to get there…Greg Kuti is now the resident trainer at The Meadows and I highly recommend him for what your goals seem to be. All 3 barns listed above are nice. And there are TONS of strictly A barns, top hunter/jumper facilities with the price tag to match.
@kboned well right now I don’t have much show experience but I wanted to ride on the A circuit eventually. We don’t have A circuit here so I don’t know much about it. I’m assuming you need to be doing a certain height?
The difference between A and Trillium is not so much height, but quality – of shows, riding and horses. A shows around the GTA offer everything from 2’6" beginner hunters to World Cup Qualifiers. But even the 2’6" horses are, by and large, good movers, good jumpers, auto lead changes, etc.
There are not a TON of barns with part board options that show on the A circuit that I am aware of. Leasing is more popular. Finding ones under $1,000 with training/coaching included is also tough. Monterra Farms in Claremont is one of the few I am aware of that shows A, has horses for part board / lease capable of showing on either circuit and is at that price point. Trainers are Natalie Smith and Miranda Travers-Cavill. I adore them.
That said, I do not know the pricing structure at The Meadows or Skyland. I can say Greg Kuti (new trainer at The Meadows) is a wonderful person and a friend of mine, and Jenna Rogerson (trainer at Skyland) seems quite nice when we chat ringside.
I believe Forest Hill (Dee and Scott Walker) in King have a riding school to A show development program, but I do not know their price point. Benchmark (Darcy and Quincy Hayes), also in King, is trying to establish a similar one, but they are very pricey. I was quoted $1,350 board before coaching/training last fall.
You will likely have to go to Milton/Campbellville/Acton for board under $1000 that shows Trillium & As and has part boarding.
I second Darcy and Quincy but I can assure you 100% that there board plus training costs are WAY OVER $1,350.00 per month. Their training is top notch and the care your horse receives is phenomenal but not for the “economically challenged” at they say for normal folks. And they certainly won’t have any lesson horses to practice on but would certainly be able to find you a lovely lease horse for the show summer. I would trust them implicitly.
Oh and I have seen some pretty darn fancy Trillium horses lately. Some could easily (and sometime do) show quite successfully on the A hunter/jumper circuit. I would not necessarily discount a Trillium barn set up either with nice quality show horses.
Like I said, I was quoted $1,350 BEFORE training. Darcy and Quince are phenomenal, but not for the faint of chequebook.
FYI, they are operating out of Benchmark, which DOES have a lesson program. http://www.benchmarkequestrian.ca/main/
And while I agree that some Trillium horses can and do compete well on the A circuit, my experience has said that those tend to be fewer and father between the closer you get to the GTA. Ponies, yes. Lower-level jumpers, yes. Hunter horses at or above 3-foot, no. Jumpers at or above 1.10m, no.
Of course, Trillium zones further from the A show hub that is Palgrave/Angelstone are a different story. But since we’re discussing the GTA, it’s moot.