Best US location for horses?

Just musing here :).

Pretend you’re a horse. Where is the best place in the US to live? I’m thinking about good weather, grassy turnouts, decent natural footing, not too many flesh-eating bugs, etc.

I may be biased because I live here, but Northern Indiana is a great place to be a horse! Not so good for being a rider with limited trainers, show barns, trails, and cold winters --but for what a HORSE needs, it is pretty dang good! Land, good pasture land, is reasonable. Even a retired school teacher (like me) can own 20 acers of nice pasture --fencing is easy to come by as the community where I live is 25% Amish --so fencing companies abound. Same with construction companies for barns --people who KNOW how a barn should be set up most efficiently for cost and use. The 3-sided sheds (one for each horse) were made less than a mile from my house, and delivered free.

Shoers --well, many to choose from-- I’ve been using the same one for 30+ years --$25 trim, $100 a set, $80 a reset.

Vets --off the top of my head, I think there are 10 large animal vets in my county --and veterinary universities are 2 hours away --two of them. There are a few specialists --Amish are big into harness horses (SBs) so lameness/breeding are concerns. One vet clinic has a horse MRI!

Hay --the price fluctuates, but it is always available --I paid $8/65 pound bale, delivered and stacked in my mow of the finest alfalfa I could find (it is awesome).

Help --the Amish kids will always lend a hand (hard workers) for $ ( I pay $10 and hour). I have a part time in the summer exercise rider (non-Amish girl) who works for the same amount and also does mowing and maintenance. Adult help (cutting trees, excavation) is readily available --just ask the Amish neighbor whom he uses and you have a phone number.

Trailers --not only do they make them here (Merhow, Lakota, Bison, Shadow) but there’s a trailer repair shop literally on every corner --Elkhart is “The trailer capital of the world” so no problems getting a trailer or getting one serviced or fixed.

But as I said at the top --we are a dark hole of trainers and instructors – I hauled my kids and grandkids at least an hour to get to any kind of facility that had a good trainer. Venues are also a drive away --unless contesting is your thing and even then, those are small, small shows.

Trails --well, again, not much here --closest is an hour haul --there’s a vast amount of trail riding in Michigan and Southern Indiana, but again, one must camp and haul . . .my hunt club is a 90 min drive . . .

All things considered, for a horse, this is a nice place to live --my annual cost (husband is a CPA) to feed/care/house a horse is $2K and that includes everything on the farm --all show fees/hauling are not included in that.

I cannot wrap my brain around that!!! What a smoking deal!


From a horse perspective alone, I don’t think it is a coincidence that central Kentucky became the center of the horse industry. You have a balance of four seasons with good grazing.

From a horse-owning human perspective, central Kentucky is still a great place to be so long as you stay in the greater Lexington and Louisville regions. Central Kentucky has some of the best farriers and vets in the world… the rest of Kentucky, not so much. Horse services are practically non-existent in some of the other parts.

From strictly a horse-owning human perspective, looking at horse owner conveniences and not worrying so much about climate and horse comfort, central Kentucky is rivaled by central Florida and the mid-Atlantic region. I recently moved back to the mid-Atlantic region after living in different parts of the south for many years. I appreciate our horse infrastructure so much!!! We are so blessed, though many long time residents don’t see it that way at all.

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From the horse’s perspective, I think @Foxglove is closest to correct. You just can’t beat the quality and quantity of grass in those fertile soils of the Midwest. And, horses actually prefer colder temperatures - I remember reading the results of some study that identified the optimal environmental temperature range based on the amount of energy needed to maintain body temperature and it was surprisingly cold. I don’t recall the exact temperature range, but I remember thinking, “Crap, I couldn’t live someplace that cold.”

I agree that the Bluegrass region is a fine place to keep horses (I used to live there) but I think it became the center of the Thoroughbred industry mostly for reasons other than being the optimal US location for raising horses.

Not temperature wise, but I will always love mid North Texas for it’s soil.

There’s a reason a ton of really wonderful barns exist in Aubrey and Pilot Point and it’s due to the natural sandy loam soil that acts as a kind of natural cushion for horses. It’s easy on their joints and great to take care of them.

Since we’re centrally located, nothing care wise is as extreme in price as stuff at either end of the east or west (thinking alfalfa, etc).

The heat, though, is brutal. And if you get too far in either direction - you run into black or red clay instead of sandy soil.

I do envy those of you in states that are better for horse-keeping. Land prices in Massachusetts – the eastern part anyway – are just too high for most horses to have access to pasture. And any turnout for more than a few hours a day is iffy at a lot of places … You can look at barns on Google Maps and see how many have sold off land to housing developers to stay in business, which means way less turnout. There are many people who can afford horses here, but not horse-keeping in the optimal way.


There isn’t one. I think it was perfect keeping horses in Northern CA. The weather was great, no mud, tons of beautiful places to ride year round , not too many bugs that I remember. The big issue is open spaces and cost.

I live in Midwest now ( 30 years) and we have plenty of open spaces and acreage, very affordable. We also have an abundance of bugs, yucky weather, muddy ground etc…

You just have to choose what fits you and your horse best I guess.

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I also live in northern IN and while you are spot on with everything else – you are very lucky to only pay 2k/year!

@Spotless --DH is a CPA and did the math on the horses when my adult daughter wanted to keep a horse here and pay for it. What is included is feed, hay, vaccinations, twice yearly vet visit, Coggins, yearly teeth, trim x 6 weeks, and percent of the barn help. What was not included was the percent of farm cost --his thought was that I’d have a farm anyway —so did not add that in. Bedding is a non-charge as we bed on sand and simply add twice a year. Our horses are turned out 24/7 --they have 3 sided sheds in the 20 acre pasture. I haven’t done the numbers in a few years —but I doubt my cost to own a horse (and do nothing with it, no haul, no tack, no show fees) is still less than $3K.