Dressage Scene in the Southeast US -- where would you go?

My new job is remote, with no expectation of ever going to on-site, so my options of where to live are pretty open! My husband is up for a promotion, but he can pretty much pick where he wants to live from NC --> FL. If you could choose, or if you live in dressage/horse paradise, tell me why! :slight_smile:

The general plan is buying a small farm that we will live in until the head to the old folks home. So we want to do it right! I would like to have 3-4 horses (maybe one boarder, really just to have someone to help if we want to go away for the weekend/on vacation), I am open to building or something already built. If it’s already built, I am super particular about the horse facilities. My main priority for them is to have quality pasture as much of the year as possible and room to move and be horses. The rest I can build/add, but the land will be the land forever.

I also would like to be rural, but not too far off the beaten path. My favorite place I’ve ever lived was Athens, GA (and it’s on the list to return if it ends up working out) but DH and I also really LOVE Disney/Universal and would like to be able to go fairly frequently.

Without a doubt, the Tryon, NC area. Easy access to Asheville, Charlotte, Tyron International Equestrian Center, BNTs everywhere, great weather, God’s horse country!


Aiken has a really nice dressage scene with recognized and schooling shows throughout the year, plenty of instructors and clinicians and a fab town. We almost moved to Tryon until we checked out Aiken. Both are great and worth checking out for your personal best fit.


On the other hand, if you show in the year round, Ocala, WEC and air conditioning. Even better if you are amenable to living close to Orlando since Ocala prices are on crack. Not that Florida’s in general isn’t stupid silly on prices, but Ocala had a real “hold my beer” approach to the issue.

But if you like Athens, it’s central to a lot of NC, SC, GA venues

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I am in central Florida, roughly hour or so drive to Disney stuff. Lots of land still around, decent pasture (for Florida), about an hour and 15 minute drive to World Equestrian Center. Lots of shows, numerous trainers available. More land options a bit further north but still below Ocala. Would suspect you are best off buying land, then building. I have a friend who bought a 10 acre place with older barn. She had that torn down and built back bigger/better. What are you looking for w/ respect to trainers? Come to you, trailer out, etc.

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Since neither my husband nor my job will involve a daily commute, I’m pretty open to where we are located. I’d love to find a little tucked away town that fits the bill!

I’d love to find a trainer that would come to me, since I plan to have at least 2 (possibly three) horses in work/training at any given time. I do plan to put in a regulation ring at my farm, but that will likely take some time to get all of that actually accomplished. It’s also likely I will need to board my current horse for a bit while we get everything purchased, built, remodeled, whatever else and find him some friends. So having options not too far away would be ideal. I’m not a big show-er, so being close to WEC is not super high on the priority list. I’d prefer a better price on land so I can afford better facilities at home, if that makes sense!

My horse is also quirky, so I need someone who can really pick things apart and come up with a plan. My current coach is amazing at this and it will be incredibly hard to leave her. She does winter in FL, so part of my plan is to trailer out to her (she’s in Welly World) when she is there.

This all sounds wonderful. Can I just live through you??


I would echo 2tempe with regards to Central Florida – I am (like her), north of Orlando and south of Ocala. There are still rural areas although areas close to new highways around Orlando are developing quickly. But – you can still find horse friendly acreage and be about an hour from Orlando (parks, large airport, medical facilities) and just an hour-to an hour and a half from Ocala (shows, trainers, WEC, first class equine clinic). And we also have some excellent dressage trainers in our area. Real estate prices have been going up for some time (WEC driving some of the increases in the Ocala area) but its starting to slow down a bit. I am most likely “the friend” that 2tempe referred to in her post – 5 years ago I bought 15 acres and developed it into a dressage training facility. The property had been used for horses in the past – but the barn was a wreck so we built all new, including a covered arena (really a must here in the summer) and all new pasture fencing. I wouldn’t consider land that hasn’t already been cleared and preferably with pasture area used for livestock. Florida weather is obviously hot and humid in the summer – but so is most of the Southeast – but winters are great for a horsey lifestyle.

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OK, so sounds like what we are looking for in the horse scene, what the non-horsey stuff like? Pretty close to decent groceries, movie theaters, restaurants? We are not night life people, but do like to go to movies (if they have the fancy recliner chairs, super bonus) and eat out pretty frequently!

I am in Northern Lake County – close to Marion County. The main towns in this area are Mt Dora and Eustis. Mt Dora is a nice smaller town – it has gotten quite popular and has a nice walkable downtown, lots of restaurants, there is a large cineplex. Publix groceries everywhere – big box if you need them – Target, Walmart, also Lowe’s and a Home Depot in Leesburg. And if you want to brave the traffic you can always drive to Winter Park or Orlando. My horse farm is outside town … technically in the “town” of Eustis. Ocala is further north — right off I75. I mainly go to WEC up there (and unfortunately lately the equine clinic) so can’t say much about what’s in the town proper in terms of restaurants. Further north is Gainesville – which is a university town so if that interests you you can check that out as well. Good luck exploring possible spots to land. We’re pretty much in the geographic middle of Florida — a few hours to the south is Wellington. For beaches you can either head East (New Smyrna, Daytona, etc) or West (St Petersburg, Clearwater, etc).