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Eventing barns around Philly

Looking for barns that are fairly local (<45 min drive) from the Philadelphia area. I’m looking to work at the UPenn hospital and ride before shifts, so the drive couldn’t be ungodly long. Totally fine with living near the hospital or near the barn, but they can’t be too too far apart from each other in order to ride prior to work. I’m also open to boarding at a dressage/show jumping barn instead and trailering to an eventing barn for lessons 1-2x per week. I currently have a horse at Training level and am planning on getting something greener in next six months as well. Things I would like:

-Regular (daily would be great) turnout
-Indoor or covered arena
-Good footing (looking to move up to prelim and want something safe enough to do so)
-Trails/hills nearby for conditioning a big plus!

Trainer recommendations are also very much welcome! I know of the big names in the area but struggle with navigating through the sea of google in an area I’m not super familiar with, so any suggestions would be great! I know this is an overall great area for eventing so I’m looking forward to diving in :slight_smile:

A 45 minute drive is going to mean one thing at rush hour and another other times. It can take me 45 minutes to get from the Ben Franklin Bridge to University City!

Bit O Woods in Lumberton fits what you’re looking for and assuming you’re not going at rush hour it should be just 45 minutes if you live in a part of Philly close to the Benny.

You have to go much father into PA to get what you’re looking for. I think you’re going to have better luck on the NJ side unless you compromise on your list. It’s doable on the NJ side.


New Jersey side is fine too if you have suggestions for that! I’m totally fine with that so long it fits the other criteria.

Any chance you can make the train work for your commute in to the City? The R5 could make more of Southern Chester County accessible to you depending on what shifts you work.


Train is definitely something I’m willing to do, what barns in Chester County are you thinking?

Unionville is about 45ish minutes from Philly.
You’ll find a ton of eventers there.

Caitlin Silliman
Erin Sylvester
Boyd Martin
Lillian Heard
Ryan Wood
Alex Conrad
Dom & Jimmie Schramm

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Blue Hill Farm in Unionville…Missy & Jessica Ransehousen
Not sure if it is in the 45 minutes…pretty close. Takes me 2 hours to drive there from Atlantic City, NJ…which is an hour to UPenn for me. So it’s within an hour probably…less in a car and somewhat depending on rush hour times.
You get the best of both worlds - top notch eventing coaching and dressage lessons at the same place.
They have all the things you want (indoor, outdoor, jumps, and access to galloping areas within very short hacks). They turnout too depending on what you want for your horse.

If you are going to be already in the Philly side, don’t try and go back and forth to NJ. The bridge prices have been going steadily up and the traffic from all the non stop construction on the NJ sides will add more time than the rush hour traffic…plus the rush hour traffic on the NJ side is equally horrible. I live in southern NJ…but all my docs are at UPenn so I am very used to that drive.


Did the commute from center city to the main line to ride and also from center city to south NJ to ride. Have to STRONG DISAGREE that the cost and commute is better on the PA side.

Not commenting on barn and trainer quality. They might be great. Lots of great pros out there. But responding to the commute and cost comments. It’s way more expensive to live and ride on the main line and the commute is much more onerous than Camden/Burlington County NJ.

I live in basically walking distance of Bit O Woods and commute into the city every day and I have no idea what construction/traffic is being referenced but it wasn’t anywhere on that drive?! Route 38 all the way there. Straight shot with no construction. Have lived here for nearly a decade. Can’t remember any construction on that route other than a one off thing here and there over the years.

And the toll over the Ben Franklin has been $5 for something like two decades?! So that toll hasn’t been going up.


I live and board in South Jersey and commute to West Philly most days of the week. The bridge tolls (at least for Ben, Walt and Barry bridges) have not gone up. But in the last couple of months the commute, especially in the AM, has been worse because of construction in W. Philly. We’re down to one lane coming off I-76 at Univ. City and one lane each direction on 38th St. But once the construction is done (I believe in mid-2024), the drive won’t be too bad. I’m mostly familiar with barns in Gloucester County and Salem County. Even during construction, in rush hour, I can get from W. Philly to Mullica Hill, NJ in 40 mins. I’m not aware of any big eventing barns, but there are amateur eventers in the area who lesson with the Chester County PA pros. I know of one pro who comes to local barns weekly. There are some small XC schooling venues in the area (like Country Haven in Woodstown), and venues like Fair Hill (MD), Carousel Park (DE), or Windurra (PA) are only about an hour away if you avoid rush hour.

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Someone already mentioned most of the big names who are further out the stops of the R5 which ends at Thorndale (so you can figure out what your home/train/work/barn commute could potentially be). In Malvern there is Susie Beale at Cairn O’Mount and Hillary Moses at Aliquippa.

Keep in mind that a lot of these folks close up shop and move south for the winter.

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Hi @alphamare4 feel free to DM me, I live locally and board/train at an eventing barn in Unionville.

Per google maps:

Unionville is 43.7 miles by the shortest route to UPenn and at 3am will take 40-50 minutes. At 5pm will take 55 minutes to 1 hour 20.

Lumberton is 29.3 miles by the shortest route to UPenn and at 3am will take 30-40 minutes. At 5pm will take 35-55 minutes.

I know it’s partially my pet peeve so consider this a vent to the universe and not directed at anyone in specific but EVERYTIME there’s a thread on Philly a bunch of people chime in suggesting Chester County and claiming: (1) the commute is a breeze and (2) NJ is just as bad or worse when that’s just NOT TRUE. YMMV but the commute from Center City to Malvern made me understand road rage. It really and truly did. I understood why people got out of cars and shot other people just based on doing that drive for a couple months. Meanwhile, you can zip over the Ben Franklin and be at Woodedge faster than you can drive 6 blocks in the city.

I lived in Center City (20th and Chestnut) and for a period of time had my horses in Malvern and then in Mullica Hill. My god, it’s so much easier, better, and cheaper in terms of the commute in NJ. It’s not even close. I’m not speaking to the quality of trainers, that’s a different question… but if you’re talking COMMUTE— no question it’s better/easier/cheaper to go to NJ.

The construction/traffic/chaos is on the DOWNSIDE of the BFB. It’s not in NJ. It’s in Philly. It’s not so much in Old City. It’s in Center City through University City. Which is why I think the sweet spot here is to live in Philly near the BFB, ride in NJ (parts of Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties are all within the 45 minute commuting range). Take the trolley or the el to the hospital.

Living in University City is chaotic and means you WILL FIGHT TRAFFIC going anywhere, anytime. Center City is just as chaotic, though a different type of chaos, and same thing re: the traffic. You want to live in Old City, that’s where things are way way less hectic and you’re close to the bridge. Being in the city and taking SEPTA to work is way better than trying to commute in from the suburbs on the regional rail. Lots of times of the day it’s one RR train per hour or maybe 2 per hour. Between the busses, el, and trolley you have SEPTA going nonstop all day and night. Much more flexible. Cheaper than RR too. Housing is cheaper in Old City than out on the main line. Boarding is cheaper in Southern NJ.

Most of the time the folks suggesting Chester County to people moving to Philly don’t actually have to do a regular commute back and forth 5 days/week and/or are basing their statements on what it was like 20 years ago when they did that commute. I lived in Atlanta too and I regularly pop into threads on barn recommendations in Atlanta and people are generally realistic about the commute. But not Philly threads. HOO BOY! Philly threads make me think everyone else must own a hovercraft other than me. Because people will be like “oh you can commute from Philly to Malvern in 30 minutes” and I’m thinking “only if you first invent time travel.” You can’t do that on a JET PLANE at 2am?!

Again, just take this as me screaming into the void but been there, done that (I was even at an eventing barn in NJ though I don’t event). The sweet spot for someone who works at Penn and has a horse is to live in Old City, board in the closest band of Southern NJ, and take SEPTA to work. I wish someone had told me that when I moved to Philly. Because I took the “oh you gotta board in Chester County” advice and that commute shaved years off my life.


Chester county is an eventing mecca. Terrain, schooling, trainers, competitions. It is a big county and the commute will vary considerably depending where you’re headed. There are lots of big name trainers but also lots of lesser known but very good trainers to get you into the upper levels. I’d recommend posting on Facebook Chester County Riders. Welcome to the area!


^^^ V knows what she is talking about! The drive to Philly is miserable. The train schedule is not ideal depending on what your schedule is for sure. Honestly the drive around Chester county is not a picnic with developers cramming houses on every empty lot they can find. Housing costs are ridiculous whether you are renting or buying.


I live in Philly, ride in Chester County, and fully endorse VXF111’s take on it. Down to the detail of Old City being the ideal neighborhood, if you can afford a place with parking. It’s also a nice neighborhood with a lot to do, but still pretty quiet if you’re north of Market. Quick el ride to University City, plus you’d be close to the river.

It takes me 50 minutes minimum from Fishtown (right at the 95 exit) to the barn in Chester County if there is zero traffic, typically an hour and 10 minutes, and longer anywhere near rush hour. It’s not a bad drive on 95 (not 76… Never 76…) but it’s long.


These were going to be my suggestions. You’re looking at less than 30 miles from Malvern to the hospital at Penn.

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I’m not much help with specific barn recommendations, but I used to commute to University City every day for work. I lived in Media, and had a horse at a private barn near Radnor Hunt. I was about 10-15 minutes to the barn, and 10 minutes from Elwyn station.

I would ride in the morning, then catch the regional rail from Media or Elwyn straight to University City. If I timed it right and got the express train to what is now Penn Medicine Station, I could do the whole trip in less than an hour. This was several years ago now, and it looks like many of the express options aren’t available any more.

For a while I had a horse in Unionville, and I can concur with the others that the distance from there to Penn is absolutely not a 45 minute commute. Keep in mind that parking in University City is also limited and expensive. As a postdoc I was not even allowed to get a parking permit near campus, so it was way easier to take the train.

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Lived in Manayunk, worked in Center City for over 10 years - and boarded everywhere from southern Chester County to northern Chester County. It is brutal no matter how you do it. I think NJ is a better commute. I would live somewhere convenient to PATCO, which runs much more frequently than any SEPTA line, and you’ll probably have a shorter commute to a barn.

I have a friend who is commuting 3 days a week (by car) to Penn from northern Montgomery county, so she has a few barns fairly close (although I can’t think of any eventing specific barns in that area). It’s been about 6 months of this commute and she is already losing her mind.

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Big PATCO fan here. Bigtime.

But if you live in NJ you have to do PATCO to SEPTA and while that’s not the END of the world and I still think is so much more pleasant than trying to figure to get out to the end of the main line from… anywhere in the planet, I do think the easiest option for someone who both has to get somewhere horsey and to UPenn is to live in Old City near a bridge. That way it’s just one mass transit system into work (SEPTA, and if you live in Old City likely a no transfer straight shot on the el) and then drive to the barn in NJ. Halla’s post reminds me that it doesn’t have to be the benny. Parts of Gloucester county are probably better from the Betsey Ross. But on the Philly side really near a bridge that goes to the right direction for the barn.

That’s the only way you could make me do it nowadays.

Been there, done that with living in the city. No thank you! :slight_smile:

I currently live in Lumberton. I have some horses at home and some at a barn less than 5 minutes away. When I have to go into the city I drive to Ferry, park there, PATCO to the city and then I am in Old City. This works for me because it’s one mass transit ride (PATCO) but I also work in Old City. When I would have to go to Drexel it would add an el ride on to that and sometimes that was kind of annoying.

So I say maximize being one mass transit ride away from work and a quick car commute to the barn in NJ.

That’s how I’d do it.

The trainer/barn options do seem to be pretty awesome in Unionville and I am not super up on who is in NJ, where they are, and how good they are. My advice is purely based on the least painful (and least expensive) commute.


My warning on this is, if the weather is bad the train gets sketchier and sketchier the further out you go. When my husband worked in Center City I can’t tell you how many times I had to drive to pick him up from Malvern (or closer to the city) because the train just wasn’t going to go further out. now grant you this was 2019 and we haven’t tried since (he works from home now) but man it sucked.