New Mexico and Arizona, how do you like living there?

For those that live in either New Mexico or Arizona, how are these states for owing a farm and riding dressage? Pros and cons please.

How bad are the flies, bugs, snakes?


Cost to buy a nice farm already setup for dressage, say 15-30 acres? Nice=not about to fall to the ground, some fixing is fine, but horse ready to move in. Smaller house preferred.

Cost for barn help?

Cost of hay? What’s available?

Good farriers and vets? What are you paying for 2 shoes / 4 shoes?

Any particular area, counties, that you would recommend?

you need to add an inquiry regarding water rights as both states have limited available water which is assigned rights of use


I live in northern NM. Not too many flies or bugs, compared to more humid areas. Yes snakes, but not exceptionally snaketastic.

There isn’t a huge dressage community here, having only 2.5 million in the whole state.

Weather is pretty great, if you like sunshine and wind. But cold too, late freezes and hot winters.

Cost to buy a place is really location dependent. Along the Rio Grande, between Albuquerque and Socorro, then farther south in the Hatch area heading to Las Cruces is nice too. There’s a large (for us) population to the east of the mountains of ABQ (called the East Mountains) that has a lot of land, but its the start of the high plains, so lots of wind. Further south to Ruidoso here are lots of horse places, but many lean western/ ranching and there’s a significant racing population along the border.

Cost for barn help, expect to pay starting at $12-15 in the Santa Fe/ Abq area. Some cities have $15 an hour wages going into effect.

Lots of alfalfa is grown locally, more grass is grown up north. No Bermuda. There more teff and triticale, and some wheat and oats. I think hay runs about $8 a Small bale and up, but it’s water dependent. A few years ago there was a terrible drought and hay went up a lot. There will probably be limited water this year because there was so little snow.

There are good farrier and vets, but there just aren’t many. The state ag uni is in Las Cruces, and there’s a lot of racing in that area. This closest other vet school is CSU in Ft. Collins, Co, about a10 hour drive.

I only get trims, and I pay $60.

I will say that NM is very small for such a large area. There are only 2.5 million in the 5th largest state. I hear a lot of complaints about nothing to do and limited social events. We don’t have a lot of money, and there’s a lot of driving involved. I don’t even know if there’s a real saddle fitter in this state?

I think AZ has more money and thus a larger dressage population. But there a whole lot of trail riding and fantastic wild country that a dressage horse can explore!


For those that live in either New Mexico or Arizona, how are these states for owing a farm and riding dressage? Pros and cons please.

How bad are the flies, bugs, snakes?

I live in North Scottsdale/Rio Verde area and have for 3.5 years. I have horse property (house, barn & arena) in Desert Hills which I’ve owned since 2015. Prior to that I lived in the New River area for 16 years. All are horse focused areas in norther Maricopa county surrounding Phoenix.

I don’t find the bugs and flies to be as bad here as in places that get rain. Snakes, well, I’m not a fan and we do have them. I’m far less a shoot first, ask questions later type when it comes to snakes than when I first arrived 21 or so years ago; but, you do still have to be aware, very aware of rattle snakes.


Well except for the 3 months of summer I think the weather is pretty decent. I grew up in North Carolina with horses. I ride far more here than I ever was able to growing up in a nice climate. The summers can be brutal which s why we’re currently looking for a horse property in the northern part of the state to escape to during the worst of it. Still I’ve managed to breed/raise/train and show by adjusting my riding hours in the summer.

Cost to buy a nice farm already setup for dressage, say 15-30 acres? Nice=not about to fall to the ground, some fixing is fine, but horse ready to move in. Smaller house preferred.

Cost for barn help?

I’m afraid others will have to help you with that. I’m the barn help and the test dummy as well as all round trainer, rider, vet…you get the drift. My neighbor who has a large reining operation pays about $2000 a month for stall cleaners who clean 30 stalls twice a day FWIW.

Cost of hay? What’s available?

I’m paying about $14-15/bale of 100-120# bermuda depending on my provider. That includes delivery and stacking. You can get alfalfa for a little less and timothy (closer to 18/bale), teff (usually runs @1-2 higher than bermuda) as well as orchard grass shipped in if you desire.

Good farriers and vets? What are you paying for 2 shoes / 4 shoes?

There are good farriers and vets. We have some very good boarded surgeons in the area and a boarded therio guy who I’ve used and is a great guy (of course he’s a colleague of mine). I’ve had the same farrier for 15 years. He charges me $85 for a full shoe (set of 4) and $45 for a trim. He’s probably going to go up $5 due to the likelihood of gas prices continuing to increase.

Any particular area, counties, that you would recommend?

Depends on what you want. Pima (Tucson) and Maricopa (Phoenix) will probably offer you the most options for access to vets and farriers as well as riding venues (showing). Coconino is very nice if you want to stay out of the heat (Flagstaff). There’s a healthy dressage community in Maricopa (look up Arizona Dressage Association) and a pretty good nucleus in Tucson/Pima (Tucson Dressage Club). You don’t have to drive too long/far to get to San Diego and LA for some of their shows. ADA did just announce their cancellation of their shows in Flagstaff so I’m not too sure what, if any, dressage is happening there anymore.

Compared to the midwest, I found breeding/raising horses here to be less expensive though a total change in mindset coming from green pastures to the desert. You need less land to do as much or more. Land prices are sky rocketing. Taxes are less but water sources may become a big issue; so far, we’ve been lucky.

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Water is going to be a problem this year, for us anyway. The acquia managers have been preparing us for a short watering season.

Very true that both Arizona and New Mexico are pretty dang arid :slight_smile:

What to keep in mind is that eastern states (east of Texas except for Mississippi) follow the ‘riparian doctrine’ which permits anyone whose land has frontage on a body of water to use water from it.

Most western states follow the ‘prior appropriation doctrine’ which give water rights to whoever first puts water to beneficial use.

If you are buying land in any of the western states (including both Arizona and New Mexico), be very clear prior to purchase what your water rights are. Do not assume that you can pull from groundwater, wells, rivers, creeks, canals just because they are accessible to your property.

15-30ac out here (I live in AZ) will not be like the same 15-30ac you may be accustomed to in the east especially without irrigation and you will pay for that irrigation somehow.

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Not only ensure you have water rights, ensure you have water at all. Heavy usage means some wells are going dry, and there isn’t always water below that.

However, this is location dependant, too.

South of Albuquerque is where most horse places are. The closer to Socorro the less you pay, just because of the distance from ABQ. And the larger the parcels. A lot of land along the river has been parcels into smaller lots because people have been living here for 100s if not thousands of years.

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I live in Tucson and love it. I’m not a farm owner, so I can’t speak to many of these questions; however, there are schooling shows at various places and rated shows at the Pima County Fairgrounds. There are a few good dressage trainers, but it’s not like the East Coast. I wouldn’t say they are plentiful.

As for the weather, it is fabulous here October-beginning of May. Summer sucks, but most people just get up very early and ride before it gets hot. It took a lot of programming for me to accept getting up wicked early, but it is actually very nice and peaceful at 5:30 am. It’s just a way of life in the summer here. There are virtually no bugs. Yes, there are snakes, but I’ve only actually seen two in 12 years.

In terms of general living advice, I prefer Tucson to Phoenix. I think it has a lot more character, and it is significantly less expensive, although there are some high-priced areas in the Foothills. Depending on where your trainer is, you probably want to either be on the NW side or the E/SE of town. Those are the main horsey areas. If you don’t mind being rural, about an hour out of town, Sonoita is gorgeous. It is at a higher elevation than Tucson and is about 7-10 degrees cooler, plus there is grazing. It is more “prairie”-like than desert.

For a very good farrier, I pay $120 for four steel shoes. There are good vets in town, but for surgery, you have to go to Phoenix, about 1.5-2 hours away.

I don’t know if you travel out of state to shows, but SoCal (San Diego) is 6-6.5 hours away. People go for the weekend, believe it or not. (I’m from Connecticut where you don’t have to travel more than 2.5 hours to get to a major city or the mountains, and the ocean was on my doorstep. The thought of driving that far for a weekend shocks me!)

There is only one tack shop that I know of and that’s near the showgrounds in Phoenix. They’re meh. There are plenty of feed stores in town, though, where you can get generic supplies.

If you plan on visiting, I’d be glad to show you around.

I live in the Southern part of NM (originally from the Northern part). Can’t say I love it here because I don’t. It’s very dry, you likely will have a dry lot for your horses, we do. In a few areas you may have irrigation rights, if so then you’ll have pastures. I don’t know where you are currently located but for me the prices of property is high but that is a relative thing. Properties already set up for horses are few, and basic shelters (a roof) is pretty standard for what is a barn. We are fortunate to have two great equine clinics near by (Tularosa and Ruidoso) with great vets and surgical capabilities. Farriers are harder to get if you want a good one, mine charges $150 for trims on 3 horses. Hay if you buy at the feed store is $17.99 for 3 strand alfalfa and $18.99 for grass, cheaper if you go get it from the field. Not much around here for dressage, plenty of roping and barrel racing. Forget lessons and trainers if you ride English (though I do think there may be 1 or 2 in El Paso, TX and NO tack shops if you want English equipment. Weather is hot and the wind blows a lot, dust storms are plentiful, forget a clean house, winters are cold and there is snow occasionally. Flies are bad, we’ve had a few snakes, scorpions and lots of black widow spiders. General shopping is lacking as is good health care. Many go to AZ if they need surgery.


Also, if you want to live in the Sonoran Desert area or the like, climate change is hitting us too. Summers are getting hotter each year, it seems. It is getting too hot for the Saguaros, they suffer heat-related cellular damage, and then a black bacterial necrosis sets in and the thing tumbles.

Just a word… If you see a cactus with that black necrosis, don’t touch it. That bacteria can infect humans and to my knowledge, there’s no cure for it in humans.

Edit: Many folks send their horses up north to higher elevations for the summer due to the heat.

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Can you cite your sources for the above information?

Bacterial necrosis in saguaros is most commonly caused by Erwinia cacticida. I am not aware that this bacteria is transmittable to people. Most bacteria enter cacti, as they do with other living plants and animals, through wounds. Yes, saguaros in the wild can fall prey to bacterial necrosis. One of the more common causes of bacterial necrosis in saguaros transplanted into the urban landscape is they may be planted to deeply. Root tissue is more suited to dealing with soil pathogens than stem (above ground) tissue.

What is the ‘heat related cellular damage’ that you refer to? What did impact many cacti this past summer is the very high heat at night. Cacti are one plant that perform CAM, or Crassulacean Acid Metabolism, photosynthesis. Most plants perform photosynthesis during daylight hours opening their stomata. CAM plants have adapted to create the sugar malate at night when their stomata are open. During the day, that malate is released and converted into useful energy by the plant (greatly oversimplified). This allows plants like cacti to minimize transpiration and loss of moisture because the stomata are open at night and not during the day. Pretty cool if you ask me :slight_smile: However, above a certain temperature, stomata will not open and this impacted many plants’ ability to create energy.

FWIW, and not relevant unless you have a large saguaro in your landscape :), if it becomes infected with bacterial necrosis, it should be taken down by a profession as soon as possible. Saguaros can weigh many tons and this last year there were more than few examples where an infected saguaro collapsed… onto driveways, sidewalks, cars (yours or the neighbors), homes.


Cactus wellness tips in Phoenix Arizona | The Cactus Doctor

I’ve spoken to Rilee personally, although not recently; he worked with us on a project once.

The man has a doctorate in cactus and works on them regularly. in photos, notice the redness of his skin? That’s from a condition caused by contact with the necrosis. The reason he puts scrubs on is to prevent further contact. He has to put some sort of Rx cream on to keep it in check.

Just kind of curious as the link you referenced made no mention of a ‘Rilee’ and doesn’t show any photos of anyone with red skin.

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Rilee is the Cactus Doctor. That is his website. If you don’t want to look around for the pictures that’s up to you but they are there.

If you don’t believe me, that’s up to you. If you want to prove me wrong by taking a bath in the necrotic stuff, go ahead. I’m just trying to help. I’m not trying to argue.

But if you do take that bath, I will not be held responsible for any damages.

Actually, I did look for both the name ‘Rilee’ and photos and could find nothing on the site you linked to.

While it may be possible that a plant pathogen could infect a human, it is unlikely.

I do not plan on taking a bath in the black gunk from the bacterial necrosis and even if I did, why would I hold you liable?

I do know there are plants that do have toxic sap (not a pathogen) that can make animals ill and can irritate the skin FWIW.

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A more general search of the internet yields that the gentleman’s name is Rilee LeBlanc. He has Degree in Horticulture (Degree type unspecified) from the University of Dubai.—phoenix-arizona

FWIW, I am also a credential holder of the Desert Landscape School offered through the Desert Botanical Garden.

I still do not see his name associated with the web page and the last copyright year is from 2017.