Tell me about Augusta, GA

Full disclosure: nothing will probably come of this.

But my husband’s job has the potential to send him there.

I was 0% interested, but seeing how close it is to Aiken has me a little intrigued.

GA has always seemed to be a fairly horse friendly location to me.

One thing that is a MAJOR priority for me is horse services. Access to good vets, farriers, other practitioners, feed stores, hay suppliers, etc. I have found access subpar in several places I lived, namely Nashville, TN and Austin, TX. Currently live in MD and it is horse heaven. I don’t want to lose this level of access.

Also, the plan would be to buy a small horse property (I only keep 3-5 at a time). How hard is that in both this insane market and normal times? What areas are the good horsey areas and are there any areas to avoid?

Augusta itself isn’t super horsey, but it’s so close to Aiken that you should be able to easily access any amenity there. I used to live in Aiken and drove to Augusta for some PT work and kept my horse on the Windsor/Williston border. On bad traffic days it would take me about a half hour to get from Aiken to Augusta. Really not a bad commute at all.

While the prices in Aiken itself are a bit “steep” (not compared to MD or NE prices, mind you), if you expand outside of Aiken’s satellite you’re basically in the country. Lots of dirt cheap land for sale, not too many amenities without a 20m drive, and poverty.

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Thanks @beowulf!

A cursory Zillow search shows that real estate is about the same, price-wise, as it is here. But there are more options and just about all of them are horse ready with actual horse facilities. Around here, for our budget, “horse ready” generally means useable land with cheap fencing and maybe a shed. I noticed a lot of these properties listed there are up over 100% increase in price, which is not unusual anywhere in this market but still concerning. Real estate taxes are actually listed as considerably higher than here, which is surprising. Everyone talks about how expensive MD is, but it’s really only bad in the populated areas.

ETA: the properties I was looking at were on the SC side. There wasn’t much listed in our budget on the GA side until you got pretty far out, then they were dirt cheap, but seemed like it would be a non horsey area.

I’m over in Columbus but visit Aiken yearly. (Well… not this past year.)

Augusta is ~2 hrs to the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital and in times past, that was where you’d have to go for major surgery. I think Aiken now has a surgical clinic but double check, I’ve heard various things, that it’s only open some days, etc. My info could be entirely out of date.

That kind of thing is what makes horse keeping in rural Georgia difficult. Where I live, I’m an hour from Auburn and not that much closer to my regular vets.

Thanks @wsmoak!

That is what was so frustrating about both TN and TX (I actually wouldn’t even keep my horses in TX because of it). I do not like owning horses like that. Two hours to a major hospital with surgery and specialists is about my limit, so long as there are good equine vets to do farm calls and emergency calls. I learned the hard way in adulthood that not all regions have equine vets who do farm calls or offer emergency services.

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It probably depends on the area. I am on the north side of Aiken county (definitely out of the city limits) and the taxes on my house/acreage aren’t that bad. There are horse properties that are much closer to town. I don’t know where the boundaries are, but if you are in the city limits and have to pay city taxes too (not just county) then I’m sure the tax bill could be pretty high.

That makes sense @ravenclaw. The first few properties I clicked just north and east of the GA/SC line has me gasping at how high the taxes were. But then the cheaper/lesser properties south and west of Augusta had the taxes listed as almost nothing.

I’m not familiar with the area at all, though two of the instructors I ride with semi-frequently winter in Aiken.

Throwing this out there to everyone: is Aiken remaining just as popular for snowbird competitors? I only ask because it seems like more and more people are heading to FL these days…

I don’t know what MD taxes are like, but Aiken taxes on some horse properties were 10% of my Chicagoland horse property taxes! I was looking 2 weeks ago online and I saw taxes under $2000 a year. I also searched Augusta and it was hard to tell if acreage = horses ok or not.

The ones I clicked on in SC between Augusta and Aiken were $4k-6.5k per year for horse ready farmettes with nice homes. Similarly valued properties where I am in MD would be less than $4k annually.

But as I expanded my search into the rural areas well beyond either town, the taxes dropped (as did the cost of homes). But the properties were the typical properties you see in any poor, rural area. I’ve learned the hard way in my life that poor, rural areas might have cheap land, but they generally don’t have much in terms of horse services.

I am still kind of intrigued by this prospect. I’m not sure I’m ready to move that far south again, though. I really enjoy where I live, though the real estate market has me very frustrated at the moment. Maybe I’ll tag along when my husband goes down to his company’s offices.

What discipline? There are plenty of eventers there over the winter, for example Boyd Martin seems to winter at Stable View. A friend of mine usually goes for a week or two in late January and does two shows in Aiken then sometimes goes over to Pine Top. The parking lots are always full.

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Well, for anyone but specifically the large number of eventers who winter there.

I’m not asking because I care about shows or training. I’m asking because my fear is quality services will evaporate if Aiken stops becoming a destination.

I might be worrying about nothing. I just have PTSD from living with piss poor vet care for many years.

When I show, which is infrequently these days, I do low level eventing and dressage. Two of the instructors I take lessons with already winter in Aiken, so not much would change for me. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if either of them said, “we’re going to Florida next winter.” One of them has an adult daughter who has already moved her winter base to Ocala

I am very much out of the Aiken horse loop (I don’t have a horse now and I’m not riding now) but I don’t think you have to worry about good services going away. There are many barns and trainers/riders and horses here year round.

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More eventers are going to FL but Aiken is not about to dry up. There is a very lively scene there year round, for race horses, foxhunters, polo players, and yes, eventers.

If you need a vet rec - I cannot recommend Dr Carter enough. Dr Brett Gaby also will spend a few weeks there following his clients in the winter and is an excellent sport horse vet.

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I know 5 people actively a part of Club Aiken! Ain’t nobody got the time or money to drive, stable, and show in Florida .

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Thank you! Totally not ready to start calling vets yet. :joy:

But who is best for when Abby strangles herself with bubble wrap at 2 am, severing 3 or 4 vital organs in the process?

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It’s HOT and MUGGY. Like, hot. Very humid and hot. Did I mention hot?

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Yeah, that’s a given that doesn’t particularly excite me…

But how is it if you don’t plan to ride in June, July, or August? That’s why I’m thinking about Aiken: show in the winter, take the summer off. Versus too cold for 2-3 months, nice for 2 months, too hot for the 3 months when all events are…

As of 3 years ago Aiken was still very much a horse destination. I highly recommend the area if you want to live in the south and be around horses. Augusta is only about 30 min from Aiken and there’s good horse property in between. Check out the fox hollow subdivision; I lived there for about 8 months and it was fantastic. Great neighborhood.

There’s a lot of shows there, even their schooling shows tend to be really high quality. Lots of good trainers and I believe 2? Feed stores.
I used Eric Fox for my farrier and highly recommend. Like to the point he’s probably the best farrier I have ever used.
The vets I used down there were fine, but I wasn’t there for long enough (or gone through any emergencies) to really test them.
The town of Aiken is cute. The trail riding is great.

Augusta is still a bit sad but is an up and coming city. In the downtown area you will find upscale taco shops and trendy Thai eateries next to tux shops with bars on the windows and places advertising $10 wigs. But I never felt in danger there. I just probably wouldn’t live on the Georgia side.

The only major issue is that the closest vet with a capacity to deal with emergency surgery is in the tryon area, or up by Atlanta. There are some vets that will do minor operations (foal umbilical surgery, nerving, bone chip removal, etc) but I don’t think anyone does colic surgery. Southern Equine Service does have a full operation room, but I’m not sure they offer emergency surgery.

I rode all summer. I’d ride in the mornings; it wasn’t too bad. There are AA shows year round. I actually found it more comfortable than in NC because there was more of a breeze and even though it was more humid it actually wasn’t as hot.

I still got off every ride and sat in the air conditioned tack room for 20 minutes between rides.