Where in the world should a amatuer go?

I very recently lost my first horse that I owned for about two months. I am sad because I barely got the chance to know her and she didn’t get the chance to teach me all of the things.

The loss of her was the tipping point to the fact that I need to leave Charlotte, NC. I am not very content in Charlotte, and feel like it’s not a great place for me to find a new horse and continue living here. So I am looking for suggestions on where you would go if you were in my shoes. I currently work at Amazon, which is very large and located in almost every major city, so I have the ability to move fairly easily. I would relocate to Aiken,SC, but the nearest locations are Charleston or Columbia, and commute wise I would not be able to find a close enough barn.
Some of the locations I am considering are Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, Greenville, S.C or Coumbia, SC. Most of the locations I would consider would be South East, no further Midwest than Chicago. I am not huge on Southern states past GA (family), I am open to Virgina. I will probably have to commute from the city to the barn, and would like the distance of the barn to be no more than 30 minutes from the city… I’ve considered Florida too, but I don’t know how the eventing communities are and how affordable of an option it would be. Would love opinions on the cities I listed or experiences in those cities.

Guide Lines:
What places do you recommend that are:

  1. year-round strong Eventing communities with good trainers
  2. near larger cities (with 30-45 minutes)
  3. have a reasonable cost of living
    Where would you go? Who do you recommend? Where are the barns with lesson programs that can help you find a new horse?

Cost of living wise:
$800 range in rent, I pay $1200 in rent now, but would like to get that down
Board range: $400-600 (facilities with indoors), I pay $400 now but could fluctuate with rent decreasing
*basically rent and board cost below 2k is ideal.
*I work 40-60 hours weekly, working off board isn’t a huge option and provides a need for an indoor or appropriately lit outdoor!

Amazon has multiple facilities in the Richmond VA area.

Aiken is 45 - 1 hr from Columbia depending on which side of Aiken you board at. I would say it is Eventing friendly year round. Tons of shows- whether eventing, dressage or sj, good number of trainers and facilities to school at. So much to do here that it’s sometimes hard to fit it all in.

With that budget, I’d say Florida is right out. I live in the panhandle which is generally cheaper than say Ocala or south FL. My rent is 1100, and nothing fancy, and my board is 600 and no indoor or covered arena. There are areas in FL that are more rural, think close to GA line but not near Atlantic coast, that are probably more affordable but will lack civilization.

I believe the Alpharetta GA area is very horsey, but I understand it’s a bit pricey as well. The convenience to Atlanta presumably drives the price up. I could be mistaken regarding the general costs.

I lived in Landrum SC for a while and regularly visited the Greenville area. Very horsey and lots of good riding spaces. I think it might be a bit more affordable.

Do you have an indoor at your current facility priced at $400? That sounds like a good deal.

Rule out Northern Virginia, unfortunately.

Aiken is pretty reasonable for prices and Columbia is generally 45m to 1 hr away. There is stuff to do year round in Aiken for eventing, dressage and show jumping, so much so, you can’t do it all. You won’t find many covered’s or indoors in the area, as the weather is pretty mild and sand is generally really good footing. If you do find a covered board facility it will be above your budget- again, you don’t really need it.

there are a number of boarding options and trainers in Aiken as well.

SE PA. No, I’m not a fan of winter and with my work, cannot go south for more than a week or so…but winter here really isn’t bad. As far as horses and eventing go…you cannot get better than this location unless you move to England. We have access to many top trainers, clinics etc. Even amateurs here are have a higher skill level than most pros in other locations. Most farms have big turn out on grassy fields for 3/4 of the year. Top vets, top farriers…plus its a great area to work. Metropolitan yet still country. You can get to a big city if you want or stay local. Amazon has several locations. Pretty sure they have big locations in Newark Delaware which is very very near and easy commute. Remember that in this area…you are near multiple states. I live in PA but work in Delaware and am 15 minutes from the boarder to MD. But there are lot of us amateurs here because we earn our livings outside of horses but still want a high level of support for our horses.

Your budget is tougher but you could find it if you went a bit further out. You may not be able to board at an indoor for 600…but you can find other options and usually ship to an indoor. People rent…you can find that range for sure but depends on where you go.


Chicago and Indy are going to be way out of the price range. You are probably best off finding someplace in SC/GA (not near atlanta or the coast). If you are willing to leave the east coast places like KY, OK, and TX have metros with quick access to the country and living expenses within the range you are paying now.


Indpls area could be carefully doable. Depends on which Amazon location, which side of town. Look up Indiana Eventing Association on FB. Huge membership, very active inclusive club. There are many clinics done year round, adult summer camps. In a normal year! Two recognized HTs, one runs with two 3 Days offered, one unrecognized HT held at the Hoosier Horse Park every summer. https://www.facebook.com/hoosierhorsepark/ Monthly schooling shows on the far north side at LAZ’s Come Again Farm. Lots of learning and contacts via volunteer opportunities. Easy interstate hauling distance to Louisville and Lexington, Chicago area, southern Michigan.

Budget is flexible— below 2k a month on board and rent.

Are there good trainers in the area? Which side of Indy would you recommend?

Where would you recommend in KY? That has been on my radar, just not sure where the eventing hot spots are.

ya I figured Florida wouldn’t be totally feasible. I’ll look into Alpharetta though. Greenville is a nice area, that budget wise I can make work— not sure if I can find the trainers though.

It is a small facility that’s a diamond in the rough.

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If I recall correctly, there is a fair amount of fox hunting going on around Greenville. Or just north of there. I would speculate that would increase the number of suitable horses in the area. Good luck!

Newnan Ga. Just south of Atlanta,.

The Lexington area has some excellent instructors.

From your wishlist, I’d say Lexington, KY is your best bet. Low cost of living compared to most eventing hotspots, many facilities have indoors/lights due to staying in KY over the winter instead of going south. You won’t get full year round eventing but there’s lots of ‘snowbird’ series that do school shows over the winter if you want to venture out. And the winters are not that bad most years.

Lots and lots of trainers. More people have relocated there over time, with Liz Halliday-Sharp being the most recent marquee name to base herself there for the summer. Allie Knowles is also a big name there, and I can recommend some really great smaller name trainers there (Megan Edwards, Stephanie Calendrillo, and Alexa Ehlers come to mind). If you have a trailer, you can almost certainly find a boarding situation that works for you and trailer over to indoors/lights or trainers when needed. If not, you might need to push your budget for board up but the lower rents make that possible. (Look into Merrick Place apartment complex, I lived there for a year in college and had an absolutely massive two-bed, two-bath for $800 circa 2006 with no real complaints if you don’t mind a little bit of dated look on the inside.)

Your commute to pretty much anywhere in Lexington is around 30 minutes, it’s not a huge city but you do get a really good city feel in the downtown. Plus you have Keeneland and KHP, a huge university presence which gives it a vibrant, youthful vibe.

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Indy is extremely affordable and has a great eventing community. Winter is a bummer but we have clinics and lots of groups go south for a week or two. Most of the eventing stuff is on the NE side of the city. Traffic is far easier to contend with in Indy compared to other cities.

I live, work, board and show in Aiken and it might be a good fit for you! There is stuff happening all year long and a handful of venues are all very close. There are plenty of reputable year round trainers here and a large group of big name trainers winter here as well. Lots of barns have boarding options as well that are affordable. Cost of living in Aiken is pretty close to what you are doing now with maybe a few more inexpensive options too. All the major cites are close too. Augusta and Columbia are close, and its about 2is hrs to Charleston, Atlanta and such.

From SE PA, second SE PA. Great trainers in all disciplines, tons of hidden gems of tack shops, amazing access to vet care, Philly is an extremely underrated city, you’re only three hours away from NYC, and even the most backyard of backyard facilities I was at before I moved had all of the amenities you could ask for. Plus CoL is still pretty low, especially if you want to go further out into say the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, or Lancaster County. I mean, the last time I went home to visit my folks who live in Bucks County, their neighbors up the street were renting out their whole three bedroom house for literally the same amount of money I pay for a 550 square foot one bedroom outside of Seattle.

Put it to you like this: if I ever move away from where I’m living now, I will only go back to PA. Not Florida, not SC, not Kentucky, only Pennsylvania.

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