Sarah at A Soft Spot for Stars started a blog hop asking where we live and what keeping horses is like in our area. Since complaining about living here is a favorite hobby of basically every resident of Silicon Valley, I was all over this one.
But first, let me preface this post by saying that I am incredibly fortunate and this entire post is basically a treatise in first world problem. I shouldn’t complain so much, but I do.
The San Francisco Bay Area is divided up into sections. I technically live in the South Bay, but we’re right on the Peninsula border. While the entire bay area is expensive, crowded, and a traffic nightmare, the different sections are very different. The East Bay actually has a lot of horse facilities and much more reasonable prices. If you travel down to Gilroy, there are more horse farms and prices get cheaper again. However the East Bay and Morgan Hill/Gilroy areas are very far away from my husband’s job and the temperatures are terrible. The ocean and bay have a very serious effect on temperature and where we live, in Cupertino can be a serious 10-20 degrees cooler in the summer than East Bay/Gilroy. San Francisco can actually be 60 degrees in the summer while the East Bay is baking at 100+.
Housing prices in the Bay Area are astronomical, especially in the Peninsula and the bordering towns. The median rent in Cupertino is $4,000. Even a 1-bedroom apartment will rent for over $2,000. The median cost of a 2 bedroom condo/house is $1,000,000. With housing and land being at such a premium, horses cost a lot.
There are almost no barns in Cupertino. In fact, I’m fairly sure there is only 1 boarding barn technically in the Cupertino and it’s run by a crazy man. Our own barn is 5 minutes down the road in an unincorporated part of San Jose. There are a few more boarding barns in Saratoga, which is about 5 miles from our house. There are more stables in Woodside and south San Jose, but traffic makes them impossible to board at. I can get to Woodside in 15 minutes without traffic. With traffic, it takes an hour. Because everyone here has flexible hours, rush hour lasts from 6am to 10:30am and then from 2:30-8:00. As I do not want to spend 2 hours round trip driving just to ride, I have about 5 barns to choose from. (There are some scattered private/back yard barns in the area, but there are only the few boarding barns).
Pasture board isn’t really an option around here. There are some places further away that offer pasture board, but most of the board in my immediate area is paddock board. The one place I know of that offers pasture charges $305. However, I’ve talked to them in the past and they have a long waiting list for pasture board.
Stall Board ranges from $500 to $1000. The lower rates don’t include stall cleaning as most places are self-care. But full-care starts around $700. None of these will include turnout. If turnout is available, it’s usually an extra charge and the horse will be turned out in a 20×40 paddock for an hour or so. Pasture turnout isn’t a thing that exists around here so far a I know.
At the moment, none of the barns in my immediate range offer full training, but the costs in the surrounding area range from $600-$1500 not including board.
Training/lessons run $50-$150. We had a hard time finding good quality lessons without having our own horses though. The expectation is that you’ll own or lease.
Hay is about $15-$25 per bale. The $15 price is really only if you’re buying a truckload order and even then can be hard to find. Most hay is about $20.
Trims can be had for about $40 and I don’t know what shoeing costs because I don’t do that.
Weather: It only rains in the winter and never in the summer. This makes for great summers, but miserable winters. Most barns don’t have covered or indoor arenas since they aren’t necessary most of the year. It rarely gets below freezing in the winter and never snows, though I have grown weak from living here and now think I’m going to freeze to death anytime it’s below 60. In the summer, it’s supposed to be nice and temperate, but the last few years have been very hot. It’s still cooler where we are than other parts of the Bay Area, which I am very thankful for.
I think the worst part of living here – aside from the astronomical costs of owning or renting a home – is the lack of horse culture. There’s one small tack store, but I generally have to get all of my stuff online. We have some local shows, but not a lot. We mostly end up driving a lot to get to horse shows. Even our local horse park rarely has events that we can attend. They often have only one show per weekend in the summer and divide those between H/J, Dressage, Eventing, Western, and other random shows so it’s hard to get consistent showing done. Dressage people have a bit more luck, but I don’t show dressage and even that I feel like there’s less available than I remember on the East Coast.
I think I might be more okay with this if I hadn’t grown up on the east coast where there were multiple horse shows to choose from every weekend and multiple tack stores to shop from. Most of all, I hate that we cannot afford our own property here. We could buy an entire horse property with an indoor arena back on the East Coast for less than it would cost to buy a condo here. We could only afford to live her by moving so far away that our commute would take 90 minutes each way.
It is really freaking pretty here though. And I’ll miss that.