Friday, July 31, 2015

6 West Coast Facts for East Coast Riders

For your convenience, I include a map.
I was reading this article on Eventing Nation yesterday, and one quote in particular struck me as so funny that I sent it to local friends to share the laugh. Here's the quote about a rising young pro:

"Beau is now renting stalls at Harry Smith’s Homestead Farms in Harrisburg, due west of all the action out in Unionville but at a significantly lower price due to the more affordable cost of living in the southcentral part of the state. And with a big chunk of the state’s eventing professionals clustered in Unionville, he’s also one of the only actively competing pros in the Harrisburg area."

Chortle.

That's right, folks--1 hour and 42 minutes counts as some sort of bold career move to a remote and far off place.

Now, no disrespect intended to the pro in question--I'm sure he's a perfectly great guy who turns mules into unicorns, but c'mon west coasties. You have to admit you're laughing at least as hard as I am.

TWO HOURS? Since when did that count as "far away"? That's borderline "stay in my own house and skip the camping/hotel at a show" territory.

But I digress.

Instead, here are some fun facts about equine sports on the west coast that are completely lost on those of you from the other side of our wold.

actual road sign
1. Stuff is far apart. Like, way. I live in Idaho. There is one recognized event in this state. It is farther away from me than several that are out of state. Let me explain: it is an 8 hour drive away. EIGHT. I don't know how to emphasize that. It's farther than the closest event, which is a cushy 6 hours down the road in Utah.

Distance is relative. I think of fellow blogger Pony Express as being relatively close and I suspect we'll meet up eventually.

OH YEAH SHE LIVES 9 HOURS AWAY.

AND THAT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY CLOSE.

pretty much
2. Because stuff is far apart, actually competing is WICKED EXPENSIVE. Think about it. Any time one of us wants to show, you load up the ponies and ALL YOUR SHIT, pay for 8+ hours of diesel, and then arrive. Now you either have to camp (we'll get to this later) or pay for a hotel. You either have to be a kickass food packer or eat out (or starve, which is what I do). It's not like you can scoot off for a little combined test. Tack a minimum of 12 and really more like 20 hours on to whatever time you were planning on showing.

Now can you do all that, drive through the night, and still make it to work on Monday? More than once a year?

Rebecca Farm photo by Redheadlins
3. Flora and fauna is not what you're expecting. For example, lots of event horses in the west compete very successfully barefoot.

Why?

Because deserts, yo. Expect lots of scrub brush, sandy soil, and OH YEAH NO SHADE EVER. Toss in desert-level temps (95-110 in the summer), plan on absolutely zero shade and then tell me you're camping.

I always see pictures of East Coast horses galloping through trees on slick looking grass and think "no wonder they use studs". I mean, we certainly do, but yeah, not as big a deal most places.

rig
4. Rig size and type are totally different. Think about it--the 4 horse head to head is pretty much the holy grail of the East Coast rig. (Are they called rigs out there? I dunno.) I mean, they're convenient to load, safer for horses, very roomy, practically a mobile cross ties unit and a fantastic show home base.

I have seen precisely one of those out here and it is used primarily as a "run around town" trailer by a local trainer.

Why?

OH YEAH THEY'RE FREAKING HUGE. Which like. If 2 hours is a "long" drive for you, who cares? But when you're going 17 hours one way TO CAMP AT A 100 DEGREE show, you need living quarters. You need the smallest rig you can manage so the fuel doesn't completely bankrupt you. You need to stuff your trailer to the gills with friends' horses (gas split!) and picnic lunches and really, the 4 horse h2h doesn't come out well in this battle.

Nope.

might be better off on horseback
5. Travel is... sketchy. And none of that even includes the fact that what passes as a "road" out here is frequently described as a "goat trail" by green horns. Not kidding. Things that are marked on maps can be (with no written warning) a single-track dirt road with a cliff on one side and drop off on the other with no guard rail and no turn around for miles.

So yeah, don't trust that gps too much unless you want to die. Not even kidding. It's much more of a "survival of the fittest" out here.

photo via Cottonwood Ranch
6. We laugh at your hills. 

Heartily. They don't even count. Plz don't call them mountains or we will laugh harder.

Ok west coasties. What did I miss?

50 comments:

  1. Never complaining about driving over an hour to a show ever again... The West sounds terrifying. I'm staying over here by the Atlantic ocean... forever...

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  2. I'm laughing so hard at these right now! Amazing!

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  3. Not going to lie, I miss living on the east coast a lot!

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  4. As a Washingtonian, I am giggling at this post. I'm not sure Washington is quite as bad as Idaho though. Preach it!

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  5. I'm from New Mexico and just kept nodding and giggling along as I read. A common theme when I was showing.. "Oh, where are you showing this weekend?" "Just popping up to Denver." Denver is an eight hour drive, and totally a weekend trip. Ahhh... the wild west. Don't forget having to have a truck that can actually haul your rig through the mountains (Raton Pass, I'm lookin' at you).

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    1. So true!! Completely spaced including truck size. We name some stretches of road because they're so tough...

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  6. All I have known is the land of the desert. Maybe all of the dehydration makes us crazier?

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  7. I have only one thing to say. I heart NJ.

    (Okay two things. You're very dedicated.)

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  8. Oh yeah, I hear you! Oklahoma isn't a huge improvement, although we have one recognized event that's 2 hours away from. All of the others are 6 hours at minimum, to Texas, Kansas, Colorado, or Louisiana!

    I miss Tennessee. :'(

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    1. Gahhh, can I trade you Tennessee for me going back to Idaho? The heat suuuuucks!

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  9. Wow. I don't think I could motivate myself to horse show if it was going to take an 8 hour drive to get there, and that's not even taking cost into account at all. I have about a 2 hour attention span when it comes to driving, anymore than that is too much.

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  10. OMG this is hilarious and so true. I live in CA where a drive to LA isn't bad from where I live (6 hours). When I was on the east coast last fall, in 6 hours we drove through a total of four states!

    The last part about the hills is great though. I commonly had that argument with a friend in PA who said he lived by a "mountain". I'm like no...that is a hill!

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  11. Hahahha great post!! Luckily in So Cal I'm closer to events than you are. I will say that our west coast weather is better than the east coast and more conducive to year-round riding. Also no hurricanes and minimal tornadoes.

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    1. Of course,k you could also do some serious educating about what turnout looks like in a high population density desert. ;-) Or fencing.

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    2. Yeah in the areas where people live: no turn out, nothing green 9 months out of the year, sometimes the ground is too HARD to school.

      Upsides: tee shirts in February, produce.

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  12. You just cemented it - I am never leaving the east coast!

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  13. I think the solution to all of the above is that you need to move East :)
    Come join us!!!

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    1. PS. As a Bostonian, I highly endorse your use of the word 'Wicked'. See? You're practically a Masshole already :)

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    2. I guess I need to do a follow up post on what's awesome about the west, cuz no thank you to moving east. ;-)

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  14. When I saw the map, I thought, where the hell is that?!?!?! That's no where west that I know.

    But yeah. Far. Everything is far away. And dry and brown and hot. I drive FIVE hours round-trip for a 45 minute lesson.

    Granted, here in CA things CAN be close, especially if you live where Sarah is - there are lots of shows in her area. But people on the west coast think nothing of driving 6 hours to see something - anything.

    And mountains, yeah ... those aren't mountains on the east side. Sorry, folks. It's not a mountain until it's approaching at least five to six thousand feet, and even then it's a SMALL mountain. Whitney's just a few hours from here. THAT's a mountain.

    I will say that I see EVERY kind of trailer imaginable her in CA: teeny tiny one-horse Brenderups to massive 10 horse behemoths. I am in a 3-horse living quarters trailer with good ground clearance. Small enough to squeeze through tight spaces, high enough for ranch road clearance, and comfy enough to live in for a week (which I've done).

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  15. Haha. Too funny! We also only have 1 recognized event in Oregon. Granted it does happen to be about 30 minutes from my house, so that's nice. And we did just drive home from Rebecca and arrive (to the barn) at 1:15am. Luckily I already had Monday off. :) Also, I do think of you as being close too!

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  16. ....still laughing....! You hit this! Let's also mention, no black flies in the west!!!

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    1. I actually don't know what black flies are. I've never been east in bug season.

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  17. yeeeeeesh.

    Friends of mine worked in CO for a couple summers and remarked at how squished and closed in they felt when they came back. I can't imagine how awesome that openness feels.

    Also - *Pats the Appalachians. It's okay guys, age will do that to ya.

    And, I think I'll stop whining about how "far away" are the Kentucky Horse Park, Indiana Horse Park, and East Coast events.

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  18. Thanks for writing this! I live in Northern California, out in the "boonies" lol. Luckily I'm not in the middle of nowhere(I don't live on Highway 6, the epitome of middle of nowhere), but things are certainly far away. The nearest city is only 40 minutes away, so not bad. And yes, it is desert. I watch Rolex and wonder what it is like to have, you know, grass that is actually green year round. A dream that will never come true here. Your post is 110 per cent accurate!

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    1. 40 miles I mean. And is close.

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    2. Yes- green pastures would be such a treat!

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  19. Haha, here on the East Coast, almost two hours and you're talking a whole new riding circuit. And Harrisburg is significantly cheaper to live in than Unionville. East side of PA is redonkulously expensive, middle isn't too bad, west is cheapest (I live in Western PA).

    I knew stuff on the West Coast is pretty far out. My team here at work joked about relocating to Tacoma in an effort to avoid -10 again this winter, but while the weather would be better, all I could think was, "And how far do I have to travel to go to a show? Or a recognized show?" I was pissed that the 3 recognized shows I usually go to that are held about 2.5 hours away from the barn were cancelled this year, forcing me to drive 4-5 hours to something in eastern PA or MD or VA. That's nothing compared to the drive you guys make! Kudos to you, but I'm glad I live over here on the East Coast!

    I also agree that it looks like you should move east!

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  20. I love this! I feel guilty for being a 'boring' blogger and not getting out much...but it is seriously a big expensive adventure every time. We're northwest of you in BC and have the added joy of a ferry ride to anywhere, so although the Vancouver area does have a few events it's an overnight trip for sure!

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    1. If I had to piddle around with a ferry, I don't think I'd ever leave the house again.

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  21. Moving east from Indiana means I get to laugh at people all the time. Did you know people don't go ride their horse daily because the drive is an hour?

    ONLY AN HOUR?!

    In Indiana it was 4 hours round trip to see my trainer at her farm. It was 3 hours one way to the "local" show. 4 hours to the next closest. "That's a long way" was seriously relative. Here people think I'm nuts for thinking 2 hours is an easy morning trip.

    There are some rather big hills here, though. And it's real easy to get lost. I miss places where streets are all laid out in grids.

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    1. Also, driving down a rural road yesterday, some guy in an Altima PULLED OVER because he didn't think the road was wide enough for my tiny Subaru and his mid sized car.

      Please.

      Dude. In Indiana I'd drive my horse trailer past a garbage truck on a road this size and neither of us would have even slowed down. Hahahaha

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  22. Ahaha I totally get you, except that the bay area is kind of a dressage mecca so I'm completely spoiled. Within an hour I have 5 show facilities that run rated shows regularly. Two hours that number doubles, three hours it's insane the number of shows I could do. And trainers, I have my pick of about 5-10 S judges to ride with. Three of which have barns within 30-40 minutes of me.

    Eventing around here is pretty good too I think, but not as good as dressage.

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    1. Eventing in the bay is cushy too...Woodside, Camelot, Woodland, Fresno, Twin Rivers Horse Trials are all an easy commute (all within a 3 hour drive or less from the East Bay). Then you trek 8-10 hours to get to Galway, Copper Meadows and the occasional long haul to Innavale or Rebecca Farms.

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  23. The sad lack of tack stores. I visit tack stores every time I go back to the east coast. It's so nice to actually be able to try things on and not just guess and buy on the internet. And there are lots of them. And they're big. I also miss cheap gas. Maybe Idaho is cheap, but CA is not.

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    1. Another glaring omission on my part. Any time I travel, I go to tack stores.

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    2. Ugh, yes, I want a dover store! We now only have one real english tack store nearby, two have shut down in the last few years.

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  24. I'd say this definitely rings so true for living in the West! Basically sums up my experience of trying to ride english in Nevada. Lol.

    However, I had a complete east coast experience living in Seattle which is definitely part of the West Coast. :)

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  25. I now feel bad about bitching at driving 1.5 hours for a schooling show. It was mostly because I needed a bathroom and I couldn't stop because my GPS couldn't find the farm and I didn't dare lose sight of the trailer (a 4 horse h2h, btw). My next show is 45 minutes away. I adore New Hampshire because we can show almost every weekend without driving more than 2 hours and a lot of those are sanctioned shows.

    On the flip side, frickin' bugs! Big enough to carry us off! Mi papi looks like a pinapple still and it's the end of July! I'll trade the driving for being able to leave the indoor ring without being sucked dry in five minutes flat.

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  26. Having lived on both the west coast (Washington, California, Oklahoma) and east coast (Georgia, S. Carolina, Ohio and now New York) I totally get this. I love the west coast and particularly Washington for many reasons but you just listed most of the reasons I also hated it. :) I think if I end up back out that way I'll just stick to trail and pleasure riding!

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  27. You didn't even touch on mountain lions (seen tracks while riding), bears (seen those too), rattlesnakes (legion), coyotes (lots and lots), lightning (six deaths in our mountains this year), thunderstorms (daily), sudden and unpredicted snow storms (in July), prairie dog holes that will swallow your horse's leg, no water (even when marked on the map) or too much water (flash floods are common) and sketchy directions at best (I once did a 97 point turn at the edge of a drop off at 1 in the morning - shit gets real at that point.)

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    1. Yeah those are just such a normal part of life that I didn't think to include them. It does change the way you ride a bit.

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  28. Your mountains might be taller, but after living for 6 years in FL, our East Coast "hills" are still mountains, sorry! ;) Yours are taller but ours have been around for a lot longer. I also really enjoy not having to worry about a snow storm in July! (Don't know if that's an issue in Indiana but we got to experience that in WY one year...) And no grizzly bears in our region is a wonderful thing. I would never venture outside of an arena if we had those out here...

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    1. Omg. No. Indiana in July is pretty much like DC on July. Sticky and disgusting. With 1000x more corn.

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    2. And I've seen pictures of the mountains you were riding in when you did OD, and I have to agree - they are mountains!

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    3. Thank you Saiph.

      The Blue Ridge Mountains were taller than the Rockies at one point... comparable to the Alps now. I think all the continents were still connected then though lol. ;D

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  29. I once did an event in Vermont in the morning, drove back down through New Hampshire and Massachusetts to get to my barn in Rhode Island, then drove back up through Massachusetts and New Hampshire to Maine to attend a family event. It took about 6.5 hours of driving time. Hooray, New England!

    Vermont has proper mountains, though!

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  30. Jesus H Christ, I grew up in Rhode Island and we would pack an overnight bag if something was more than 30 minutes away. 30 minutes away meant you had left the state and were probably halfway across the next one over. If something was 2 hours, go ahead and pack a duffle because that is a full weekend trip.

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  31. I could never live on the west coast. Nope, couldn't do it.

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  32. haha i kinda love this post - definitely stuff i hadn't thought about..... but even more i love how spoiled we are here on the east coast (and particularly maryland, seeing as we grow horses here*). so many of the challenges you listed aren't even considerations here. i'm literally MINUTES from professionals of the highest caliber and all sorts of schooling and inexpensive showing options. guess i should be a little more appreciative? {*actual local motto lol}

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