Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Location, Location, Location: ASSFS Blog Hop

It's been so miserably cold here that I have not been riding so I can really use the content boost. But  I wasn't sure I should write this during the cold snap and come off bitter about where I live...

Sarah of A Soft Spot for Stars started this fabulous blog hop. It's been fascinating to read about weather and cost differentials (except trims, apparently we all basically pay the same).


I live in Central Alberta, Canada, within commuting distance of Edmonton. The county I live in one of the highest horse/capita areas in the country (the highest is the area surrounding Calgary).

Agriculture and Energy are our most important and prevalent industries. While Edmonton is the capital city it doesn't have the high energy, bustling metropolis feel. Calgary (about 3 hours south) is a bigger city, and has a bigger city feel but let's be honest, is still a small city in the grand scheme of things (population of 1.1 million).

Our cost of living is on the higher side, but it isn't outrageous like some places. Property ownership won't put you into an unimaginable amount of debt. A middle of the road home in the city will run you $300,000. Acreages with 30 minutes of the city start around $500,000

  • Trim-$40
  • Shoes-$120 for front, $180 for a full set, $220 for a full set drilled and tapped
  • Average cost of full time training- ~$800 (plus board)
  • Average lesson costs- $35-$55 for group/semi private, $55-85 for private
  • Average monthly pasture board- $320-$400 with an indoor arena, $200 for no indoor
  • Average monthly stall board - $700-$1200
  • Hay: These prices are if you pick them up yourself, delivery is usually expensive. They also fluctuate wildly depending on the year. Last year, the drought pushed the price of rounds up to $150-$230, and that was if you could find any at all.
    • Round bales (1100-1400lbs)
      •  grass, $60-$80
      • alfalfa mix $70-$120
    • Square bales (50-60lbs)
      • grass, $6-$8
      • alfalfa mix, $7-$11

Ugh, where to begin. We've been in a cold snap for the past week and a half. On Sunday it was -33°C (-27°F) at my place and the wind chill made it feel like-41°C (-42°F). This is the day basically everything I own froze. My car has a frozen fuel line, my skidsteer is not usable because the hydraulic fluid is too thick for th pump to move, the horse's automatic waterer froze, the furnace in my barn quit because the propane can't warm up quick enough to vaporize, and the diesel gelled in the Herman Nelson heater (which could have been used to help with any of the above problems).

Winter (FOREVER) (OR October-March)

With that being said, it's normally not this cold in December. Generally January and February is when we will experience an arctic cold snap. Our winters generally begin in October and last through March, sometimes hanging around until April (snow on May long weekend is to be expected though). Temperatures can vary wildly but the average for winter is -16°C (3°F) (I had to look this up). We get snow but nothing like Teresa gets out on the east coast though, or like Cathryn gets on the west coast. I'm pretty sure our annual snowfall is something like 50", and generally we will get a good dump in the fall and then it will melt before winter actually hits. And then again in the spring, the snow will be nearly gone and we will get another huge dump.

The snow makes for some great photos though
Also, #mindyourmelon

The days are short. In the winter it is totally normal to get to work in the dark and go home in the dark. I only see my horses in the daylight during weekends so it necessitated buying a super expensive but awesome barn light. On Dec 21, we will see the sun for a very short 7 hours. Thankfully we are super close to the days getting longer. Also, the sky is generally clear here, especially in winter.
So very very true.

Spring (April,May)

Spring in Alberta is a crapshoot. It could be relatively dry and warm (this year) or it could be a monsoon, or we can go straight from Winter to summer. But we will have seriously shitty weather on May Long, every single year. the one year Alberta Horse Trials tried to run an event that weekend it go snowed out. We're a hardy breed here in AB, a little snow doesn't stop us. 6" of slush will kibosh our XC hopes though.
XC Schooling in the snow.

Basically the same weekend as the above photo, two years later

Summer (June-September)

Summer here is fabulous! The temps average around 20-25°C (68-77°C) with some days hitting above 30°C (86°F). The days are long, think almost 17 hours of sunlight on our longest day.

I took these course walk photos at~ 9pm

Fall (September-October)

Yet another crapshoot, sometimes we get fall. Sometimes it gets skipped for more winter. This year we had a fabulous fall. We had a wicked snow dump and cold spell on Thanksgiving (Oct 10) and then it got beautiful again and the snow all melted.
This was taken the day I hauled Sullivan 5 hours south for his RPSI foal inspection, on Sept 8
3 days later most of this was gone.
Fall is my favourite season. I love the sound of riding through fallen leaves. I love the smell of fall. I love how there are no bugs because we've generally had a couple of nights with frost.

Almost all of our leaves turn yellow, I do envy those who live in places that have more variation in their foliage

Riding Demographic:

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture Alberta has by far the most horses in Canada, boasting 34% of the total equine population (whereas Ontario is second with 21%). You can do pretty much anything you want to here (also anything within 3 hours is generally considered an easy drive). It's pretty split down the middle between English and Western disciplines. The summer is short, but packed full of shows and clinics. I can quite easily fill every single weekend from May to Sept with a show or clinic (fun fact, I did this once. I was super broke and burnt out by the time October rolled around).

For eventing there are only 6 events held during our short season (June-Sept) and the furthest is 5 hours away, the closest is 45 minutes.

We have a few really decent local tack stores, which is good because shipping to Canada is unfortunately almost always over inflated (I'm looking at you RW, it would not cost $40 to ship a pair of gloves...) or not even available.

Most Frustrating:

Aside from the weather? The fact that we top out at Prelim in Alberta. If we want to go beyond that we have to haul to the States. Alberta actually has a solid contingent of riders who are going Intermediate and up but many of them end up spending the majority of their time campaigning south of the border. Those who can't up and move down south end up travelling down once or twice a year for 3-8 weeks at a time.

Final Thoughts:

As much as I complain about the weather I really love it here. While it would be nice to live somewhere where indoor arenas aren't a complete necessity for winter riding I seriously doubt I will ever make a permanent change of address.

The eventing community here is amazing. It's super supportive and encouraging. We were talking about it among some riders at a conference (most of us  in different disciplines) and discovered that if you realized you were missing a girth/cinch you'd likely have to run out and buy one for cutters, reiners, jumpers, and dressage. On the flip side both the eventers and the endurance riders figured we could easily come up with a couple options from relative strangers. And as a bonus Rebecca Farm is only 9 hours away.

Natural disasters are very limited here. We get the occasional tornado (the last really destructive one killed 27 people and was in 1987) and major blizzard and forest fires are a serious concern for the more northern parts of the province. But that's about it for my area. No hurricanes, no earthquakes, no major flooding concerns. I'll take our winters over all of the above (plus we have no venomous snakes and no rats).


  1. Omg too much winter. The summer sounds nice though.

  2. No venomous snakes is a huge selling point! My conclusion from all of these blogs is I need to be super rich so I can spend summers in Canada and winters in the south.

  3. All of this basically agrees with what I wrote about my more southern corner of the province, though you're a little closer to things and colder. I didn't know that about the horse/capita numbers so thank you for teaching me something!

  4. I miss the summers there...and the sunshine in the winter!

  5. love those super long summer days!

  6. The winters are just too rough for me, but the availability of all the horse stuff sounds great. Having shipped things to Canada before I can say that it might just cost 40$ to ship a pair of gloves. It cost me like $27 to ship a wooden sign to Canada and that had no declared value so no export/import taxes to pay. I used to work for a yearbook company and shipping to Canada was more expensive than shipping to Japan or other far off places. I don't know why, but it sucks.

  7. Omg no rats.... noce. Don't think I could handle 7 hours of sunlight though!

  8. It all sounds very comparable to Manitoba, except way more horse show options. That is such a great snow/riding pic!

  9. Such gorgeous scenery! I think it's funny how different areas perceive cold. It's supposed to get down to the low teens tomorrow as a high and drop to low single digits overnight. That's cold for this area, but I'm headed to see my mom in Chicago and that's just winter on the daily. -27 though? Yeah, that's REALLY cold, and uh, not okay in the slightest!

    1. I completely agree. Not ok, it's so not ok. The only bonus is that it's now warmed up to 7°F and it feels totally do-able

  10. No rats? Really? Now I'm going to have to google why that is. On the other plus side it looks like you have big open spaces for galloping. I'm in New England where we grow rocks.

  11. Wow riding through the snow looks thrilling!

  12. I feel you on a spiritual level about the never ending winter lol

  13. I would instantly die in that cold!

  14. I too dream of moving south where the winters aren't as bad (and I'm quite a bit farther south than you are already!), but honestly, you have to move REALLY far south to not need an indoor, I feel like