Sunday, December 11, 2016

Location Location Location: ASSFS Blog Hop

I'm joining the blog hop started by A Soft Spot for Stars.  I'm enjoying reading about life with horses across the country and in Canada -- costs, challenges, and culture.
The gate to the Girls Pasture, the chicken run, my garden and the back of the house; photo by Steve Neely

Oak Creek Ranch is located in Northern California.  We live in El Dorado County which spreads from about 30 miles east of Sacramento all the way up and over the Sierras, and ending in the middle of Lake Tahoe (which is the Nevada border).  Our ranch is about 10 miles outside of Placerville, a small town founded during the California Gold Rush, in the Sierra foothills.  We are high enough that we don't get the blazing summer heat of Sacramento, but we are low enough that we don't get more than a few inches of snow in the winter.
Photo by Steve Neely; looking out over the boys pasture towards the neighbors

We bought this ranch a little more than three years ago for $560,000.  We have eight acres, an average size home (that was in serious disrepair), and a large barn with an attached, covered round pen.  There are two arenas -- a traditional fenced arena (smallish) and a competition size dressage court.  The property had been vacant for two years when we bought it and the appraised price varied from $530K to $610K.  It's unique -- with more out buildings than are typical for our area -- so appraisal was challenging, to say the least.  
Photo by Steve Neely

When I bought Lucy, she was boarded and I think I paid around $500 per month which included feeding and stall cleaning.  There were extra charges for turn out and blanketing.  Needless to say, as soon as I felt confident riding her, we moved Lucy here to the ranch.
Pistol and Lucy in the Girl's Pasture; Photo by Steve Neely

Feed is expensive in California.  Our feed bill is around $1,100 per month for hay (orchard at $23 per square bale), a pelleted vitamin supplement, chicken feed and shavings.  Our horses are out on pasture 24/7 (except in foul weather) so we don't bed their stalls with shavings.  We use the shavings for the horse trailer and the chickens.  We also buy straw for goat bedding.  When the hay truck arrives each month, it is full.  We go through about a bale of hay each day -- for the five horses, two donkeys and the goats.  The bales are 100 lbs.  The donkeys and goats live mostly on their pasture but we give them a little bit of hay so they don't feel left out.
A very muddy Flash and Tex; Photo by Steve Neely
We are fortunate to live about an hour from Rancho Murietta which is a big equestrian show venue.  As a result, there are many good trainers in the area.  I pay $75 for a lesson with my trainer if I trailer to her.  There is also generally a $20 fee for trailering into the facility where she works.
20 minutes away; Jenkinson Lake

Most riders in our area are trail riders.  This isn't surprising given the beautiful mountain trails that are available all around us.  There is also a small dressage community.  Our property was a dressage riding school at one point in its past.  We added pylons, letters and lots of sand to the existing arena -- and voila! we had a perfect dressage court.  I don't take lessons very often anymore since I'm not riding nearly as often as I did when I was competing.
Photo by Steve Neely

We ride primarily in the spring and the fall.  In the summer, we have temperatures in the 90s and that is just too dang hot for me.  On those days, you'll find us on one of our mountain lakes in a kayak.  In the winter, it rains and freezes and rains and freezes some more.  The arenas alternate between being frozen and mush.  We typically do not ride December through February -- our wettest months.  Snow can fall as late as April, but in the spring, there are enough sunny, warm and pleasant days in between storms to allow for riding.


  1. I love your place- it's beautiful. I didn't realize that you had the same challenges as I do with winter. I love that last photo of you and Lucy.

    1. It is my favorite photo of me riding Lucy. She's a bit tense and head high, but her ears are on me and she's trying really hard. This was taken a few months after I brought her home; she's better at relaxing now (most of the time).

  2. Your place is beautiful any time of year. I agree about summer riding anything over 85 and humid like it is here and I'm out. That's a great picture of you and Lucy.

  3. An American in TokyoDecember 12, 2016 at 8:55 PM

    I never realized your place was so close to my hometown, San Francisco!
    I love your place and think you live such a wonderful life!
    Thank you for sharing it with us! =D

  4. An American in TokyoDecember 14, 2016 at 4:42 PM

    I live and work in Tokyo now, but I was born and raised in San Francisco!! =)

  5. I'm absolutely in love with your ranch! What a lovely place to live with your animals! A wonderful atmosphere.
    I deal with the same weather conditions here in the foothills, only that I'm silly/ambitious (really depends on which day you're asking...) enough to ride through the summer months too. It's a chore, but the life saving card has been having a covered arena for the last 1 + year. (and we all know it's for sun protection, not so much for anything else.)
    I'm still just about half dead by the time September rolls around, and there's still another good 6 weeks of heated rides :)

    1. You have a covered??!! I'm turning green with envy. If I had a covered, I'd ride in the summer too (not every day, but the ones that aren't crazy hot).

    2. Argh, just realized I'm not getting any replies. That's my punishment for stepping off the clunky WordPress platform and branching out. Just came back here to today, re-reading this post because I was interested in seeing which altitude you're at. Sounds like above Sly Park for sure.

      And yes, there's a covered at the arena where I've been for close to a year and a half now. It's my only "survival card" in the summer... I have to drive 45 minutes to get there, so showing up before 6:30 am to tack up and be done with the ride looong before 9 am doesn't happen often. I'd love it if you trailered in one day!!! Bit far perhaps :)

  6. So beautiful! And this is one of the few BH entries that doesn't make me feel like I'm in the most expensive part of the country.


Thanks so much for commenting!