There are some spectacular farms and horse ranches for sale at any given time, so you likely have a wide variety of properties to consider. You might be tempted to dive in and start touring the areas you’re considering for your property, but we encourage you to be deliberate in your process, because we know that the time you put in up front will pay big dividends later.
To help you, we’ve put together this quick read, a sort of primer.
Then let’s get started. There is quite a bit to consider when looking for horse ownership. We’ll start first with some general questions and follow with a list of important considerations to keep in mind when searching for properties. Here we go:
1. What is your level of interest in horses?
Of course, you like horses, or you would not have made the decision to buy horse property.
But beyond that, the spectrum runs from wanting an estate that can accommodate one or two of your own horses, to a commercial horse facility that specializes in professional training, boarding, breeding, and more.
And keep in mind, too, that your level of interest can progress from, say, a novice to a fully-involved professional, which may lead you to a new property or property improvements.
2. Where do you want to be?
Naturally, there can be many variables that influence this decision, the basic ones being things like a desire to be close to friends and family, or to live in a particular school district or county, or near a particular city. But beyond that, keep in mind that your answer to Question #1 will also bring your own considerations, such as:
- Desire to be close to facilities that suit their horse-related interests, such as state open land, trails, or private training or show facilities for specific types of horses.
- Desire to be close to the ‘hub of the industry’ for your particular horse business. This is particularly important if you are a professional serving a market or aspiring to levels of achievement in the horse industry. The ability to easily network with like-minded horse people may be a consideration.
3. Do you want to build a new one on vacant land, buy an existing property for horses, or buy an existing property that can be renovated to house horses?
You can specify one or be open to all of these possibilities, and your preference may be influenced by some of the factors to consider as you continue reading.
For now, know that each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages.
– New construction will allow you to have exactly what you want, but it will also require more planning and preparation time, and can be more expensive.
– Buying an existing property is likely to be faster and possibly less expensive, but you may not find exactly what you want.
– And buying an existing property that can be renovated can bring some advantages of the first two options, but it requires planning, patience and vision that not all buyers have.
4. What is your price range or budget? Will it be a cash or financed purchase? Is it contingent on the sale of another property?
Like the answers to Question 3, each of these alternatives has its own advantages.
If you’re paying cash, you should be able to close your purchase sooner and possibly negotiate a better price.
If you’re financing your purchase, it’s best to contact a lender ahead of time to confirm your purchasing power and begin the application process.
With those broader questions behind us, let’s get into more specific questions and important factors to consider:
How many hectares are you looking for?
Think about the layout of the farm: the residence, barn, stable, paddocks, round pen, and storage for equipment, hay, feed, tack, bedding, etc., as well as pastures and hayfields ( unless you plan to buy all your hay), riding arenas and trails on site.
Are there zoning or other restrictions that need to be considered in the areas where you want your farm?
If you intend to keep grazing pastures, you’ll want to allocate two acres per horse. Be sure to select properties where horses are a permitted use or are permitted under a special use permit.
And keep in mind the setbacks of the border lines, which can vary depending on the unit of government.
Know your soils.
Know what the types of soil are before buying the property.
During wet seasons, poorly drained clay and loamy soils in areas of high horse traffic are a maintenance nightmare and can be a health problem for horses’ hooves.
Ideally, barns and paddocks should be on well-drained, sandy soils, or if on fine-textured soils, they should be leveled to promote positive water drainage away from barns and high-traffic areas.
Many farms will have a variety of soil types, which should influence farm design based on the uses for which the soil types are best suited. High loam soils are ideal for hay fields and pastures to help resist drought. Agriculturally marginal soils can be used for trail rides, training areas, and turnout areas where horses are fed hay instead of grass.
How would you like the topography to be?
The layout of the land has both practical and aesthetic relevance. A picturesque horse farm in a rolling, wooded landscape has enormous aesthetic appeal.
However, from a practical standpoint, level ground is desirable for construction and training areas. Also, hayfields and pastures do best on flat or gently rolling land that can be cultivated.
Topography controls how well surface water drains from the property. Wetlands, swamps and ‘pothole ponds’ characterize poorly drained areas, which contribute to ecological diversity, but are of little practical use on a horse farm.
access to water
A horse farm operation will use potable water in both the residence and the stable, and depending on the number of horses, the gallons used in the stable can far exceed the amount used in the residence.
Most rural areas do not have access to a public water supply, so it is important to have a good well (or wells) available, or that there is an aquifer under the property, from which good water can develop. water supply.
The main uses of water on the farm are for watering and washing horses, general cleaning, dust control in training areas and, in some cases, irrigation. Irrigation used to keep pastures green or to irrigate hayfields may exceed all other uses. If available, surface water, from a pond, lake, or stream, can often be used for irrigation purposes.
Availability of other utilities and services
Other utilities and services cover wastewater disposal, electrical connection, source of energy for heating (natural gas, LP gas, fuel oil), internet availability, cell phone coverage, and solid waste disposal. They are all important to consider.
In rural areas, septic tanks and drain fields are the most practical way to treat and dispose of wastewater. However, not all soils are conducive to the use of these systems. Percolation tests may need to be performed to determine if the soils are suitable.
Natural gas is the preferred energy source for heating, but many rural areas will only have propane gas available. Horses generate a lot of body heat, so the need for heating may be limited. Heating wash water and preventing horses’ drinking water from freezing can usually be best done with electricity.
How is the coverage?
Having a good internet connection and cell phone coverage is increasingly necessary. Some remote areas may still have connection problems.
How will you handle the stinky stuff?
Horse farms generate a considerable amount of solid waste in the form of manure, and you’ll want to consider how the manure will be managed when planning to purchase a horse farm. The options are to spread it on the ground, perhaps give or sell it to nearby farmers, or have a waste hauler take it to a landfill.
Existing and Planned Structures
Whether you are purchasing an existing horse farm or one with existing structures that can be renovated for horse-related uses, closely inspect (1) the quality of the structures, including buildings and fences, (2) to detect the possibility of nuisance problems resulting from poor design or adoptive use, (3) to determine the cost of renovations necessary to accommodate the property’s intended uses.
Find an agent who truly understands equestrian properties – if they don’t know what you’re talking about when you talk about “horses,” they can’t adequately represent your best interests. Do your own due diligence to find one with the necessary knowledge.
And last but not least, consider the neighbors
Horse people are generally very friendly and easy to get along with. In general, they like to hang out and socialize with people who have similar interests, such as horses and country life.
That being said, there are people who enjoy outdoor activities without regard to caring for the environment or the sensitivities of others, so before you buy, it is wise to ask a few questions about the neighbors, or better yet, get to know them. personally.
Wow, there it is.
Hopefully that list of questions and considerations was helpful and not too daunting. Yes, there is a lot to consider before purchasing a horse property, or any property for that matter.
But, as the saying goes, it’s not rocket science either, but simply a matter of doing your homework and due diligence. And of course, in that sense, it is also important to work with a qualified and competent real estate agent.