Choosing a Property for Your Horses

Find a Home for You and Your Horse

DRAFT HORSES IN BARN YARD IN SNOW IN VERMONT
Check property for potentional problems. David W. Hamilton / Getty Images

Do you dream of owning your own stable, or perhaps just owning a place where you can keep your horses in the backyard? There are a lot of things to consider when buying a property for horses. Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect home for you and your horse.

  • 01 of 07

    Location

    Colorful Autumn rural forest and farm landscape.
    Location is important. JamesBrey / Getty Images

    This may seem obvious, but the location of your new home compared to where you work, and shop is an important consideration when choosing a horse property. Commuting requires a lot of expense and time. The time alone will leave you with less to spend with your horses and less time to maintain the larger property that you're living on. Even shopping can become more of a chore if you need to drive a long way to get groceries. Consider too, the distance from things like health care providers,...MORE entertainment, banks and other amenities.

    And if you're off the beaten path, that mile long lane may seem charmingly secluded at first, but will you get to work on time, or will the veterinarian and farrier be able to get in if it gets snowed in during the winter, or is underwater in heavy rains? Will a narrow, winding road with steep ditches be a nightmare if you need to haul a horse trailer or bring a wagon load of hay in? Choosing location is also important to trail riders who want easy access to trails.

  • 02 of 07

    Size

    Close-Up Portrait Of Horse Standing On Field Against Sky
    Learn about your local by-laws. Carlo Speranza / EyeEm / Getty Images

    In many areas, there will be by-laws governing how many horses you may have per acre.  Laws of this sort exist for various reasons, but mainly they are to support healthy land use and prevent over-crowding. Even without the laws, the recommended pasture acreage to support one horse is 2.5 acres. Needless to say, if your soil is rocky, dry or swampy, the acreage isn't really going to matter because there won't be good pasture. But your horses will still need plenty of room to move.

    On...MORE smaller properties, you'll most certainly have to supplement your horse's diet with good hay, to make up for the lack of pasture grass. So do some research so you are aware of laws that dictate how many horses (and other livestock, such as swine, goats and cattle) you may keep.

  • 03 of 07

    Zoning

    Spring Blooming in Texas
    Be sure your potential property is zoned for livestock. DHuss / Getty Images

    Land zoning can limit the type of animals you may keep on a property. Even though you may regard your horse as a companion animal, chances are zoning by-laws will regard it as livestock. Sometimes zoning by-laws can be altered, but carefully research the chances of Some sections of your new property may be designated “Environmentally Protected." This meant those areas can not be touched--including clearing a path for fences, taking out dead wood for bonfires or clearing out dead trees.

  • 04 of 07

    Geography

    Horses On Field Against Sky
    Check that that green stuff is really grass. Remina Kisimov / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Steep mountainsides or swamps do not make good horse pasture! Pay attention to where low spots or other troublesome geography may be on your prospective horse property.  Examine potential horse property for land prone to flooding from river flood plains, low-lying areas that are catchment areas for rain, steep cliffs, gravelly areas, very acidic soil or lack of flat spots where you can put buildings, parking areas and a riding ring. And check the well. Many rural properties don't have good...MORE wells.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Plant Life

    White oak
    The leaves of oak trees are toxic to horses. A few leaves probably won't hurt, but a stomach full will be a veterinary emergency. Image: K. Blocksdorf

    The pastures look green, but why? Often, unmaintained pastures look green and lush from a distance, but on closer inspection are full of undesirable weeds. Are there a lot of noxious plants? Some trees look beautiful,  like red oaks. Although these trees are lovely to look at, their leaves are poisonous to horses. It may be possible to circumvent the problem by situating paddocks and stables away from the trees, and for that, you may want to plan ahead.

  • 06 of 07

    Upkeep

    Horses standing behind broken fence rails.
    Horses standing behind broken fence rails. Image Credit:laura a. watt/Moment Open/Getty Images

    While owning a larger property is very appealing, know that you are also buying a lot more work. Are you prepared to build or repair outbuildings? Inspect any existing fences and building for safety. Check things like water piping and electrical in barns or sheds. Take note of the condition of roofs. Check floors.  Check the foundation of old barns—old barns that are used actually weather the years better than empty barns. Ferret out potential trouble areas so you can plan the solution or...MORE confidently pass the property up.

  • 07 of 07

    Neighbours

    Private Property sign on tree.
    Private Propery, keep out. Image Credit:Anders Clark / EyeEm /Getty Images

    Check the neighbors. With luck, you'll have horse loving neighbors that are quiet, and never borrow lawn equipment. Or, they could be quite the opposite. It may be hard to meet the neighbors, but you'll be able to at least take a quick look at their property to get an idea of who you might be dealing with.