Your Real Estate Agent may know Houses –
…but what do they know about Horses, Farms, Estates and Land?
Equestrian properties are unique and special. Each property has particulars that a residential real estate agent may not understand or appreciate; not because they aren’t completely capable and/or knowledgeable about their area, but their expertise most often includes homes on lots and/or communities, not horses and horse farms.
Unless you are an equestrian and even understand what is involved with building a horse farm, you won’t understand why drainage is important, what constitutes safe fencing or footings, fly mist systems, manure removal, stall size & type, hay storage, and the list goes on and on…
While many of our clients have horses, we have numerous clients with other farm animals and many of the same basics apply.
LOOKING FOR AN EQUESTRIAN PROPERTY?
“AKA HORSE FARM”
“There is nothing like waking up every morning to look out your window or walk to the pasture and see your horses. Knowing that they are in a safe environment and that they are getting fed and cared for in the correct fashion is certainly worth the time and effort required to ensure proper facilities and care.” Julie Breedlove, Cedar Run Farm.
There are several things that should be taken into consideration when looking for a property, no matter how many horses, farm animals, or how much land you are interested in buying. Ask the following questions:
Can this property provide a safe housing environment?
- Is there fencing and if so, is it safe fencing? If not is there an area large enough, preferably flat to gently rolling, to fence? Rule of thumb is 1 acre per horse, however, if you want to keep your horse out of the mud and you want to maintain some grass, 2 acres per horse should allow you to do so. The other option is to only allow your horses on the grass for a few hours each day. Refer to the following for direction on fencing (http://www.livestocktrail.uiuc.edu/horsenet/paperDisplay.cfm?ContentID=6727).
- Is there shelter or a place to build a shelter? Everyone has an opinion on how much or what type of shelter is appropriate or adequate for their horses. While I have barns with indoor stalls, I also have pasture run-in sheds. Most of my horses stay outdoors and utilize the run-in sheds when weather becomes bothersome. Normally they are perfectly happy to use the trees as shelter from the weather. If there is a barn, be sure it is safe. For instance, are there any areas your horse can get their feet or head stuck? Do the walls come to the ground? Does it have access to water? Is there debris that can injure your horse(s)? Does the building have electricity or lights and if so are the wires safely hidden so horses cannot chew on them? I can recommend excellent builders that have built barns and run-in sheds for me personally, my vet, farrier, and clients. I am happy to share their contact information. I also found the following site to be helpful (http://www.horses-and-horse-information.com/horsebarns.shtml)
What is your preferred riding discipline?
- If you are a pleasure rider and are only interested in trail riding, ensure you either have access to trails or you are comfortable and capable of loading and trailering your horse(s) to trails. Visit http://www.horseandmuletrails.com/Nc.htm to locate North Carolina riding trails.
- If you compete or show your horse, you will require easy access to an arena. If the property you are considering does not have an arena or doesn’t have a suitable area on which to build an arena appropriate for your discipline; trailering will be required. If there is an arena, ask how the arena was built. Did they build a solid foundation, does it drain well, what is the current footing? It is important to see the arena in rainy weather, to help you determine its safety and how much work may be required to ensure a safe environment for you and your horse. Here is a website/article that would be helpful to review prior to building an arena (http://www.fivestarranch.com/articles/arena-footing.html). If your horse is a family horse or pet, a pasture may be fine for some riders.
Who are your suppliers and where are they located?
- Ensure you locate the local feed and tack stores to help you plan your shopping expeditions. If your real estate agent can’t help you in this area, be sure they ask the current farm owners where they shop.
- The Carolinas have numerous good large animal Veterinarians and Farriers. You can normally get a reference from the tack store for one or both. Once I initially identified an area Veterinarian, I asked him for a farrier recommendation. Sometimes, different farriers specialize in different breeds or disciplines. It is important that the farrier you choose has experience shoeing horses with similar disciplines as yours. For emergencies, ensure you always have both your Farrier and Vet’s phone numbers in your cell phone or on your person.
- Once you find a place that works for you, identify a source for hay and shavings (if you plan to use).
“There is so much more to look for in a horse property, but these are the basics and should get you started. We will continue to provide resources and additional tips on this site.”