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Tips for Purchasing a Horse Property

Photograph of a woman riding a horse alongside a wooden fence with trees in the background and a text overlay 'Tips for Purchasing a Horse Property'

Investing in a horse property is not just purchasing real estate; it's buying into a lifestyle deeply rooted in love for equestrian pursuits and the outdoors. Whether you're dreaming of a sprawling ranch with ample grazing pastures or a cozy barn near trails for riding, finding the perfect horse property requires careful consideration and planning.

This resource will provide you with essential tips for selecting a horse property that not only meets your equestrian needs, but also serves as a delightful home for you and your horses. From understanding zoning laws to assessing the land's suitability for horses, we'll equip you with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision on your future horse property.

Is Horse Property a Good Investment?

Horse properties can indeed be a sound investment for those passionate about equestrian activities or seeking a lifestyle change. There are many reasons to buy a horse property! These properties often hold their value well, thanks to the growing demand among horse enthusiasts for spaces that cater specifically to their needs. Beyond the sheer joy and personal satisfaction that comes with owning a horse property, there are financial benefits as well. These include potential income from equestrian boarding leases, hosting events, or even operating it as a bed-and-breakfast for horse lovers. Additionally, owning a large piece of land offers a sense of privacy and connection to nature, alongside the potential for appreciation in land value over time. Land is a finite resource that is constantly appreciating.

What are the Best States to Own a Horse Farm in?

Horse breeding and horse rising are very popular in America. Some of the best states to own a horse farm in are Kentucky, South Carolina, and Florida. Kentucky is a great place to own a horse property because the climate is generally mild to moderately cool, especially near cities such as Lexington. This fair climate allows equestrian properties to thrive year-round. Additionally, Kentucky is full of exciting horse activities and events- along with the Kentucky Derby, there are many parks where horse riders can ride and mingle with other riders.

South Carolina is another great state for owning an equestrian property. Greenville and Aiken have a rich horse history, along with large pastures and urban forests, making it a great place to raise and ride horses. Polo, carriage riding, and horse racing are a few sports that Aiken is well-known for, while Greenville has many available horse properties to choose from.

Some areas of Florida are also great for owning horse properties. In fact, the City of Ocala has been trademarked the 'Horse Capital of the World.' In the southwestern part of Ocala, you can find the Florida Horse Park. This 500-acre park is the official training location for the U.S. Equestrian Team, and professional equestrians from all over the world visit to compete in equestrian sports events that last three days. This puts Ocala among the best cities in the U.S. to own an equestrian property.

Tips for Purchasing a Horse Property

Purchasing a horse property is a great investment, but it requires lots of due diligence in order to ensure that your purchase is a successful one. Here are a few tips for purchasing a horse property to keep in mind:

Land Considerations

First, you need to consider how much space or acreage you will need. The required acreage for animals greatly varies based on the number of animals you intend to keep and the quality of the pasture or grass available. In general, you need 2-4 acres per horse to avoid overgrazing. However, regions with lush, abundant grass can sustain several horses on smaller parcels of land. Conversely, in drier regions where grass is less plentiful, a larger amount of land per animal is necessary, and you may need to supplement their diet with quality hay. Some of the finest horse properties may only span a few acres, yet they manage by providing hay throughout the year.

Additionally, the land must be flat or gently sloped for grazing and provide adequate access to your horses’ basic needs. Search for properties featuring functional land, devoid of extensive gullies, sharp inclines, or numerous water bodies that could hinder your animals' movement across the terrain. Be mindful of local regulations regarding the necessary acreage per horse.

Fencing Considerations

After determining how many horses and how many acres of property you'd ideally like to purchase, the next consideration is safe fencing. Many rural properties utilize barbed-wire fencing, suitable for cattle but hazardous for horses. If replacement of the barbed wire is not feasible, enhancing safety can be achieved by incorporating an electric wire or ribbon, attached using extenders on the current fence posts. This electric barrier should be placed on the interior side of the barbed wire to ensure that horses come into contact with it before reaching the barbed wire.

A safer option for fencing is field fencing, which is either woven or welded wire featuring small squares. These squares are tiny enough to prevent a horse from stepping through and becoming entangled. Many equine properties also opt for wood or vinyl fencing, which, while aesthetically pleasing, pose certain risks should a horse charge through it or gnaw on it. To mitigate these dangers, installing a strand of electric wire or ribbon can significantly enhance safety.

Additionally, maintaining a pasture free from debris, including trash or sharp objects, is crucial. Horses are known to ingest inappropriate items or become entangled in surrounding equipment or objects, posing a risk of injury.

Zoning Considerations

Just because a property currently has horses or has had horses the past does not mean it is an approved equestrian property. Neglecting to verify that the horse property is in compliance with local regulations could mean a significant financial setback if your property were the source of future legal issues and penalties. Ensure that you are familiar with the types of zones on a property and the zoning laws in your area. For assistance in ensuring that a property is in compliance with local agricultural and livestock regulations, consider working with an Equestrian Advisor or a real estate agent familiar with equestrian properties.

Stables & Shelters

Shelter is another important consideration that prospective property owners need to keep in mind when purchasing a horse property. Horses need a place to get out of weather extremes- they need shade in the heat of the summer, and a windbreak in the cold of the winter. When a horse’s hair becomes damp, they are unable to retain their body heat and can suffer from freezing temps. A horse shelter can be anything from a loafing shed that is open on one or more sides to a fully enclosed barn with individual stalls.

Photograph of a gray horse in a wooden three-sided shed
At minimum, horses need a well-constructed, three-sided shed to provide relief from weather and insects.

Horses require access to fresh water, high-quality feed, and clean hay for optimal health. However, it's important to note that not all sources are equivalent in quality. While horses can consume water from a pond, this option may pose health risks. Providing clean, fresh water is the preferable choice. Additionally, feeding horses low-quality or moldy grain and hay can lead to severe health issues.

Search for Properties with Existing Amenities

Housing horses on your property can be done with much more ease with a few convenient amenities. Depending on how many horses you have or plan on purchasing, you might be able to get by with a single shed or you might need various, dedicated buildings for different purposes. When evaluating prospective equestrian properties, look for the following:

  • Frost-proof hydrants in the pasture, arena, and turnouts

  • Stalls with automatic, heated waterers

  • Covered hay storage area

  • Tack room with a fridge for medications and supplements

  • Equipment shed or trailer storage

  • Wash bay

  • Arena or training round pen

During the initial home inspection, it's crucial to include any barns or stables on the property in the evaluation. Although this may result in higher initial expenses, neglecting this step could lead to significant issues down the line. Employing a professional to assess the barn and stables can uncover structural, electrical, or other potential concerns, providing vital information before any contracts are finalized.

Proximity to Riding Areas

At the end of the day, the most important thing with any equestrian property is that you have enough space for all of the essential functions, such as navigating trailers and other large machines and riding your horses. Perhaps the two most important questions to ask yourself about your future horse property are:

  • Does the property have enough acreage to ride on, or does it border public land for rides that are accessible directly from the property?

  • Are there great places to ride that are just a short distance from the property?

How to Find Horse Properties for Sale

Finding horse properties for sale requires a strategic approach to identify locations that meet both your needs and those of your horses. Engaging a real estate agent who specializes in equestrian properties is an effective starting point. Their expertise and familiarity with the local market can help pinpoint properties that fit your criteria, which may not be immediately apparent in listings. They can also assist in navigating the complexities of zoning laws, land use restrictions, and other regulatory considerations unique to horse properties.

Additionally, networking with local equestrian communities through social media groups, forums, or attending local events can provide invaluable insights and potentially lead to private sales not listed on the open market. Other local equestrian enthusiasts can also provide advice and guidance to help you get the most out of your horse property.

Utilizing online real estate platforms, such as LandGate's free marketplace, that specialize in rural and equestrian properties can be a great starting point. LandGate's marketplace has filters specific to horse-friendly amenities to help streamline your search process, and each listing is embedded with LandGate's property data (including soil types, agricultural values, historical sale data, and more) to help you quickly evaluate any property's suitability for your specific needs:


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