For many, the desire to move to an acreage in the country is fuelled by more than just a love of quiet, open spaces. It’s also often motivated by the desire to have our horses closer to home.
Whether for a hobby or for a business, buying an equestrian property is a big decision. Even for those with years of experience with horses, there are still many things that need to be evaluated and considered before say yes to the perfect horse-friendly acreage.
As a lifelong lover of equine, as well as one of British Columbia’s top real estate agents specializing in acreages, I have put together some of my top tips for those looking to evaluate a horse-friendly plot of land.
Ready to saddle up? Here’s are my top 7 tips for buying an equestrian property.
Fine-Tune Your Budget
Making any real estate decision requires careful financial planning. And this is even more important when it comes to buying a horse property.
While a property may seem like it’s in your price range initially, it’s crucial that you spend the time to really think through all the considerations. A leaky barn and worn-down fence isn’t necessarily a deal breaker when it’s just going to be you and your family on your property. But with horses? These items would need to be repaired immediately.
When you walk a potential horse property, make a checklist of all the items that will need immediate attention if you were to purchase the acreage, and then (and only then) should you really begin to decide if a property is actually within your budget.
Determine the Number of Horses and Size of Land You Want Before You Look
Before you begin looking at potential horse properties, you’ll want to be clear on how much space and how many horses you’ll need, as this will drive much of your decision making.
There are many factors that go into a decision like this. The number and types of structures you want/need on the property. Space for farming. Space for other animals. Future building plans. Etc. But the biggest consideration? Whether or not you plan to have your horses graze.
If you plan to have your horses graze, a general rule of thumb is taking the number of horses you wish to keep, and multiply the number by two. This will give you the size of the pasture you’ll need to keep your horses happy and healthy.
With grazing and other considerations in mind, you should now be able to get a general sense of how many acres you’re after. And of course, it’s never a bad idea to add in a little extra space. You never know when your desire for additional four-legged friends will kick in!
Ask Yourself: Is this Horse Property Manageable?
With a size and budget in mind, you’re ready to start looking at potential horse properties. One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when touring a potential property is whether or not it is manageable.
If you’re looking for an equestrian property as a place of business, chances are you’ve already thought about potential staff you’ll need to hire to maintain and operate the acreage. However if you’re looking purely as a hobbyist, you must be sure you understand exactly what will go into maintaining a healthy home for your horses. Sure, you’re likely familiar with all the horse-related tasks that’ll need to be completed on a daily basis. But are you and your family ready for all the additional tasks that come with maintaining an acreage?
When touring potential properties, make a list of tasks that you know will need to be completed regularly on this plot of land. Add this to your list of horse tasks, and see whether or not you and your family are equipped to handle them. While the work of running a horse property is incredibly rewarding, the days are most certainly long. Make sure you think through all the potential tasks and have a clear idea on whether they will be manageable or not before proceeding with a decision.
Ensure the Property Has Equine-Ready Fences and Facilities
For many, living on an acreage means living on a property that’s always a “work in progress”. Something always needs to be fixed or updated. But as long as the house is livable, there is plenty of time to get to the other tasks around the farm.
But if horses are going to be calling this property home, there are a lot of additional items that need to be “move-in ready” before you come trotting in. Specifically, you’ll want to check the following items on any property you tour:
- Are the existing fences the right type and in good condition all around (no barbed wire; no major breaks, etc.)?
- What condition are the horse stalls and stables? Will they require immediate repairs (costing you time and money)?
- Do the horse facilities have property drainage and waste systems?
- How are the plumbing, heating, and other utilities you’ll need to keep your horses happy, warm, and healthy?
Of course, most major issues can be repaired. It’s just a matter of deciding whether or not you want to invest in these repairs, or look for a property that is ready for immediate use.
Understand the Property’s Water Supply
Anyone that’s spent time around horses knows that they require quite a lot of water. Of course, much of this is to drink (upwards of 10 gallons per horse per day!), but water is also needed to bathe, clean stalls, and more. It’s quite common that each horse will well exceed the water requirements of each human on the property.
That said, it’s important you understand the water supply on the property. Since it’s unlikely acreage properties will be connected to a public water supply, you’ll most likely be reliant on wells for your water needs. As such, be sure to ask about well output, age of equipment, and its ability to handle increased supply needs for your horses.
In addition, see if there are any nearby natural water sources that could be utilized, such as streams and ponds. While they may not be potable, they could be leveraged for cleaning and other acreage-related tasks.
Check Out Local Medical Care
When you move to a horse property, the health of your family and the animals is of the utmost importance. That said, you’ll want to scope out local medical options for both your family as well as your four-legged friends.
Check for reputable doctors and veterinarians willing to make house calls. Also look to see how far the nearest hospital and animal emergency clinic are. While part of what makes country living so wonderful is the lack of neighbours, it’s nice to know that you have urgent care services within a reasonable distance if you were ever to need them.
Review Local Zoning Laws
Of course, no acreage purchase should be completed without a thorough review of local zoning laws. This is especially true for those that wish to run an equestrian property.
A reputable real estate agent specializing in acreages should be able to walk you through the fine print, but in general you’ll want to look for the following items:
- What restrictions are in place with modifying existing structures?
- What regulations need to be followed if you wish to build new structures in the future?
- Is the land zoned for agriculture?
- Are there restrictions on use of natural water sources on the property?
- Are you able to run a commercial business on the property (if you desire to do so)?
- Any other zoning laws or considerations specifically related to horses?
Researching zoning laws ahead of time can save you a ton of heartache, so be sure to do you due diligence before proceeding with any acreage purchase.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to buying a horse property. While it may seem like a lot of hassle, the reward is more than worth the effort. Horses are some of the most magical animals on the face of the earth, and getting to spend time each day with them is a true joy. So, take this list with you as you begin your journey to find a horse property, and in no time you’ll have the perfect acreage to call home.
Interested in looking for a horse property in British Columbia? As the local resident horse lover and acreage real estate expert, it’d be my honour to help you find the perfect place for you, your family, and the wonderful four-legged friends we call horses … contact me!