Based on our experiences with clients seeking the right location for both their horses and their families, below are the top things to consider when purchasing land for equestrian use.
Ten Most Important Things to Think About When Buying Equestrian Property
Appropriate Climate for a Horse Farm
Although horses can live in the heat of Florida and tolerate the winters in Maine, when looking for the perfect equestrian property, you really have to consider what will be most enjoyable for both you as an equestrian and your horse. When it’s too hot or too cold, you’re not going to be able to enjoy your equestrian property as much as you do during more temperate weather.
Typically when researching a move, potential buyers have already decided which state they would prefer, but they must still determine which part of the state would be best for them. Climates can vary greatly across a state.
North Carolina Climate
Using North Carolina as an example, there are three regions within the state. They all have very different climates, ranging from very warm summers on the coast to some pretty cold winters up in the higher elevations of the mountains.
There are also areas in the state that offer a happy medium of all four seasons while not being too extreme in any direction. A great example of this is Polk County NC. It’s located in the Isothermal Belt and therefore is protected from the colder winter weather that the mountains above experience and from the hotter summers, too.
No matter where you choose to move, think about how much time you’ll be able to spend comfortably outside on your horse.
Appropriate Topography for an Equestrian Property
Once you have the proper climate picked out, you can start looking for specific equestrian properties. One of the first things you’ll need to consider is the topography of the land as it applies to equestrian uses.
Of course, horses are not mountain goats, and you can’t expect them to live on the side of a steep hill. You should also look at topography in terms of building your barn, out buildings and arenas. Grading can be expensive if you choose to property that would still accommodate horses but doesn’t have any level building sites.
Drainage is also another issue to consider as well. Soggy bottom land may grow grass, but would you be able to turn out on it?
How Much Space is Needed for a Horse Farm?
There are many things to take into consideration when determining how much space you will need for your horse at your new location. Some of these are: portion of the land that is suitable for pasture, number of horses, size of the horses, turnout time per day, ability or inability to rotate paddocks, and condition of the pastures.
Our basic rule in this area of Western North Carolina for good pasture management is two acres per horse. Obviously, this may differ from area to area and person to person based on usage and other factors, but it’s a good starting point.
Pastures: How much time does it take to establish pastures? How much does it cost to establish pastures?
As for your pastures, does the equestrian land that you are considering have pastures established or will you be clearing and starting from scratch?
Land that has to be cleared can certainly be considered in your equestrian real estate search, but you will need to get a professional estimate for the costs of clearing and establishing the pastures.
In our area, a good estimate for this would be $2000-2500 per acre, but that price will change depending on the topography of the land, how heavily wooded the area is, and the soil.
You will also need to take into consideration the time needed to establish pastures. Of course, much of this will be determined by the weather, but the NC Department of Agriculture recommends that grass be established and 6-8