In Search Of A Horse Farm Property
Horse owners are concerned about their horses well-being. Therefore, when searching for a horse farm property, there are many things to keep in mind. What are some of the points to consider when shopping for a horse property?
1. First, it is a good idea to check with a local lender that deals with these types of properties to get an idea what you are able to afford before beginning your search. Make note that not all lenders finance horse farm properties.
2. Next, make a list of every feature your dream horse property should have. This can include everything from the type of views out of your windows to horsey services available locally.
3. Location, location, location. It is important to tour the areas you are considering and get a feel of the entire area. Is it close proximity to trail riding? Is it a good school district? What types of rural activities are held in the area? Is it within close proximity to town? Learn what the area offers and what you would want to get out of it.
4. Think about what size property would be suitable for your needs. Bigger is not necessarily better. although horses can be kept on property as small as 2-3 acres, more time will be needed to manage it to avoid mud and manure mess. If you would want pastures for the horses, the rule of thumb is a minimum of 1 acre per horse. Keep horses off the pastures during the winter when the grass is dormant and soil is soggy. Never let the horses graze the grass below 3 inches.
5. Soil is an important consideration. Even though you may not grow any sort of crops, the type of soil greatly impacts the quality and type of grass that will grow and how you will manage your horses. Check with your local co-operative extension office, conservation district for advice on soils. Keep in mind the soil will also impact as to where you will place barns, paddocks. pastures, other buildings and your home.
6. Look at the vegetation that grows on the land. This will provide important clues. Certain plants tend to grow in specific areas. For instance, skunk cabbage and cattails definitely indicates wetlands, which is not a good place for a pasture or livestock and horses. Check with the local extension office or conservation district for help to determine whether the property can become a useful horse farm.
7. Drainage and topography are important features to consider. A good idea would be to see the property during a rainy season or during inclement weather to see how and where the water runs. Does it roll down a hill to collect in a certain area or does it drain gently into the pastures? Is there a muddy depression or is the area well-drained? The water flow across an area tells a lot as to how to set up and manage the land year-round.
Is there a pond, wetlands or a creek on the property? Keep in mind that bugs and mosquitoes come with wet ground.
8. Some properties already come with structures on the land, which may need modifications. If that is the case, ask yourself these questions:
- Are the existing structures adequate and in good shape?
- Are the barns free of rough edges and metal corners, which could seriously injure a horse?
- Are the buildings large enough with high enough ceilings?
- Is the flooring in good shape and good footing?
- Is there fencing? Is it in good shape and safe for horses?
If land needs to be cleared for buildings and pastures, estimate how much time and money it will take. Think about how efficient it will be to do the chores as to how the buildings are sited.
9. Keep in mind as to how accessible it is to allow for large vehicles. Would emergency vehicles or delivery trucks be able to access the farm? How close is the closest fire department and what it their source of water? Rural properties sometimes access to farm ponds or other backup emergency water supply. Check it out ahead of time.
10. Rural areas usually have their own well and septic system. Check to see where these are located in relation to the structures. Wellheads should have a 100 foot diameter buffer around them to protect the water from potential sources of contamination, such as manure piles, chemical and fuel storage areas, garages, etc.
Locate the septic and drain field. These should be at least 100 feet away from the well and should not be in high traffic areas, putting them at high risk of failure. The last thing you would want to do is install a new drainfield costing over $10,000.
11. Is the neighborhood horse friendly? Are there other properties in the area with horses? Non-horse owners might not be tolerant of things such as odors and flies. Speak with the neighbors and see what they will think before buying the property. Also, a REALTOR knowledgeable about horses and the area may be able to assist you.
12. The last and very important thing to consider is zoning. Check with the local zoning regulations, zoning and building codes. Look into the ordinances that may limit horse-keeping on the acreage. It will save time and money, and limit your frustration in the future.
The transition to living with your horses on your property will be much easier if you do your research ahead of time. It will allow you to be well-prepared for the limitations and assets of the property.
Brigita McKelvie is a REALTOR® (Pennsylvania License #RS297130) with Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, specializing in rural and horse properties and farms in Eastern Pennsylvania. She has an e-Pro® (Certified Internet Expert) certification and a GRI (Graduate, REALTOR® Institute) designation.
Brigita McKelvie, REALTOR
Pennsylvania License #RS297130
Rural and Horse Properties and Farms
Cindy Stys Equestrian & Country Properties, Ltd.
The Premier Equine and Country Real Estate firm serving Eastern Pennsylvania from back yard operations to world class equestrian facilities.
Use a REALTOR with "horse sense" that doesn't horse around when it comes to horse properties.