When searching for property for horses, you must first know what you need to look for. Some seem to be under the impression that just because the property has acreage, that it is suitable for horses. Not so. There are many factors that come into play. Here is a list of what to look for.
1. Decide what area you are considering. Once you have narrowed down the list, check with zoning in those areas as to what the requirements are to keep horses. Zoning varies in every township. One area may require 10 acres or more to keep horses. Another may say 1 1/2 acres per horse or you may only keep 3 horses if under 10 acres. If keeping more than 3 horses, they consider it a business and would need more than 10 acres. So, check with zoning first to be sure it fits into your plans.
2. Make sure the property in large enough for what you want to do. If you just want to have the horses in your backyard, then you may only need a few acres for a barn, turnout and pasture. If you are planning to grow hay to supply your horses, you will, of course, need more acreage. Considering a boarding stable? Ample space will be needed to build a large barn to house the horses, have pastures to turn the horses out, plus, a large enough area to place a riding arena and an indoor arena (if that’s in your plans). Areas to keep horse trailers may be needed, also.
3. Is the acreage rocky? Horses can slip or trip on rocks while running and playing, and may get hurt. Stone bruises are possible also in these areas. (One thing you don’t need are more vet bills.) If the property has potential, then the rocks will need to be removed from the turnout areas.
4. Is the area flat, or is it a mountainside? Horses are turned out for exercise. A flat or a sloped & hilly area is ideal for turn out and riding. Hills and slopes are good to build horse’s muscles. If the fenced area is the side of a mountain, depending on the steepness, the horses will not be able to do much as far as running and playing. The side of a mountain might work if you are considering endurance riding.
5. Is the area swampy or in a flood zone? One thing you don’t want to do is have horses stand in wet areas constantly. It is not good for their feet. Plus, have you ever tried to muck out a muddy area? It is very difficult and the wheelbarrow tends to weigh a ton. (Some of you probably know what I mean.) If it is a flood zone, I don’t think you want your horses floating downstream.
6. Is the property all woods? This can be doable, if you are willing to clear the woods out enough for the horses to have some clearing. The trees would be a perfect shelter from the elements.
7. Do the pastures and turnouts have “groundhog holes”? If there are groundhog holes in the pastures, it will take a lot to get rid of the pesky critters. If there is a family living in the area, it will take a while to rid them. You definitely do not want holes where your horses are. They can step into one while running and injure themselves, even break a leg. I have personally gone the route of trying to rid the groundhogs and it is no easy job.
8. Are there weeds in the pastures or is there good grass for grazing? Weeds and horses are not a good combination. In this case the pastures may need to be redone. Some weeds are poisonous to horses, so you need to be careful as to what is in the pastures.
9. Is the barn sturdy and in good repair to house the horses? The barn and stable need to be in good condition to house the horses. If it is not, it will not hold your horses, not to mention one good storm and it can come down and possibly hurt the animals.
10. The field should be free and clear of obstacles and debris. Horses are a lot like children. If they can get hurt and into things, they will. Therefore, everywhere the horse goes, the area must be free of obstacles.
These are the basics you should look for when you are looking for horse properties. You want to be sure it is safe and right for your needs. Once this is all in place, go enjoy your horses.
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