So you’re dreaming about buying acreage to enjoy with your horses? Or maybe you’re past the dreaming faze and maybe have owned acreage already! As you start the search, it’s always a good idea to have a checklist in mind to ensure you are happy with your purchase for years to come. Let’s go over a few important points to consider during the search. Of course, the right horse ranch for you might not be the best one for someone else, but considering the following criteria will give you framework or assessing what it is that you need. Your riding discipline also dictates the needs accommodated by the perfect property.
As with all real estate, location is always key! When you’re considering a horse property, it’s important to recognize the proximity of the property to riding schools, training facilities, feed and tack store, local vets and normal living conveniences for the human residents like shopping and community amenities.
Just because a piece of land is zoned to allow horses does not mean that the property is necessarily a equestrian-loving community. If it’s important to you to be part of such like-minded community, be sure to check on equestrian amenities, events and shows and bridleways running through the community.
If your property does not have the expansive riding space you would like, it’s even more important to know what riding paths a community might have, what arenas or parks are nearby that will allow riding, and where others who ride in the area find outlets for enjoying their equine friends
According to the Cooperative Extension, an arm of the USDA that deals with land, farming, and ranching, while the amount of space needed for horses is largely dependent upon the location of the property, a good rule of thumb is 1-1/2 to 2 acres for one horse. An additional acre of land is recommended for a second horse. It is important to note that many equine communities have their own rules for number of animals that they will allow on a piece of property.
It is also smart to learn more about rotational grazing, as our Florida soils and grasses are not always very nutritious and may need time and care to replenish. This leads to learning about local soils as well. If they land you fall in love with is extremely sandy, it will be very hard to grow and keep grass on it. Learn from my experience! Thinking this is not a big deal will cost you thousands in hay bales!! After all, the grass looked good when we bought the land!! Of course, the owners didn’t have horses. So once we added ours, it was a matter of days before we were in trouble! You also want to be sure that the land has adequate drainage. Your horses are not going to be happy with standing in water for months in the rainy season. It can cause serious health and hoof issues as well.
Be sure to see that there is water run to the pastures you are interested in. If there is not, you will need to consider the cost of well-drilling. Horses drink approximately 5-10 gallons of water per day, so you need to know that they have access to water consistently. If there is a creek or pond on property, you’ll want to know if there are easements to that water source that will keep you from having animals in it, whether as not to pollute for others’ use or because you find out it is downstream from somewhere that uses harsh chemicals that may be in that water.
Stable, Barn and other Structures or Improvements
If the structures you desire are not on property, consider the additional cost to build them. While I can recommend contractors to do the work, I cannot erase the added cost of new building, permits, fencing, etc! If the structure is there, be sure to have it inspected for structural safety. Especially the key points, like a cracking foundation. Stalls and fences can be repaired but you want to know what you are walking into.
Does the barn or stable have the storage you will require for hay and equipment? Is the tack room secure, dry, and conveniently located? And is the parking for trailers, tractors, spreaders, and maintenance equipment sufficient for your needs. You need to be able to move freely through the area when coming and going with a trailer or using the tractor.
There is a lot to consider when buying acreage, especially with horses in mind. Having a Realtor that understands the needs and has been through the process themselves makes a big difference! Let us help you find the horse property you’ve been searching for here in the Sarasota/Manatee, Florida area!