Guidelines for Equestrian Farms, Ranches and Stables
A guideline for horse properties, farms, horse ranches and equestrian estates.
The idea of watching horses grazing peacefully outside the back door is for many a dream come true. But, while the pastoral image of rolling hills and white fences is easy to conjure up, finding a horse property, horse farm or ranch that meets your needs can be daunting.
To find the perfect horse farm, we suggest you refine your search by considering the following amenities many horse farms and ranches offer before you begin.
Do you want to build your own barn or would you prefer to work with an existing structure? Many equine properties will have an existing barn or shelter for the horses. Ideally, you want to look for a barn with the following features:
Structural Soundness - While there is a great deal of charm to many old barns; safety must be your first consideration. While remodeling is always an option, you may choose to replace the old barn with a modern and affordable prefabricated barn.
Location - Consider the barn's proximity to the road, house and storage facilities. Also, evaluate how its location will affect the risk of flooding.
Take some time to consider what type of barn, feed room, and tack room will work best for you and your horses.
The Stalls - When considering stalls for your horse farm, think like a horse: Is there a way you can escape, injure yourself, injure your neighbor or otherwise wreak havoc in the barn? Then look long and hard at the size, construction, and use of the existing or planned stalls:
Stall Construction - In general all stall floors should be non-slip and preferably matted (if not matted, this is an excellent improvement idea for your ranch). Solidly constructed walls made of wood or cement that go all the way to the floor with no gaps between the boards are generally best.
Stall Size - Once the issues of safety and security are addressed, consider comfort. A 10 x 10 stall can accommodate ponies and small horses well, while larger horses are more comfortable in a 12 x 12. Stalls with runs are preferred, though in cold climates you may want to close the stall off from the run for added warmth. Additionally, stall doors should be appropriately wide with tall ceilings and solidly built dividers that minimize the risk of injury.
Stall Use - Do the stalls meet the needs of their intended use? For breeding facilities, broodmare and stallion stalls should be considerably larger and well removed from each other with ample barriers between stalls. For boarding barns, separate storage or tack areas are always a perk.
Road Access - The ability for trucks to access your horse farm easily is critical to the smooth operation of the facility. Regardless of the proximity to the main road, having a well-maintained, sturdy road to the barn and storage areas that allows large trucks to enter safely, and turn around, is imperative.
Most horse farms will have some sort of existing fencing. When evaluating the current fencing and planned improvements, again, it pays to think like a horse. The primary job of a fence is to safely contain your horses. If there is a way they can injure themselves, they probably will, so safety must be the main concern. That said, the aesthetics of your fence will add appeal and beauty to your horse property. Some fencing options include:
Wood Fencing - Wood, while traditionally beautiful and generally safe, is difficult to maintain and can be costly.
Vinyl Fencing - Providing the aesthetic beauty of a traditional wood fence, vinyl fencing is safe and very durable.
Electric Fencing - Used alone or with an existing fence, electric fences can discourage a horse's natural propensity to find something to hurt themselves on by providing both a physical and psychological barrier.
Barbed Wire - Generally speaking, avoid barbed wire fences at horse farms as they frequently lead to injury.
Pastures and Turn Outs
On every horse farm, save those rare urban facilities, there should be ample room to turn out your horses. Take the number of horses and intended use of the turnouts into consideration when selecting a horse property.
If you do a lot of arena riding, your equestrian estate should have an existing arena or room to accommodate one. Don't underestimate the cost of building an arena or improving an existing one. Footing is a considerable investment that will affect the soundness of your horses and the amount of maintenance your arena will require. It is also important not to underestimate the need for a covered or indoor arena depending on the climate where you intend to buy.
Horse farms need good access to water both in the barn and in the pasture. Make sure the plumbing meets your needs.
Electricity is another factor that will affect the usability of your ranch. Barns need electricity -- if for no other reason than to use in an emergency. Arena lighting may also be necessary, particularly if you intend to use your horse property as a boarding facility.
Feed and equipment storage
Having ample hay, grain and equipment storage on your horse farm is both convenient and cost effective. It will prolong the life of your feed by protecting it from the elements, and minimize maintenance on farm equipment. Additionally, a secure feed area will protect horses that get loose from over-eating and making themselves sick.
Last, but certainly not least, you should consider the home on your horse property. Does it meet your family's needs? Is it well placed in relation to the barn?
With a list of priorities, amenities and wishes in mind, you can refine your search.
Discussing your needs with one of our HorsePropeties.net agents will help you to find the horse property that meets your needs and feels like a dream come true.