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There's a lot to think about when you're property hunting, especially when you're looking for an equestrian property with various specific features that are required to meet your needs. In order to make the process a little less overwhelming and give you a helping hand, we've summed up the top 10 points to consider...
Getting the location right is a must when buying any property, as it is the one thing you cannot change once you have bought it. Local amenities are also worth looking out for, what do you require to be near your house? Do you prefer remote or in a town? A good local vet is a benefit, otherwise you could be losing important time if your horse needs emergency treatment. The local horse community is also worth considering – this means clubs, venues, and events. The proximity of good transport links are influential dependent on your needs (e.g. easy access for a livery business or motorway access for regular competing around the country).
It is important to consider how much land you actually need for the number of horses you own. The British Horse Society (BHS) recommends around 1.5 acres of grazing land per horse, though 2.5 acres of well-managed and maintained pasture could sustain 2 horses easily. Rotation of grazing areas by splitting larger pastures up is an important management technique.
All land should have easy access to water for the horses to drink and some shelter. Ideally, the grass quality should be well-established and hardy, and not too rich as it’s full of sugar. As for the soil, the land should be free-draining, making the wetter seasons easier to manage. Soil types to avoid are heavy clay and overly sandy soils, as both cause potential health risks to horses.
Are there any stables on the property and if so, are they fit for your needs? Most traditional stables are constructed from timber, so you also need to consider their age and lifespan as they may cost you more money down the line. American barns are becoming ever more popular over traditional stables, as they utilise the space by keeping everything under one roof. If there are not any stables on the property, check out the property’s planning history and see whether any previous owners have tried to obtain planning permission, as this can be a good indication of your chances.
Every equestrian would love a fully equipped yard with an equine swimming pool, Olympic size manège and an all-weather gallop, but unfortunately this usually comes with an exceptionally large price tag. Be realistic as to what you actually need. It may be that the property has no facilities but offers you a blank canvas to achieve your dream yard.
The facilities required will depend on what type of rider you are, as there is a big difference in what hobby riders and professionals require from a property. Professional riders may look for indoor schools, horse walks and lorry parks on the property, though there is less focus on the house itself.
Hacking can be an important part of keeping your horse fit. Investigate whether there are any bridleways near the property or whether you would be limited to the often busy public roads. It may also be worth looking to see whether there are any private farms close by, where you can pay to go off-road hacking. This may not be a top priority as you can box up to local areas, but it is worth thinking about which qualities are most important to you.
Equestrian properties are scarce and as such, different types of buyers have different priorities when it comes to living accommodation. Whether you are a lifestyle buyer or a professional rider, don’t be put off by the standard of the house. A house too small can be extended and a house too grand can be split for additional groom’s accommodation, if the property does not already have this facility. It is not often something is completely as you imagined it; this can be a great chance to put your own stamp on it, however big or small.
Security is a big element to factor in too, especially in rural areas or properties that are exposed by an adjacent road. Can fencing or trees be used to screen the property? Could you add coded gates to enter, or are there CCTV cameras already installed? Protecting your horses as well as your property is imperative, so you will need to factor in these costs if the existing security measures on the property are insufficient.
The more you narrow your property criteria, the harder it will be to find your dream setup. Be open minded; the property may not have all of the facilities that you require, or a house as big as you would wish for, but subject to the relevant planning permissions, these are things you can change at a later date, as long as there is an adequate amount of land to work with.
Be realistic with your budget. What can you actually afford? Begin looking at properties comfortably under your budget – you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Try broadening your search slightly to see the possible options available.
It is always a good idea to speak to a specialised mortgage adviser/consultant beforehand, so that you can work out exactly what you can afford and what your monthly repayments are likely to be.
How do you picture your life looking in 10 years? Maybe you’d like a family, or to progress the business? Although not qualities that may be sought after currently, it is important to think about your future requirements.
Factors to consider include thinking about whether gaining planning permission on the property is achievable, or assessing whether there is enough space to diversify your business. You need to ensure that it’s going to be possible to add the facilities you’d ideally like (such as an area for customers to offload/park) and that they would be separate from your own private area.
I am sure I am not the only one who spends hours scrolling through equestrian properties on the internet, dreaming of owning them. So, to save you a bit of time we have put together some equestrian properties for sale right now!
Here are a few that are on the market to suit all budgets: