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Fencing someone else's property in exchange for keeping horses there

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  • Fencing someone else's property in exchange for keeping horses there

    Ok here is my situation:
    I have two horses, currently kept at my grandmas house, about a 40 minute drive from my house. Grandma is getting old and its harder for her to keep feeding the horses for me. (Im worried she will slip and fall) Board is free, but I pay for food/vet/farrier etc.

    I dont have the cash to board. Full care within 20 mins of me runs about $500 a month and self care isnt an option with my schedule right now. Barns that are further away are around $350-400, but again, we are talking 40 mins of driving.

    So I posted on craigslist that I was looking for pasture near my home. A man responded that he had some acreage that used to be used for horses, but hasnt had anything there in a while.
    If I fence it, I can keep horses there for a couple of years. He is having a contract drawn up to make sure neither of us gets burned. He is very reasonable and says I can put up any kind of fencing, doesnt have to match.

    I can only afford to fence the lower pasture right now. And I can only afford to do electric tape fencing. But there is enough grass to keep the horses fed without having to feed hay for probably 2 or 3 months.
    There is no formal shelter, but plenty of evergreen and shade trees. I can put up a noble style run in at a later date.
    But the real problem is that there is no running water to the pasture. There is a stream/seep that daylights in the woods close enough that the horses could get to it, but Im not convinced that there is enough water to sustain them in dry times or when it gets super cold. (Its pretty mild here, only a few days below freezing)

    So I need to see if I can get water to the pasture from the adjacent orchard. There is about a 180 foot run that I would have to plum.

    Has anyone done this before? Is it expensive? I have some friends who can help me do the labor, but what about materials, is that costly?

    Here is what we are looking at. I know pictures say a lot:
    Property with fence lines
    Red is where there is existing fence posts, yellow is where fencing is needed, and blue is gates. The dark blue is where the water access is. This shows the whole property, but Im only looking at the lower pasture, on the left.

    Here is a pic from my phone. Im standing in the upper pasture looking back at the lower corner. Looking SW

  • #2
    Materials for 180' of water line are actually pretty cheap. I haven't priced pipe in a while but I'd guess in the neighborhood of $150 for a hydrant, pipe, and some fittings. It's the digging that'll kill you- I know I wouldn't want to dig that much trench by hand!

    Running water lines isn't difficult, but you have to tie in to an existing line- once you find it- without damage or leaks.

    Why not just run hose? If you get a big tank, you won't even have to fill it everyday.


    • #3
      That wouldn't take much to lay an over land plastic pipe with a cistern water trough at the end.

      Alternative is to get some 10 gallon barrels and take up each day when you go up to check the horses.


      • #4
        Echoing what the others have said about water -- you can make a kind of "automatic waterer" with a hose, float and tub. I have a field something like 600 feet (or more!) away from a water source. I have several hoses connected from the outdoor faucet (which is "on" all the time) on the house down to the float. This is a gadget that is attached to the side of the tub and when the water level goes down b/c the horses drink, it allows the water from the hose/house to flow, filling the tank immediately to the brim.

        This only works in nonfreezing weather. I can't be more specific about the float b/c it was my handyman's idea and he picked it up from the store for me (he would have gotten it from Tractor Supply or Agway (our local farm co-op/feed store). If you need more details I can ask him.

        As for fencing, as long as it is removable that's good. Fencing is too expensive to put it in for only a two year lease.

        Shelter - depends on your climate, and I"m across the country so don't know what's necessary in Washington.

        Good luck!
        Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peonyvodka/


        • #5
          I have done almost exactly what you are being proposed. Fenced in with permanent fencing and gates, part of my neighbour's pasture, and wherever there was some sort of backup, put in electric tape and step in posts with a solar generator. The agreement was to be able to use this as summer pasture for my horses after the hay is taken off in June until October when the field is too wet for the horses, for 10 years, and we had a written agreement.

          Well, the first year was fabulous. The second year, my solar fencer ($300) was stolen out of the field. About eqivalent to the cost of hay I would've used for those 4 months. The next few years were OK, then this winter, the neighbour sold the land, moved away and the new owners will not honour the agreement I had with the previous owner. Aside from the enjoyment of the horses when they run on the field, I figure it cost me about the same to fence the land as it would've to pay for the hay bales they would've eaten in their paddocks instead for those 5 summers. So I didn't lose much on the deal, except for the solar fence charger. However, when the new neighbour came over with their small kids when I was in the middle of making supper, I wasn't exactly warm to their request for a tour of the horses and pony rides.

          So make sure your agreement has a convenant so that your use of the land continues if it is sold to a new owner, as my neighbour and I didn't think of that, and she told me before she moved that the new neighbours didn't mind- well they did.

          Now more specifically to your situation- some of your yellow lines front on roads. Electric tape is not something I would use to keep horses separate from a road, personally, having seen just how often chargers fail and how often horses get scared through a live fence. Wherever you don't have the trees or another pasture to keep them contained, you need to put in real fencing, not just electric tape, to be safe. Also, some of your lines seem to run through forest or brush and electric tape is easily grounded by overgrown weeds or broken by falling branches. Walk your fence lines daily if you are using electric, but through usch areas I would prefer to either create a cealred path of about 8 feet wide for electric fence or else put in more sturdy options. Put your electric solar charger somewhere where it is not easily seen from the road, preferably where it is easily seen from the house, so thieves are not tempted. The solar panels are worth a lot to meth heads who camp illegally and use them to power their radios etc., or even to other horse people who are not honest.

          The water- meh- 180 feet, run a hose if the guy will let you, otherwise, do what I did and put a couple of plastic garbage cans in the back of your pickup, fill them with water, tie them in, put the lids on securely and drive them out to the field every day, emptying them into a pair of similar garbage cans in the field. Two cans is enough for 3-4 horses for a day if its hot. Otherwise, having two helps if one gets tipped over by horseplay. Plus, having the cans up by the main gate ensures the horses are coming into sight several times a day, for added security. if you rely on the creek at the back of the property there is less opportunity for them to be monitored by the guy who lives there.

          The other consideration is how wet that land gets in the rainy season and how useable it is for you in winter. You don't need them sinking to their knees in December and getting mud fever or worse.
          "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


          • #6
            The experiences I have had were not so good.
            The fencing I had put up became the property of the land owner. Not mentioned until after I put it up.
            While I was away, the people on all sides were riding my horses. Even bought their own tack to ride them with.
            I was notified that after 2 years of leaving MY horses on THEIR land that the horses were then THEIRS. Not true, but I didn't want any further problems.
            Moved them immediately and could not retrieve my fencing.
            Be very careful in what you sign and read everything carefully. I would even consider getting a lawyer to read and recommend what will protect both land owner and you. I will never put my horses on someone elses land ever again. Make sure you CYA for anything that might happen. If they ride your horses and get hurt YOU will be the one that pays. You had better make sure you have good Liabillity Insurance that will protect you of they do ride your horses and fall off. Even if they do not have permission to ride them...
            IF I ever get more horses they will be in my own backyard. Where I can watch them and care for them myself. And can keep un-invited guests from riding them.
            Get some advice from a Lawyer or someone who knows the law on this.
            Just want to protect you from any heart-ache and litgation
            Regards, sadlmakr


            • #7
              Well, I'm feeling like such a sourpuss lately, but does the man really even own the property? That's question one. And does the water source belong to him as well or do you have to negotiate a separate agreement with different neighbors?

              Otherwise sure, my dad bought the lot next door when I was young and permitted the neighbors to fence it off for their ponies. It worked out fine for a number of years and then the lot was sold off and the ponies had to move. Cat on Lap has brought up that scenario as well.

              Watch out for junk in the field, holes, pits, wells and septic tanks.
              Good luck.
              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
              Incredible Invisible


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for the imput everyone.
                The owner is a great guy. He doesnt want to ride the horses, just has extra land that he wants put to use. A section of his property is devoted to community gardening. I'll bring up the fact that I expect that no one rides/feeds or enters the horses area without me present.

                The fencing will remain after I leave. I talked with him again and he said that now I can have free board for 5 years. I will of course get this all in writing. I have an Equine lawyer friend and Ill ask her to look over any contract.
                He is an older gentleman who works from home as an engineer. He is planning to retire soon and just thought some horses would be nice to look at. His children are grown and living across the country.

                As for the road, that is actually a private driveway with an electronic iron gate. So even if the horses go through there, they are unable to get to the road where cars are. The street is a dead end with about 30 houses on it. Pretty quiet and rural. I will put up some field fencing along the areas where there is no physical barier (trees)

                For the water, I am going to ask if I can run a hose for now, and put in a burried line before winter comes. That way I can use the pasture now (as soon as fencing is in) without having the extra expense up front. That way I can start enjoying having my horses close enough to ride every day

                Just found out there is a nice equestrian facility a few blocks away with an indoor arena, outdoor arena and a round pen. Its currently for sale, but Im hoping someone buys it so I can ask to use it. That would make life complete! But at $1.4 million I dont think it will go very fast...


                • #9
                  Whenever you fence property you add to its value. Even using portable fencing you are making his place better for him. Horses will also be destructive to land. Especially if it has some wet spots or spots that will eventually be wet. You can't keep the horses out of those areas and the owner may get tired of looking at horses in dirty waterproof blankets all winter, too. Try and give him some sort of scenario of how the horses will be kept -- how often you'll be coming to care for them -- the wear and tear on the driveway from your car twice a day, etc. When it begins to rain, not having shelter is really going to be tough to deal with the horses -- no dry spot to stand to have them trimmed or shod, if one gets hurt, no stall to put them in. Shelter I see as being a problem and something to get thinking about before winter. My mother lives in Snohomish so I am familiar with the weather up there. That being said the pasture looks very healthy and good and nice for horses altogether. Oh and ask the guy for a reference. He might have motives. In addition to a written agreement -- and also make it month to month in case you don't like it and want to get out. And the community garden folks also need to be informed the horses are nice to look at but don't touch.
                  Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                  Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                  • #10
                    Well everyone has negative stories for you, which are totally necessary and bring up good points...but here's a positive story:

                    My neighbors raise beef cows, but have minimal pasture. They lease a lot of our land for organic farming, so asked if they could use some of our unused pastures for cows too. We let them fence in a five acre piece (with wood posts and barbed wire...so it was a real job) and don't even bother charging them for it.

                    Why? It wasn't a piece that could have my horses on it, because it had gotten too over grown. Too wet to farm. But perfect for the cows, who have cleared out all the underbrush in the forested part, eradicated the skunk cabbage, and eaten down all the weeds so that next year it will all be lovely grass.

                    There's no contract (granted our families have been intertwined for the last 100 years!), who knows how many years they'll want to use it, it's kinda indefinite at this point. We're not expecting to be left the fencing....but then again, if they don't want the hassle of pulling out 200+ posts, they're welcome to leave it too!

                    It was a useless piece of property that now has some use, and won't degrade into an even more useless piece covered in brush. It's not harming us to let the cows be there, and it's only helping to foster neighborly relations. They gave us a great deal on hay for the horses this year, and helped unload.....my barn is already full with all my winter hay, and it's only the beginning of August!

                    So, I guess the moral is...not everyone is out to screw you. The guy sounds like a good guy anyway, cause of the community garden. It's entirely possible he just does enjoy looking at horses, and wants them to keep the land clear. (Which increases the value of the property, and keeps it looking neat.)

                    Get a contract, discuss some of your concerns with him, and enjoy having your horses closer to home!


                    • #11
                      Contracts (assuming we are talking over the limit of small-claims court) are only worth anything if you have the $ and time to sue. Suing someone is nasty, nasty, biz btw.

                      Ask me how I know...and I'm even a lawyer (although not the suing kind).

                      Call me in the bitter camp.

                      Is this guy going to recognize if a horse is starts to colic, or is in distress?

                      I hope it works out for you though--you sound decided. Good luck!
                      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                      • #12
                        two years ago i made a similar arrnagement to both parties satisfaction.
                        my friend needed a hillside fenced, i needed to keep my horses somewhere safe for a few months.
                        so i supplied the handyman, she supplied the stuff. he got it done in a week and my ponies were there for a few months. i just saw her today and we both remarked on how happy we still were with our arrangement!
                        it cost me five hundred bucks for the handyman, and i got three months pasture board for four horses.


                        • #13
                          From the OP-"A section of his property is devoted to community gardening."


                          You can make it clear to HIM no one is to ride/use the horses, but how can you enforce that to numerous people who come to "use" the garden? I hate to say it, but I can just hear it now..."Kids, run over and pet the nice horsies while Mom picks the peas/beans/tomatoes/flowers", etc., etc.

                          Not trying to be a doomsayer, but I would carefully check liability laws in your state before going any further into this. It sounds like the property owner is a wonderful person, but as far as the general non-horsey public, not so much


                          • Original Poster

                            Well, its not open community. Its a leased portion that this woman uses to teach interns from around the country how to do all kinds of gardening. They are all adults. I think there are 4 of them and they grow food for the local food banks. Ill get more details about it, but I dont think they are a risk.


                            • #15
                              Man, way too many places for things to go wrong there. Good luck. Tough situation all around.
                              Click here before you buy.


                              • #16
                                I have several pastures on a "use in return for upkeep" arrangement. So far everything is working out very well.

                                The land owners and I have simple written agreements that spell out our obligations to each other.

                                I am now looking for more pasture on the same basis. In one particular case, I put up electric wire and a charger, which our contract says I may remove if I cease to keep horses there for any reason. I make sure the grass is clipped and the pasture harrowed and manure spread, etc.-- which I would do anyway to keep the pasture in good condition for the horses. In the winter, I put in rye grass for winter forage-- it makes their front pasture pretty and green.

                                I agreed to pay the difference in their water bill before horses and after horses- but they wanted that provision removed because they say ther horses don't drink that much for them to be bothered with keeping track of the difference each month.

                                The contact specifies that no one is to handle or ride the horses without my permission. They don't ride- they just like to look at the horses grazing while they relax on their gallery.

                                I furnish them with bags of horse treats that are safe for my horses, and explained how to feed them and how many to give. Contract says they feed treats at their own risk. They are very attached to the horses- and are quick to call me if they think anything is amiss. The pasture is a quarter mile down the road from my home.

                                Spring a year ago, they noticed a truck with a horse trailer prowling around late at night on the public road in front of their place. The pasture has board fence on the front and barbless wire and hot wire on three sides.There is a deep ditch in front of their property. Luckily the gate to the pasture is at the rear all the way down their driveway-- but they did not have a gate that could be closed to block anyone from using the drive.

                                They called the sheriffwith a description of the truck and trailer, and then called me. When they put on their outside lights, the truck left. The truck was stopped by deputies as it was headed out of town. It turned out the trailer was stolen from some other neighbor's further down the road. The deputy thought they had stolen the trailer and were looking for a couple of horses to put into it. The neighbors keep the trailer at home, but board their two horses with a trainer elsewhere.

                                After that I wanted to buy and install a gate across the drive, but Jennifer and Chris decided they would install an automatic electric gate at their own cost--- I bought the replacement battery this year. I have the code to open the gate and close it when they are not home.

                                When they have gone on vacation, I have taken care of getting their mail and feeding and caring for their cats at their house for them. Last winter Jennifer's husband was out of town on a constructon job for several months. There was a severe freeze, and I went down to her house to show her how to drain and wrap the pipes -- including the ones at their barn- which they use as a workship and to store things. They do let me use a stall in it to store hay, and another in case a horse needs to be stalled, but that is not in our written agreement. We have become good friends from what started as just a pasture use agreement.

                                In the other two cases, I did not have to build any fence, but I maintain what is there and take care of the pasture maintenance in return for keeping the horses there. In all cases, the land owners agreed in the contract to give me 60 days notice if I have to move my horses permanently off their land.

                                Sometimes these arrangements work out beautifully, but I would still have the agreement written down. With the amount being charged by lawn services and people who mow pastures on contract, all of the land owners I work with are glad they no longer have this expense of hiring someone to clip their pastures to keep their land from becoming overgrown weed lots.
                                Laissez les bons temps rouler!
                                Elysian Fields Farm--
                                --An equine refuge