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Going from boarding to your own farm/horse property. Any regrets?

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  • #41
    QUOTE=BeeHoney;6896930]There are a lot of upsides to keeping your horses at home--I think the upsides are very easy to imagine. My regrets: 1) how difficult it is to get away on vacation, and how stressful it can be when I do go away and something happens or I get home and find issues, 2) how miserable it can be to have outdoor chores/deal with frozen water/frozen water lines in the middle of winter, 3) how time consuming and labor intensive it can be to maintain a horse property, 4) how expensive it can be to have and maintain a nice horse property--arena, equipment, labor, repairs, etc.

    If it is just your horses, the social element of a boarding environment might be missed. It can be very pricey to install an arena for your own personal use, it might turn out to be more cost effective to board if you want the use of a nice arena. You might have less access to quality instruction or have to trailer out for lessons. Depending on how serious about your riding you are this may or may not be an issue, but I would definitely consider where you are going to ride.

    Lastly, if you have a small place it can be difficult to find suppliers and professionals who will want to work with you. You may have trouble finding a good farrier, dentist or vet who is willing to come out for just one or two horses. You might have trouble finding a hay supplier who will deliver smaller amounts of hay. These are definitely not insurmountable problems, just some things to consider.[/QUOTE]

    As a former boarder who built a barn and moved my horses home I agree with all of these points. The most critical problem is finding reliable horse sitters for times when you are away on vacation or out of town for business. My husband and I have had several negative experiences with horse sitters over the years. Anytime we go out of town, even for an overnight, we have to plan first and make sure we have reliable horse care available.

    I trailer to my trainer's for lessons 2 or 3 times a week, so I do have some barn social life there. I also have a friend who boards his horse at our barn, so I have someone to ride with oftentimes. If you build a barn you might want to consider adding a stall or two for a friend's horse. That way you'll have someone to ride with and to keep an eye on things if you are out of town.

    I put in an arena the second year after we built. It was definitely worth the investment. My arena is relatively small (110' x 220') and was relatively inexpensive to put in since the area was relatively flat and we have sandy soil here.

    Expect to spend more than you think on fencing. Also, are you or your husband capable of repairing fences? You would be surprised how often fences (at least board fences) require repair. Be sure to budget money for a tractor as well. You don't realize how much you will need one until buy property, even if it's only 5 acres.

    If you're willing to do the work, I don't think you'll regret the decision. I brought my horses home 7 years ago and can't imagine going back to boarding, except sending my young horse to my trainer's barn for training.


    • #42
      Originally posted by NBChoice View Post
      That is so true, clanter!
      here C1, C2, C3, add on M1, M2, M3 waiting for Horse #1 to return (pony 1 is missing from photo)


      • #43
        Clanter, that is the best part of keeping them at home. Love that photo. I have a similar set up and I have to say, my day always goes better when I start it off petting one of my horses or donkeys. There is nothing better! We are moving to a new place and they will be seen from the kitchen window for sure.


        • #44
          Not even one teeny weeny regret, but...
          must be prepared. We built our own pole barn that first summer. And had gravel delivered (we spread it).And the fencing work is constant. We inherited some gret fencing and some old rotten fencing. Fence work is not fun. Must be able to set up an electric fence (if you use one) and deal with regular issues with that. Must plan for mount manure - composing, spreading, donating whatever. Must have something like a tractor (we don't - we have a skidsteer which I adore!!!) or something of that nature. So far, even in the boonies, have had no problems with farrier or vet (both come and charge accordingly). Hay is a very big deal. no one I know out here has regular "hay delivery";most people, like us, buy it in one shot in the summer and store it, and pay $$$ for it in the spring if we run short. So, a place or means of storing hay is vital. So is the ability to pay for it!

          Like everyone else, sittting on my porch (July-sept) and watching my herd grazing in my front pasture (about 15 feet from my house) is just magic. I can pull fly masks on and off - apparenty a job that is waaay beyond boarding barns to manage -check on them any time I want, see colic, catch one horses sarcoma and so on. I do have great horse care if I travel, would be way harder to get good care for the kitties/dog than the horses.

          but would not be able to do this without husbands help (or someone's help if he hated it). But at the end of the day, truly, zero regrets

          Pull that trigger!!


          • #45
            Add me to the zero regrets club. I LOVE having mine at home and couldn't go back to boarding.

            Things we did right - bought a large, good tractor with a front end load right after we closed. Added a bush hog, road blade, disc, harrow, etc, shortly thereafter. Pulled up ALL the sketchy fence and started over. Very hard on me psychologically to delay when I could have them at home, but made it tons easier to renovate pasture lead the old fence lines, etc. and we put up, good, solid low maintenence fencing.

            Things I wish we had done differently - wished we had included a sacrifice area in our fencing plan. I sometimes wonder if I should have made some sort of arena; I didn't want to give up pasture for one, but I think I could have kept my daughter riding longer if I had had a small, enclosed place to teach her and for her to practice.

            I agree with all the sentiments about vacation and farm sitters, part of the solution is to make your set up as low maintenence as possible.

            Good luck and enjoy!
            The plural of anecdote is not data.


            • #46
              Building a house from scratch is rewarding in its way - you can really fit the house to the property, you can build for passive solar and energy efficiency - but it is also something that will totally consume you for two years or so while you get the plans, manage the project, make the thousands of decisions needed, shop until you never want to see another home improvement store again, etc. This is true even if you hire a good general contractor that you trust.

              There's a reason this parcel doesn't have a house on it already. Find out what it is. At the very least, it means the owner had a better home site nearby. But it can also mean that there are issues with water (too much or too little), geology, sun/wind, etc that are not currently apparent to you. The cost to put in utilities and a driveway can take your breath away.

              Make sure it has a well already, or perhaps make drilling one part of the contingency.

              Make sure it will perc for septic.

              Make sure the county is amenable to you building there, that you're not going to face a great deal of red tape. If the neighbors are used to it as open space, they may not be thrilled to have your house going up; in some jurisdictions, said neighbors can create a lot of trouble for you even if they cannot stop the project. Find out what your setbacks are from the property lines, any water sources, the well, and the septic. Make sure everything still fits.

              Your project will probably go over budget.

              Building with a modular home may help with some of the budgeting issues and may get you in faster. The downside may be getting the design that you want, but there are many builders who can do something pretty close to custom. Of course, that's more decisionmaking and more money.

              Fencing is shockingly expensive.

              A lot of the time you will have to put in will need to be during business hours, and you'll be surprised how much of your weekend time is eaten during the building phase even if you're not doing any of the actual construction yourself.

              Sometimes people elect to live on the property out of an RV while the construction is going on, which might make it a little easier to supervise while still dealing with the rest of your life.
              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


              • #47
                I was hardly condemning the boarding industry, as I completely understand when you have many horses, attending to stuff like fly masks may not be realistic. As my horse, bald faced paint, has just had his eye removed for SCC, a fly mask has been vital. He has no coloring around his eyes. Yes, fly masks are not always ideal, but compared with the risk of losing his second eye, as long as he is comfortable i'll take my chances. And attending to that, and many other things, has been a thousand times easier when he has been at home.


                • #48
                  Okay, I am the lone dissenter

                  I am not really sorry we did it, but . . . . if I had it to do over, I am not sure I would do it.

                  The main reason is the amount of riding time I lose. If you have enough money to hire someone to muck, weedwhack, fix fence, etc., then GO FOR IT. Unfortunately for me, I am the chore monkey. The amount of time I actually spend on taking care of the horses is fixed and I plan for that. But the amount of time to take care of 80 acres of mowing, weedwhacking, arena dragging, fence repair is ridiculous. I always lose days of riding to some nasty chore that has to be done. We have a long brutal winter,so that means lots of snowblowing, hauling water, unfreezing hydrants and other unpleasant task in unpleasant weather.

                  When I go to a show I have to get up at least an hour extra to feed and when I don't get home until 10:30 or 11:00 pm I stil have chores to do. SUCKS! And I pay out the nose when DD has a dance competition that requires overnight, etc.

                  Try very hard not to put on th rose-colored glasses. At least then you won't be surprised.

                  I also can't board them out for the winter because Ihave other animals to look after.

                  If you do decide to take the plunge, try VERY HARD to make it as simple as possible. Someone gave great advice on another thread to build your propery so some non-horsey person can do all the chores without actually having to touch an animal. THIS IS THE BEST ADVICE. Also, think long and hard about how many steps it takes to do your daily work. Steps in the summer are not th same as steps in the winter hauling hay bales to the barn through 12" of snow (and water weighs a lot more when it's carried across snow or ice!). Think about having to shovel out gates by hand when designing how many gates you have to go through and definitely have a plan B for everything that must be done. Some time or another it's not going to work the way it usually does.

                  Good luck and sorry to be a downer,
                  Last edited by pheasantknoll; Mar. 24, 2013, 07:01 PM. Reason: that's shovel out gates, not shove


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by Prime Time Rider View Post
                    QUOTE=BeeHoney;6896930]Expect to spend more than you think on fencing. Also, are you or your husband capable of repairing fences? You would be surprised how often fences (at least board fences) require repair.
                    This is a good point. Board fences look pretty but unless you also have a hotwire attached, they are too much maintenance to be worth while! We have done everything with a semi-permanent (wood corner posts and t-posts along the lines) electric tape set-up and it makes life so much easier. We can add/remove/replace a fence line in a weekend or even in a few hours as needed.

                    I would recommend using temporary or semi-permanent fencing until you have lived with the setup for at least one year to see how you like your layout.
                    Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                    • #50
                      I agree with everyone's posts, including pheasant knoll's.

                      I love having the horses at home. I have found that farm set up and the size of the herd are big factors in how much you can do in a day.

                      When I worked part time and my kids were in school, I had time to ride 3-6 times weekly, depending on the season. My horse care standards were a little more easy going than they are today.

                      Now I have 5 horses here. I do retirement boarding, but it is more full care and hands on than most. I figure I average an hour/horse/day when you factor in all that is involved in caring for horses.

                      My husband ferverently wishes that I will want to downsize one day. Sometimes I find myself contemplating a less demanding way of horsekeeping, but I just can't let some things go the way I used to. It would also seem wierd to just have one or two of my own horses on 6 acres of pasture, but I sure would have a lot more time to do other things and it would be easier to go away with less horses here.

                      Everyone mentions less time to ride when you have them at home. I think there is some validity to that, but I haven't decided on why. Sometimes I think that having already spent 5 hours doing basic work, adding that extra one and a half hours grooming, tacking up, putting everything away, wiping down the tack, etc just is more time and energy than I feel like spending.


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by pheasantknoll View Post
                        Someone gave great advice on another thread to build your propery so some non-horsey person can do all the chores without actually having to touch an animal.
                        This is extremely important. It's important for real vacations with pet-sitting, and it's important too for situations where your SO or your child or your neighbor may need to do the animal chores without you.

                        Water is the worst. Put water right where it needs to be, as much as possible.

                        Another factor that keeps me from riding as much as I'd like is that I used to ride in the mornings before work.

                        You'd think I could still do that, but when I boarded, someone else came through and fed the horses at 5:30 or 6 so that when I got there at 6:30, my horse had already eaten. And since she was alone in a stall, if she had leftovers, no big deal to take her away from them.

                        So now if I want to ride at 6:30, I have to have gotten up early enough to feed early, and my horse lives out with another. It's just a little more complicated such that riding in the morning is not so attractive. It's also typical that the ground is frozen here in the mornings and since I don't have a dragged arena, it's not great conditions.

                        On the plus side, since I work from home, I can often ride during my lunch. It just took a while to get that all worked out.
                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                        • #52
                          Something to keep in mind with kids - if you're used to living in an urban environment, your kids may be able to walk places. If at the new place they can't walk to a friend's or anywhere, you will have to drive them.

                          For OP, sounds like she won't be that far off the beaten track, but even the difference between a 5 minute drive and being able to walk anywhere can change whether your kids ever get to play with their friends outside of school. YMMV as to whether that's good or bad.

                          Similarly, consider the access to school/school bus routes.
                          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by mkevent View Post

                            Everyone mentions less time to ride when you have them at home. I think there is some validity to that, but I haven't decided on why. Sometimes I think that having already spent 5 hours doing basic work, adding that extra one and a half hours grooming, tacking up, putting everything away, wiping down the tack, etc just is more time and energy than I feel like spending.
                            However, if you have children who ride having the horses at home is invaluable as they have constant contact.... problem is when you come home to find kid and horse in the den watching TV because its too hot out side or you come home to find all the minis running through the house looking for food


                            • Original Poster

                              Wow I love all the views and opinions...I love hearing both sides. About the lot, it's a GREAT lot. It is one of just a few conservancy lots in a subdivision, but it's set off somewhat from the actual "neighborhood". My kids can walk to the cul de sac from this lot, yet we are private and surrounded by trees and down a hill...so it's perfect - it feels (and looks) rural - private with amazing views, but it's near a new enclave of about 20 homes. It is already perc'd and has a working well with solid gallons per minute. All of the lots were bought by a very reputable builder. It is zoned/approved for horses. Already checked with county, zoning, septic people, and ag person. Soil has been tested and we know it will need lime. Have already had my trainer, 3rd party builder and farm planner give big thumbs up on the lot, topography and plan we have on where to place home, driveway, barn, paddocks, etc.

                              Regarding some of the comments, it is only 10 acres, not 80 and we only have 2 horses I already self-care my horses somewhat right now because one is high needs and I feed him daily lunch and have for almost SIX years. No issues with the kids as it's 5 minutes from where we currently live, and they cannot walk to town, activities etc. now. We live in a spread out neighborhood with an HOA but have to drive everywhere. My husband is handy and can mend fences. We are installing brand new 3-board fencing. Everything will be new. Water is HUGE for me. My current barn's pipes freeze in winter No hot or cold water in winter which is a problem for me to soak alf pellets, etc...if/when I do, I have to carry a 20+ pound bucket across a several acre pasture to get to the barn...can only drive back there if the ground is hard, not muddy and even then it is risky if the horses are near the gates...driving in/out when I am alone is not easy. The barn is across a large pasture from where I park. I have to walk the pasture to get to the barn and my horses every time. When I trailer I have to carry my tack form the barn to trailer or use my horse as a pack mule So, I currently go much further than I will at my new property. I am not complaining as the care is EXCELLENT at this barn - owner is a good friend and I adore them...it's just that the prior owner of the property put the barn in the worst place - IN a pasture, but all the way to the back of the property with no real driving access except THROUGH the field, on the grass.

                              The new barn will be situated near our new house...many less steps. I am definitely planning my fencing (and barn) around growth (a.e. arena MAYBE one day, and adding extra stalls if needed). I only have 2 horses and only plan on getting a 3rd. One is an air fern and gets a cup of food and lives off the land. Feeding should not take long. Mucking 2 stalls should not take that long. I do realize mowing, tractor etc will be a change. We have 2.6 acres now and are going to 10...we are willing to pay for help while we get situated (mowing and bush hogging)

                              I am very much looking forward to multi tasking! Cooking dinner while my older horse slowly eats his food (vs. waiting while he eats his lunch daily after I drive to/from barn...) Kids can help and want to (I know that can change!)


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by tpup View Post
                                I only have 2 horses and only plan on getting a 3rd. One is an air fern and gets a cup of food and lives off the land. !)
                                Seems I have heard that before


                                • #56
                                  Do you know the HOA's restrictions? I see HOA .... and fear starts rising in my heart.

                                  We are on acreage in a city under zoning; after we have been here for twenty years the city altered the zoning to restrict the few of us remaining on the larger lots from subdividing the lots.... others had cut lots off selling those lots for more than what the complete lot cost

                                  The city's reasoning was they wanted the horses to remain in the city as the horses were considered to be an asset ...but they in their interest cost us money


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Yes, I have the covenants. The conservancy lots are set off as equestrian and zoning/county has confirmed uses. I have all the setback requirements as well and we are well beyond and far enough away from the little enclave of homes, etc. The areas around our lot are locked out and protected as reserve drainfields and for the rest of the neighborhood. No one can build on or over them as the reserve areas are required by the county. Anyone who builds in this general area is surrounded by horse farms to begin with. The hunt rides up and down the gravel road and through the fields surrounding.

                                    Good point about the lime and the grass. We had the soil tested mostly for the yard that will be behind our home. Hubby wants some nice grass.


                                    • #58
                                      These are always like passing a car wreck for me......I know not to look...but can't help it. That said, what I meant is: Home horsekeeping is COMING for me. There is no doubt. I am inheriting the little (LITTLE) property / homeplace (4.5 acres).......it will be retirement/final home (unless/until nursing home needed ).
                                      Over the last 4 yrs, have been fencing, barn building, grass / soil evaluating/preparing....and that is nice to be able to do this little by little. But I'm not kidding myself. I am frightened of many aspects of this. HAPPY about many, too....but still aware.........
                                      First: I'm getting older, and find just 'driving' 'preparing' 'going' to boarding barn is something I'll skip on now, many days. Don't like that! I DO think I'll love the 'walk 70 ft from the porch and there they are' thing.
                                      Second: Yes, when I was a kid/young woman...I loved the social aspects of a barn. (Of course I did. I was driven there/dropped off there/had friends there/ it was not 'real life' yet in 'getting there'. ) Now, I find I love the barn, being at a barn, having down time with my horse.....when no one else is around. So, that's a plus.

                                      the scarey parts: property management. frozen things. never being able to leave/come go as I would want. Doing everything....no help.

                                      So...I've focused my joy on the planning/building/preparing.....(cannot deny I've always wanted my 'OWN' barn, no matter how tiny...and that part? is the FUN part).....but the reality is looming.
                                      "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                                      --Jimmy Buffett


                                      • #59
                                        DH and I bought our first house/farm almost five years ago. I have the same small regrets as most of the other posters: Not being able to go out of town without major planning, feeding in bad weather, not having a real arena and when it rains not being able to ride in that area, fence maintenance(DH's horse is an escape artist who usually takes part of the fence with him), riding alone a lot.

                                        But I don't have any big regrets. My horses get fed on my schedule which changes every five days on an ugly repetive shift work pattern. So some days they get fed at 4am, some days 8am, some days 6am. I love being able to tailor my mare's feed(hard keeper) to what she needs right then. I love watching my two play/nap/graze just outside my windows. I love having control over blanketing, feed, supplements, care, hay quality. The only time I really regretted not boarding was when my mare needed a stifle injection which meant she needed to be in a stall for at least a day to recover. We don't have a barn yet, working on that for this summer. But a good friend down the road has a barn and let me keep my mare there while getting in the injection done and I just commuted to do her daily care.

                                        Other than that, yeah farm maintenance sucks sometimes, but it's soooo totally worth it to know my horses are getting the level of care I want them to have.
                                        Last edited by Cameraine; Mar. 25, 2013, 12:19 PM. Reason: spelling.
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                                        • #60
                                          I moved my horses home last year and have no regrets at all. Only every once in awhile do I want to stay in bed to take care of the horses, but its not really them... its the two dogs and 5 cats that push me out of bed in the morning...

                                          Also, I agree with Fairview on the grass situation. I was worried about all the grass I had last year. The two have done a good job this winter on eating the grass, but I do have a sacrifice paddock and am using that right now so the other paddocks can grow. I was thinking of reseeding the sacrifice paddock and the barn paddock because they were freshly planted last year after the excavation work I had done... I'm reconsidering that because my air ferns don't need that much grass. They were in muzzles until Dec last year because of the amount, so I'm waiting on re-seeding... too much grass is not a great thing either.

                                          The only regret I had which I couldn't prevent was the arena. I couldn't put it in last year due to money...last year was all about barn water, electricity and fencing... the arena is going in as soon as our darn snow goes away.

                                          I've always done some sort of partial self care and always rode 4-6 times per week... now that they are home, the only limiting thing was the footing siince I have grass...

                                          Farm care is def a consideration, but I have help and am going way in April... the dogs are harder than the horses...

                                          Go for it. I second the making things easy for people. I still need to make dutch doors so noone has to touch my horses, but you'll find a farm is always a work in progress.
                                          For things to do in Loudoun County, visit: www.365thingstodoloudoun.com