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Daydream or possibility?

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  • Daydream or possibility?

    I’m not sure if I’m writing this post to garner support or to talk myself out of a bad idea, but here goes! Please weigh-in.

    I live in central Florida and board my only horse, an Arabian gelding, for an astronomical monthly price. However, at said price, I’m at the best barn in town with the best care. For years now, I’ve been trying to find a way to keep my horse at home so he can fully-assume his spoiled pet status, but I haven’t had much luck. I scratch my horse-care-itch by volunteering to clean stalls on the weekends, but I really want to do it all. Yes, even the tough stuff!

    Recently, a house came on the market that seems like fate: It’s backyard is my current boarding barn! Literally, 50 feet from my swimming pool (which also is a motivator) is a covered riding arena, free of charge! My inner 9-year-old thinks this is a terribly romantic set-up and wants a pony in the backyard tomorrow. The house itself is perfect: square footage, layout, upgrades, etc. (AND THAT POOL!). Oh, and most importantly, it’s in our price range

    The downfall? The entire property is 1.3 acres total, and with the house/pool/driveway combined, leaves about 3/4 of an acre for a small 2-stall shed row barn and strategically placed paddocks. I’m convincing myself that without the need to build a riding area, this could be perfect. Am I crazy?

    After some research, I’ve learned the following necessities:
    1. Hay will be fed all year round
    2. Mud will happen if not planned for with a sacrifice paddock with good footing, drainage and turnout rotation
    3. Stall at night or for some portion of a 24-hour period
    4. Manure management will be daily, time-consuming and disposal needs to be planned for
    So, what else am I missing?

    Who thinks I’m crazy?

    Who else is doing this?

    Who thinks I should sit tight and continue to save my pennies until I can get at least 2+ acres for just the horse(s)?

  • #2
    You had me at pool AND barn.


    • #3
      Is there land that you can ride out on from this house? Other than the boarding barn, I mean? The boarding barn could be a great resource, but I would want to have other options just in case.


      • #4
        Also, the advantage to this place is that I would assume that your horse can see the others at the boarding barn, so you could continue with just one horse. If you get another place with more acreage you will most likely have to get a second horse to keep the first horse company.

        And, having a barn and a pool is pretty ideal.


        • #5
          I think the biggest advantage to this property is it's proximity to the boarding barn. I don't think making an investment based on another property is a good idea. What happens if the boarding barn closes, gets sold or otherwise becomes off limits?

          I would wait until you can afford a big enough property that you don't need to rely on a neighbor to make it work.

          Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
          Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.


          • #6
            I kept TWO horses on about an acre and a half of a 2.6 acre property in OH, fed approximately 300 bales of hay a year, built the 2stall shedrow and fence, had the corral/sacrifice paddock surrounding the barn, and kept the horses off the "pasture " all winter and only left them on it 24 hrs if i was going to be away overnight. Mostly they got a couple hours of turnout in the pasture daily for the non mud part of the year.

            I built a mega compost bin for the manure. Bedded stalls with sawdust, horses had free access to stalls and were only shut up in them at feeding time. Gave away a lot of garden compost, used a lot on my own garden.

            Doable, yes. Make sure zoning will allow horsekeeping on that small of a property. Technically, zoning DIDNT at my old place. Zoning board said 3 acre minimum, but added, you'll be ok if your neighbors dont mind. They didnt, everyone had livestock or a home body shop or something that wasn't actually allowed.

            Would I try that stunt again? Hell no, because now I have 10 acres of sandy Deep South pasture, subdivided to 6 paddocks, no stalls, no bedding, no mud at any season, and only feed about 10 bales of hay to my two horses over the course of an average winter here. And although I actually do know where my manure fork is i havent USED it in eons. Sun, rain, dung beetles and paddock rotation have done the work for me.

            I would rethink having stalls in FL. Truly, all they need is shade. If you're blessed with red clay though, youll be doing a lot of grooming every time it rains, so maybe you will want a stall.


            • #7
              Until I bought my current big farm (30 acres) I kept 2 horses at home in backyard that was 1 3/8 acres. Tiny 2 stall barn + small sacrifice paddock and small pasture. I only let horses in pasture when it was dry and couldn't be destroyed. Worked out very well -- horses were happy + I had trails right off the property. Very manageable. So, one horse on 3/4 of an acre could work out.

              But RockinHorse brings up a good point: What if boarding stable wasn't there?

              If there is any chance this stable will close its doors in the future -- is in decline (not making substantial improvements) rather than on the rise -- then I'd hold off on buying.


              • #8
                Does your horse currently have turnout buddies, or is it all solitary turnout? Horses generally are happier when they are physically with at least 1 other horse so they can engage in social behaviors like mutual grooming, fly swishing, and play. If he's in single turnout now, that won't be a big change for him in that regard.

                How big is his current turnout? How long is he in it?

                Are you looking more to save money, or to have more control? You'll want to do some ballpark figuring on what your increases in mortgage and/or property taxes will be, plus the costs of maintaining the property - fence repair, pasture maintenance, manure maintenance (like a dumpster rental), and your time to do all that.

                3/4 acre total, for some sort of shelter and small paddocks - where will you store hay? You'll need a ballpark of 600lb of hay/month, assuming a smaller horse with normal calorie needs - 1000lb horse at 20lb hay/day. You'll need a place to store your equipment of wheelbarrow, rake, pitchfork, shovel. Where will you store bedding?
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                • #9
                  Also, you need to think about whether you ever want to go away for a vacation again. In this proposed set-up, you would need more than someone who was willing to come by daily to throw hay and refill water while you are gone.

                  Or are you thinking that you could board at the boarding barn while you're away?
                  "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                  • #10
                    Why would the arena be able to be used free of charge?

                    If the place charges an arm and a leg for care, won't they also charge an arm and a leg to allow you to use the arena?

                    Doesn't change the fact that you will conceivably be saving a lot of money on board/care. But do you know that you can use the arena for free or are you just assuming?
                    Flying F Sport Horses
                    Horses in the NW


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                      Why would the arena be able to be used free of charge?

                      If the place charges an arm and a leg for care, won't they also charge an arm and a leg to allow you to use the arena?

                      Doesn't change the fact that you will conceivably be saving a lot of money on board/care. But do you know that you can use the arena for free or are you just assuming?
                      ^^ This. Their insurance may not even allow use by outside horses/clients. Or they may charge an exorbitant fee. Honestly, if my boarding barn started allowing people in to use the amenities free of charge, the same amenities I am paying a premium to use, I would be pretty pissed.

                      I know of a number of facilities that charge day fees or memberships for outside horses/riders to come in and use the facilities and it all works just fine. I can't say I know of any that allow others to come in and use the facilities for free however.

                      Also be sure to check on the local zoning and be sure what the requirements are for housing horses, permits required to put up fences and barns, requirements for manure removal to be sure your plans will fit within current restrictions (if any)
                      "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham


                      • #12
                        Wouldn't keep a horse on 3/4 of an acre to small. Wouldn't want my land to be 50 ft from a boarding barn either. That said it would be a no go....wait for a bigger place. Keep saving money till then.


                        • #13
                          Buy the house (and POOL!). Build a shade hut and a paddock. Keep boarding the horse.
                          Ride him home for lunch and let him hang out in the paddock so you can watch him graze while you lounge by the POOL. Hell, keep him overnight occasionally. Best of both worlds.
                          Patience pays.


                          • #14
                            I vote no. I now have 3 horses on 7 acres that includes my house, pool (I hate it, guess who the maintenance falls to?), and huge shop buildings for the Pecan business, misc farm stuff. The front 'yard' is probably close to an acre, not fenced at all for horses.So what about 5 acres for the horses? The mowing almost kills me in the summer, but, I swear, I need more! I'm still scheming to buy more adjoining land. I would never go for less.


                            • #15
                              My first reaction to someone wanting to move their horses to their property is almost always no. It is a big responsibility, but in your case you basically have a built in backup plan with your current facility right there.

                              I brought my first horse home when I still living with my parents. We didn't have a lot of land, probably about what you have. It worked, of course that might lead you want wanting big places and more land, but that is problem for another day

                              I say go for it. Worst case scenario you are boarding your horse right next to your house.


                              • Original Poster

                                Thank you all for taking the time to read my story and giving such thorough feedback! It's truly appreciated. It looks like I have some questions to answer, so here goes:

                                -There are alternative places to hack out, as well as other riding arenas in the neighborhood. It's the horsey section of town, if you will, so I may be able to connect with others should the next door facilities ever close

                                -My thought process around having a barn is restrict access to the "grass" for some period of time. But maybe I just give up this premise and focus on making the paddock a dry lot to begin with? I would also plan on having a feed/hay/shavings storage attached.

                                -We have no red clay in our area, the soil is VERY sandy, which makes for good drainage. I'd plan on bringing in more dirt and sand to begin with, leveling out the paddock and doing everything I could to keep it dry

                                -I wouldn't consider this property at ALL if I had a different horse. My current guy is extremely hardy and a very easy keeper. His previous boarding barn consisted of around 16 hours of solitary turnout in a sandy pen (small) with hay, and he was pretty chill there. THAT being said, introducing a second horse into the picture would probably be unlikely. But I'm not ready for horse #2 in my life just yet...that's probably another 5-10 years down the road.

                                -All the boarding barns in this area have solitary confinement...LOL that's what I call it anyhow! Moving here from Texas was a huge shock for me. So for the last two years, my guy hasn't interacted socially with another horse. It KILLS me, of course, but that's just how it's done in this town. And despite how my heart wrenches over it, Mr. Horse hasn't seemed to mind.

                                -I will double and triple check zoning laws.

                                -And the biggest question to answer about the use of the riding arena, will probably make some of youmscoff, but I'll say it. The boarding barn owners have been encouraging me to buy this property! I think they want horsey neighbors that they know and like. They are probably the kindest people I've ever met and have repeatedly said the arena would be mine to use. I would, of course, offer them a monthly stipend and run their tractor to drag it anytime I could.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by PsyPsy View Post
                                  I wouldn't consider this property at ALL if I had a different horse. My current guy is extremely hardy and a very easy keeper. His previous boarding barn consisted of around 16 hours of solitary turnout in a sandy pen (small) with hay, and he was pretty chill there. THAT being said, introducing a second horse into the picture would probably be unlikely. But I'm not ready for horse #2 in my life just yet...that's probably another 5-10 years down the road.
                                  This is something that threw up a HUGE red flag for me. Unless you are willing and able to easily move again, or the type who has the ability to do so, when you buy and invest the money in to the place that your talking about, you may end up leaving it at a loss. I'm not sure if I'm saying that right .... But for me, if you're planning on a 2nd horse down the road this place surely won't work unless you're only looking at it as a stop over house IMHO
                                  If at first you don't succeed, get back on the horse and try it again!


                                  • #18
                                    Although it sounds like a really great situation with the boarding barn owners next door and what not, I personally would never BUY a property if its usefulness and my happiness there depended on a "cohabitation" agreement with any neighbors.
                                    If it were available to rent, I'd rent it, but I wouldn't buy such a property.
                                    "The best of any breed is the thoroughbred horse..." - GHM



                                    • #19
                                      I say buy it. House, pool, and it sounds like your horse would have more room at your place, even if that's just 3/4 of an acre, than he does at the boarding barn. There are tons of barns that do turn out in less than 3/4 of an acre, and that's only for a few hours. And you can just ride over to the barn to use their ring, and you say you're in a horsey area, so neither you nor your horse needs to be totally isolated -- you can run into friends and your boy can see other horses when you're hacking out. If you are in a position to buy a place, this one sounds as good as any! No place is perfect, so, get over the idea of perfect and buy this place. Your inner 9-yo sounds pretty excited about it, and she's worth paying attention to. :-) If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. Sure, you could take a financial hit if/when you need to sell, in the future, but that's the rule for any property.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Here are my proposed layouts. Husband frowned on option 2 and said "Too much horse."
                                        Give me your opinions!! (Note...setback is not an issue for the barn. The driveway you see it up against is private and would be mine).

                                        For reference, I took his current pasture and placed it inside the "Grass Pasture" area, so it's obvious he'd have about 1.5 times his current turnout. That includes a dry lot. Currently, when it rains the horses stay inside until it dries. This would allow him access outside even during the muddy season. I'd plan to put a lot of money into the footing of the dry lot.
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