It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference.
This is couldn’t be more true when it comes to finding the right equestrian property.
When you see a property that seems perfect, it is easy to overlook things at first glance. In this article, we briefly go over 8 items that cab be easy to overlook when viewing horse farms.
1. Water Lines to Paddocks
Having water lines running to paddocks can make a world of difference to your time and your horse’s comfortability.
It is not a necessity but it a convenience, that’s for sure! Rather than having to cart buckets of water back and forth from the barn, or dragging a hose around to fill troughs, having faucets located in paddocks is a great feature of any equestrian property.
We wouldn’t dissuade a purchase just because there are no water lines to paddocks. These can always be put in later if needed. But it is good to train your eye to look out for this “feature” during your property search.
Drainage Around the Property
You don’t want your horses standing in muddy paddocks during the wetter months. Ok, yes, the two pictures above look like they are having the time of their lives! But having to deal with this much water during the winter freezing and thawing will be difficult, as will growing any grass here. Not to mention a bit of a headache for whoever has to hose these two off. 🙂
You also don’t want water pooling around the property, against the barn and arenas. This is why it is essential to investigate and ask questions about the property drainage. Some things you can look for when viewing the property are:
- Checking out the slope of the property. Ask yourself if there is a slope towards the barn or other property structures? If so, is there a drainage system (e.g. a drain line or berm) to intercept the water?
- Looking at the state and positioning of the eavestroughs around the barn and indoor arena is also a good idea. If these aren’t in good repair or aren’t directed away from the structures correctly, you run the risk of having water coming into the barn, your stalls or even worse, causing a flood.
- Inside the barn, you can look for evidence of water seeping in by looking at the back of stalls. Check for stains on the flooring or back panels of the stalls. You can also look at rooms that have a wall that abut the exterior for signs of effervescence. This likely won’t be an issue in newer barns but keep your eyes open when viewing older barns.
Outdoor Arena Drainage
It is going to be tough to see what the drainage of the outdoor arena is like without seeing it after a rain. This is why it is easy to overlook on first viewing. If the arena is fairly new, you may be able to contact the installer to get an idea of what type of drainage system they put in. Or simply have your realtor do some investigating for you.
If possible, and during the right time of the year, it helps to go back to a property on or after a rainy day. This way you can get an idea of how the property, barns, and arenas handle the rain or snowmelt.
Ventilation is EXTREMELY important. It is vital for your horses’s health. Dusty shavings and waste from the horses mean fresh air flowing through the barn is ideal to keep respiratory issues at bay.
Roof vents (either ridge ventilation or cupolas), dutch doors, and windows that open are all good things to look for as far as being helpful with barn ventilation.
4. Hay Storage
This might seem like an obvious item to have on your new horse property checklist but it can be easy to overlook. And sometimes is not even available. Make sure there is enough space to store hay so that you do not have to resort to keeping hay inside an empty stall or in your arena.
If there is no current hay storage, take note of where you might be able to build a structure to store hay. And of course, you’ll want to confirm that this is allowed with your local municipality.
5. Manure Management
It is not uncommon to find manure piles without proper storage on horse farms. And this might be fine if the manure pile is located far enough away from the home and barn, and does not cause an issue with run-off seeping into the groundwater.
Most municipalities have their own rules about manure management. However, for a basic idea, you can look into the Nutrient Management Act here. There are a variety of rules for new barns or barns that have had a recent addition added to them. Barns of different sizes and numbers of horses have slightly different rules and some that allow for exemptions.
There are also various set back requirements. For Example, manure storage needs to be located 100 meters away from a municipal well, 15 meters from a drilled well and 30 meters from any other well.
Again, these setback requirements can be viewed here.
Ideally, a horse barn you are looking at will already have some sort of existing manure storage solution. A cement slap with some sort of three-walled enclosure is typical.
6. Soil Type
We all know that soil types play an important part on horse properties. Yet, taking note of the basic soil type is a detail sometimes missed on the first showing. To get a better idea of what soil is on the property you can often at soil maps that provide information for a municipality. Here is are some examples of maps showing soil types in:
- The Niagara Region
*Zoom in to view soil types. It is a very detailed map so give it a minute to load.
- The Peel Region
Ideally, you would like a loamy, sandy soil type. Clay is ok but can often be a hazard for pulling shoes in the wet months and creating BIG solid divets in paddocks if horses are turned out during or after a wet day. When the ground freezes these divets can be even more hazardous to your horses. It can also be difficult to regrow grass in these paddocks if they have been overgrazed.
To get more details about the soil, you can always have it tested.
It is easy to get taken in by swaths of unfenced grass areas, tons of trees and pretty flower beds around the barn. But if you don’t want to spend most of your time doing landscaping, you’ll want to consider how you are going to maintain it. Hiring out is an option but can be expensive. If there is a lot of unused space, perhaps it is an opportunity for extra paddocks, hayfields, or riding rings.
This seems like an obvious point but most equestrian property viewings take place during the day. Making it easy to miss checking the lighting in and outside of the barn and indoor arenas. You might not need much lighting during the summer months but when the winter rolls around and daylight is limited, you’ll be grateful for good lighting.
Updated Circuit Breakers
Updated circuit breakers can be paramount to the safety of your horses and your barn. Outdated breaker boxes and wiring can be a fire hazard. This is something that you will likely get into with your inspector during your due diligence stage but it never hurts to have a look at the state of the circuit breaker during your viewing. Again, this is something you will need to take note when viewing older barns more so than newly built ones.
What small details do you always try to take note of when looking at horse properties? Or is there something you love about your barn that you think others should look for? Let us know by sending us a message below!