Horses have been a prominent animal throughout history, dedicated to their human’s side. Many would go as far as to suggest that horses, just as dogs, cats, and other pets can be man’s best friend. Like other pets, horses can contribute to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of their humans so much so that there have been people that contribute overcoming their mental illnesses to using a technique called Equine Horse Therapy. Likewise, many children have found companionship in their horses and have grown to learn valuable life lessons from them.
While we as humans receive so much from these amazing animals, it is equally important that we pay attention to their health, wellbeing, and happiness as well.
If you are new to the equestrian lifestyle here are a couple of tips to keeping them happy:
1) Consistent Exercise:
Horses, just like us need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. A daily workout helps to reduce your horse’s stress and allows them to release pent-up energy. While it might not look like the typical gym workout, working out with your horse by training can be beneficial for both you and your horse.
2) Keep Vaccinations Current:
Like humans, horses also need vaccinations and it is important that they stay current, or like humans, they can get sick. Having the proper vaccination in a timely manner helps you keep your horse healthy, fit, and happy.
If your horse gets sick, it will take a lot of energy for it to fully recover. Keeping your horse on a vaccinations routine not only will help prevent your horse from getting sick but will also help your horse to recover against the more serious diseases more easily.
To ensure you are providing your horse the best care and keeping regular on its vaccinations, you can ask your vet for a list of vaccines he/she suggests you give to your horse and which ones are most important for your horse to have. If you don’t currently have a vet, click here for a list of ones in our area.
3) Your Horse Needs a Safe and Comfortable Environment:
Here’s one that lies near and dear to our hearts. As real estate agents, we know just how much we as humans want our homes to keep us safe and comfortable. Similarly, your horse not only deserves but needs housing that not only keeps him safe from things like storms and prey but also makes him comfortable. If your horse lives in a barn, provide them a stall and protection. If they live outdoors, they need some way to get out of the sun. Often a run-in shed, or shady trees can give them protection from the elements they need. Additionally, you will need to provide them with a dry walking area, grass, rubber mats, and hoof care.
Not all properties are created equally. When looking at properties, it is important to make sure it is sufficient for your horse and easy for them to maneuver and permitted for horse use. If you need help determining whether or not a property is viable for your equestrian needs reach out to our equestrian advisors here.
4) Good Nutrition:
We know that when we eat junk food, we feel, well like junk. Similarly, your horse requires a diet that can fuel the energy they need to stay fit and healthy. The digestive system of your horse is designed to process large amounts of fibrous foods regularly.
To keep the horse’s digestive health and increase their energy level, you should include grass, hay, and grains in their regular diet along with a lot of fresh CLEAN water. Including traditional mineral blocks into their routine will help your horse maintain an optimal diet. Check out these great places on Whidbey to purchase food for your horse.
5) Your Horse Needs a Dentist Too!
Have you ever been petting your horse when he decides to give you a big lick across your face?! We have too. That’s how we know it is of the utmost importance for your horse to have a dentist too. You should anticipate a checkup about once a year. Like humans, horse teeth grow. However, unlike humans, horse teeth continue to grow and could potentially become damaged by opposing teeth if not properly taken care of. Because their teeth continue to grow it is important for them to be filed regularly to ensure the horse is comfortable when he eats. Could you imagine trying to eat if your teeth hurt you?
Without regular dental check-ups, your horse could develop problems that could lead to more serious problems like colic and choke.
6) Their Hooves:
It is important to take care of your horse’s hooves, by cleaning them and trimming them regularly. Like humans, every horse is different. The growth at which your horses’ hooves grow may be vastly different from that of another’s. However, it is often common for hooves to grow in between 4 to 8 weeks. You can begin trimming them after that.
7) Visit Your Horse Regularly:
The bond between you and your horse should be very strong like the friendship between you and a best friend. You will develop this bond over time by spending adequate time with them. You should expect to visit your horse daily if possible.
But also, like humans, your horse needs equestrian friends too. So get out and make friends with similar interests as both you and your horse.
At the end of the day…
Buying property suitable for horses is no small task. It is certainly not the typical home buying experience. There is so much to consider from what kind of property best meets the needs of your horses to what kind of home will best meet your wants and needs. Speaking from experience, the horses’ needs are typically the priority.
Working with an experienced Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will also help ensure your home search and purchase go as smoothly as possible. You can find one here.
The Property has Acreage: Is it Suitable for Horses?
Any Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will be the first to tell you that, just because a property has plentiful acreage does not mean it will be a suitable property for your horses. The best property will be flat to gently sloped with good drainage, open areas with grass for grazing, with few trees, and wet areas. Horses weigh 1000 to 1500 pounds on average, which puts a lot of weight on the ground. Therefore, horses can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
The priority is finding an Equestrian Property with useable land – meaning not acres of unusable gullies, steep edges, or too many bodies of water. More land doesn’t necessarily mean it is better, the useability is the priority.
Housing horses and livestock on your property can be done with ease with a few convenient amenities. It is important to consider these amenities as they add value to the Equestrian Property:
- Barn – Does it have an adequate number of stalls for your needs and the right size for your type of horse? Horse stalls can measure from 10 x 10 to 12 x 12 or even larger. Does it have the capability to increase the size of the stall to make foaling stalls? Are the stalls matted? Are there runouts (sacrifice paddocks) off the stalls?
- Hay Storage – What style is the barn? If it is a Monitor style barn, does it have a hayloft? How much hay can be stored in the hayloft? If there is no hayloft, is there adequate storage for hay elsewhere?
- Tack Room – Does the barn have a tack room? If so, is it insulated? It is important to be able to store tack, brushes, and other items in the tack room without them getting damp and moldy.
- Tack Area and/or Wash Bay – While one can do without this amenity it sure is a bonus to have it.
- Quality and Safe Fencing – Fencing can be quite costly (please watch for our future blog on fencing). It adds a lot of value to an Equestrian Property to have good quality and safe fencing. Equally important is how well it is laid out on the property. Is the property fenced and cross-fenced?
- Arena (Indoor and/or Outdoor) or Training Round Pen with good footing – It is a huge bonus to find a property with an arena, especially an indoor arena. Indoor arenas are getting increasingly more difficult to get approval to build and depending on the size can cost well over $100,000 to build. Outdoor arenas are great but have their challenges. It becomes difficult to manage the footing due to weather. Footing in the arena is something to really consider. Each discipline has its own preferences for footing type and depth. But any equestrian will agree that poor footing can cost you a lot – cause lameness in your horses resulting in expensive vet bills and not to mention the time to rehabilitate the horse from injury.
- Water source and location of water on the property. Are there ample spigots to the pastures/paddocks and arena?
- Electricity – Does the barn have electricity running to it?
Transitioning to an Equestrian Lifestyle is a big adjustment. Make sure you are taking your daily routine into consideration when looking at properties. Consider the layout of the Equestrian Property. Does it seem that your daily routine will be seamless i.e., bringing horses in and out from pasture/paddocks to the barn? Are there turnouts off the barn that make it easier on your daily routine? Where is the manure kept? Ultimately, as an Equestrian, you want to be able to leave your property and know that your horses will be safe and sound while you are away.
Barn(s) and Outbuildings Should be Inspected Too:
You have found your Equestrian Property. It will cost you extra, but it is important to have your inspector inspect the Barn(s) as well as the Outbuildings. Your horses are part of your family, and you want to make sure that they will be safe in their surroundings. It is important to have a professional evaluate the Barn and Outbuildings for structural issues, electrical issues, or other potential problems.
Do not assume that the property is an approved horse property just because the owners or prior owners have had horses on the property in the past. Part of the Inspection process will be to do a little research with local city, county, and/or HOA regulations for agriculture and livestock. Do not let this lack of research cut into your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property.
Let us help you make your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property a reality:
To be honest this is all just the tip of the iceberg when searching for an Equestrian Property. It helps to have someone working for you that has done this before. Let’s get you connected. It would be an honor to help you make your dreams a reality.