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When Horses Are Your Passion

Posted by abreitenbach on May 11, 2021

If you’re into horses, it’s hard to think or talk about anything else. As a lifelong lover of horses, longtime horse owner and certified riding instructor, specializing in equestrian properties as a real estate professional comes naturally. My Nashville area mini-equestrian property is home to my two beautiful American Paint Horses, an off-track Thoroughbred who raced internationally, and a much-loved retired pony who’s still going strong after 30 years.

If you’re looking to buy or sell horse property, it’s essential to work with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about horses. Whether you’re just getting into horses or are an experienced equestrian, you’ll need someone who can speak your language and understand a horse person’s needs – whether you’re looking to buy or market your own existing property to prospective buyers.

There’s a long list of property features to think about when buying or marketing your own horse property:

Adequate, Safe Grazing Acreage

A good rule of thumb is one to two acres per horse, but check with your local county officials for any rules or additional guidelines. Check that there are no covenants, creeds or restrictions that might prohibit the presence of horses on the property. Find out what kind of grass is already seeded – for example, pregnant mares should not consume fescue during certain stages of gestation. You may want to have the PH of the soil tested to confirm its alkalinity or acidity, and any rebalancing that may be needed for optimal pasture during the grazing season. Examine the fencing to ensure that it’s solidly horse-safe all around. Avoid barbed wire if at all possible. Although it’s an effective barrier for cattle, horses always seem to get hurt on it.

Access to Quality Hay & Water

Unless you plan on purchasing acreage with enough suitable land to make your own hay, you’ll want to self-educate around local access to quality horse-suitable hay. Find out where to source it, going price per square or round bale, available mixes (timothy, orchard, alfalfa, mixed grass, bermuda and fescue are amongst leading horse-appropriate possibilities), as well as delivery options and costs. A suitable horse property will also need a clean, dry storage space to keep hay dry and off the ground.

What water will your horses access? Is there a naturally occurring pond (preferably spring-fed) or stream and if so, do they risk drying up during the year? Whether the home is on well water or “city water,” can that water be easily tapped for your horses? In colder climates, are existing water hydrants frost-free?

Draw on Area Resources – Ask around!

Area resources such as universities, your State’s Department of Agriculture, local equestrian groups (many of whom help each other out through dedicated Facebook pages), tack and feed stores, equine vets, farriers, local trainers or riding schools are all excellent sources of information if you are a new buyer in the area.

Flood Risk

Consider the lay of the land and if any of it is in a FEMA-designated flood zone. Even if it’s not, user-friendly tools such as can help you understand a property’s relative flood risk, especially if it has low spots or other water features such as a running creek on it. Is the overall terrain suitable for horses in the event of heavy rain? If you had to evacuate your horses, what would be your nearby options? If there’s a barn, is it on relatively higher ground?  If there’s an outdoor riding area, what are its drainage features?

Manure Management

If you’re looking at a smaller acreage, consider whether you may need to invest in a manure spreader, need to rely on outside services for periodic manure removal off your property or whether you’re prepared to pick out your own pastures and paddocks.


Put yourself in your equine’s shoes…if turned out on pasture, is there adequate shelter in the event of severe weather? Notice naturally-shaded areas and whether there are additional run-in sheds. If there are large trees along your fence-line, consider the scenario if a storm brings a tree down on your fence. I say this as a horse owner who has had to deal with exactly that on several occasions.

Proximity to Area Equine Vets and Farriers

Research your nearest equine vets and farriers when looking at horse property. Whether for routine care or in the event of a veterinary emergency, you want to know how far you’d need to haul, or how long a farm call might take to get to you in the case of an injury or colic case. And if you shoe your horses, you know that a thrown or twisted shoe can put you out of the saddle in no time.

A Horse-Friendly Area?

If you’re an avid trail rider, you’ll want to find out about the nearest equestrian trails, hauling distances and equestrian trailhead parking areas. You’ll also want to know local trail etiquette. If you are an equestrian competitor, you’ll be more focused on hauling distances to nearest shows for your chosen discipline like competitions, breed-specific shows, 4-H events and more. You will also want to know about area boarding resources and the availability of qualified horse help when you’re away from home.

When horses are your passion, you buy property as much for your four-legged friends as you do for yourself. Horse property buyers usually want to see the barn before the house (unless you may be considering the growing popularity of a barndominium). Work with a proven horse-knowledgeable real estate professional to help you identify the perfect property for you and your equine friends.

About the author

Vera Nicholas is an affiliate broker for United Country | Leipers Fork in Tennessee. As the founder of Pearls ‘n Spurs Luxury Trail Rides, a bring-your-own-horse trail riding company in the Leipers Fork area and horse owner herself, Vera helps buyers and sellers of equestrian/horse properties across her market. Because of her extensive knowledge and background with these types of properties, Vera also helps United Country agents across the nation as a Subject Matter Expert of Equine Properties for the company. Learn more about her and the Leipers Fork team at and

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