If you own a horse or pony or are considering buying one, you may be wondering about the viability of buying some grazing land of your own to keep them on. The cost of paying for livery or grazing land to keep horses and ponies on can be expensive on a week-to-week basis, and if you have the funds available at the outset, buying your own grazing land can have a lot to recommend it in the long term. Plus, you may be able to offset some of the cost and earn an income from your land if you obtain a sufficient quantity of land so as to be able to consider letting out grazing space to other people too!If you are on the lookout for some pastureland that is for sale or are wondering what you will need to bear in mind when looking to acquire land to keep horses on, this article should get you off to a head start.
Before you can get as far as assessing the viability of any potential purchase, firstly you need to establish where to look for land for sale in the first place! Rural estate agents and auction houses often list grazing and farmland for sale, and you may find upon making enquiries that even a large farm or estate that is for sale as a complete package may be prepared to consider splitting the property and selling off an individual parcel of land. It is also worth putting the world out among other people in the local community that you are on the lookout for some land to buy, as can talking to local farmers and landowners themselves.
When you have found yourself a potential area that is up for sale or might be available for sale, your first consideration should be the quality of the grazing land itself. Horses require quality grazing, and premium pastureland attracts a premium price if it is already of a good quality and ready to graze. You might also consider looking at lower quality land or land that has been overgrazed or is overgrown, if you are willing and able to buy land at a lower price and wait for a couple of years while you improve the quality of the land to a standard that it will be fit for horses to graze on.Before making a formal offer on any area of land, you may also wish to have it surveyed for drainage, and have some soil samples taken to identify the presence of any pollutants or toxins in the soil that might prove harmful in the long term to animals grazing on it.
The next thing you should look at is ease of access to the land itself. Is it easy to get to, can you drive right up to the gate, and would you be able to leave your car or other vehicle there safely while you’re working with your horse? Could you and your horse get in and out of the field easily, and does your access depend on rights to pass across someone else’s land or property?Also bear in mind the distance between the land in question and your home; you might have to travel to get there, so ensure that the journey is short enough that you will be able to make it once or twice a day without a problem.
Bear in mind that many areas of privately owned land may have a public right of way or footpath through it, or may be subject to agreements that it may be used to gain access to other people’s land. While this is common and not usually a problem, find these things out beforehand and consider how it might impact upon your security, plans for the land, or what you can do there.
As well as the quality and convenience of the land itself, check out the local area; is there a variety of places to ride out safely, or is the land totally hemmed in by busy roads and farmed fields? Can you get access to common land or bridle paths without too much hassle? Good quality land that is isolated without good access to riding areas may not be worth much to you in the long term!
Generally, you don’t need planning permission or any formal permission to keep horses on grazing land that has historically been used to house horses or livestock. But if you wish to build stables, a barn or even a field shelter, you will probably need to obtain planning permission to do this. Will you be able to get it?
View the land as a whole with a critical eye from the point of view of how you can secure it; are the fences or walls intact, or easy enough to build and maintain? How could you restrict access to minimise the chances of your horse or pony being stolen? Is the area overlooked by any houses or properties that might provide a deterrent to thieves or be able to alert you of anything suspicious going on?
It is generally said that one acre of land should be provided for one grazing horse; however, one acre of land will not accommodate one horse happily all year round. You should look at providing two acres per horse at a minimum, and preferably even three, so that you can rotate the grazing land that you are using and rest areas that are becoming churned up or overgrazed. Also, remember that horses often don’t do well as solitary creatures, so even if you only have one horse or pony, shop for land as if you have at least two, so that you can look into the possibility of providing a friend for your mount in the future.
Once you get as far as finding a suitable patch of land for sale and are considering making an offer on it, remember to take advice from a property solicitor to handle the transaction for you, make sure that you are protected in law, and ensure that everything runs smoothly. Happy hunting!