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Five Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Black Hills Horse Property (Part-1)

Mom and newborn colt photo by Lee Alley Real EstateCongratulations! You are ready to purchase property to share with your equine companions. You may have dreams of stepping out onto your deck with a cup of coffee each morning to look out over the fields where your horses are grazing in the early light of dawn, and you just can’t wait to simply leave the house and walk to the barn whenever you want. This is an exciting time for anyone who is preparing to purchase horse property, but don’t be fooled. Knowing horses and knowing horse property are two completely different things. Serious property pitfalls that could spell heartache for you and even health problems for your horses exist, and partnering with a real estate professional who knows horses and who knows horse property is the best way to avoid making the following mistakes. This begins a five-part series.  Here is:

MISTAKE #1 --  Believing That Acreage Equals "Horse Property"

Be careful not to assume that all properties with plentiful acreage are suitable for horses. Horses need land that is flat to gently sloped for grazing, without too much brush, and without steep slopes that only Mountain Goata mountain goat could traverse with ease. Luckily, the right kind of property is plentiful in South Dakota; so long as there is plenty of the right type of forage, shade or other shelter, good drainage, a reliable water source and enough water to keep horses, pasture, and your family healthy, you may be looking at a suitable property for horses. Black Hills View Lot photo by Lee Alley

Be very wary of any so-called horse property that is advertised as “view” property. This type of property often has rocky soil that can bruise horses’ feet, and often properties like this have steep banks and sit atop a mountain or hill. In some cases, view properties are surrounded by fertile soil and rolling hills that are ideal for pasture; if you are lucky enough to find one of these, you are probably looking at an ideal piece of land. Look for property with 15% maximum slope in most places; any more than that, and you are asking for trouble.

Some acreages have limitations on horses per acre. Can you imagine the heartbreak that would accompany this mistake? Ensuring that acreage is properly zoned is absolutely essential, and if it is zoned for horses, ensure it is zoned to accommodate your stock.

Black Hills Mountain Lion
Other properties are located in areas where predators, such as mountain lions, create cause for concern. An adult mountain lion can bring down a horse with surprising ease, and it can easily kill a human being (My wife and I have each hiked thousands of miles in The Hills and have yet to succeed in finding even a single mountain lion, no matter how hard we try.) Bears have been spotted in the Black Hills, too, and there has been some discussion about wolves returning to South Dakota, where their population was once widespread. While it is fantastic to live near natural areas, don’t forget that predators tend to be numerous in such places.

"Typical" Black Hills Barn.  Design, construction and photo by Lee Alley
Remember that the best horse properties have nice amenities that allow you to care for your horses properly. There should be a barn or other suitable shelter, along with storage areas for keeping hay and feed dry. A tack room or a building that can be repurposed as a tack room enables you to store all of your gear properly to prevent it from being destroyed, and grooming areas should be part of the big picture too. A safe place to ride and work with your horses ought to be either available or attainable; it should have good footing and be adequately sized for your needs. If you love trail riding, your property should be close enough to trails so that you can go out frequently without spending the time you could be riding just traveling to a far-off destination.

"Horsing Around" photo by Lee AlleyWell there you have it. Part-1. Our next installment in this five-part series will be about remembering to factor in the (sometimes surprising) added costs for fences and such. See you back here then...

  1. Part-1: What Makes a "Horse Property?"
  2. Part-2: Fences
  3. Part-3: Access and Vehicle Maneuvering
  4. Part-4: Location and Siting
  5. Part-5: Planning

(Lee is a long-time investor in, and agent for, various horse properties around South Dakota and Colorado.  He has also completed training for SD State University's Agriculture College certification as Advisor in Country Real Estate (ACRE).

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Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

Hi Lee, there's all kinds of things to look for when considering purchasing properties suitable for horses. I have sold a few in the past (I have one listed right now), and it's a different kettle of fish from other rural real estate transactions. Buyers must do a lot more due diligence.

Apr 15, 2012 07:40 AM #1
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Lee - it is obvious that if anyone is interested in a property in your area, your blog is is invaluable for them. This is eactly what I would need to know about the area, especially if I have never lived there before.

Excellent localism post

Apr 24, 2012 12:27 AM #2
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