Equestrian property is a niche market all of its own, and there’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking of buying into it.
With over 1 million horses in the UK, there’s a huge demand for equestrian property, and this is an expensive marketplace.
Whether you’re armed with some experience of this type of landholding or none at all, here’s a guide to what you need to know about equestrian property.
Firstly, we define an equestrian property before examining the key points to think about when buying one and feature five examples of equestrian properties for sale.
What is an equestrian property?
Technically, equestrian property is land registered for keeping horses. While the area of land involved can range from a country estate to just a few acres with a stable, usually equestrian properties come with grazing land, stables and other facilities for horses.
Types of buyers
Buyers generally fall into one of two categories:
- Leisure riders: the minimum requirements are a stable, at least an acre of land and proximity to riding routes; the sky’s the limit beyond this.
- Professional riders: they may want an indoor school, a manège, groom’s accommodation, hardstanding areas for parking for lorries and trailers, a horse walker, and maybe an American-style barn that offers flexibility of use. Proximity to main roads and the motorway system will be important for travelling to shows and events. Dressage, point-to-point trainers, and event riders will all want slightly different facilities.
Restrictions on equestrian properties
If the land is used for grazing it may well be classed as agricultural land and no planning consent is required. However, if it’s used for exercising or working horses, planning permission may be needed from the local planning authority. If you’re buying land that’s not been used for horses before, you may need to apply for a Change of Use permission from the local authority to register it as an equestrian property. If you want to build stabling or a manège, you will need to apply for planning consent.
How to buy equestrian property
Key points to think about
How do you want to use your equestrian property?
It may be for your own private use, or you may want to run a business such as a livery yard or riding school. Bear in mind that a residential mortgage will be suitable for the former, while a commercial mortgage will be needed if you plan to run a business.
Usually, equestrian properties are located in rural areas, often down narrow lanes, so think carefully about access with horse boxes, especially if you want to attract members of the public. You may need proximity to a main road to make it a viable business opportunity. Find out if the local area is known for holding equestrian events, and the availability of off-road hacking and local bridleways may also be important to you.
How much land do you need?
While 1.5 acres of land per horse is recommended by the British Horse Society, it’s useful to have more so that it can be divided to rotate grazing. Well-established pasture is ideal: too much rich grass can cause laminitis.
Assess the land quality for the following:
- Soil type: good quality, free-draining soil is ideal as it won’t be prone to flooding in winter. Light soils are preferable; clay can get waterlogged in wet weather and become hard and baked in summer. To help assess land, Addland’s land research tool can calculate flood risk.
- Risk of pollution or contamination.
- Protected trees: a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on one or more trees may restrict your plans.
- Access and boundary issues.
- Restrictive covenants attached to the land may affect your plans.
- Expansion potential – proximity to other properties or roads could be restrictive.
- Shelter for horses such as trees and hedges may be desirable.
- The quality of the boundary fencing.
- Water supply: check that there’s a water supply to all fields and stables and assess how up-to-date the pipework and water troughs are.
Barns and stables should be weatherproof, with water and electricity installed. They should be dry and well-ventilated to minimise the risk of disease, and face away from the prevailing wind. An average horse will need a 12’x12’ stall according to the British Horse Society. If there’s a manège, find out what the surface is made from and inspect its condition.
Buildings will be needed for storing hay and other feed, and equipment such as tractors and trailers. You may also want a tack room.
This may be a secondary issue for a professional rider but a priority for a leisure rider. It’s an advantage to have the house within sight and earshot of the stables to enable you to keep a close eye on them as well as for security reasons.
Louise Harrison, Savills director and head of equestrian commented:
Many prospective buyers of equestrian property are finding the process challenging this year due to a shortage of suitable stock across the UK. Demand is strong and continues to outweigh supply, particularly in relation to well-connected properties with good quality, well-maintained facilities. A property we recently brought to the market in Stirlingshire, for example, attracted 20 viewings in just five weeks and we secured a sale ahead of the quoted asking price.
Location is all-important; however, this can mean different things to different buyers. For example, racehorse trainers look for proximity to the motorway network and racecourses as a priority, while polo buyers tend to focus on being close to a club, and those involved in eventing, dressage or show jumping will prioritise locations near to competition venues or trainers. Meanwhile, other considerations are at play, with schooling a top priority for many families.
Equestrian property for sale
Riseley Farm, Swallowfield, Reading, has a guide price of £2.75m and is for sale with Savills. It includes a grade II listed four-bedroom farmhouse with stabling and manège, modern and traditional farm buildings including an American-style barn, plus block and timber loose boxes, providing stabling for up to 12 horses. The manège, 30m x 60m, has a rubber surface. The farm is run as a livery yard by the current owner. There are 18.5 acres, divided into permanent pasture paddocks with post and rail fencing. There is also a three-bedroom cottage.
High-quality equestrian facilities can be found at The Nurseries, Billingbear Park, Berkshire, including five loose boxes, a wash bay, solarium, tack room, horse walker, and two arenas measuring 60m x 25m and 40m x 25m. There is a six-bedroom house, a three-bedroom bungalow, and groom’s quarters. There are nine acres of paddocks bounded by post and rail fencing. It’s close to Smiths Lawn polo ground and racing at Ascot and Windsor. The guide price is £4,000,000 and the agents are Knight Frank.
The Gill Edge Estate near Bainbridge in North Yorkshire has an excellent range of equestrian facilities including an outdoor school, outbuildings, and 28 acres of grazing land and ancient woodland. Along with the main house, there are three self-contained cottages. The property is close to the M6 and A1 and stands in an elevated position in the Yorkshire Dales, enjoying far reaching views. It’s for sale with Carter Jonas with a guide price of £1,750,000.
This property at Fir Toll Road, near Crowborough in East Sussex, has 25 acres, a barn and 10 stables. There is a six-bedroom house with several reception rooms and a semi-detached cottage. It’s within easy reach of good road systems and has a barn with eight loose boxes, a haybarn, two further stables, a sand school, five paddocks a hard standing area. The agents are Batchellor Monkhouse and the property is priced at £1,275,000.
This well-presented equestrian smallholding is in Herefordshire and comprises an American barn for 10 horses, an indoor arena, and an outdoor arena measuring 20m x 42m. Meredith Barn at LLancloudy is a three-bedroom barn conversion in a rural location with 8.8 acres and far reaching views. There’s also a two-bedroom annex and a barn. The location is eight miles from Hereford. The agents Fox Grant are looking for offers of £1,300,000.