Buying a Horse? You'll Need These 4 Home Upgrades First
After months of consideration, you've finally decided to take the plunge and get a horse in Colorado. Fantastic! A horse makes an excellent animal companion. They're intelligent, strong, energetic, elegant, and will certainly enliven your equestrian property. Plus, Colorado's mild climate and abundance of pristine land supports horse-keeping so well that one can even find wild horses in Colorado.
But one can't just plop a horse down anywhere and expect it to thrive, so how does one make a property horse-ready? Keep reading to check out the home upgrades homebuyers should make before buying a horse for their Boulder equestrian properties.
Develop Raw Land for Grazing
Whether homeowners expect to own one or multiple horses, they'll need somewhere to stay, and a large lot in a horse-friendly neighborhood will make an ideal home for them. However, homebuyers need to develop it into horse-appropriate land by setting up a horse stable or barn to provide shade and shelter for a horse.
Build fences and hay and tack storage areas, and consider a grazing area where equines can feed and run freely. If space allows, homeowners could even set up horse fence panels to create a riding arena or an overnight horse corral. But before expanding raw land to accommodate horses, conduct a feasibility test to ensure the land is viable for horse-keeping, and if so, how many the property can keep.
In Colorado, potential horse-owners need at least 1.5 to 2 acres on average to keep a single horse, though this may vary. Some zoning stipulations even regulate where to set up the stable on the land. These regulations are established to reinforce proper land usage and ensure enough pasture, water, and room for the horse to run around. Look for information regarding the property's water rights, soil conditions, and easements, as such factors also affect the horse's overall comfort.
Build a Horse Shelter for All Seasons
Getting a property in Colorado horse-ready involves more than just conducting a feasibility test on soil conditions. Owners will also need to design a horse shelter suitable for all seasons to protect the horse throughout the year. Set up the shelter on high, solid, and firm ground, so it remains dry and warm even during the winter season.
Ensure the land is also flat and leveled to reduce prep work and centrally-located such that it's easily accessible from any part of the property. An all-season horse shelter should also be well-ventilated to ensure the horse has somewhere to cool down and skip the hot sun during the summer season.
Consider a corral or run-in shed, as these are budget-friendly stable options that provide plenty of shade without confining the horse, or incorporate ceiling fans into the design to ensure quality ventilation. Remember, even though Colorado's winters are generally mild, temperatures can drop as low as -20 degrees, and the snow can get pretty thick in the autumn and winter months. That means the horse might need to remain in the stable for multiple days at a time when the weather gets intense.
Set up the shelter to include enough room for movement and sufficient hay, water, and supplement access, so the horse is happy to stay in there until better weather comes around. And since horses lose body heat fast, the shelter should provide maximum protection from precipitation and harsh winter winds.
Ensure the Property Has Reliable Water Sources
Horses consume a lot of water. On average, an adult horse needs at least 10 gallons of water daily to stay hydrated. A mature horse can drink up to 15 gallons a day during summer. Even if owners offer top-quality feed, if there isn't enough water, the horse will eat less, meaning they'll have less energy and be more prone to health conditions like impaction colic.
Besides the horse's hydration, owners also need water for horse grooming, general stable cleaning, and irrigating hay or pasture. So, before buying a horse, ensure there's a reliable water source on or near the property. Consider investing in an automatic horse waterer to ensure high water quality and efficient delivery. These range from wall to pedestal mounted designs and will make life as a horse owner easier by automatically refilling water troughs with fresh, clean water whenever the horse needs it.
Note that automatic waterers come in three design variations. Frost-free systems with a frost-line fill the bowl whenever the horse presses the valve. There are also heated ones that maintain a constant water supply through pressurization when the horse is drinking and energy-free designs that have water at all times. Besides a waterer, a water heater is another excellent upgrade to add to a barn. It'll keep hot water for grooming, barn-warming, and general cleaning tasks readily available throughout the year. Consider rain gutters and downspouts that pour into a tank or infiltration area away from the barn to capture rainwater and increase the water supply.
Consider Adding a Riding Arena
One of the perks of owning a horse is riding it whenever you want. This privilege can be made even better by having a riding arena on the property. Consider the location first to build a highly functional and horse-friendly riding arena. It should be free of rocks or vegetation and shouldn't be sloping; otherwise, owners may have to invest in prep work.
Besides location, evaluate drainage options. A horse-riding arena should feature proper drainage, or else water will start pooling, creating soft spots that damage its surfaces, and negatively affect ride quality. Besides drainage, it should also feature industrial-quality base materials, at least a quality clay base, a balanced mix of sand and gravel, and a layer of crusher dust.
Remember, the arena's surface durability is only as good as its base layers, so use quality materials. Consider adding materials like rubber mulch to improve cushioning and drainage and features like gates to practice dressage riding.
Upgrading Your Home for Horses is a Worthwhile Investment
Colorado is a great place to own a horse, thanks to its generally mild climate and equine-friendly locations. However, a horse isn't just a wonderful investment; it's also a significant one. It's only sensible to take care of it by giving it a proper home. Invest in automatic waterers, set up a quality riding arena, install water heaters, and ensure the land is hoof-friendly.