Horse Property: Equine Components


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The search for the right horse property leans heavily on the equine components involved. When meeting with a real estate professional, arrive with a carefully thought-out list of your needs and wants. This will depend on how many horses you have, what type of riding you plan to do at this property and whether or not you plan on running a business component. You need to consider your requirements in the barn, stalls, arena, paddocks and any other structures. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What facilities will you require for your horses and your purpose in a horse property? Are you willing to renovate, or do you have the capital to build from the ground up?
  • What type of barn do you need, and how large should it be? Does it need to be heated? How many box stalls will you need? What do you need in a tack room and feed room? Do you want a wash rack inside the barn?
  • Will you need an indoor arena, and how large will it have to be? Does it need to be heated? Do you need an office in the arena or barn?
  • How many paddocks and shelters do you need? Do they currently have electric waterers, or will you have to install them yourself? Do you need a round pen for training, and is there level land for that?

Begin with a visit to your county office to learn about land use bylaws for rural properties. If you are building new structures, be aware of setbacks, the minimum distances you can build facilities from a particular landmark, like roads and utility access easements, wells, bodies of water, septic systems and parcel boundaries. Check with a county planner to ensure existing buildings are in line with the local setback rules.

It’s imperative to get an inspection done on each building to ensure they’re up to code. Often, this is a way to determine whether your money is better spent renovating or building something new entirely, or passing over the property if the cost of getting it up to code would be higher or more troublesome than you’re willing to deal with.

If you want to keep the existing facilities on the property, think about what you may want to add in the future based on changing wants and needs. Will you have the space to make any changes to your horse facilities should you decide to do so in the future? The space to do so is important to consider, even if you are satisfied with what you have at the time of purchase.

Think about the upkeep that will be involved with this property. The larger the property, the more upkeep it will require. Be sure to inspect everything — fences, buildings, roofs, floors, electrical, plumbing and foundations — to see how much needs to be repaired or replaced, and consider the time and cost involved. The worse conditions they are in, the more time-consuming and costly the renovation will be. By carefully examining these features, you will be better informed when deciding if these are issues are fixable or if your time and money are better spent elsewhere.

Other considerations can include where you will store equipment and feed, where to dispose of manure and what kind of fencing is best for your property and your horses. If the property has access to an irrigation canal, think about whether or not you’ll need an irrigation system to produce enough hay for your horses and where it would be most beneficial on the land. Be sure to find out where the electrical and plumbing features are in the barn, and check to see if they’re easy to access in case of an emergency.

Visit our Real Estate webpage to check out current horse property listings.

Horse Property: Land Considerations


Quality pasture, adequate space per horse and access to water are all factors to consider when viewing  a horse property.

Quality pasture, enough acreage for the number of horses and access to water are all factors to consider when viewing a horse property.

Whether you’re buying your first horse property, changing your focus or looking for your dream ranch, there are many elements to consider in your search for the perfect property. In this article, we list some of the most important geographical factors to think about when identifying your needs, and what to look for when viewing properties.

Work with a real estate professional specializing in rural properties who also knows the area well. Not only will they know what to look for and be familiar with the area’s land use bylaws, they can better meet your needs by understanding the lifestyle you want.

Start your search with a trip to your county office to learn about the land use bylaws for rural properties. The regulations on property use, environmental considerations and how many animals are allowed per acre vary by each county or municipal district.

The purpose of your horse property will determine a number of factors, including size, best possible layout, necessary facilities and land use regulations on agricultural businesses and livestock units per property. It’s also important to think about what you may want to do with your property in the future, and factor in the extra acreage that may be needed for any expansion.

Think about how much land on the property is actually usable. A larger property covered in trees and water may have less usable space than a smaller property without those features. Depending on your needs in a horse property, you want to ensure the property meets those needs. Are you looking for trails for riding? A large, flat space for an arena or barn?

Land with good drainage is particularly important for grazing livestock. Pastures need dry footing, and creating well-drained areas can be expensive. Land with a slight slope, around a 2-5 percent grade, is considered ideal for pasture because it drains well and is less likely to lead to major erosion. Look for the high spots on the property, and ideally you will find wide, narrow drainage paths for slow-moving water. You want to avoid flood plains, as well as low-lying areas where rain tends to pool.

Sufficient water access is a necessity. The generally-accepted standard for abundant well water supply is no less than 10 gallons per minute. Regulations depend upon the county and the number of animals per acreage. Will you need to dig a well or dugout to have enough water for your horses? Be sure to examine all the water access points, and know that the further you have to haul water to your livestock, the greater the time commitment.

When examining pasture quality, check for the growth of good forage. Land with substantial weed growth and marsh vegetation are less suitable for grazing, and be sure to check for plants that are toxic to horses. Reseeding a pasture takes time and money, but is generally a good investment. Check the soil quality — clay-based and rockier soils are less productive. There are many good grazing resources, such as the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, to give you an idea of proper pasture management and rotation based on acreage and number of animals. Also consider whether or not you will have to produce hay. How much hay land will you need? Will you have to purchase additional hay?

Next week, we will discuss infrastructure considerations when viewing a horse property, such as renovations, building from the ground up and fencing.

Visit our Real Estate webpage to check out current horse property listings.


How to Escape to Little Canada

Arizona Horse Country

Wintering in Arizona is a horse lover’s dream.

Snowbirds have many good reasons for wanting to purchase property in Arizona, to escape North America’s cold northern climate in the winter. So much so, that a small area of Maricopa has self described itself as “Little Canada.” However purchasing a foreign-property can still seem pretty intimidating to Canadians. Finding the answers to all your questions may seem overwhelming, but it can be done.

A very valuable Canadian resource in the Pinal County, Maricopa, Casa Grande, Province, Rancho El Dorado, Thunder Bird Farms and Hidden Valley areas is Mary Ann Toohey, of Maricopa Real Estate. She is not only a real estate agent, but a former Canadian, avid horse person and past Canadian Finals Rodeo Qualifier. For many of today’s top rodeo contestants and performance horse enthusiasts, Toohey has helped them to make their Arizona dream a reality. On her website you will find homes for sale, information for sellers and community links and info, for the Maricopa and Casa Grande areas. If you are in the market for a winter escape, Toohey has a wide variety of listings to suit almost any price bracket.

Canadians have unique questions for realtors. After several decades working within the Arizona real estate business, Toohey’s most common concerns from Canadians include:

How do I get financed? Both American and Canadian lenders do have financing packages for Canadians looking to buy homes in the U.S. Your down payment and lending terms vary according to which institution you choose, income levels and the purpose of your purchase. There are lots of options available, you just need to chose what you can afford.

How am I taxed as a Canadian, if I decide to sell my property? Any income you earn in the United States has to be reported to both the U.S. and Canadian governments, including selling your Arizona property. At that time you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is a nine digit numbered issued by the Internal Revenue Service, to those who do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. Expect to be taxed by a percentage on profits made by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

If you are seeking more important tips on purchasing property in the United States, check out the Jan./Feb. edition of the Western Horse Review and check out Toohey’s website for affordable horse properties for sale.

Maricopa Real Estate

This horse property located in Maricopa, is listed at $184,900.

Cowboy Town, Arizona


West USA Real Estate

Because of the year-round mild temperatures, Arizona horse properties often need little more than a tack shed and shade from the sun.

Whether you are a roper or an avid horse person, Wickenburg, Arizona, is a horse lover’s paradise. Penny Arthur at West USA Realty is not only an avid horse person, but has found buyers for some of the most beautiful horse properties in the area. We spent some time with Penny and asked her for advice on buying property in the area.

Wickenburg, Arizona

Try to imagine not shovelling snow next winter. Instead, envision yourself relaxing by the pool at your Arizona hideaway.

Four key tips for Canucks thinking of an Arizona location from realtor, Penny Arthur.

1. See it in person: distance sometimes makes it a necessity, especially on a property new on the market that fulfills all of our criteria and is priced well enough that it’s not likely to stay on the market for long. However, it’s best not to make offers on property you have not viewed in person.

2. Be ready: have your financing planned out and approved in advance so when you see that good deal you are ready to move. Good deals don’t last long.

3. Think for yourself: just because you have friends in a certain area doesn’t mean it is a good investment. Do some investigating on your own.

4. Utilize the fine print: after writing a contract you have a 10-day period to inspect your home and the area – use it!

Wickenburg Horse Properties, Arizona Horse Ranch

Arizona style is eclectic and modern.  

For horse lovin’ snowbirds, Wickenburg is a winter paradise. With several major arenas within a three mile radius and endless horse trails – everyday is a good day to ride in Wickenburg. See more Wickenburg horse properties at Arthur’s website,

Arizona Real Estate


You might have guessed by now that a bit of my family’s winters have been spent in Arizona over the past few years. We purchased a house northeast of Scottsdale three years ago, in the center of a landscape brimming with bank-owned properties.

Real estate deals then, and certainly still today – as there remain many bank-owned properties on the market – abounded, and Canadian horse owners of all ages gained snowbird status – perhaps much earlier than many of us might have dreamed possible.

One of Phoenix's equine highlights of the year is the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, held every February.

In the Phoenix area it all began with a housing swell, which propelled the economy through the creation of a builder’s boom, construction jobs and the resulting real estate market. But, even as an estimated one-third of the population were supported by this economy, it proved to be false; when the buying stopped, the jobs dried up, real estate plummeted and the Valley of the Sun ground to a halt.

In December, 2008, there were less than 2,000 real estate sales in the Phoenix area, and over 58,000 homes on the market. The glut was overwhelming and the deals were plentiful, particularly as many properties turned over to banks, their owners unable (or unwilling) to carry mortgages three times the current market value of their home.

Dean and I first visited the Cave Creek and Rio Verde areas in the winter of 2008-09, on the advice of a friend who suggested it was a horsetopia of a kind. It was.

Trails to walk and ride are easy to find in this part of the country.

We fell in love with the desert, the architecture and the beautiful horse ranches and facilities in the area east of Cave Creek, along Rio Verde Drive.

It's just so tough to ride in these conditions.

Here, we were surrounded by parkland on three sides, there were arenas in every direction, no wind, no relentless dust blowing up in your face, and no insects. If you ride anywhere in an outdoor arena in Canada, you are privy to what I speak of. Itwas utopia.

The desert blooms.

The hunt began. It wasn’t a problem finding horse acreages to view. It seemed like every other one had a “for sale” sign propped up in front of it.

One of the many distressed homes we viewed back in '09.

With the help of Claudia Jordan, a Rio Verde/Cave Creek real estate agent, we began searching in earnest. Claudia’s expertise in the area helped educate us in details like flood plains and building styles.

This property was a possibility, until we found a good portion of the property was flood plain designated, making any plans to build a barn or other structure difficult.

She negotiated short sale and bank-owned situations for us. She set up a handy online portal for us, where we could log in and view homes in our area, as soon as they came on the market. The portal allowed us to view details and photos of the home, map it and view important details such as previous sales of the home and it’s progression through the market. This was invaluable, as of course we were often shopping from our Canadian base. (As it transpired, the property we purchased was on the portal, and therefore the market, for less than 24 hours. Back then, timing was everything!)

We love the southwestern style.

Claudia has an excellent website, Rio Verde Lifestyle, which she maintains regularly with monthly reviews of real estate activity in the Rio Verde area, as well as horse news, and her latest listings.

Claudia traipsed with us through so many properties. I’m not sure how we can ever repay her patience with us.

Claudia (on left), patiently humoring us with another viewing.

By the summer of 2009, Dean had found his dream home, and an offer was made and accepted.

The view from our rooftop in the Rio Verde and Cave Creek area: desert vegetation, mountains and arena rooftops.

Since then, and prior to, some of our friends have bought in the area. Maricopa, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe and Queen Creek are other areas we know of Canadian horsepeople residing. As this column evolves, I hope to bring you information from each of these areas in terms of their pros and cons – specifically for horsepeople.

A cutting at the Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center at Queen Creek.

While there aren’t as many properties for sale any longer in the area, a Phoenix area home still appears to be a sound investment. Some real estate pundits are forecasting Phoenix real estate prices to jump up to 60% over today’s prices by the year 2014. While this may seem a far-fetched prediction, take a gander at these new business and investment initiatives currently in the works in the Phoenix area:

• is building their largest U.S. distribution centre in West Phoenix.

• Intel is creating thousands of new jobs in the Chandler area.

• The Cancer Treatment Centres of America have built a facility in Goodyear, and are expanding yet with additional facilities, restaurant and hotel.

• The world’s largest solar company, Suntech, built in Goodyear in 2010, and is poised to expand with an even larger project.

• Rioglass, the Spanish solar company is building their U.S. headquarters in Surprise.

• A 1.2 million square foot open-air mall is now scheduled to open in 2014.

• Plans are apparently in the works for a China-based company to relocate an existing business with an employee base of 10,000-20,000 to the Phoenix area.

Ponder the amount of jobs these projects alone will create, and the homes these employees will need.

Interesting times.