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Three horses on a farm
Horse Farm

Once upon a time, New Hampshire was an agricultural state. In the 1800s the landscape was dominated by farms, by pastures and croplands. Horses were an important part of that world and thankfully the tradition of horse ownership is still alive here in the Granite State. Many of us have a dream to someday recreate a little slice of that history. Here is a little guide to get you started on the path to a successful purchase of a New Hampshire horse property.


Even though you are buying a horse property, at the center of it all is a search for the right real-estate and the goal is to make the process as easy as possible and to give yourself the best chance at success. So keep in mind the basics of buying property. First, establish the parameters of what you are looking for and communicate that to your Realtor. Secondly, get preapproved for your purchase before you even look at properties. This will give you an accurate sense of what you can afford and will make any offer much more attractive to the sellers. Third, consider where you want to end up. Remember that life is more than where you hang your head and you will want to be in a general location with appropriate access to transportation, hospitals, shopping, your other hobbies, and potentially school as well. Finally, remember that this represents a huge investment and you need to always keep that in mind. Don’t fall in love with a property and overpay. That can be difficult to remember when we are talking about our passions.

But enough from The Voice Of Reason… let’s get back to farm shopping!

Farm in Chester, NH
Historic Farm


Bigger is better, but not all acreage is created equally. I once had a beautiful log cabin for sale (actually sold it twice) on 44 acres in the country here in New Hampshire, but almost all of it was swamp and bog. Great for ducks, not so much for horses. Generally speaking, I have found that a horse should have 2 acres of “pasture land” available to them. But that can vary dramatically depending on how the land is and has been managed, the forage production it can maintain, and of course the different needs of horses. In New Hampshire specifically, pasture land can sometimes be very rocky and hilly and may not produce what you’d expect. Also keep in mind that for smaller parcels you may find that you need to “rest” the land periodically. This will increase what you need in acreage or decrease what you can accommodate for horses. Additionally, a knowledge of toxic plants will come in handy as you determine the suitability of a potential pasture.

Another aspect of the land is its topography. You will want land that is relatively flat. It should be very well drained with no standing water or areas of mud. I have had clients who specifically wanted to view a farm that was for sale after a period of heavy rain to see how the property handled the deluge. When we got there we saw horses standing in water and slogging through mud to the barn. It was a brief showing. However you should keep in mind that there are often ways to manage the water on a property including berms and ditches or simply doing a better job of sloping the land.

Speaking of water, a nice attraction on a horse property is a natural source of drinking water. Horses drink gallons and gallons of water every day and not having to provide that manually can be very helpful. However you will want to make sure that the drinking water that is available to your horses is clean and will remain so in the future. DIRTY WATER IS WORSE THAN NO WATER. This means knowing where the manure has been stored previously, where you intend to store it, and an understanding of any potential issues upstream of your location. You should also inquire as to whether the water is year -round or if that beautiful little brook you see in the listing photos dries up every July.

Alternatively, you can determine the feasibility of adding a well dedicated to the production of equine drinking water. The well should have decent pressure and a high yield.

Legacy Farm in Bridgewater, NH
Legacy Farm


We all love old barns and the history and character they represent. But it is important to understand that old barns can present challenges to the safe upkeep of horses. Most of us know that we should get our house inspected, but I always encourage a buyer to have a qualified inspector check out the barn as well. Don’t be afraid to ask the potential inspectors if they have experience checking out barns and other farm outbuildings. If they don’t, then keep asking until you find one that does. It is important that a barn’s electrical system is checked out completely, given the potentially horrific result of a fire. You should also inspect any existing water source and disposal system for the barn. Sometimes a farm will have a separate septic system for the outbuildings. You will want to know the condition of that system,its location, and its expected lifespan.

Another potential concern is the structural integrity of the barn. An inspector should be able to confirm that the structural elements holding up the barn are still in good shape and will last for the foreseeable future. And internally, will the barn hold up the snow loads we can expect here in New Hampshire? And is the roof in good shape to keep out the elements?

In some ways though, you will be the best inspector of your future barn, because as a knowledgeable horse person you understand the specific issues that need attention. A partial list of those would include whether the hay is stored too close to a heat source, whether the land directly around the barn is cleared and safe as possible from pest infestation, and whether the tack room is safe, secure and dry.

Building a new barn is another (pricey) possibility. If this is something you can afford, then work with builders experienced in building working barns for horses and pay very close attention not just to the design and construction but the placement of the barn on the property. You will want it close to the house, but you will want the “waste management” to not interfere with your quality of life.

Red Barn in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Farm


You’ve been searching for a while, and now your agent has found you the perfect property to make your four-legged dreams come true. You walked the land, checked out the barn, and toured the house. Everything seems perfect and you are ready to make an offer. Hold on! Now is the time to take a deep breath, and while you are still at the property, or possibly during a second showing (which we recommend), you need to imagine living on this property and managing all the aspects of horse ownership. Some of the more important things to think about are 1) How do I plan on enjoying my horses and can this property accommodate my riding and training needs? Are there trails either on the property or nearby? Is there room for a riding ring? 2) Is there adequate space for manure storage during all four seasons of the year? 3) Is there adequate space for the tractors, for my truck, and for any other farm implements I may need? 4) Will the horses be safe and secure during all inclement weather? Do they have refuge from a sudden storm in their pasture? 5) Generally speaking, will this farm out in the middle of nowhere be as easy to enjoy in the middle of December as it is when I am looking at it in June? 6)And then lastly, will this property be as right for me in 3 years, 5 years, and 15 years as it is now? Can I handle it?

You only live once, and if the stars align and it seems as though your dreams of owning your own horse property can come true, you owe it to yourself to pursue it. Working with an experienced agent is the first step to making it a reality. Call the Lacasse & Avery Real Estate Team today to get started.

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