This region is world renown for exceptional Equestrian eventing and Polo. The Badminton Horse trials which take place early in May is one of the largest spectator events in the world. At the beginning of August, Gatcombe Park, spectacular home of the Princess Royal and her family hosts the Festival of British eventing which incorporates the British Open, Intermediate and Novice Championships. There is huge support of everything equestrian in these areas; if, like me, you have a daughter that is horse mad, it is an area that ticks all the boxes when thinking about Buying an Equestrian Property.
There are Pony Clubs and riding schools across the region, all providing first class facilities for all ages and standards. If you are bringing your animals with you, there is a good choice of excellent Livery Yards, from fully managed to DIY – covering all budgets.
BUYING AN EQUESTRIAN PROPERTY – Things to consider!
This is the most obvious and vital requirement! The quality of drainage and the grazing is essential. Some areas of paddocks can become unusable by the mid-winter due to mud and lack of water drainage, so knowing what the land is like throughout the year is important; many of these issues can be resolved. However, it does involve putting in additional drainage and hardcore to make the land usable throughout the year. Ensure that there is a good supply of water – ideally, a borehole as the amount of water needed is significant.
How much land?
Concerning the volume of land, this also depends on your neighbours and the surrounding farmland. From a grazing point of view, 2.5 acres per horse will suffice, however always remember that the pony your daughter or son falls in love with may well be one that can’t survive without company, (we have found that on more than one occasion! – So you may end up with two ponies, or a pony and a donkey or even a sheep, so budget for more than you need. If you are in an area where there are lots of horses, there will always be someone looking for additional land both in summer and winter where grazing becomes scarce. Having good local tracks and bridleway to hack on, whether you are about to do Badminton and a small gymkhana at pony club, will make all the difference. The local attitude to horses is also critical, hence it is worthwhile choosing an area that has strong pony club support and following. The areas particularly around Sherston, Luckington, Badminton, Tetbury and Great Somerford have significant equestrian properties, and of course, some of the big events of Gatcombe and Badminton are all close by.
Maintaining Fencing, Trees and border hedges.
Regarding fencing, having natural walls is always very attractive, but they do cost money to maintain; traditional hedges may need some additional electric fences which is simple to do, and large fields can be split into small sections to be rotated to ensure you keep you grazing in good condition. The trees surrounding paddocks and grounds is also something to consider. There are some varieties of sycamore that have been known on occasion to cause severe problems to horses; there are many mixed views on this. However, if you are surrounded by Sycamores, this is something to consider.
Stabling is vitally important, and old stables can be very useful and well laid out – as you will be spending a lot of time there. If these are well maintained and tidy – this is a good sign, but no overlook an old farmyard, that may previously have other livestock, that could be turned into a fantastic equestrian set up. The cost of buying stables and field shelters have come down considerably, but do consider the cost of all the other elements that will need to go in includes hard ground work and electricity.
If you do intend to compete at any level or to attend message or riding shows and events, being at the top of a steep hill with a narrow lane is not going to help matters. It is stressful enough having to get ponies and horses and children loaded on time, to then have to face a steep hill especially in the winter is not fun – both in a horse box of riding down small narrow lanes and on steep slopes, so this is also a consideration.