Moving to Suffolk/Norfolk & buying a property with land to keep horses at home/how much will it cost to keep a horse at home?.

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Hi after a break of 14 years of horse owning(In Berkshire), we are looking at buying a horse & keep it at home, we were hoping to have moved before covid 19 happened but it all got delayed so now starting the search for a 3/4 bed property in the Suffolk/Norfolk areas with enough land & facilities to keep it at home. I'm after peoples experiences of the costings involved with keeping their horse at home so I can budget longterm for this.(husband wants me to run a spreadsheet for it lol..)
many thanks
 

Pearlsasinger

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How long is a piece of string? It depends on so many things, live in/out? What sort of bedding? How much/what kind of forage/bucket feed? The list is endless. But the first thing to note is that can't keep one horse on its own. You will need 2.
 
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The basics can be very expensive if they aren't already in place when you move in. So fencing, water, shelter, hard standing with hay feeder to feed hay on etc...

If you have enough land for your horses (yes, you will need a companion or two) to live out all year then the running costs will be hard feed, hay/haylage, hoof care, worming, vaccinations, teeth and so on.

Stabling horses, even if only at night will add bedding costs.

Don't forget vet bills and also replacing old rugs, tack etc... plus maintaining your facilities. So mending fences, harrowing the field, re-seeding and so on.
 

Ownedby4horses

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We looked in both those areas a few years ago for a potential move. We found Norfolk was significantly cheaper to buy an equestrian property than Suffolk, however, places can be a lot harder to commute from in Norfolk so make sure where you are looking is accessible.
 

P.forpony

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I’m around the Suffolk area, biggest costs aside from the usual hay feed bedding that you incur from keeping them at home will be your land management.
It absolutely pays to find a friendly farmer who can reduce this significantly!
But from the outset budget for harrowing, rolling, topping, fertilising, fence maintenance, water supply, lighting/electric, stables/yard maintenance, muck heap removal.
Remember skimping on these things is usually a false economy and can have a huge impact on the grazing you have available in years to come.

There’s lots to think about but so lovely to have them at home 😊
Good luck!

Edited to add,
A freelance groom!
Even if you plan on doing them yourself all the time. Get a groom in once a week, that way you know there is someone competent that you trust and knows your horses, before you have an emergency/holiday and can’t stop stressing that they’re ok at home!
 
Joined
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How long is a piece of string? It depends on so many things, live in/out? What sort of bedding? How much/what kind of forage/bucket feed? The list is endless. But the first thing to note is that can't keep one horse on its own. You will need 2.
yes looking at a small pony for the grandchildren so
How long is a piece of string? It depends on so many things, live in/out? What sort of bedding? How much/what kind of forage/bucket feed? The list is endless. But the first thing to note is that can't keep one horse on its own. You will need 2.
Thanks, we're hoping to have a pony for the grandchildren too, but the costs initially are the running costs which I'm trying to work on.
 
Joined
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We looked in both those areas a few years ago for a potential move. We found Norfolk was significantly cheaper to buy an equestrian property than Suffolk, however, places can be a lot harder to commute from in Norfolk so make sure where you are looking is accessible.
Thanks, we are retiring at 58yrs & our family are in Peterborough & Stanstead so as long as they haven't got to drive round the M25 anywhere is good lol, the one thing I really would like is accessible off road hacking close by.
 
Joined
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I’m around the Suffolk area, biggest costs aside from the usual hay feed bedding that you incur from keeping them at home will be your land management.
It absolutely pays to find a friendly farmer who can reduce this significantly!
But from the outset budget for harrowing, rolling, topping, fertilising, fence maintenance, water supply, lighting/electric, stables/yard maintenance, muck heap removal.
Remember skimping on these things is usually a false economy and can have a huge impact on the grazing you have available in years to come.

There’s lots to think about but so lovely to have them at home 😊
Good luck!

Edited to add,
A freelance groom!
Even if you plan on doing them yourself all the time. Get a groom in once a week, that way you know there is someone competent that you trust and knows your horses, before you have an emergency/holiday and can’t stop stressing that they’re ok at home!
the freelance groom idea is a great idea as we do like to go skiing. Also moving to a completely new area is daunting but its a longterm move so trying to get all the information before we commit.
what's it cost to shoe a horse nowadays? was costing me £60 a set for a 18hh horse 14 years ago?.
 

PurBee

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Ireland
I echo other’s advice about the initial costs of tractor equipment and pto attachments for the tractor to be able to maintain your land. That alone cost me 10k+ for a compact tractor and some attachments.

It depends on how much land youre dealing with, and how close to you other farmers are to be able to be employed to help maintain your land, as to whether its worth buying your own equipment or employ others.

Local farmer to me wanted 400 euro’s to do a one pass on 7 acres, whether that be topping/harrowing/rolling - so as these jobs tend to be done at different times it would have cost me thousands anyway over the years to employ outside farmers to use their machinery on the land, and these jobs need to be done at specific climatic times, which i cant guarantee the farmer will be available for, so for us, it was better economy to buy the equipment ourselves. Which has come in handy to do other jobs too, like using the compact tractor to haul about heavy 250kg round bales etc.

Domestic horses using the same areas of land don’t maintain the sward, they slowly, or quickly, depending on climate!, wreck the land. So land management is the biggest, often over-looked job of keeping grazing animals.

As you havent bought property yet, look at it during late spring into summer - then youll get to see what grasses and weeds the land is growing. You could view a place now thats been cut and it appears all green and look like a pasture, but upon summer growth you could find 25% of that pasture is dock/rsgwort/clover and other undesirable plants which would mean you’ll have to plough it all up and re-seed it or spray chemicals to kill the lot and re-seed.
It’s normal to have some weeds in fields, but if the land you buy has been used by grazing animals and the fields not cared for, the muddy bare patches of earth soon get filled with weeds if not re-sown with grass.

Really go deep into the land, all the fields, and try to identify grasses. Harder in the winter to do or if its been cut. Oftentimes ryegrass pastures are sown for cows to fatten them due to it being a high sugar grass - not ideal for horses at all.
so try to find out what the land has been used for in the past. That will give a clue as to what grasses have been sown, if its not ‘old meadow grass pasture’.

Also view the place after a week’s worth of rain. Is the land draining well? If not, you can be sure of a mud-filled-life existence with horses, and the need for more thousands to put in/dig drainage. After rain, where does the water drain to, or where does it pool? Outhouses can be checked for leaks after rain, wet concrete floor inside etc.

The soil type needs to be known. That will tell you a lot how the land drains after rain.
Soil type also tells you how easy it will be to put in fence posts if youre wanting solid wood fencing.
I have a sub soil of limestone 1 foot under the top soil thats impossible by hand to whack in fence posts and we hire a digger to do the job.

I wish i knew all this before buying land! I wouldnt have bought where i ended up buying, as its taken thousands and thousands to bring the land round to be suitable for horses, meaning less money available for other life stuff, and a LOT less time to actually enjoy the horses, which was the whole point of buying land!

Buy land that has a mixture of grasses, drains well (slight slope gradient helps) with some outbuildings, and youll be mostly there with being able to use it straight away for horses with minimal work at the outset, except for fencing.

Wishing you luck on your search for your horsey haven! 🙂
 

Keira 8888

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1 June 2020
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406
the freelance groom idea is a great idea as we do like to go skiing. Also moving to a completely new area is daunting but its a longterm move so trying to get all the information before we commit.
what's it cost to shoe a horse nowadays? was costing me £60 a set for a 18hh horse 14 years ago?.
My farrier is £75 every 6-8 weeks x
 

Keira 8888

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Joined
1 June 2020
Messages
406
I echo other’s advice about the initial costs of tractor equipment and pto attachments for the tractor to be able to maintain your land. That alone cost me 10k+ for a compact tractor and some attachments.

It depends on how much land youre dealing with, and how close to you other farmers are to be able to be employed to help maintain your land, as to whether its worth buying your own equipment or employ others.

Local farmer to me wanted 400 euro’s to do a one pass on 7 acres, whether that be topping/harrowing/rolling - so as these jobs tend to be done at different times it would have cost me thousands anyway over the years to employ outside farmers to use their machinery on the land, and these jobs need to be done at specific climatic times, which i cant guarantee the farmer will be available for, so for us, it was better economy to buy the equipment ourselves. Which has come in handy to do other jobs too, like using the compact tractor to haul about heavy 250kg round bales etc.

Domestic horses using the same areas of land don’t maintain the sward, they slowly, or quickly, depending on climate!, wreck the land. So land management is the biggest, often over-looked job of keeping grazing animals.

As you havent bought property yet, look at it during late spring into summer - then youll get to see what grasses and weeds the land is growing. You could view a place now thats been cut and it appears all green and look like a pasture, but upon summer growth you could find 25% of that pasture is dock/rsgwort/clover and other undesirable plants which would mean you’ll have to plough it all up and re-seed it or spray chemicals to kill the lot and re-seed.
It’s normal to have some weeds in fields, but if the land you buy has been used by grazing animals and the fields not cared for, the muddy bare patches of earth soon get filled with weeds if not re-sown with grass.

Really go deep into the land, all the fields, and try to identify grasses. Harder in the winter to do or if its been cut. Oftentimes ryegrass pastures are sown for cows to fatten them due to it being a high sugar grass - not ideal for horses at all.
so try to find out what the land has been used for in the past. That will give a clue as to what grasses have been sown, if its not ‘old meadow grass pasture’.

Also view the place after a week’s worth of rain. Is the land draining well? If not, you can be sure of a mud-filled-life existence with horses, and the need for more thousands to put in/dig drainage. After rain, where does the water drain to, or where does it pool? Outhouses can be checked for leaks after rain, wet concrete floor inside etc.

The soil type needs to be known. That will tell you a lot how the land drains after rain.
Soil type also tells you how easy it will be to put in fence posts if youre wanting solid wood fencing.
I have a sub soil of limestone 1 foot under the top soil thats impossible by hand to whack in fence posts and we hire a digger to do the job.

I wish i knew all this before buying land! I wouldnt have bought where i ended up buying, as its taken thousands and thousands to bring the land round to be suitable for horses, meaning less money available for other life stuff, and a LOT less time to actually enjoy the horses, which was the whole point of buying land!

Buy land that has a mixture of grasses, drains well (slight slope gradient helps) with some outbuildings, and youll be mostly there with being able to use it straight away for horses with minimal work at the outset, except for fencing.

Wishing you luck on your search for your horsey haven! 🙂
What a fab post!!!! Very useful x
 
Joined
30 October 2020
Messages
6
I echo other’s advice about the initial costs of tractor equipment and pto attachments for the tractor to be able to maintain your land. That alone cost me 10k+ for a compact tractor and some attachments.

It depends on how much land youre dealing with, and how close to you other farmers are to be able to be employed to help maintain your land, as to whether its worth buying your own equipment or employ others.

Local farmer to me wanted 400 euro’s to do a one pass on 7 acres, whether that be topping/harrowing/rolling - so as these jobs tend to be done at different times it would have cost me thousands anyway over the years to employ outside farmers to use their machinery on the land, and these jobs need to be done at specific climatic times, which i cant guarantee the farmer will be available for, so for us, it was better economy to buy the equipment ourselves. Which has come in handy to do other jobs too, like using the compact tractor to haul about heavy 250kg round bales etc.

Domestic horses using the same areas of land don’t maintain the sward, they slowly, or quickly, depending on climate!, wreck the land. So land management is the biggest, often over-looked job of keeping grazing animals.

As you havent bought property yet, look at it during late spring into summer - then youll get to see what grasses and weeds the land is growing. You could view a place now thats been cut and it appears all green and look like a pasture, but upon summer growth you could find 25% of that pasture is dock/rsgwort/clover and other undesirable plants which would mean you’ll have to plough it all up and re-seed it or spray chemicals to kill the lot and re-seed.
It’s normal to have some weeds in fields, but if the land you buy has been used by grazing animals and the fields not cared for, the muddy bare patches of earth soon get filled with weeds if not re-sown with grass.

Really go deep into the land, all the fields, and try to identify grasses. Harder in the winter to do or if its been cut. Oftentimes ryegrass pastures are sown for cows to fatten them due to it being a high sugar grass - not ideal for horses at all.
so try to find out what the land has been used for in the past. That will give a clue as to what grasses have been sown, if its not ‘old meadow grass pasture’.

Also view the place after a week’s worth of rain. Is the land draining well? If not, you can be sure of a mud-filled-life existence with horses, and the need for more thousands to put in/dig drainage. After rain, where does the water drain to, or where does it pool? Outhouses can be checked for leaks after rain, wet concrete floor inside etc.

The soil type needs to be known. That will tell you a lot how the land drains after rain.
Soil type also tells you how easy it will be to put in fence posts if youre wanting solid wood fencing.
I have a sub soil of limestone 1 foot under the top soil thats impossible by hand to whack in fence posts and we hire a digger to do the job.

I wish i knew all this before buying land! I wouldnt have bought where i ended up buying, as its taken thousands and thousands to bring the land round to be suitable for horses, meaning less money available for other life stuff, and a LOT less time to actually enjoy the horses, which was the whole point of buying land!

Buy land that has a mixture of grasses, drains well (slight slope gradient helps) with some outbuildings, and youll be mostly there with being able to use it straight away for horses with minimal work at the outset, except for fencing.

Wishing you luck on your search for your horsey haven! 🙂
sound advice thank you, I did a land management BTEC course about 18 yrs ago so all you've said came flooding back into my memory bank, as we are hoping to get a native pony for the grandchildren we certainly don't want a high sugar grass, this may also apply if I brought a Connemara too as my last Connemara was prone to laminitis..
thanks again I will take on board all you've said as very very important info.
also hoping to buy an old masey Ferguson 135 tractor & equipment & do our own land management again sound advice thanks xx
 

PurBee

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Happy to pass on what ive learnt. I had no idea the majority of learning would be about land management when keeping horses! Its fab you have your BTEC course foundational knowledge to apply to your new property.

With any property you’re really keen on, it might be worth getting soil tests done so you know your start point of soil health. You can even buy kits that will do basic npk measurements for the DIY approach.

The great element about the land I bought is that it was severely neglected for decades. It was great because all native grasses grew, many beneficial weeds too, lots of pollinating insects, toads, deer, ground nesting birds....so the land was very healthy and fertile soil-wise and ecologically, with it never ever being re-sown with modern strains of high sugar grasses, or being sprayed with any agro-chemicals. So i started with a wild blank canvas. I’ve kept many parts of it wild to allow the wild species here to remain. The only trouble was water-logging due to high rainfall in my area of over 2 metres a year.....2/3rds of the year rainy days. So drainage has been the majority of the work required and grazing the wetter flat field areas sparingly to reduce poaching.

When re-sowing I've used a mix of native grass species.

If you could buy enough land to make your own forage you’ll relieve one of the biggest headaches of horse ownership - finding great quality forage of mixed species grasses thats preferably, but rarely, organic.

By producing your own, even if you paid contractors to cut, ted and bale it, you know exactly what’s in it, what’s been sprayed, or not sprayed on it etc.
Realistically the average tonnes of hay per acre depends on many factors, but roughly you can guarantee about 2 tonnes per acre of hay per cut. If climate is good, which norfolk is, you could get a second cut later in the summer - giving you another 1.5 tonnes per acre, of native grasses. Second cut is always less yield than first cut in mid june.

Ryegrass leys grow thicker and taller than native grasses giving Hay yields of 4 tonnes per acres, if fertilised and not grazed...hence why ryegrass dominant hay bales are becoming commonplace forage to be sold to horse owners, despite it not being an ideal grass for them to mono-diet on. Some diploid ryegrass is ok, 20% would not harm most horses, but tetraploid ryegrass is very high sugar, very stemmy, and is great for making a horse fat and laminitic, unless fed as haylage where the sugars are fermented and reduced to around 9-12%.....rather than sugars of 25-30% in normal, dried hay.

The average rough amounts of forage required and cost depends on how often they are out grazing. So to help you satisfy your OH spreadsheet requirement! lol.....5 months of the year the grass grows slowly during winter. So for my 2 500kg horses, i need just over 4 tonnes hay for the year to coincide with their grazing which is mostly 7 months out Grazing in summer, with forage at night when brought in, and mostly 90% forage in winter when winter grazing is slim pickings.
You’ll find norfolk a lot drier climatically than where i am so like many uk folk, the horses are grazing 24/7 during warmer grass-growing months and dont need to be brought in and fed hay....so you’ll not need as much hay as i use.

For good quality, mixed species Grass hay i’d call abbott wessex. There’s an old guy who works there who scours the uk for growers producing all types of hay. I was quoted around 80 pounds per tonne for mixed species, lovely, non-mouldy hay. Delivery on top. These people know all about forage and Will source anything you want. I didnt use them in the end as haulage companies quoted me for 4 tonnes of best uk hay 1600 pounds to ireland!

http://www.abbottwessex.co.uk/hay-for-sale.asp?id=10&p=&sc=Organic+Forage



Massey tractors are loved here in Ireland - theyre like a national treasure! 😁 The 135 is perfect size for a horse-stead of up to 10-15 acres.
PTO attachments for the more powerful horsepower tractors are more common and therefore cheaper to find secondhand. It’s been a pain to find pto attachments for my little john deere 25hp tractor, with a mini round baler costing 6k, compared to a small square baler for a 35hp being around 1k secondhand, so worth bearing in mind.

Norfolk/suffolk area i grew up around and its a lovely part of the uk and a perfect climate for horses, gorgeous rural areas 🙂
 

Pearlsasinger

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yes looking at a small pony for the grandchildren so

Thanks, we're hoping to have a pony for the grandchildren too, but the costs initially are the running costs which I'm trying to work on.

Well that will depend on the property that you buy tbh. At this point you don't know the acreage, the type of boundary, existing buildings, what can be adapted, what you might need to install and you can't work out how much anything will cost until you know that. If you have enough land you won't need to harrow and roll etc if you are just having a horse and pony. You won't even know whether you will need to have your muckheap removed until you know where you are going. I'm afraid OH is trying to put the cart before the horse.
 

Red-1

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I am sad to report that I haven't found it cheaper at all to have horses at home. By the time we have built and maintained fences, built and maintained an arena, replaced the stable roof, repair buildings, make a driveway, pay for ditch clearing and hedge cutting, bought a tractor, paid for poo removal, paid for electricity, water, bedding, hay etc... It costs as much as at livery.

Nicer though.
 

FestiveFuzz

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We’re moving to a 9 acre property in Norfolk next month and the husband loves spreadsheets so I’ll try to make a note of costs and update once we’re in.

We’re really lucky the current owners have really cared for the property over the years and have been happy to advise on what machinery we need etc. Husband is keen to maintain the land himself so we’ve budgeted around £15k for a compact tractor and attachments. Friendly farmer is willing to dispose of our muck heap free of charge as long as we deliver it to him so that’s a plus.
 

FestiveFuzz

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Thank you! We had a similar budget, so I’m sure you’ll find somewhere. In fact there’s one in North Norfolk which was a bit too far out for us so we didn’t view but facilities wise looked lovely. I’m sure I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said it was still available, I can try to dig out a link for it if you’d like?
 

windand rain

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Not including livery accidents or training the average horse costs £1000 per year to keep. So that plus the cost of land maintenance and emergency funds is as PS said as long as a piece of string
 

SO1

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I grew up in Norfolk and had ponies at home as child. Ponies lived out though we did have stables. We used a huge barn as a big field shelter.

We didn't have a muck heap that had to be removed. We didn't have a tractor and my dad did no maintenance. They didn't have hard feed and only hay in the winter. It was over 30 years ago but there was no way my parents would spend a lot of money and time on ponies so probably spent about £500 a year. We had 4 acres all hedged, no school and rode in the field or hacked.

Things start getting expensive when they are stabled a lot.

My sister lives in South Norfolk. Your budget would go a long way in that area.
 
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