Getting our own place vs boarding - with specifics

Looking for advice here - I’ve read through all the (older) threads, but with the market and economy the way it is I thought I’d start a new one. I saw someone complaining about small squares of hay being $8/bale delivered and stacked (I wish!!!). Long post ahead!

We are in NC, and starting the first time home shopping process. Buying a house in the next year or so is a definite- what I’m trying to determine is if we should buy with the intent to bring my horse(s) home. Renting is just ridiculously expensive, and board is scarce even for someone with low standards.

Reasons to buy property:

  • I have one horse right now - Mr NQR. I think he can come sound, but he’s going to require 24/7 turnout and an individual feeding program. This is almost impossible to find in my area at any price. I’ve done the “pay more for more hay/turnout/etc” and I’m not about to be the problem boarder again.

  • even if Mr NQR comes sound, I have different long term goals than he can fulfill. A second horse is in the cards, and leasing is attractive but I am not the type to be a client in a program. I want to do bigger stuff than many people will allow their horses to do without them boarded at a well-known farm. Fair, but it means a purchase is likely.

  • I like to ride alone. As in, hauling out for lessons and meeting the barn at shows is enough for my social needs, and having others at the barn when I’m there is something I actively avoid. I get distracted or feel like I’m in the way when the ring is full or people are chatting in the aisle.

  • I have to haul out to farrier and sometimes vet, even when boarding here. It is what it is.

  • I’ve managed barns of all sizes. I am pretty aware of what I’m getting into. And I like the work - my personality needs to stay busy or I’ll spiral into doing absolutely nothing :sweat_smile:

Reasons NOT to buy property:

  • farm sitting is $$$$. It’ll have to be worked into the budget, and I hope to set up a place that can be done by someone non-horsey. With some cameras, I can feel pretty safe. We do have family out of state and like to go backpacking/to the beach occasionally. (Though bringing the horses to the in-laws is actually an option - not exactly the easiest, but they have horse property with no horses ATM).

  • SO is competent, but horses aren’t his “thing”. I would have to be VERY careful not to make the farm a point of contention. He’d never say it, but I would not want to hold him back from his race cars and bikes because of my hobby.

  • we aren’t expecting to move any time soon, but the reality of the job market is you have to change companies to get reasonable raises. And while SO likes his job (and we aren’t meaning to move in the next 3-5 years), it’s not his “dream job” or pay. Resale has to be a consideration.

So, those of you who own your farm or did in the past, what do you think? What points am I forgetting?


If you can find decent property, go for it.

Something for your SO is to look for a place where he could install a lift for his cars, and indoor storage for his bikes etc. That would make it even-steven as far as whether the property is a source of contention - assuming you can handle most of the repairs on the horse side of things yourself.


many required items added to a property for a horse have little limited value, even a barn as a barn will be valued much less than a garage as the designed use is limits its overall desirability…fencing is often valued at zero even though it costs a small fortune


I’m well aware that horse necessities are rarely good investments. Hence the idea that resale has to be a concern. I’d rather find a place already setup and just fix it up - but if I’m building it’ll be something that can be swapped into vehicle/boat storage and fencing that can contain dogs/goats/whatever!

1 Like

Having the ability to have horses at home means even if you decide to board, you can always bring a retired horse home. Agree with finding something already set up for horses.


Mr LS and I purchased in 2020. We went with a small horse property.

For resale / value, we purchased in an area that’s under a lot of development pressure. We feel confident that the natural increase in value outweighs any sunk costs in horse infrastructure. A key factor in this calculation is that due to climate / soil type / lay of our land, I can ride outside year round on native dirt. I’ve not put a single penny towards “riding arena” space. If a person needs to invest 30k in an arena in order to ride that’s gonna change the formula for ROI.

We have a small property. It does limit me on how many horses I can carry (probably a blessing lol) and I have to be extra particular about manure management. 3 acres are cheaper to fence than 30 so that’s a plus.

I’m located very conveniently to the the equine hospital, feed stores, etc. which is helpful in managing day to day operations.

We built horse facilities from the ground up. Intentionally, I’m set up to reduce daily chore time. For example, all my turnout routines involve opening and closing gates from the central dry lot / barnyard. No haltering and leading horses. Additionally, I can leave my horses in separate paddocks attached to separate stalls which allows a farm sitter to feed, throw hay and water my horses without ever having to go in with or handle the horses. This helps a lot in finding someone to watch them and also for my current crew I can do an overnight trip and just have a neighbor drive by on golf cart to lay eyes on water etc.

Mr LS is a car guy not a horse guy. We both work full time. He actually likes the horses more now that they are at home. He gets a kick out of giving them treats at bedtime and watching them from the deck etc. He doesn’t mind helping with things like fencing or tractor driving etc. He likes having “a big yard” and accepts more yard work comes with that. But I do all the horse care. We both agree that having horses at home is better for our relationship than me being gone at a boarding barn all the time. My horses don’t even flick an ear to the sound of air tools being used on hot rods now.

The lifestyle I’m able to give my horses couldn’t be bought at any price at any commercial board barn. My homebred is turning 11 on 4/1 and this is the best life he’s ever lived. It shows under saddle.

I am able to ride regularly. I know that gets brought up a lot when discussing horses at home. For me, it’s a matter of getting into and sticking with a routine. I WFH 4 days a week and have been riding all winter in my lunch break when it’s the least cold. Love it :heart_eyes:


I know I wouldn’t board, except the times we’ve sent one out for training, because I wouldn’t want to have my horse life dictated by someone else’s rules. From talking with friends that do board, I wouldn’t want to deal with the sef-proclaimed experts, busybodies, cliques and gossips that seem to live in boarding facilities. These are also the reasons we don’t ever have boarders.


@lenapesadie your place sounds marvelous! And I think our SOs are similar in that they like the horses and the “yard”, but aren’t really horse people per se. My MIL had horses for a while and all the boys learned to ride and handle them, but it isn’t my SO’s “thing”.

I definitely don’t mind boarding if I was just leasing - but it’s different when it’s my own horses. I want them out in everything except the worst weather, I want free choice appropriate hay, and I want them fed the feed/supps I provide (and not in a pan in a group field where the dominant horse gets to eat my $$$$ vitamin e and gut supps). These 3 requirements mean boarding is almost impossible in my area, no matter the budget.


If you can afford to own the horse friendly place and board, that will likely leave you with the most options.

Buy the horse friendly place so you can accommodate your horse that needs special care if that is necessary, but if you want to board for whatever reason, that is an option.


Our little farm is very functional and comfortable for the horses and I. It’s not perfect and we won’t be on the cover of Southern Living but I love it. We are building up in stages as funds permit. Looking back, the months I spent obsessing on paper with layout really have paid dividends. We go to do something and I laugh like “it’s almost like I planned this”!

Ya I saw in your OP that DH is a car guy and thought yes this can work! Really having those tools and mechanical knowledge on hand will be priceless.

If you can find a place already set up for horses I believe that would be cheaper and WAY quicker than building from scratch. We couldn’t find anything already built for horses in budget in the area we really needed to be in. Balancing access to his work, my family and most importantly inside the least expensive farm call zone for the equine hospital :rofl: Building up I had to figure out how to prioritize my budget in order to get a minimum viable product to move horses in and then improve in that as budget allows. I continued to board for about 6 months after we closed.

For sure the optimal turnout, shelter, hay and feed routines are where I see the biggest value in horses at home.


We just bought a property last year with enough space to set it up for horses. My husband is also a car guy, and not a horse or farm guy, so I had to compromise on what we bought. For me, I wanted something set up for horses and if the house was a wreck, we could work on it. But after almost fully remodeling the last 3 houses we’ve lived in, DH wanted something he didn’t have to work on, and said he was willing to do the work outside to get it ready for horses. Of course, I couldn’t wait so we cleared in Nov and we’ve been working around the weather since then. That’s been a point of contention but I have some factors with my horses and the care they’re receiving that is making it really important that they come home immediately. We got our run in delivered last week and I think our dry lot/sacrifice pen will be finished this weekend, so I’m really hopeful I can get them home in a week or two. From there, we will set up the track system and grow the small pastures and decide on whether or not I want an arena. It’s not ideal but it’s what I have! I have had nothing but bad boarding experiences and now my older horse is having some major health issues and likely will be retired so the timing is just going to have to work out lol.

In our area, finding a similar house on a similar sized property already set up was going to be $100k+ more than we paid for this property. We won’t have $100k in it when we are finished. If a finished property is in your budget, I definitely think that’s the way to go. But there’s something really satisfying to me about building it from the ground up. I get to pick everything about it!


You sound very, very similar to me, down to preferring to ride alone, having a Mr. NQR, and not wanting to be “that” boarder. Buy the horse property. You won’t regret it. Yes, finding reliable farm sitting can be tough, but it’s doable - and I very much live in a horse desert where these resources are scarce to begin with.

You are not going in blindly or naive about the amount of work involved. However, like most people who buy property, the animals seem to multiply. In a matter of a few years I went from one Mr. NQR to 5 horses and 4 pigs. So there’s that to consider. :sweat_smile:


Thanks for the validation - and the enabling :laughing:. I’m leaning more and more towards “it’s a good idea”. We can stand to be patient, and while we don’t have a huge budget NOW, it’s only due to down payment. And that’s the easy part - I can save quite a bit given some time.


It doesn’t have to be perfect, it needs to be safe and fun. I have poor soil so I feed a ton of hay. Farm sitters get worked out, as it stands now I have my pick of 2 or 3. I would never board again.


I’m very similar to you, horse out 24/7, I like to ride alone, etc. I was lucky enough to find a boarding barn with a good trainer who offers outdoor board, so we went that route. The only two things stopping us from buying a small farm was cost of real estate locally and I live in Canada, so without an indoor riding is severely limited for six months of the year.

My parents have a farm about an hour and twenty minutes away. When I was in University it was great. I was home for the summers and could ride whenever I wasn’t working. I loved it! My mom on the other hand, she loves living on the farm, privacy, etc. But she really struggles with not having someone to ride with.

I’m going to chime in with the Longtime perspective.
Next month will be my 19th year with horses at home.
I relocated from a big city - pop 2 million+ - to a small town one state over.
I’d boarded all my horseowning Life - at that time near 20yrs.
DH was not a horse guy to begin with, but started riding & we’d gotten him his own horse.
Sadly, he died before I convinced him we should get a farm.
Bought a house that needed minor cosmetic rehab, built a barn w/attached indoor & fenced around 3 of the 5ac.
Moved horses home within 6mos.
I’d worked in a couple barns, so horsekeeping routines were not a total surprise.
I setup my place for ease.
Barn is surrounded at the front by drylot.
That, in turn, opens to pastures at either side.
Stalls have Dutch doors at the back that stay open 24/7/365, so no turning out or in.
Horses bring themselves in their stalls for grain (twice daily) & hay (3X), otherwise they’re loose.
I don’t stall them at night & they’ve shown me they prefer Out over In < judging by the # of piles in stalls :smirk:
I’m on my 3rd set of geldings & all have gotten along just fine with this arrangement.
Current 3 - horse, pony, mini - often share a single 12X12 stall.

I’m fortunate a nearby feedstore employee/part owner is my farmsitter.
Vet & shoer come to me. When the budget allows, so does a Dressage trainer.

All is not sunshine though, in the last year the barn has developed a problem :hushed:
When it rains the Southernmost stall takes on water. I’m blaming the buildup of muck behind the stalls.
I’ve had the area dug down, geotex placed & gravel topping that. But have had to dig up twice now, down to the geotex & add gravel.
I’m looking into adding a drain system to help as this is a recent issue.

But I have a friend who is a BO & used to think Push come to Shove, I’d board there.
Now you could not pay me to do so.
Between her BSC boarders & questionable management practices, I can’t imagine paying for that.

So my vote is:
Get your place, but go in with open eyes.


I purchased my own place. Love having my horses at home but be aware that farm maintenance is time consuming and make sure you plan where and how you will deal with manure.

Plus there are incidentals you need to own when you have a farm, tractor, all the buckets and random barn stuff, 50 pairs of scissors.

Plus what happens if you get sick/injured/etc. make sure to set everything up so non-horsey people can provide the necessary hay and water.


Just be sure that DH is on board with that large change in lifestyle for both of you, some for better, other not so good will take both working around it.


Lots of good opinions already! I’ve had mine home for almost 9 years and wouldn’t voluntarily go back to boarding either. Except for a single fenceline of about 200’, we added all the horse facilities.

When I initially planned it I hoped it would pay for itself vs boarding two horses in 5 years. That turned out to be delusional due to my underestimate of costs and all the things I’d need/want. I do have an outdoor arena and a very nice dry lot with a shed and auto waterer, so those are two big, somewhat discretionary expenses right there. My breakeven point is now at 16.7 years but I’m over halfway there and board prices are only going up. (I’m assuming $800/horse/month in my calculations and in my area I doubt that would actually cover the care/facilities I would want). Excluding the arena and dry lot would drop that by about 40%.

I also don’t think I could afford more than one horse if I boarded and I have three right now (retiree, eventer, and baby dressage horse).


This is the place to come for enabling, and encouragement, for sure. I can’t really envision the boarding out scenario, as I’ve only done that a few times over the last multiple decades, when forced to do so. It’s never my choice, and it’s to be avoided if possible, IMO. But I’m not one for going on holidays… My whole life is a holiday on the farm. No one looks after them like you look after your own. Buy the farm.