Buying acreage - building everything from scratch? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 03-10-2012, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Buying acreage - building everything from scratch?

My fiance and I have been house hunting for a place I can keep horses at (~5 acres, SW Ohio). There isn't much to choose from that is already set up for horses, and we have not been impressed with any of them. Today, we looked at a house on 5 or 6 acres that is not set up for horses but could be, and the house was totally awesome! So, now we are exploring if we could afford to turn it into a horse property... the land it is on is perfectly flat already and has plenty of open area just ripe to be fenced off ;)

We've spent the day researching fences and costs and arena sand prices, etc. It sure adds up fast :( My fiance has thrown some ideas at me to save money... would these work?

For fencing, it looks like we've decided on a regular wood fence. The wire mesh seems to be too expensive, and I am not willing to construct a fence of just hot tape or strands of wire. Could we use 2x4's instead of 2x6's? Could we do 3 rows of 2x4s and would that be strong enough? The 2x4 seems to be much cheaper than 2x6. We found 4x4 posts at the hardware store but I am not sure if that is sturdy enough for fence posts... but that's as big as they got there. Where do you even find fence posts larger than that?

Looks like there's no way we could afford to put up a barn right now, so we'd probably just do a run-in shed and save up for a barn down the road.

As for the arena... I do hunters so would like to be able to set up a full jump course. What's the smallest arena I can do this in? I think I'd be ok with something a little smaller than 100 x 200 - what sizes are yours who jump? Just need to be able to set up, say, some 5-stride lines... My coach's 100x200 seems huge and I think I could totally go smaller and be happy, just not sure how small...

Thanks.. I really want to make this work, the house is perfect. Fiance is freaking about the cost a bit :(
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post #2 of 12 Old 03-10-2012, 08:29 PM
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We built from scratch. In the beginning we had electric fencing. It was very convenient and moveable. Next we did the paddocks (we did Ramm fencing which I think is over rated and really expensive). So the paddock was sturdy and safe and then opened into the electric pasture. After that we completed the pasture. We still have another 3 acre area that has to be cleared and fenced. And then about a 2 acre spot... (We are doing it in sections because it's affordable that way....

The barn is done but the elecricity and water has not been run yet. (I have a hose running about 600 feet down to the barn....)

My ring is grass right now and hasn't been fenced yet but we have plans to expand and sand and fence....

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post #3 of 12 Old 03-10-2012, 08:53 PM
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What you're proposing is the most expensive route; it's much cheaper to find an existing property and adapt it than start from scratch.

However, if you love the house and the rest of the property, it's doable.

You can not use 2 X 4s for fence boards, sorry. And fence boards are usually 1 X 6, and you want the treated oak boards, not pine.

Lots of people use 4 X 4s for posts, I prefer 4 X 6s or 6 x 6s. Way more important than the size of the post is 1.) how deep they're sunk in the ground - make sure you go at least 1/3 of the total post height. 6' post, 2' in the ground = 4' fence. 8 foot posts are better, then you go 2 1/2 feet in the ground and you have some excess that you can trim so the fence is even. Another consideration is if you want to put a little concrete in the holes when you set fence posts.

If you are considering putting fence up yourself, you must either rent an auger or post driver. Please don't consider digging the holes by hand.

If you go to a lumber yard or contractor's supply, they'll have a greater selection of posts and fencing material.

You're going about this in the right order. Think about the condition of the pastures first. Do they need fertilizer? Seed? Agressive mowing? You want to get that done before you get fence up if possible. Then put up your fence, a run in shed will meet your needs just fine short term. Then think about the barn.

There's a great thread elsewhere on the forum about the virtues of a tractor or an ATV for maintaining horse properties. Take a look, and consider how you're going to handle manure removal and farm chores. I came down strongly in favor of the tractor in that thread, btw, but the thread itself will give you some insight as to what else to expect.

To set up courses with five stride lines, you need 72' for the line itself, and at least the same 72' for the approach and depart. So I think you need at least 150' in length. To fit in a full course, I think you'd have to have at least 100' in width.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 12 Old 03-10-2012, 10:38 PM
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try to find something already suited for horses. MUCH cheaper!


electrobraid! you can do up to 100 feet inbetween posts. Its electric.. and stretched taught.
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post #5 of 12 Old 03-11-2012, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Acco View Post
Thanks.. I really want to make this work, the house is perfect. Fiance is freaking about the cost a bit :(
Rent him a copy of the movie "The Money Pit" (1986 Tom Hanks/Shelley Long) and tell him that it could be worse.
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post #6 of 12 Old 03-11-2012, 11:02 AM
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We built from scratch in the middle of the green forest. For paddock fencing, go best quality as you can and make sure you have some electricity on it. For pasture fencing, you can save money if you have smaller trees you need to cut down for pasture. Save those & make the pasture fencing out of that. You usually have to till, pick rocks, seed & fertilize to establish a pasture. After a number of years, it needs repeating dang it. As for your arena, barns, outbuildings etc, go with what you can afford & what will work for you, it all can be upgraded as you continue to develop your property.
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post #7 of 12 Old 03-11-2012, 11:17 AM
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Here's a couple thoughts for you-
If the property has a lot of mature trees, find a portable sawmill in your area to mill them into lumber for you on site.
Oak sawdust will sour the ground because of it's very high acidity (tannic acid), but oak, specifically white oak, is rot resistant, extremely strong and durable, and will serve your needs best.
If you don't have a lot of white oak, but a lot of maple and red oak, you can likely trade those for the white oak you need.
Also, start small. Build the basics, IE a paddock thats large enough to do what you need it to do, and then plan the rest out as you go.
As your abilities change, and needs change, so will your infrastructure needs change, so design accordingly.
Time will tell you how the path of the sun, general wind direction, runoff, and other natural factors will impact where you place certain things.
You don't want your barn in a low spot. You do want pastures in places that will naturally collect water for best grass growth throughout the year.
Those icy winter winds need blockage to help the horses stay warm. Hedges, treelines, and other structures can help with that.
Accessibility is another key element. Can a semi get in and out if need be? If you need a truckload of hay to get through the winter, can it be done safely?
Start with the basic elements, and build from there.
It's easy to get stupid about it, and get too much money wrapped up into it fast.
Sweat equity is a beautiful thing, and it's cheap.

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post #8 of 12 Old 03-11-2012, 10:04 PM
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We started from scratch nearly 2 years ago when we purchased a house in an 8 acre hayfield. Our previous acreage was already fenced, but needed some repair and adaptations to suit our needs. After doing it both ways, I'd much rather start from scratch.

For fencing, we started by fencing out the back yard for our dogs with 2" x 4" garden wire and half the property (about 3 acres) for our horses. We used pounded treated wood posts with 4 strands of electric rope (only 2 are electrified) and screw in insulators. We strategically planned the fence so that we have rounded corners and a "track" that we mow around the perimeter. This allows us to access the fenced area from the outside from anywhere and allows us to keep the fence line free of long grass or weeds. We ran the fence close enough to the house to use the water spout and power outlets for the horse trough and heaters.

We purchased 2 already built run in shelters from Home Hardware and placed one inside the pasture and one inside the projected pasture. I used the second shelter to store hay and it worked great. Last spring, we fenced the second half of the property around the second shelter so now we have 2 fields we can rotate, both with shelters.

We have a flat spot to use for riding, but I have kept it in grass. I do mow it in the summer to keep it recognizable as the riding area. This summer, I plan to put in a few posts and create 2 outdoor tie stalls where we can tack up, and do minor medical or hoof care. I will use 2x6 sides for these and heavy 8' x 8" posts. Since we have no trees and our fence is electric, I am looking for some sort or scratching post or scratching pad that I can safely mount to a post placed away from the fence. Last fall I purchased a portable round pen for training and for keeping an injured horse if necessary. If I needed to, I could take out a few panels and shrink it down to restrict movement even more.

Eventually we would like to build a barn, but so far, without spending a ton of money, our set up is quite serviceable. We also didn't have to haul away anyone else's garbage and we know everything is sturdy, new and low maintenance.
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post #9 of 12 Old 03-12-2012, 07:03 PM
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If I could afford a place I would want to start from scratch too. Mostly because I hate stalls and that's how everyone around here keeps their horses.
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post #10 of 12 Old 03-13-2012, 02:38 PM
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To start, consider going with three strands of electric wire, not ribbon but wire. It is barely noticeable. Set your posts 16' on center. As money allows you can add posts at the 8' and use boards. Even if you eventually switch to lumber it is best to leave the top wire to prevent the horses leaning to get grass on the other side. For two horses a 16'x16' shelter will work for two horses. Face it south and build the front wall allowing for a 6' wide doorway. Place an opening on the east wall as well. This prevents one horse from cornering the other. Hang heavy tarps over both openings to keep it dark to keep the biting insects out. Horses that are allowed to move freely are healthier than those cooped up in stalls. To save arena costs, try to utilize part of your perimeter fencing. You can add the boards later.
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