Thanks guys for all your help so far!! Well there is another place we were looking at. It's 17 acres. It's about the same price range (but a little more) as the 5 acres but a little further out from the city. If we had that I'd probably give 10 acres to the horses. What do you guys think? I don't know if this would be a comfortable number for everything that I want or if we should keep looking.
Do you want your horses to have pasture?
Do you want to be out cleaning paddocks every day?
Do I have another option? I'm kind of new to all of this.
Does your property have good drainage so that your paddocks don't turn to soupy messes in the wet season?
Yes, good drainage.
Do you want to grow/harvest your own hay?
Do you want to have room to ride on your own property?
Flip yeah. LOL. But seriously that's a big reason why I want horses.
Will you have your manure removed off-site regularly?
Hmmmmm. How regularly is regular by your standards?
Will you want to separate your horses or have them in one big herd?
I would like to separate when necessary, so be able to separate.
Will you have horses coming and going (as in a boarding situation) requiring quarantine paddock(s)?
I hadn't thought about this before you asked but I don't think I would be close enough to the city that anyone would want to board with me so I'll just say no for now.
What do you think is a comfortable acreage number for my particular situation?
How many horses your land will support will have many variables. Climate, rainfall, irrigation, soil type, variety of grasses... so not really knowing where you are these are just basic guidelines.
For pasture, count on at least 1 acre per horse. This will support the horse for most of the growing season but once it goes dormant, you will need to supplement with hay. Most is always better as it requires less management, the horses are easier on the land and fences, gives you more options to rest and regrow, as well as divide the group up into smaller herds. I like to run mares and geldings separate. If you have hard keepers and air ferns that's another good way to divide the group.
For hay production, one acre of grass will product approximately 3T of hay provided you have irrigation water (over 2 cutting). If you don't have water, you can't harvest hay unless you have adequate rainfall. I plan on a little over 3T of hay per horse per year with pasture. The other part of this is who's going to harvest the hay? It's not worth the work for most farmers to come in to cut and bale 5 or fewer acres. Does the farmer want a % of the crop as payment? Now you're short hay or need more land in production. You could put up your own hay but expect to pay $10-20K for used equipment.
An average 100X200 arena, 60' RP, 60' barn with attached runs and a dry lot area will cover about 1 acre.
A house with garage, a work shop (a must have), a yard, leech field, driveways and a little bit of a buffer from the horses is another acre.
The biggest part of a small hobby farms success is irrigation water. Is there any available? In my area, having water rights can double or triple the price of the land but if you don't have them, you have nothing more than a bare dusty piece of land.