Written by Caroline Culot.
What actually is the criteria for an equestrian property – and do agents find them easy to sell in this county?
Ben Rivett, of Savills, was the perfect person to ask because he himself is an experienced jockey (see him in action riding Ping Pong, right.)
He said: “To fully qualify as an equestrian property there needs to be at least two acres of paddocks in addition to the house, immediate gardens and any equestrian facilities. These need to be fenced with ideally water troughs and field shelter in place.
“Soil type is an important consideration, the ideal is not always attainable and you have to learn to manage what you can get.
“Essentially there are three basic types of soil – clay, sand and silt. It is best to avoid really heavy clay, by doing so it will make life and pasture management much easier.
“Sandysoils are probably best for those with ponies or those with a high ratio of horses to the land available. They can live out on it in the winter without churning it up and you don’t need to worry about getting too much growth in summer, the ideal is sandy clay loam.
“More generally, a loamy soil with a bit of sand and a bit of clay is perfect as it’s both fertile and workable. The nearer you get to having just clay or just sand, the more problems you will have so always take a good look before buying.
“With the British weather becoming increasingly erratic, a manege with an all weather surface is essential, with luxuries such as covered horse walkers and indoor arenas much coveted by the specialist equestrian buyers. On a basic level, running hot water to the stabling area is becoming increasingly useful.
“It is hard to quantify the equestrian facilities of a property as there are many variables. Essentially it is about creating the right balance across the key elements; stabling, grazing & additional facilities.
“At the moment, there is very little demand for specialist equestrian properties. With the rising cost of entering competitions, diesel and feed alongside the diminishing prize money and a fall in the number of owners willing to pay for their services, modern day professional equestrians are running a very tight ship.
“Unless the property is clearly geared solely for equestrian use, we are advising vendors to emphasise the quality of the house and the land as a whole, with all the related benefits, to attract a wider genre of buyers.”
Nigel Steele, of Jackson-Stops & Staff, also an experienced rider, pictured right, said: “The ideal equestrian property has a comfortable house with size and age dependent on the preferred requirements of the eventual purchasers, good stables built to a high standard, nowadays there is a move towards the American style barns for all year round working and comfort, a school or manege either all weather if outside or ideally indoors but big enough and high enough to be effective and enough well draining land for the number of horses expected.
“Paddocks need to be rested and rotated to keep them producing the best grass and free from parasites etc.
“Good hacking on the doorstep is important without having to go on busy roads if there is not enough room and cash to put in your own all weather gallops!
“Access to main roads to get to events which inNorfolkusually means travelling out of the county is another consideration.”
“If a property has most of these then it will always be much in demand.”