Key considerations when selling or buying equestrian property

The equestrian property market in Scotland remains strong, despite current fluctuating market uncertainties and increased mortgage rates. For anyone looking at equestrian properties, the list of key considerations is in double figures, but there are five that Lewis Anderson, Aberdeen-based Director at Davidson & Robertson (D&R) believes are core.

Lewis Anderson has firsthand experience of the equestrian market, owning a stud of award-winning ponies. He is well placed to advise on buying and selling equestrian properties and has a long checklist when scoping properties for clients.

Commenting on the equestrian market Lewis said “There are an estimated 70,000* horses in Scotland and around 34% are kept at home on land and stables, with a notable amount – 46% either in livery or renting land or stables.  Aberdeenshire, the Lothians, and Borders have the strongest equestrian presence, and in Aberdeenshire in particular, we are still seeing high demand for properties that are suited to the equine market.

“Being able to provide practical, well-informed equine assessments has led Davidson & Robertson to bring a new equestrian property to market this week, along with several properties with equestrian potential. Others are set to follow including an excellent equestrian yard for sale in Lanarkshire, and another in the Lothians.

Coming to market soon is Backhill of Culburnie, Banff – a well-priced equestrian property with potential.

New to market with equine potential is Edendiack, Huntly, Aberdeenshire which features a modernised farmhouse, a mix of modern and traditional farm buildings and 35 acres of land which would create an excellent equestrian facility.

Also launching this week, again with equestrian potential, is Dun-Mor, Linlithgow – another property with land and buildings that would easily convert for buyers looking for equestrian premises.

Lewis said, “When visiting a potential equestrian property, I look carefully at the general appearance and condition – that will always make a big first impression, likewise, the amount of ongoing maintenance required to maintain that good impression is a longer-term consideration for any buyer. As an equestrian professional, I have built a checklist of things to look at, but the top five that are important are:

1.Is the house well situated in relation to the equestrian facilities? Being able to see the facilities from the house provides better security and welfare purposes, and if there is an issue that needs urgent attention, the ability to hear yard noise from the house is also beneficial.

2.How good are the layout, size, and quality of the stables? The quality of stables varies from temporary timber structures to purpose-built facilities, with the standard size being 12’x12’. Ultimately, the size of stables needed will depend on the size of equines kept and how the stables are to be used, for example, a breeder using stables for foaling or as a stallion box will require a larger size. It is also important to consider if stallions and mares can be kept away from each other, i.e., mares not passing stallion doors on the way to their boxes.

We would also look at whether there are piped water troughs, feed and hay bars, and rubber matting for the floor to save hocks from getting damaged. Additional facilities also add value, so we would look to see what else is available – such as a haybarn, tack room, solarium, wash bay, dung store, and menage – and how handy they are within the property.

3.What type of land is it? There are significant factors to consider when looking at the value of the land, and they go beyond the simple question of ‘Will it be a quagmire in winter?’ Is there shelter from the elements – natural or otherwise? Is the land suitable for a competition yard, racehorse trainers, or as a base for a stud?  If the land is very steep and sloping, it would not be suited to a racing yard.

The type of grass mix sown is important. Many high-yielding agricultural mixes are not suitable for equine purposes due to the high sugar content which can cause weight issues. How well the land is maintained is also reflected in the level of weeds like docks and ragwort.

We also look to see if there is hard standing at gateways and water troughs, or if they can be built to save heavily trafficked areas from turning muddy. Is the land flat and is it prone to flooding? If there are low-lying areas that could pond during wet periods, it is important to check if there is drainage in place, and if not, can it be put in easily? Midges and flies will be an increased issue if there are lots of trees and water sources like ponds, streams, rushes, or boggy areas.

4.Are fences good enough to prevent the risk of damaging manes, tails, or legs? Ideally, these should be post and rail with an electrified plain wire, not a typical stock fence which is usually rylock wire fencing and/or barbed wire. Rylock fences create the risk of legs getting stuck or rubbing on the barbed wire will damage tails and manes or more serious damage.

5.What shape and size are the fields, paddocks and gates and are they well located? We don’t like to see narrow gateways or a narrow field unless it is a turnout paddock for a single pony. If the intention is to mix different horses or ponies, the risk of a less dominant animal getting picked on or bullied in a narrow area is far greater. Ideally, gates are best in the corner of a field and positioned to minimize excessive walking or leading to the stables.  In terms of shape, then reasonably square fields make operating equipment simpler and maintenance like topping, much easier. If the property is based as a stud, then fields will have different purposes with mares and foals being close to the stables for handling and stud work, and colts and stallions away from them.

Summing up Lewis said, “For many, selling their home or business is something that is done once or twice in a lifetime, so knowing how well you are positioned in the marketplace and what you can do to improve your chances of a sale is critical.”

If you would like a confidential, no-obligation discussion about selling your land/property or are looking to buy an equine property, please contact the D&R team on 0131 449 1155 / or Lewis Anderson on 07741 163 305 /


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