Bringing Your Horse Home. Can I Have a Horse on My Property?

Jessica McDaniel
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Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Physical Requirements

Horses are large animals and the physical requirements to accommodate them is substantial. The minimum requirement is a 200 square foot open paddock. This is the minimum area required when you can’t move the barn and pasture together.

Your horses’ management style can change the requirements, if they’re in a stall and turned out in a small pen, the minimum area will be considerably less.

Some owners prefer to keep their horses on pasture year round, and there are also ways to make the pasture smaller by adding logs to create windbreaks or limiting the feed access through utilization of a electric fence. In looking at the minimum area, our farmer is demonstrating his expertise of working with horses, and getting the most from his pasture and forage.

If the pasture is insufficient in size, the horses will likely overgraze and trample the pasture and soil. Overgrazing also results in more flies and midges which can increase the risk of disease. The additional pressure from flies and midges on young horses can thwart growth and development. When deciding on how large the pasture can be, ensure you have a pen nearby for the horse when he must be removed from the area. The pen should be large enough to house the horse for a full 24 hours to allow the soil to recover.

How Many Acres Does a Horse Need

Horses, like people, are unique individuals. One horse may need or want more than the other. However, the USDA’s standards suggests that 1 acre is the minimum.

One acre for a horse means they have an acre of pasture to graze on and a safe area to exercise. The acre should include a good distance for them to run and play.

An acre also includes a small area for them to be safe in called a pens. Pens are useful for keeping your horses away from predators and for keeping other horses and you are safe from each other when it comes to (again) predators.

Imagine running for your life after being attacked by a wild animal. The last thing you would want to do imagine is run into another animal who is already on the run. Obviously, this could result in injury or death.

An acre of land could also be larger, but it should be at least an acre. The additional acreage could be for things like several areas to poop on, a place to keep stuff that could potentially hurt the horse like car parts, dead pets, or new items that you don’t know if they are horse-approved.

Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Responsibilities

There's a big difference between having horses on property and being a responsible horse owner. When you decide to get your own horse and bring it home, you are taking on the responsibility of providing your horse with proper food, care, and a lifetime of love.

If you don't have the time, space, or resources to provide a good quality of life for your horse, then you'll need to consider hiring a professional horse caretaker or board your horse at an equestrian facility.

Horses have an extensive lifespans—20 years is their average—so when you adopt them, you're signing up for the long haul.

Think you’re ready to be responsible for your horse?

Here's what you need to know before bringing a horse home.


Water and Toilet your Horse First.

Bringing any animal home, whether it’s to your backyard or to become part of your family, is an exciting experience. Bringing home a horse is no exception! But before bringing your horse home, be sure to discuss this event in your family meeting and ask for help, support, and understanding from the rest of your family members to ensure that you will enjoy your horseing experience.


The place where you plan to keep your horse needs to have a supply of fresh water. Just as a person needs fresh water, so does your horse. The water supply itself does not need any additional modification, although, a trough or a bucket can facilitate the drinking process.

You will want to find a supply of water that can be fresh and constant through any season of the year. Do you live in a region where the weather is temperate, or where there is less than 4 inches of snow in the winter? If so, then you have your answer.

Spring Fed Water

If you're considering a natural spring as your water source, a great option is to harness the water resource with a hand-dug well.

Instead of digging a hole with a shovel, you use a hand auger. The auger is an industry standard tool that attaches to the end of a pole and drills through the dirt. This makes well-digging much more efficient, and it doesn't require as much shovel power as a shovel.

Your best option may be to have a small business or a trained individual dig your well.

With the use of hand augers there is no need for heavy machinery, but the hole does need to be lined with concrete to prevent contamination.

Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Shelter/Turnout

If you are serious about having a horse on your property, you should have the proper shelter and turnout arrangements in place before you bring the horse home. You need to have a safe area available whenever the horse is outdoors, even if he or she is turned out with a companion horse.

A single horse, adult or young, needs a minimum of 10 feet of tiedown for eating, sleeping and lying down. When two horses share a shelter, they need at least 12 feet of tiedown space. The tiedown space is measured from the front of the horse's shoulder to the inside of the tiedown.

A head-to-head tie can be used to attach each horse to a fixed object. For instance, you might choose to tie the horses head-to-head on a post, or to the fence with the gate closed. Never tie two horses head-to-tail. That causes both horses to pull toward the tail-tied horse, causing injury.

If you find it difficult to feed, water, and turn out two horses at your stable, you may want to consider a rotate and tie arrangement. This arrangement also means one horse can be inside all of the time, if you prefer. It is the same concept – to have more space available for your horse.


Pasture & Indoor Housing.

The most important thing for the comfort of your horse is to make sure it is housed appropriately for its particular species, breed, and age.

If you notice behavioral problems in your horse, that may be a sign that both the horse's environment and pastures needs improvement. Behavioral problems can be caused by lack of exercise, boredom, inappropriate diet, aggression from other horses, cramped stall quarters, or even poor water quality and manure loading.

Can I Have a Horse on My Property: Exercise

The function of an exercise area is to allow a horse to burn off energy. This is accomplished by simply increasing the time he spends outside in a fenced or secure area. A horse is generally safe for the backyard from his stall for 20-30 minutes.

With real estate prices rising, the average American has bought down to a postage stamp size lot. This doesn’t allow much space for a horse to run around and annoy the neighbors.

The key to an exercise area is to allow him to always be out of site when he's free. The fence should be at least 6' high, with a sturdy and reliable gate. Bull-proof or bear-proof are also great perks to keep you and your neighbors happy.

The fence should be tacklin’ strong to keep your energetic partner contained. This is just so that the fence isn’t easily broken by a bored horse, running against it with great force.


Your horse in a pasture is easy in warm weather, but you might be wondering what you should do in the colder months, especially if you live in a climate with snow. Blanketing a horse is usually discouraged by horse owners because it can inhibit natural behaviors and lead to health problems. However, there are ways to blanket a horse without worrying about these problems.

The idea of blanketing a horse is simple: it involves covering the animal up with something to keep it cozy. This can help the horse stay warmer and limit its movement. Blanketing a horse is most often recommended when temperatures are below freezing. Even in a warm climate, you might consider blanketing a horse that is particularly sensitive to the cold.

If you want to blanket a horse, don't try to use blankets. Blankets tend to create heat build-up, which can result in the horse becoming too hot. Try instead to use a horse blanket. A horse blanket is used to cover a horse's back end and keep it warm. It's also large enough that it can cover the animal without creating heat build-up.


The decision to own a horse is not just about having fun, it is about making a lifetime commitment to taking care of the most magnificent animal in the world.

So, before you decide to make that decision, it is important to weigh the facts:

First and foremost, horses are very expensive.

It is much more than the cost of the horse, it is mainly the large equipment costs that come with it.

Before you even think of getting a horse, you should take a long hard look at your budget and determine how much money you can realistically spend.

Horses cost money for boarding, equipment, insurance, shoeing, farrier, hay, vet and far more.

These are all major expenses in themselves, but it is the ongoing costs that will put a strain on the household budget and will squeeze every penny spent.

Boarding for your horse can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars per month, and because they will usually eat your entire quota of hay, you may also be spending hundreds of dollars each month on that.

In addition, you will need to buy monthly dewormer to add to their feed, weekly supplements needed to balance their diet, pads, sheets, fly masks, hoof boots, and on and on.


As you can see, mental health, behavioral problems, and social skills are all important topics that an equine therapist can help with. The different ways that you can have a conversation, and the different role plays that you can do with your horse make working with an equine therapist much more effective than with any other therapist.

On top of that, horses are one of the most forgiving creatures around. If something goes wrong, they don’t care. If you get frustrated, they can sense it and will instantly back off. If you get worked up, they sense that, too, and stay far away so they don’t get bit, kicked, or thrown by you. If you come to them angry and frustrated, they will be better at meeting your needs. They have a sense of time, patience, and persistence that we can all learn from.