Horse House Hunters – Episode 4

If you haven’t been following along, my husband and I are planning to move back to the east coast. Last year we looked at properties in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In May of this year, we did another tour of properties in Vermont and New Hampshire. We didn’t end up buying anything, but I love looking at equestrian properties and thought I’d share some of them with readers.

Today I’ll cover Vermont. We looked at 8 different properties in Vermont on this trip, but in sticking to the House Hunters format, I’ll just go over 3.

House #1

3 bedroom, 3 bathroom post and beam style house with brand new kitchen and appliances and attached garage. Gorgeous views out over the valley and situated in between Woodstock, VT (a cute town that’s also home to the Green Mountain Horse Association) and the Hanover/Lebanon area for shopping and needs. Also like 5 minutes away from a tack store, but apparently that’s not a reason to buy a house (and according to my husband is a reason not to buy a house). This property was ALL about the barn though. It was built by some very rich parents for their son when he was attending Dartmouth. He was on the olympic dressage team for his home country and needed a facility for continued training while attending school. The 10 stall barn complete with heated wash racks and tack room is attached to a huge indoor arena with GGT footing. There’s also a 20×60 outdoor arena although it had been neglected for a few years and would need work. The downside to this property was it only had 12 acres. With the house, barn, and arenas occupying some of that land, there would probably be only 8 acres left to fence in, which is really not a lot for that size of a barn. There was also no trail access. $850k.

House #2

If the first house was all about the barn, this one was all about the house. A gorgeous Cape house with exposed beams built in the 1990s. It was, by far, the most well built house we looked at. It was the only house we looked at that wouldn’t require any work (we’d still need to build an indoor arena, but the house was turn-key). My favorite part was the dog bath built into the entryway off the garage. Now I want every house I look at to have one. 71 acres though a lot of the acres were forested wetlands and wouldn’t be usable. The front 10ish acres hosted fenced pastures and a cute 4 stall barn. No arena, but direct access to miles of trails in a nearby park system. This house was in the middle of nowhere (obviously not really, but for me coming from where I have access to everything within a 5 minute drive). The town had literally no stores – not even a gas station with a convenience store for an emergency milk run. It was about 25 minutes from Hartford, which is a college town with stores. It was 50-60 minutes from GMHA. The land had a deed restriction prohibiting commercial activity so no boarding would be allowed. $750k.

House #3

The Woodstock area hosts the Green Mountain Horse Association. In addition to a horse park that hosts rated events all year long, the association has a network of miles of trails on public and private property that connect a lot of the local farms to the horse park and to each other. They have enough trails to run a few endurance rides in the area including a 100 mile ride. This property was on the trail network and the current owner even mentioned offering food for the volunteers and riders every year during the 100 mile ride. The house was older and would need quite a bit of work, but it was filled with horsey decorations and I loved all the built in bookshelves. The barn had 7 stalls with heated office and tack room. The pastures had additional run-in shelters to house more horses (I think there were about 15 horses living on the property at the time). There was a small (20×40) outdoor arena (that would require considerable work to enlarge and cover because of it’s location edged into a hill) and a round pen. 20 acres. $500k.

Which house would you pick?

39 thoughts on “Horse House Hunters – Episode 4

  1. Emily

    Location Location Location! I would pick the last one hahaha. I would put money into building a nice indoor arena, but I wouldn’t worry about an outdoor, since it has such amazing trail access.

  2. Megan K

    hm hard to say – 70+ acres sounds divine but it’s a shame most of it isn’t good for pasture. I’d say i like the last one the best. The first one is gorgeous but the property is too small for me.

    I could be tainted because I live in a city right now and I want to buy acreage so i can have elbow room (LOTS of elbow room)

  3. Teresa

    I love this vicarious house shopping! I would honestly pick #3. For the price you have enough left over to build an indoor and fix the outdoor. 20 acres is the perfect size to manage (of course I”m biased because that is what we have) and the access to the trails would be a real draw for me. YOu woudn’t have to build the indoor over the riding ring, I would consider attaching it to the barn (much easier in winter).

    1. Olivia Post author

      The real problem with that property that I forgot to mention was it’s distance from town. The trail access was great, but it was in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. Not somewhere I want to be in the middle of winter.

  4. Stacie Seidman

    I love reading these posts! Thanks for doing them!
    I think I’d probably pick the first one. That indoor is so nice! And GMHA is awesome. (I actually know someone who works there!) I’m used to trying to make horse owning work on much less land, so 12 acres seems like plenty to me! Though I probably would avoid having ten horses on those 12 acres.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I’m always impressed with what you get done with your acreage. I want my horses to be out on pasture all the time though.

      1. Stacie Seidman

        Agree, I wish I had that for them. Although not an option for Jamp anymore anyway, so I guess things work out in the end? I’m actually secretly hoping my next door neighbor decides to move so I can buy his property, tear it down, and build paddocks πŸ™‚

  5. Amanda

    The last one. That GMHA trail access is worth its weight in gold. The first one has serious potential, though it’s a shame about the size of the acreage!

    Sent you an email about another property that might fit for you.

  6. Centered in the Saddle

    These posts are so fun! I’d go with House #3. Good amount of property, great location, and the best price – so presumably you’d have some wiggle room to make the necessary improvements. You can always change the house (or barn, or arena) but you can’t change the location/property!

    1. Olivia Post author

      So, what I forgot to mention is that, while there was great trail access, there was not much town access from that property. It was sort of in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road.

  7. Betsy in WI

    I really like #1. My biggest pet peeve with horse properties is usually the tiny arena size. A round pen with corners is not an arena. 70-80 feet is the minimum acceptable dimension for a short side, not a long side. And the footing is rarely as nice as I’d like. For 2-4 horses, 12 acres is fine and less to manage/mow/fence. Just consider the extra stalls as available for guests or visitors. You could host clinics or be available for overnight stops on long distance hauls, or have a horsy BnB as a side gig. You have room to store jumps or WE obstacles, and your guys are easy to trailer out to nearby trails so that’s not so much of a downside. If you can design your own fencing, you can set up a perimeter trail or a pasture paradise. #2-meh. Too many drawbacks. #3- Pass. I’d be willing to work on house or arena if needed, but not both.

    I loved Vermont when I visited a few years ago (in May, when it is really nice). It ranks as one of the few states I’d choose if I had to relocate.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Your thoughts were wort of ours for #3. We don’t mind 1 project – either building an arena or fixing an older house – but we didn’t want to do both.

  8. Stephanie

    I’m super into #1. The 70 acres on #2 is not worth the upkeep to me- so much mowing, clearing, spraying, etc. especially if a lot of it is unusable. (I’d be curious to see the soil profile on it!)

    1. Olivia Post author

      It actually wouldn’t have required any upkeep because it was just forest land. We could have ignored it and just enjoyed it keeping neighbors further away. The fields in the front looked amazing and the neighbor grew and harvested hay so I imagine that part was good soil. The back chunk of land was probably not viable soil given all the water.

  9. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    I really like 1. For me, 12 acres is a nice size and I love the indoor! The house is cute too. 3 is nice as well and not hauling out would be nice, but 12 acres just seems more…manageable. I’m on 4 acres now so…

    1. Olivia Post author

      The real issue with #1 was the lack of trail access. 10 acres would have been fine if we could have connected out to somewhere to ride when we didn’t want to be in an arena.

    1. Olivia Post author

      That’s a great little property. For Maine though we were very strict on being within 20 minutes of Portland. We liked the horse culture of Vermont and were willing to be more remote there, but if we did Maine and gave up the easy access to showing and horse culture (I know there are still smaller shows in Maine, but not the same level) we wanted easy access to Portland for non horse culture. Portland was both of our favorite cities in our house shopping.

      1. Elizabeth

        Yeah, that property is closer to 30 minutes to downtown Portland, though it is located quite close to the turnpike (I-95). There is not much farmland that close to Portland any longer with urban sprawl! πŸ˜‰

    1. Olivia Post author

      That was the nicest house. I should have done more pictures of it. It was charming and felt historic but everything was modern and in perfect condition.

  10. reluctant cowgirl

    Now I want to buy #3. I’m going to be incredibly jealous when you move and start posting from my beloved northern New England. It’s the best place in the world. (and I love where I live now, it’s just…not New England.) Woodstock is a little slice of heaven.

  11. Kat

    So that indoor makes me swoon. My knee jerk is#1. Dog bath is a brilliant idea btw. I’d be the lame House Hunter that says still shopping. #3 would be my pick but do not want to be that remote. I dearly miss trail access.

    Funny my coworker who just moved to Virginia (but still works Cali) took pics of some of the properties kit there with big dreamy houses, horses,.butted up to wooded trails. He knew id love it.

    1. Olivia Post author

      That’s cool. I love looking at horse properties in other places. It’s always interesting to me what you can get elsewhere.

  12. Julia

    None of the above! #1, not enough land, #2 too much woods, #3 is sooo tempting, but, the house scares me . . . probably because I have an antique, adorable home like this and it is a huge money pit. And we all know that if anything is going to drain our wallets, we want it to be the horses. I’m also wary of older indoors in the northern New England states. I’m in northeastern MA and a few years ago we had 9′ of snow in three months and many indoors and a few big barns collapsed. My insurance guy said to stick to steel framed indoors if we went shopping for a bigger property because global warming means more snow for NE. The very thought of this sends me to Trulia in search of a job and house in Aiken, but, so far the mega-snow has not repeated. I think of you guys when we idly shop for a bigger place and have seen clear-span, steel indoors in the areas you’re shopping. Best of luck considering all the options!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I love old house for their character and I want a smaller house, but I grew up in a house from the 1800s and the projects never stop. We looked at a few that had been beautifully restored and I wouldn’t mind owning, but #3 needed a lot of work and had not been taken care of.

  13. Holly

    Definitely #1! I grew up with 2 horses on 3 acres (granted didn’t need an indoor there) and it was a lot of work to keep up, I can’t imagine more than 10-15. It’s also so interesting how different parts of the country just have different requirements – I grew up in NM where there’s very little pasture anyways, so while my horses had big turnouts (like a .25 acre each) and access to a stall 24/7, you don’t have to worry about true pasture upkeep and rotations.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I really want huge pastures though. I want to be able to let my horses have real turn out and enjoy themselves. I may regret this when I am spending all my time mowing pastures, but that’s future me’s problem, right?

  14. Pingback: Horse House Hunters – Episode 6 – DIY Horse Ownership

Comments are closed.