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Old 09-02-2016, 10:54 AM
36 posts, read 18,465 times
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Hello Everyone! I've been reading thru the posts here (greatly enjoying them, btw. You've got a good community here.), and thought I'd post my own question.

My wife and I are about 7-9 years from retirement. I've been researching possible places to live in retirement, and the Front Range is at the top of my list.

Though I've been an urban dweller by necessity, I'm a farm boy at heart. I enjoy caring for animals, and would like my retirement life to include both dogs and horses. Dogs, we have lots of experience with. Horses, not so much. I've done enough research to know that owning my own horses/stable/etc is probably not financial reality though, so I'm looking for a compromise.

So, here's my question. What do people do when they want to enjoy an occasional trail ride, but can't afford their own ranch(ette)?

We're fortunate to be retiring with better-than-average assets. (assuming another 2008 doesn't come along.) So, I think we can afford the real estate there. I just don't want to put us in a situation where 80% of our cash flow is tied up in fixed expenses.

Do people "share" horses? Do stables have horses that they allow people to "rent" for the day? Are any of these equestrian communities affordable?

Any advice would be welcomed! Thanks in advance, and Happy Labor Day!
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:04 PM
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I know that some stables or individual owners will sell leases on a horse, the terms of which are between the owner and the leasee. You might pay X dollars a month to have Y number of rides. You might "rent" a horse for the summer and pay a percentage of its boarding fee. Etc. I'm sure you'd need good references to be trusted and insurance/vet/boarding would have to be part of the lease or agreed not to be.

I have seen all kinds of lease agreements here in the East and I also hope to have a horse life when I retire in SW Colorado. The terms will be up to the horse owner and whatever we have in writing about the details. It can be done!
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:25 PM
36 posts, read 18,465 times
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Thanks! I'll spend some time this weekend researching "horse lease agreements".

You bring up a good point about trust. Is it reasonable to expect that I could find a stable where I could take riding lessons for a while, then work out a lease agreement with them once I've earned that kind of trust? I guess what I'm really asking is if the larger stables offer such a lease, or if it's more often an individual owner that's looking to defer some of the cost?

Last edited by Rockitman52; 09-02-2016 at 12:35 PM..
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:52 PM
Location: Black Forest, CO
1,510 posts, read 2,224,772 times
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I would advise taking lessons for a while like you said, and then get the word out that you are interested in a lease. I believe it will usually be private owners you will find that will offer a lease. Check Craigslist in the For Sale, Farm and Garden section and search for 'lease' and you will occasionally see people offering a lease.
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Old 09-02-2016, 01:34 PM
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for the casual rider, you'll find numerous stables operations in Colorado that "rent" horses for your riding, as well as offer instruction/lessons.

If you are affluent enough to do so, you might want to check out the various communities/subdivisions where equine is allowed ... usually on smaller acreages (perhaps 5 acres) with a limit of X number of horses (typically, 4).

IMO, your better option in choosing such housing would be to locate a subdivision that has it's own boarding stables or stables nearby ... such as the Ken Caryl subdivision in SW Denver metro area. Why?

because taking on horse ownership is a full time 24/7/365 responsibility for a large animal. It's not something that you get to do at your convenience, you must maintain the facilities ... food, water, manure and stables/corrals clean-up for the health, maintenance, and well-being of your horses (whether they're owned or leased, it's the same set of responsibilities). And to keep your horses (and your communications/riding skills) in best shape, you'll need to be riding them frequently. That aspect ... in and of itself ... can be a huge responsibility (why do you think that some horse owners are seeking other folk to take on the the time/financial responsibilities of their horse care?).

Don't forget that proper horse care also has a veterinary component ... depending upon your horses and their conditioning, injuries, and many other well-being aspects can take on a sizable financial burden. Vet "call-out" charges aren't cheap ... or you can trailer your horse to your vet. You do have a suitable pick-up truck and horse trailer, right?

As well, consider where you might be keeping your horses and the access to where you might want to ride. If you're like me, you'd want to go "trail riding" (of which many magnificent opportunities present throughout Colorado) ... again, this requires the suitable truck/trailer for the task and the time/commitment to do so.

The bottom line is that horse ownership if properly done is a huge investment, commitment, and time/money hobby. IMO, if you're not totally committed to fulfilling your responsibilities as a horse owner, it's not worth it for those few moments that are the rewards. During the months of inclement weather when riding may not be something you'll want to do, the responsibilities of horse ownership/well being/care still continue. Similarly, if you want to "get away" for a trip, who is going to take care of your horses and take responsibility for their feeding, care, health in your absence?

And do consider that not all horse/rider/owner situations are compatible or successful. IMO, you really need to get trained in horsemanship, horse ownership, and horses before embarking upon horse ownership. It's can be a huge part of your life, in a good ... or bad ... way.

As a long time horse owner with hundreds of hours of lessons/training, and part of a horse consulting business (a few years ago, we assisted folk in locating suitable horses for their needs), and a (former) commercial boarding facility (65 horse capacity) owner ... I've not "seen it all". But I do know that a lot of horses and owners simply don't function on the same level, much to the detriment of the horses.

Proceed with caution. Get educated and trained before even thinking about buying a horse. The "romance" and allure of horse ownership is not what it appears to be on the surface to get to those moments when it's all good.

Good luck with your adventure.

PS: don't forget all the other incidentals that are needed for your horse adventure ... tack, saddles (easy to spend a few grand on this for quality used stuff ... don't go cheap on this and be sure that you get a saddle properly fitted both to the horse and you for your riding purposes), and well-being care such as farrier services (even if you don't shoe your horses and leave them barefoot as I do) ... or learn to trim the hooves yourself, which is an art and requires some training if you're not going to ruin your horse.

PPS: my "best" rider training came from Parelli type natural horsemanship instructors. While his programs and instructors are not in the game as they were some years ago, there are numerous trainers today who follow much the same tactics/rider instruction/horse communication techniques. I have had much better success with these programs than with heavy-handed trainers (and there's famous ones on both sides of the aisle). Worth your time to hook up with the "natural" style ... a hallmark of the natural rider techniques is to use a soft rope halter and lead rope rather than a heavy handed bit and reins. Plus you can learn to tie up your own soft halters from 1/4" marine braid line and save a lot of money on tack.

Last edited by sunsprit; 09-02-2016 at 01:48 PM..
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Old 09-03-2016, 08:22 AM
36 posts, read 18,465 times
Reputation: 38
Thanks fir the feedback! I really appreciate it.

Obviously, we have a few years to figure it out. I'm really just trying to get a handle on what post-retirement life might look like, so I can do some financial planning. I was hoping that there might be a way to have some kind of "horse life", without going all-in. It looks like a couple options do exist, which is good news.

I think we'll plan on taking things one step at a time. Rent a place in the area for a year. If we like it there, buy a modest home in an area we like. Take some riding lessons. See how it all goes. Then, if all works out, look into volunteering at a horse rescue or get envolved at a stable and look into a half-lease.

(BTW I grew up on a dairy farm, so I have some firsthand experience of the time and money involved in caring for livestock. That's exactly why I asked these questions in the first place.)

Thanks again!
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Old 09-04-2016, 10:39 AM
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You are likely in for a glorious retirement. I know a couple of seniors with farm/horse lifestyles. They are the fittest people I know. In the area I live having horses, goats, lamas, long horn steer, chickens etc. is common. One 70+ lady ( don't know her age) has three horses and boy can she hoist a bale of hay. Another gentleman who runs a farm with goats and border collies to herd them, sells his overage produce every year and is in his 80s. We see horses every day on our walk with our dogs and sometimes see some ladies riding, some teen girls riding and a gentleman who wears a giant sombrero.

In drought years you can gather up horses for free because people can't afford to feed them and will give them to whomever can. If you got a place with a barn and a corral you could also offer to rent out the space to someone looking to board a horse. Alternatively you could offer the space up to a rescue.

I just did a search on Erie Colorado horse riding stables and a ton came up.

I just chose Erie out of the hat. You will find lots of resources to enjoy horses. Not mention the Stock Show when alot of horse people come from all over. Adams County fairground also has some horse events. Adams County Fair - Brighton, CO - view schedules

If you want some links to actual houses so you can see what you can get for your dollars give a description of what you are looking for in a house, neighborhood and general cost.

Last edited by mic111; 09-04-2016 at 10:50 AM..
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Old 09-06-2016, 12:41 PM
36 posts, read 18,465 times
Reputation: 38

Thanks! I sure hope it works out that way! I'd absolutely love to be on 10-20 country acres with a collection of animals that, in my wife's words, "needed a home." The work and time commitment doesn't scare me. But over-extending our finances does. No sense in owning a dream property if it means worrying about money for the rest of our years.

Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.
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Old 09-06-2016, 01:24 PM
2,514 posts, read 3,487,165 times
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10 to 20 acres would be unusual. If a property like that came up for sale it would likely go to a developer for housing or to a city who would buy it for the water rights. 2ish acres is more common. Used to be you could find 5 acres but most are subdivided when they sell to 2ish so that both properties can keep horses and the original owner gets more money.

You can't really pasture a horse here so the larger properties don't serve much of a purpose as you will be buying hay no matter what. The 2 acre horse property is more common and likely a good target for you as you can find them pretty close to amenities that Srs would be interested in like hospital, shopping and restaurants. However there are also 1 acre properties available that are zoned for horses.

If your budget is around $600K I would say you could still get a horse property in a decent location.

1168 W 156th Ave, Broomfield, CO 80023 | MLS #8738656 | Zillow
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Old 09-07-2016, 10:51 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,401 posts, read 39,713,740 times
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Consider a home, or boarding stable adjacent to national forest property, or a very large ranch with riding privileges. (if you prefer 'natural terrain' for riding)

As a retiree, you could also link up with a guest ranch and get seasonal boarding and horse access in exchange for doing chores / maint. Front Range, there are many 'guest ranch facilities' near Estes Park, (we usually spend a month 'off season' helping at 2 camps / schools there). Westcliffe has similar places and more remote / quiet off season. We stayed on a dairy farm in Maine that boarded trail horses during the winter. We were there for fall colors, so enjoyed a week volunteer work on the farm and riding every afternoon.

The family that runs this place (Gunnison) would be worth going to visit. They might be able to refer you to this type of activity. Go spend a few days, midweek off season and 'poke around'.
Waunita Hot Springs Ranch

Owning your own stock is pretty heavy level of daily responsibility and expense. If that is your desire, (and you prefer riding in nature rather than arenas) look to Red Feather Lake area. Also upper Buckhorn or Poudre Canyons. Our most recent 'horse' friends moved from AZ to Nunn, CO and love it. "Watch Nunn Grow" (Pawnee Prairie access), not to my tastes, tho prairie stock myself.

We met a few retired riders (ex-ranch / farm person / trained....) who had gone to WY to help with moving cattle near Burgess Jct. They had participated for many yrs. Most brought their own horse, but some were using ranch stock. You will need to link up with some locals. (There are some farm / ranch networks for retirees)

Last edited by StealthRabbit; 09-07-2016 at 11:19 AM..
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