How Much Land do You Need for Horses?

We’re just a week away from one of America’s most toplofty pastimes—the Kentucky Derby. In leading up to this year’s hat-tastic event, we wanted to address a particular question. This is something we are asked regularly by locals purchasing a hard-earned farmstead and transplants looking to live the bucolic Western North Carolina dream:

How much land do you need for horses?

How much land do you need for horses?

Horses can be fickle creatures. The amount of land you need can vary significantly by the size of the horse, your management style, and how they’re fed. (You may not need as much grazing land if they’ll be eating hay every day.)

In general, professionals recommend two acres for the first horse and an additional acre for each additional horse (e.g., five acres for four horses). And, of course, more land is always better depending on the foraging quality of your particular property (70% vegetative cover is recommended). With excellent management, one horse can live on as little as one mud-free acre. However, keep in mind that a single horse will chew through 27 acres of pasture per year or that equivalent in hay.

In terms of dry lots, exercise lots, stress lots, or sacrifice lots, the minimum recommended space is 400 square feet per horse, though a larger space is always preferable. According to Mike Yoder, Extension Assistant Professor & Specialist Extension Horse Husbandry at North Carolina State University, “for physical well-being, horses do not require room to run, only move around freely for at least a portion of every day.”

How much land do you need for other animals?

Prime grazing land can sometimes be difficult to come by because of WNC’s rolling and sometimes steep and mountainous terrain. If you’re still interested in keeping a few hoofed friends around, you may also consider miniature donkeys or goats. Both are very adaptable to the environment in general, and especially adaptable to the Blue Ridge terrain. A pair of miniature donkeys would thrive on as little as a half acre of pasture, which would be sufficient for both grazing and exercise. As for goats, poor or sloped ground may support 2–4 goats per acre, while better pasture can support 6–8 goats per acre.

Begin Searching for WNC Equestrian Properties Today!

Begin Searching for WNC Equestrian Properties Today!

Ready to look for your perfect horse-friendly home in WNC? You can get special alerts any time a home matching your criteria enters the market. All you need is a Beverly-Hanks My Account.

Search now for Beverly-Hanks’ equestrian listings. Refine the search to meet your other needs, then save the search. You can even change how often you receive alerts, so you’re getting exactly as many updates as you want.



All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about buying equestrian properties in WNC, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in Western North Carolina.



11 Responses to “How Much Land do You Need for Horses?”

  1. I had no idea a single horse can chew about 27 arches of pasture per year. Knowing this, it definitely sounds like space is incredibly important to a horse. Not only that, but I’m sure that it’s also equally important to make sure that the land can fit the horse’s needs to live happy and healthy. To be honest, I’d be interested in learning more about the eating habits of horses, and how they evolve and change over the years. It could be good info to know if you are planning on raising a foal.

  2. Thanks for sharing the general rule that we should have two acres of land for the first horse and one acre for each additional horse that we get. My husband and I are thinking about buying some land so we can get the horses we’ve always wanted. I had no idea how much space we’d need for two horses, so I really appreciate you sharing that rule!

  3. I thought that it was interesting that you said that tone thing to consider when you are thinking about getting horses on your property is to acquire at least two acres per horse in order to make sure that they have enough room to roam around on. I have been thinking about buying horses for my daughters but I have been unsure as to what land requirements are necessary for raising them. I will be sure to consider buying a plot of land in order to be able to take care of horses on my property.

  4. Wow, I never knew that I’ll need two acres of land for just one horse since I’m planning to start selling horse milk. I think I’ll buy some acreage that’s appropriate for horses once I find a real estate company that sells lots of lands. Hopefully, I can start caring for horses before the year ends since I want my horse milk to be organic to reach a good market.

  5. It is interesting that professionals recommend an additional acre for additional horses. My wife and I both grew up with horses and we’d like to get horse properties. We may consider seeing what is available near us to help decide how many horses we can start with.

  6. It was interesting when you explained that the ideal ratio for vegetation on a horse’s land is 70%. My brother is interested in buying two German dressage horses and is currently working to prepare adequate land for their boarding. I’ll pass along these tips to give him some general guidelines to follow when preparing the land!

End of blog post Beverly-Hanks logo


Back to News

Leave a Reply