Looking to start agistment on 12 acres in Lake Clifton

QueenSaphos

New Member
I own 12 acres in Lake Clifton that my parents live on and would love to start an agistment. The intention up-front is to generate some income from this property at the same time, and to stop wasting so much space!

All three of us are type-A perfectionists and are very handy so the fencing, stables etc would all be top-quality, neat, safe etc. It would be based around formal agistment contracts and I will arrange the necessary insurances, so no dramas there either. Even though I don't live there, I adore animals so the safety and happiness/quality of life of the horses would be paramount. My Dad used to ride and I'm sure would forage through my Mom's veggie garden for extra horse treats! However, that's where the snag hits - I know absolutely nothing about horses lol. I am happy to put the time in and learn it all though, which is why I'm here. I also don't expect my parents to care for the horses, so am going to start off by making it totally DIY - eventually I could employ someone in the area to look after them. My parents can keep an eye on them throughout the day though as my Mom works from home.

I'm looking for answers to the following:
a) Would there be a market for agistments in the Lake Clifton area, being mostly acreages already? I haven't seen many others in the area though - how do you assess an area for this?
b) What, as the agistment owner, am I expected to provide if I go the full-DIY route? I'll need specifics - paddock size, horses/m2, fencing materials, stabling requirements, water troughs, ground cover, rotation paddocks, any hazards I should be aware of
c) What are the "tricks for new players" that I should be aware of?
d) What horse behaviour is problematic for an agistment, that I might not know about? I've seen biting, kicking over water troughs etc
e) What is the selection process for accepting a horse into an agistment? Vet records, worming records etc
f) Should I be considering a different, easier animal (alpacas?) to agist instead, or alongside the horses? Is it common to have multiple species in the one area?
g) RE the vegetation - I have a few different areas on the acreage I could use, what kind of terrain should I be looking for?

It's imperative that if I do this, I do it properly and the horses are safe and happy at all times. I anticipate that I will live there in the future and would love to have a horse of my own and start riding, which is why I've decided on this idea! Thank you for all the advice! :) Kim
 

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PlumpRump

New Member
Welcome :) being involved with horses is a great activity, I hope you can find what you need here. There are thousands of great books around for you to learn about horses and horse care. I will try and answer some of your questions here. Apologies for not seeing your thread sooner.

It can be quite complicated to run a horse business. The WA community is very cliquey and run on word of mouth. If you get a good name/facebook following, you'll be set. If not, it could be a disaster.

First up - will you be allowing people to ride on your property? This will require different facilities and different insurances. It is easier to provide spelling agistment, and will mean there will be less people coming and going. Horses on spell (break/holiday) will only require the basics - a paddock, shelter and water, and may be the easiest way to start off. If you are looking to ride in the future then setting up an arena and tack space now would be beneficial. Agistment that allows riding will pull in more money, price depending on the facilities, but it will also be more work. Check with your shire as to the regulations for your area. If you have stables or yards, you will be allowed more horses. This will also dictate the size of the paddocks and ground feed requirements. The more facilities you have, the more management it requires.

Are you prepared to have people coming on to the property and doing what they want when they want to? Will you have areas that are off limits? Will you provide toilet facilities and running water? DIY will mean they can come and go as they please, and some might drop off the horse and not turn up to care for the horse. In the event of a horse being dumped on the property, what would you do? The horse world is rife with people who are not prepared for the financial burden, with many agistment owners having to deal with a dumped horse AND non payment. Some owners are fussy and would not want anyone else to touch or feed their horse, while others are cruisey and are happy to pay for the horse to be loved and cuddled as long as someone is keeping an eye on it.

If you were to start riding before you offer agistment, you may find good people from your local clubs and get a really good thing going . There is really a lot to think about and a lot of different ways it could go. I'll try to answer some of your questions to the best of my current ability - and leave it open for you to ask more. As you are aware, there is a lot to consider - but if you find a good fit for your situation it may be a heck of a lot easier than imagined.

a) Would there be a market for agistments in the Lake Clifton area, being mostly acreages already? I haven't seen many others in the area though - how do you assess an area for this?
I dont know the area personally, but there is generally an ongoing need for agistment facilities. If you were to offer spelling agistment, it could be a seasonal arrangement. For example, A perth based RDA/Horsepower might need a place to put their horses over the summer while on break, then your land can recover over the winter months.

b) What, as the agistment owner, am I expected to provide if I go the full-DIY route? I'll need specifics - paddock size, horses/m2, fencing materials, stabling requirements, water troughs, ground cover, rotation paddocks, any hazards I should be aware of
For DIY spelling agistment, you will need water, shelter and good fencing (good fencing is hard to find in spelling agistment in WA!).

It looks like the trees you have are adequate for shelter, setting up a water point is not difficult either. The paddock size depends on what you want to offer. You could offer a 10 acre paddock for a group of mares and geldings to mix in - which is obviously the easiest way. Or you could break it up into smaller paddocks, say 5 acres each with mares in one and geldings in the other (do not offer stallion agistment until you have some experience under you belt). You could do 3 paddocks of 3 acres and rotate.

If you were to offer ridden agistment, it will change again, 1/2 - 2 acre paddocks. The stocking rate depends on your shire requirements. If the horses are stabled your will be allowed more. Stables should be no less than 3X3 metres (slightly bigger is better), you'll need bedding and water to each stable. Room for hay and feed storage and plus a manure plan. An arena and tack room, parking and wash bay. Facilities only end with your imagination.

Fencing materials comes down to your budget. Post and rail is ideal, post and electric wire is fine, star pickets and tape is poor. Weed management is essential as some weeds can cause illness in horses. Also ensuring the right mineral balance for you soil is a good idea. A lack of copper will cause issues like greasy heel.

c) What are the "tricks for new players" that I should be aware of?
Horses being dumped and not cared for. Owners might pay the agistment but not for the upkeep of their own horse. If a horse is abandoned or neglected, it will be your responsibility to upkeep in the eyes of the RSPCA.

People will pay as little as they can get away with, make sure you are not out of pocket simply by upkeeping the property for someone elses horses.

d) What horse behaviour is problematic for an agistment, that I might not know about? I've seen biting, kicking over water troughs etc
Chewing trees/fencing. Going though fencing (rugged horses can get through electric fences, some horses have no fear of fences at all). Fencewalking will dig a trench along your fencelines (not a big issue really, but unsightly), digging roll holes, some horses will rip out taps or pipes. Some horses are brats, others are angels and you might not see any of these issues at all.

e) What is the selection process for accepting a horse into an agistment? Vet records, worming records etc
There is nothing by law. You could get references but really these mean little because friends will always back friends up regardless of it they are going to pay or care for their animals. You'd want to ensure a worming roster of your own property - worm them on arrival and ask they are all wormed at the same time on the same rotation. Check that the horses have been vaccinated against shingles and tetnus. Use your own common sense as to not allow a sick animal on the property. Think of how you could dispose of a dead animal.

f) Should I be considering a different, easier animal (alpacas?) to agist instead, or alongside the horses? Is it common to have multiple species in the one area?
Most animals are easier than horses :p but none are as rewarding ;) Personally I'd not have other animals along side horses on a dedicated horse property, but sheep are good for lonely horses and would keep your grass down if you decide against horses.

g) RE the vegetation - I have a few different areas on the acreage I could use, what kind of terrain should I be looking for?
You want somewhere that is mostly dry, free from rabbit warrens and harmful rocks or injurious branches. The ground cover you require will vary depending on what you use the land for. Most horses will do fine with a hay roll when there is no ground feed. Horses can be provided for on most terrains, sand is not ideal but plenty of people keep their horses on sand with no issues, clay is not ideal either but again many keep their horses on clay with no issues. Mainly, you want to make sure it is not waterlogged to avoid hoof issues and that it is not a dust bowl in summer.


There is really so much more than this but starting with some books is a good place. Maybe you could volunteer or start riding at a club. You will learn very quickly and never stop learning once involved :)
 
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