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May 2021 - Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty Offers the Ultimate Equestrian Estate
Written by article provided by Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:30
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article provided by Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty

Rolling hills and natural foliage create the perfect backdrop for this expansive equestrian retreat set in the community of Murrieta. Conveniently located between San Diego County and Desert horse shows and encompassing nearly 84 acres of prime ranch land, this property offers a variety of opportunities for multiple disciplines. Enter through the gates of this private compound and meander past two sparkling fish-stocked ponds to the grand entrance of the 40-stall barn. Complete with offices, meeting rooms, and staff suites, it has all the infrastructure in place to manage the day-to-day operations.

Known as a premier sport-horse facility, the spectacular features of this property offer endless possibilities. There is a 1/2- mile racetrack fine-tuned by Santa Anita’s Richard Tedesco, 100’ x 300’ jumping arena with custom footing, 40-stall barn with watchman quarters, loft & office space plus an inside walking arena with breeding facility. For training young horses there is a 50’ round-pen with observation tower and a European-style walking ring for daily exercise. Horse rehabilitation is made possible by vibration plate and Aquatread water treadmill. With 27 covered sand pens with lighting and 23 turnouts, both grass and sand, in various sizes, there is plenty of room to board and care for horses year-round or keep them comfortable while attending an on-site event.

Listed by Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, the listing team is comprised of luxury agents Jennifer Teuton, Cathy Gilchrist-Colmar, and Kathleen Gelcich, all known for their expertise, integrity, diligence, and concierge customer service. Avid horse riders, Cathy and Kathleen have been selling equestrian properties for years and, partnered with Jennifer, are excited to launch the marketing of this amazing estate. As Cathy notes, “Some properties only work for one kind of discipline but here you have an incredible opportunity to customize it for whatever you desire. Create cross country courses, set up for dressage, jumping, or western pleasure venues, or enhance the existing facilities to host large scale clinics or practice horse shows - there is room for it all! The possibilities are endless.”
The operational aspects of the property include a massive utility garage fully outfitted for performing routine maintenance on ranch equipment and comes complete with an attached groundskeeper apartment. The main residence (manager’s residence) sits high atop the southwest corner overlooking the whole estate and there is a graded pad above it which would be the ideal building site for a new home. Wells provide water for the ponds and property.

Kathleen appreciates the convenient, central So-Cal location. “You can’t beat this location for its proximity to multiple horse shows and venues. The Del Mar Race Track and San Anita Race Track are just under an hour and a half away and you have direct access to Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles, Tijuana, and Joshua Tree.”
An expert in luxury homes, Jennifer admires the overall design of the exquisite living spaces. “The vaulted ceilings, vast windows, and numerous fireplaces give  light and warmth throughout and the perfect atmosphere for conducting business or relaxing at the end of a hard day.”
The entire team agrees that seeing this property was love at first sight. “The landscape is mesmerizing and as a team we really share the vision of the life and excitement that this property offers for the equestrian.”

For more information, contact:


Cathy Gilchrist-Colmar
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    DRE 00517562
Jennifer Teuton
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    DRE 02046592
Kathleen Gelcich
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    DRE 01503240

May 2021 - Southern California Loses a Longtime Pioneer of Equestrian Construction
Written by by Ron & Laura Johnson
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:28
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by Ron & Laura Johnson

Harry H. Herndon III, owner of Easy Rider Arenas, passed away March 30, 2021 at the age of 72 after a long battle with lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Harry is survived by his wife Connie, and his two daughters Ashley and Elizabeth.

Harry worked in the construction industry for 45 years and 30 of those years he spent operating his company, Easy Rider Arenas, where he constructed and built equestrian facilities. He was the “pioneer of the equestrian construction business” and the first in the industry to introduce quality footing to the equestrian facilities and homeowners. Harry was very passionate and dedicated to his work and was the “go to man” to talk to in Southern California for all equestrian construction needs as he loved helping his clients.

Throughout the years of operating his business, Harry knew thousands of people in the horse world that were not only his customers and business associates, but became his friends. Harry was a shining light that had a great sense of humor, and a contagious personality with his “good ole boy charm” that made him beloved by all that knew him.

When Harry was not in the field running his jobs he had many favorite pastimes that included being outdoors as he had a love for nature and gardening. He was also avid about his daily exercise whether it was running, biking, or hitting the speed bag. He also loved to take his four legged best friend “Molly” with him everywhere including to the Poway Community Park for a jog together.

Harry will be immensely missed but not forgotten by his family, friends, and members of the horse community who had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful person. Rest in Peace Harry, we all love you and we will miss you!


May 2021 - Time to Take a Second Look at Farnam® Vetrolin® Shampoos
Written by CRM
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:25
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Horse owners are doing a double-take when they shop the grooming section and see the bright new look of Vetrolin® shampoos for the first time.
Farnam, your partner in horse care™ has unveiled new easy-to-hold bottles with a fresh new look for Vetrolin® Bath and Vetrolin® White ‘N Brite™ shampoos. The curvy new shape fits more naturally in your hand to help you keep a firm grip on your horse’s bathing routine, even when wet. The easy-open, easy-close caps make mixing up a bucket of shampoo simple and mess-free.

Inside these upgraded bottles, though, are the same luxurious Vetrolin® shampoos horse owners have relied on for years. Vetrolin® White ’N Brite™ still removes stains and brings out softness and shine with the same classic formula. Manure, dirt and grime don’t stand a chance against the deep-cleaning suds, even on horses with light coats. Coats of all colors are enhanced by the optical brighteners that reflect light for extra-radiant manes, tails and coats.

Farnam did give the iconic Vetrolin® Bath an upgrade by adding a touch of argan oil for hair strength and shine. The argan oil’s Omega-6 fatty acids work together with protein-enriched conditioners, amino acids and vitamin E to pamper your horse’s coat, leaving it lustrous and manageable. But while the bottle may look different, the deep-cleaning, moisturizing suds still have the same familiar feel and smell.
To see the new look or learn more about Vetrolin® Bath, White ‘n’ Brite™ and the complete line of Farnam® grooming products, visit
Founded in 1946, Farnam Companies, Inc., has grown to become one of the most widely recognized names in the animal health products industry and has become one of the largest marketers of equine products in the country. No one knows horses better than Farnam. That’s why no one offers a more complete selection of horse care products. Farnam Horse Products serves both the pleasure horse and the performance horse markets with products for fly control, deworming, hoof and leg care, grooming, wound treatment and leather care, plus supplements.
Vetrolin, White ‘N Brite, Farnam and your partner in horse care are trademarks of Farnam Companies, Inc.
May 2021 - Surprising Benefits of Country Living, According to Science
Written by courtesy of
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:22
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courtesy of

Ah, country living—fresh air, wide-open spaces, a slower pace of life. What’s not to love? (Once you get used to those really quiet wide-open spaces, that is.) Yet in spite of all those vast acres just waiting for homeowners to stake a claim, country folks are a diminishing breed.

Recent U.N. statistics predict that the percentage of Americans living in rural areas will plummet from its current 46% to 34% by 2050. This exodus is largely tied to following the money (aka job opportunities), but those who do commit to life in the sticks will reap plenty of scientifically proven benefits.

Check out these reasons why country living rules.

Benefit No. 1: More “Vitamin G”

“Vitamin G” stands for greenery—trees and plants, which the country has in spades. Not merely pretty, they also come with serious benefits that science is just beginning to understand. Scientific studies have shown that when humans are deprived of greenery, they can suffer in a variety of significant ways.

For instance, a University of Michigan study found that when humans spend even a few minutes on a crowded city street, their brain is less able to retain information or control impulses. (Note to New Yorkers: This explains a lot.) Another study found that residents of apartments with views of concrete/asphalt reported higher levels of aggression and violence than did their counterparts living in identical buildings with tree views.

There’s also air quality: People living around more trees and grass generally experience lower levels of air pollution, which has been linked to conditions associated with asthma and heart disease).

Benefit No. 2:
Fewer psychological problems

Feel like the city is making you crazy? It actually might be. According to the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, at least 10 studies have shown that people in urban areas are more likely to develop psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. The available evidence suggests that more than one-third of all schizophrenia cases may be related to (or greatly exacerbated by) environmental factors in an urban setting.

Additional studies have shown that rural residents are less likely to have anxiety disorders. Scientists examined the prevalence of extreme anxiety in more than 345,000 residents of the Netherlands—male and female of all ages—and found substantially lower rates of disorders among those living in relatively green regions. In residential areas with 90% green space, the annual prevalence was 18 per 1,000; in areas with only 10% green space, the rate increased to 26 out of 1,000.

The same study found that green environments can also relieve sadness and depression. That’s definitely something to smile about.

Benefit No. 3:
You’re less likely to get mugged

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ annual National Crime Victimization survey, violent crime rates in rural areas are nearly one-third lower than those in urban centers. In 2012, the rate of violent victimizations reported in metropolitan areas was 3.2%, as opposed to 2.1% in rural areas. Rape, murder, and property crime rates per capita are also substantially lower in rural areas. But it’s worth noting that country dwellers should install home security systems, since the stats do indicate that home burglary rates are slightly higher in rural areas (probably due to the isolation and space between properties).

Benefit No. 4:
You’re more likely to own your home

Most people dream of owning, rather than renting, their own home some day, and it seems that possibility gets exponentially higher the farther into the country one is willing to venture. Recent National Census Bureau Statistics show that homeownership is higher in states with more rural communities such as West Virginia (76%), Michigan (74%), Vermont (74%), and Mississippi (73%) than in states with big urban centers such as Washington, DC (41%), New York (52%), and California (54%).

“There is no doubt that many of my clients find they get more for their money and are actually able to buy instead of rent when they move to more rural locations,” says mortgage broker Heather Garriock with The Mortgage Group. “The only caveat is whether or not they’ll be able to find enough work in those areas to support those mortgages. But on the whole the square footage per dollar is exponentially less expensive in the country.”

Benefit No. 5: Lower cost of living

Many people cite a lower cost of living as a reason for making a rural move, and there’s undisputed truth to this argument. While your basic food shopping trip might clue you into this ($12 for a box of Cheerios in Brooklyn?!), studies support it, too. For instance, research in the International Regional Science Review found that in Pennsylvania the average urban resident pays 6% more for all six major categories of goods—groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services—with the greatest difference (13%) occurring for housing costs.

“It is no secret that living outside of the city is more economical on many levels,” says Kathryn Blaze, a real estate agent for Sotheby’s International Realty who just relocated with her husband and son from New York City to central New Jersey for that reason. “That can become especially important when raising a family.”


May 2021 - You Can Lead a Horse to Water…
Written by by M. Nanette Chastine, DVM • courtesy of AAEP
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:19
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by M. Nanette Chastine, DVM • courtesy of AAEP

Most people involved with horses have heard the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Unfortunately, while it may seem like a simple subject, getting a horse to consume the appropriate amount of water can be difficult. Age, body condition, fitness level and workload, reproductive status, environmental conditions, diet, and possible disease processes can all influence how much water a horse needs to maintain its correct hydration status. Add to that the temperature, freshness, purity, and palatability of the available water sources and it becomes obvious that there are many factors that need to be considered when providing water for our horses, especially if we want them to actually drink it.

The actual daily amount of water that most horses need to consume (at a minimum) to maintain body functions and remain properly hydrated is from a half gallon to a gallon per hundred pounds of body weight. This works out to be a minimum of five to ten gallons for a 1,000-pound horse that is not presently doing any work and is living in a temperate climate. If you increase the horse’s workload or the environmental temperatures are elevated, then this will increase the demand for water. Lactating mares, horses with diarrhea, and horses with certain medical conditions will also require more water each day.

The horse’s water consumption from the available water source may decrease if the horse is on a lush, green pasture, as those grasses typically contain 60-80% moisture. Likewise, if the horse is maintained in a dry lot and fed a dry matter forage such as hay, which typically has a 12-15% moisture level, the horse’s time spent at the water trough will increase. The type of forage fed will also affect the horse’s water consumption based upon the feed’s protein content. Protein requires water during the digestive process, and as a result, feeds that are higher in protein will require the horse to consume more water. For example, a horse in a dry lot fed alfalfa hay (typically around 21% crude protein) will require more water in its daily diet than the same horse in a dry lot fed grass hay (typically around 9% crude protein).

Studies have also found that a horse’s consumption of water will be greatly affected by the temperature of the water. The consumption of water appears to be best in water with a temperature range from 45° to 65° F, with more consumption occurring at the warmer temperatures.  This can be difficult to manage, especially in natural water sources such as creeks or ponds, when the weather drops below freezing. In fact, when the weather changes suddenly and temperatures drop precipitously, then even with fresh, palatable water available, many horses will reduce their water consumption drastically which can lead to problems such as impaction colic as the ingesta within the intestines loses its ability to progress normally without enough water. One way to combat this is to provide an ounce or two of a loose salt mix on the horse’s daily ration when weather changes are imminent (in addition to an available salt block) to ensure that the horse continues to consume water when the temperature does drop. Overfeeding of salt is not a problem if there is plenty of fresh water available.

A decrease in daily water consumption can also occur when the water source becomes frozen. This is why it is so important that water sources be checked at least once daily, if not more, to ensure that horses will have unfrozen water available to drink. For man-made water sources such as buckets, troughs, or automatic waterers, there are electric water heaters that are available for keeping the water from freezing solid. Most of these water heaters are efficient down to 0° F, with some capable of preventing water from freezing at temperatures down to -20° F, but below that there are not many commercially available options. The problem with some of the less expensive options or with improper barn wiring is stray electricity, or shorts in the wiring that result in electrifying the water source. It does not help the horse’s water consumption if the water is not frozen but the horse receives an electrical shock each time it attempts to drink.  So checking the water heater and the water source on a daily basis is crucial to make sure the horse is capable of drinking the water and is actually doing so.

In natural water sources such as creeks or ponds, moving water has a better chance of not freezing than stagnant water, but in really cold climates, even moving water can freeze if the flow is slow and the depth is shallow, so alternate water sources may need to be provided. Many believe that snow provides an alternative to fresh, unfrozen water; however, most snow is very low in actual moisture content and the horse would have to eat many pounds of it each day to meet its minimum daily water intake requirements. Also, the horse would burn increased amounts of energy to warm the consumed snow and convert it to a usable form, which would thereby increase its caloric and water requirements, so snow is not a practical alternative to fresh, unfrozen water.

That being said, horses in Alaska have been studied during harsh weather when no water sources were available and hay was the only available feed source. Initially, the horses did exhibit signs of dehydration, but over several days they did transition to utilizing solid sources of water for their daily requirements by eating snow and licking the ice. However, if we can offer an alternative water source, we can eliminate that transitional dehydration period from occurring.

The palatability and cleanliness of the water will also influence how much of it a horse will consume. For example, if the water from a natural source is fresh and not stagnant, is low in soluble contaminants (such as fertilizers or herbicides) from the surrounding land, and of an acceptable salt concentration (salinity), then most horses will readily consume it. However, horses are very sensitive to changes in the taste and smell of their water, which can make it difficult, especially when transporting horses where the available water will come from different sources. Some horses will not initially drink water that has been chlorinated, such as from a municipal water source, or if it contains higher concentrations of certain minerals such as from a natural water source, until they have been conditioned to drink it. Many horsemen will help their horses through this transition or conditioning period by adding a masking flavor such as Gatorade®, Kool-Aid®, or even Coca-Cola® to the horse’s initial water source for several days before transport in gradually increasing amounts.  They will then continue to add the masking flavor to the new water source for several days in gradually decreasing amounts to ensure the horse will consume the water from the new source.

Another difficulty arises in horses that have always had easy access to water from man-made sources such as buckets, troughs, or automatic waterers. Those horses may never have been exposed to water from natural sources and it may take them several days of watching more experienced horses to trust their instincts and “take the plunge.” During those initial days on the new water source, it is critical that the horse is observed for water consumption and for possible signs of dehydration. At times, some of those horses will need to be offered alternative water sources if they are not drinking from the natural water source. Most horses transitioning from natural water sources to man-made water sources have little difficulty as long as there is easy access and the water is fresh, clean, and palatable. If there are problems, it usually arises with chlorinated water from a municipal water source, which a horse has not been exposed to before. Masking the flavor sometimes helps in those situations.

When the horse is not consuming enough water on a daily basis to maintain the appropriate hydration status, then the horse can become dehydrated. When the horse becomes dehydrated from lack of water consumption, excessive sweating, lactation, a disease process or a combination thereof, then the horse’s bodily functions will become affected. As a result, the horse’s blood volume will decrease and this will result in an increase in heart rate and blood pressure as the body attempts to compensate for the reduced fluid volume. If the fluid deficit continues, then the body will begin to pull the fluids from surrounding tissues to help support the blood volume, and to help conserve fluids even further, urination will decrease.

As a result of these changes, horse owners can evaluate a horse’s hydration status by monitoring for an elevated heart or pulse rate (28-40 beats per minute is normal for an adult horse), changes in the color of the horse’s gums (bubblegum pink is normal) and feel (moist is normal), and in skin elasticity (skin pinch test in which the skin along the neck in front of the shoulder retracts back to normal in less than two seconds when pinched and released). Changes to those vital signs will occur when the horse is 4-6% dehydrated. Visual signs such as a sunken eyes and a tucked up appearance to the abdomen are also indicators, but they are typically seen with increased levels of dehydration approaching 8-10% dehydrated. Unfortunately, the horse’s performance (work, competition, or reproduction) will become adversely affected when the horse becomes 2% dehydrated, before visual signs become evident.

Luckily, dehydration in its mild forms can usually be corrected by offering fresh, palatable water to the horse (unless it is a disease process that is causing the dehydration), but when the dehydration starts approaching the level of 8-10%, a veterinarian needs to be contacted for appropriate diagnosis and fluid and electrolyte therapy, as well as any other treatments that may be required. This makes it important for the horse owner or horse care provider to be able to recognize signs of dehydration before the lack of water intake becomes a serious problem. This also emphasizes the need to make sure that the horse is being offered fresh, clean, palatable water of the appropriate temperature, especially if the horse is expected to perform successfully as an athlete or as a broodmare.

While it may seem as simple as putting water out and leading the horse to it, there are many factors that are involved in actually getting that horse to drink. Water is the most important nutrient that horses need to consume daily and it is up to us as horse care providers to ensure that horses receive the freshest, cleanest, most palatable water that we can provide.


May 2021 - Managing Equine Wounds
Written by courtesy of Oklahoma State University
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:08
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courtesy of Oklahoma State University

Horses are remarkably adept at injuring themselves, even in the safest environments possible. A bit of knowledge and preparation can help horse owners handle these seemingly inevitable wounds. Always consider the wound’s location and severity, degree of lameness caused and initial first aid steps with any injury.

Most commonly, a horse sustains cuts, scrapes and/or abrasions on its legs. Unfortunately, this part of the body has the least amount of soft tissue protection between the skin and such important structures as joints, tendons and ligaments. If a cut involves one of these structures, a small problem can become larger or even life-threatening such as a wound that extends into the joint and infects the joint or a cut that severely damages or completely transects a flexor tendon.

Common sites of injury where joints and/or soft tissue structures are frequently involved include, but are not limited to, the front of the carpus in the forelimbs (often termed the knee), the back of the pastern region in forelimbs or hind limbs, the heel bulbs, and the front of the hock in the hind limbs. For wounds that are large and/or deep, the decision to call the veterinarian is usually relatively easy. Smaller wounds can be trickier to judge, as the depth of penetration may be more difficult to assess. If there is any question as to the depth of the wound and/or potential involvement of a joint, tendon or ligament, get your veterinarian’s opinion before attempting to treat the wound at home.

Wounds are accompanied with variable degrees of lameness. Surprisingly, a horse with a fresh wound to a joint usually doesn’t show lameness unless other tissue damage has occurred. Over time, however, if a contaminated joint becomes infected, the horse will develop severe or even non-weight bearing lameness. Damage to bony structures and tendons or ligaments, as well as severe soft tissue trauma and inflammation with fresh wounds can lead to severe lameness. In these instances, it is important to rule out more severe injuries such as fractures.

Being prepared to provide basic wound first aid is crucial for horse owners. When initially discovered, often a wound will be very dirty or contaminated. One of the best approaches to cleaning a wound on the farm is saline or simple tap water and dilute betadine solution (we recommend a solution of betadine solution and water/saline that is the color of weak iced tea). Diluted chlorhexidine solution can also be used to gently clean wounds. Once cleaned, topical medications can be applied as needed. One of the simplest, safest and most readily accessible options for treating topical wounds is simple triple antibiotic ointment. For wounds where bandaging is not possible, a good alternative is a spray-on liquid bandage substance such as AluSpray.

Bandaging a wound can help keep it clean and protect it from additional trauma during transportation to your veterinarian or while waiting for your veterinarian to come to the farm. The following is a list of general items to keep on hand for a first aid kit and basic wound bandaging:


  • Betadine solution
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze sponges
  • Non-adherent dressing pads such as Telfa pads
  • Roll gauze (white)
  • Cotton roll/combine roll or Gamgee roll
  • Brown gauze rolls
  • Vetrap or Co-Flex
  • Elastikon tape

Remember your veterinarian is a great resource if you have questions about caring for your horse’s wounds.

Story by: Megan Williams, DVM, DACVS-LA, an assistant professor of equine surgery in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital.

May 2021 - How A Barn Can Boost the Value of Your Property
Written by courtesy of Deer Creek Structures
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:29
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courtesy of Deer Creek Structures

Even if you’re not planning on selling your home in the near future, it’s important that you are constantly making improvements to your property to boost its potential market value. One way to do this without spending a fortune on renovations is to add a portable, freestanding shedrow or aisle barn to your backyard.

In addition to being able to enjoy the benefits of a barn yourself, investing in one for your property will put you at an advantage when you decide it’s time to sell. How so?

The versatility of outdoor structures like barns is appealing to potential buyers. A portable barn in the backyard can serve many different purposes, making it an attractive amenity to buyers considering your property. A barn can be used as extra storage space for landscaping tools, seasonal items, excess belongings, or even a vehicle. Or, you can turn it into an inviting outdoor living area. Some buyers may even be enticed by the opportunity to use the additional structure to house their own horses or for other farming operations.

In addition to their functional value, barns also offer an aesthetic value to your property. A barn is a unique feature that can be designed to complement the style of your home with custom colors, architecture, and more. It also provides a wide range of opportunities for landscaping and gives your property a charming, rustic touch that will set it apart from others on the market.

Keep in mind that only a high-quality structure will increase property value. The key to ensuring your barn is a worthwhile investment is its long-term value. A barn that’s worn or deteriorating has nothing to offer potential buyers and can even bring the value of your property down. Any outdoor structure you add to your property should be built with durable materials, professionally designed and installed, and kept in optimal condition with regular maintenance.


May 2021 - Moving to the Country?
Written by courtesy of
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:26
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This Overlooked Loan Makes It So Easy

courtesy of

With the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, many city dwellers may be considering a move to the country—and there’s a specific type of mortgage that can help make this a reality, called a USDA loan.

Offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and backed by the agency’s Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program, these mortgages are designed to help buyers with moderate or low income purchase property outside cities.

They accomplish this by offering several key benefits—such as low or no down payments and looser qualifications for income and credit history.

“More people should absolutely consider using USDA loans to finance their homes,” says Jan Hadder, regional vice president of the builder division at Silverton Mortgage in Columbia, SC. “If you’re not living in the city, this can be a great option to finance your home.”

USDA loans could be a boon to the wave of buyers who are currently contemplating fleeing cities right now.

As it happens, searches for homes in rural ZIP codes jumped more than 15% this May, compared with a year ago, according to® data.

Yet many Americans aren’t aware of USDA loans, or assume that they don’t qualify. They may also have other assumptions about these mortgages that aren’t true or in step with recent changes in the terms.

If you want to avoid overlooking this hidden financing gem, here are a few things to know about USDA loans today.

You Don’t Have To Buy A House In The Boonies

The biggest misconception about USDA loans is that you have to live in the middle of nowhere.

In reality, homes qualify as long as they’re located outside a metropolitan area. In fact, communities with populations of up to 35,000 may be fine. The USDA offers an online map where you can search for properties that are eligible for the loans.

Matt Ronne, a loan originator at Motto Mortgage Preferred Brokers in Athens, TN, says USDA loans are a “vital asset” to home buyers in his area of southeastern Tennessee.

“It has been a high-demand product,” he says. “My county, McMinn, and most of the surrounding counties are 100% eligible for this type of financing, as long as those clients meet the credit, income, and property requirements.”

You Don’t Have To Be Destitute—And Income Limits Recently Increased
“Many people think that the USDA loans are meant to be subsidized housing, or that they are only intended for use by those with very low income,” says Gwen Chambers, a mortgage loan originator at Motto Mortgage Superior in Germantown, TN.

But that’s not the case. There are actually two types of USDA loans. Direct housing loans are for low-income individuals; guaranteed loans are designed for moderate-income buyers.

The USDA recently increased its income limits for loans, allowing more home buyers to be eligible. In most locations, the income limit for households with one to four people is $90,300, and $119,200 for households of five to eight people.

USDA Loans Are Easier To Get Than Ever

The income limits have been raised, Hadder says, and some elements of the application process for certain USDA loans have been relaxed.

For example, in response to COVID-19, the period for which certificates of eligibility are valid has been extended for some borrowers, and some parts of the application process will be streamlined, including credit reviews and loan processing.

Although the specifications vary by lender, borrowers typically need a minimum credit score of 640, whereas conventional home loans often require a credit score of 700 or higher.

“These new loan changes are designed to make it easier for a borrower to qualify for a USDA loan,” Hadder says.

Because certain parts of the application process will be waived or relaxed, she says, “borrowers will hopefully have a better chance of getting approved.”

USDA Loans Aren’t Just For First-Time Buyers

Another misconception about USDA loans, Ronne says, is that they’re just for first-time home buyers.

“USDA only allows a borrower to own one property at a time, so using the USDA loan program allows for additional purchases in the future, as long as the current home is sold, or will be sold prior to closing on the new one,” he says.

As long as buyers continue to qualify, they can use the USDA program as many times as they want, Chambers says.

USDA Loans Have Great Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates for traditional loans have dropped to record lows in recent months, and now hover around 3%. The rates for USDA loans, however, are even lower.

As of Sept. 1, interest rates for Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans are 2.5% for low- and very low-income borrowers.

“The rates on USDA loans are often very competitive, and the fees are relatively low,” Chambers says. “In my community, consumers often find USDA loans to be their go-to loan of choice.”

USDA Loans Carry Few Added Costs

In addition to low interest rates, USDA loans offer families the opportunity to own a home with few out-of-pocket expenses, like closing costs.

In addition, certain USDA loans offer 100% financing with no down payment, welcome news in today’s uncertain economy.

“Now, more than ever, because of the potential instability in the workforce over COVID-19 and possible future furloughs, layoffs, and cutbacks, having money in the bank to fall back on in case of emergencies has never been more important,” Ronne says.

“Personally, as a mortgage broker, I never want to see a buyer exhaust their savings for a down payment when they may not have to, especially a first-time home buyer,” he says.

More Investment In Rural Communities Benefits Homeowners

The USDA loan programs can also give rural homeowners a boost indirectly. The agency recently announced new initiatives to increase private investment in rural communities across the country, Hadder says.

This includes changes to four of its business loan programs to standardize the requirements for loan processing, credit review, loan service, and loss claims.

These measures could help rural homeowners. New investment could add new jobs to an area, create better schools, and boost local economies.

This could increase property values and attract new residents to the area—all good news for local homeowners.


May 2021 - COVID-19 Completely Transformed The Way We Buy Homes—But Will It Stick?
Written by courtesy of
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:23
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courtesy of

Remember lazy Sunday afternoons when home buyers could leisurely hop from open house to open house, partaking of wine and cheese laid out to reel in more foot traffic—the more the merrier.

Much can change in a year.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, triggering a wave of lockdowns that dramatically changed our lives in countless ways—including how we buy and sell homes.

Still, now that vaccines are becoming more widely available and life soon promises to resume some semblance of pre-COVID-19 normalcy, home buyers and sellers might be wondering: Will the old ways of real estate return, too?

Now that we’ve passed the one-year mark, we thought it fitting to look at all the ways the pandemic has changed residential real estate transactions—and why many of these adjustments are likely to stick around for good.

Over: Large, Lavish Open Houses

Pre-pandemic, holding an open house was often akin to throwing a party, with some brokers spending tens of thousands of dollars to throw buzz-worthy events complete with Champagne, live music, and more.

Yet once COVID-19 precautions prohibited large gatherings in enclosed spaces, this glitzy breed of open house quickly disappeared. Instead, buyers weren’t even allowed to visit homes; but if they were, they did so individually, by appointment only—encased in masks, gloves, and booties.

While poking heads in closets and checking water pressure was once par for the course, pandemic buyers were discouraged from touching doorknobs and faucets, lest they leave traces of the coronavirus behind.

While the legendary open houses before COVID-19 were certainly fun, they aren’t likely to return in their usual splendor—which is fine by many real estate agents, since these epic events attracted tons of looky-loos who had a low probability of actually making an offer.

“To me, it’s a gift,” says Michelle Schwartz of The Agency in Los Angeles. She adds that most agents agree that individual showings are a far safer and efficient use of time, as it narrows down visitors to those who are more serious about buying.

Schwartz adds that this more modest approach has also tamped down on people entering the home for more nefarious purposes, like stealing belongings. “This has reduced the sellers’ fear of putting their most prized possessions on display to the public,” she explains.

More subdued open houses will likely return as pandemic precautions are removed, but “don’t touch” provisions and requirements of always having a real estate agent or representative with you are likely to stay in place.

Here To Stay: Virtual Home Tours

Given home buyers couldn’t tour homes in person easily during the pandemic, technology ramped up to allow them to check out homes in other ways. They include video tours (where a real estate agent shows a home remotely to buyers on a live video steam), virtual open houses (same as above, but to numerous buyers simultaneously), and 3D virtual tours (where buyers click through an interactive, 360-degree view of a home on their own).

A year ago, virtual viewings were a safety precaution. But since then, they’ve become a beloved convenience among buyers who adore checking out homes from the comfort of their couch. As such, this relatively new technology is no doubt here to stay, and will only become more sophisticated over time. (Think: virtual reality headsets with which you can “walk” through a house.)

“Virtual showings through 3D videos have revolutionized the way our industry does business and likely will continue to do so,” says Kirste Gaudet, broker for @properties in Chicago. “The 3D tours are so realistic that we may be able to put open houses to rest. I find that my clients now want them as part of the marketing effort.”

Aside from the convenience, virtual tours help home buyers quickly and easily narrow their options to a few houses they might like to actually visit.

“Ideally, most people want to see a home in person before they buy, but virtual home tours certainly help them reduce the number of homes they have to spend time and effort touring,” says Josh Judge of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Verani Realty in Southern New Hampshire.

Here To Stay: Greater Comfort With Sight-Unseen Offers

Most people used to shudder at the thought of making an offer on a house without seeing it in person, and most experts advised against it. But the pandemic has persuaded many to take that leap of faith.

“Now the average home buyer is more inclined to buy a property sight-unseen,” says Lance Kalfeltz, a broker with LV RE Services in Las Vegas. “Being able to work from home allows them to live almost anywhere, and it’s not always convenient to tour a home before buying it.”

Kalfeltz points out that in hot markets like his—where many buyers are making an exodus from Orange County and Los Angeles—by the time a would-be buyer got on a plane (which many were reluctant to do over the past year) or made the drive, the property would be gone.

Besides, unless they agree to an “as is” contract, buyers are most often allowed to back out of a sale if the property doesn’t pass inspection. As such, sight-unseen offers aren’t as risky as they might seem, which is helping more buyers feel comfortable enough to go for it on homes they’re admiring via the many virtual viewing options they now have at their disposal.

Here To Stay: Remote Closings

In the past, closing on a house was one moment when all parties gathered together in an office to sign paperwork, swap keys, shake hands, and be off on their merry way. But no more!

During the pandemic, “drive by” or “drive up” closings became common, where you’d sign papers sitting in your car, while a masked and gloved runner delivered papers back and forth.

Odds are, remote closings are here to stay, and may even be doable from home. In some states where remote online notarizations are permitted, all documents can now be signed through an approved online notary platform (e.g., Notarize) or audiovisual portal (e.g., Microsoft Teams).

And in the many states where only professionally witnessed ink signatures will do, lending officials may send a notary public to the buyer’s residence or place of business. Although this convenience might cost extra, many buyers seem happy to pay for it.

“I have one client who lives about two blocks from the escrow office, but still opted to pay the $125 extra to have a notary come to his house,” says Kalfeltz.

Over: Desktop Appraisals

For all the changes that seem here to stay, there are some aspects of residential real estate transactions that will likely revert to the way they were done before the pandemic, like desktop appraisals. This is where a home appraiser assesses the value of a home merely by looking at it online. However, banks, buyers, and sellers don’t seem to be consistently happy with this practice, as important details can easily be missed this way.

“It’s impossible to assess the value of the neighborhood and the position of the house within it when you’re doing a remote appraisal,” says Schwartz.

Also, one bad camera angle on an online photo can unduly influence an appraisal by thousands of dollars, and keep a loan from going through. No one wins in a situation like that.


May 2021 - Protecting Horses from Poisonous Plants
Written by courtesy of Valley Vet Supply • photo: Ashley Masopust Photography
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:20
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Horse owner, Extension equine specialist details poisonous plants impacting horses, as well as harrowing first-hand account.

courtesy of Valley Vet Supply • photo: Ashley Masopust Photography

The pastures were recently cleared from overgrown trees and brush, and Kris Hiney, PhD, Oklahoma State University assistant professor and Extension equine specialist, closely looked over the brush piles to make sure no poisonous plants or trees had surfaced. “All clear,” she thought as she let her two horses back into the field.

“The very next day, they were already showing toxicity symptoms,” Dr. Hiney said. “It turns out I did have black locust trees in the pasture, and when the horses had a chance to get to them, it almost killed them.”
Of the two horses, one had lower tolerance to the toxic tree. His heart rate was elevated over 90 for a full 24 hours and to save his life, he required three days of supportive care in the veterinary clinic. Luckily, both horses survived.

Horse owners need to be familiar with poisonous plants and signs of toxicity. There are many poisonous grasses, plants and trees that can gravely impact horse health, such as black locust trees, Johnsongrass, white clover, maple trees, locoweed, tansy ragwort and black walnut trees. Fescue grass can be toxic to broodmares and their foals, causing thickened placentas and even abortions. Look to this University of Minnesota poster for pictures of poisonous plants and to better understand signs of toxicity.

Watch for these common toxicity symptoms:


  • Change in behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neurologic issues
  • Seizure
  • Abnormal gait
  • Tremors
  • Stocking up or founder
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Brown or discolored urine
  • Mouth blisters
  • Colic

If horse owners fear their horse might have ingested a poisonous plant, “Call a veterinarian immediately,” Dr. Hiney said. “If horses do not receive the right care, toxicity can be a big deal. Death is often a real possibility.”

As the weather affects forage available to horses in turnout situations (especially with summer drought or winter conditions), horses are more inclined to ingest unfamiliar plants or leaves. To help prevent plant toxicity, make sure horses have adequate rations of quality hay or grass in front of them. Dr. Hiney encourages horse owners to work closely with their county extension agent to identify potentially harmful grasses, plants or trees that may surface in their pastures. Horse owners can also invest in a spray system to eliminate unwanted plants and weeds.

“Anytime there is something novel in their pasture, horses are going to investigate it,” Dr. Hiney warned. “I thought everything in my pasture was safe, but it turns out I was wrong. Be very careful, and take a look at what is accessible to the horses.”

Continue learning about horse care, with additional information from veterinarian-founded Valley Vet Supply,


May 2021 - A Golden Finish For The Gold Tour At Blenheim Spring Classic II
Written by courtesy of Blenheim Equisports • photos: McCool Photography
Friday, 30 April 2021 05:15
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courtesy of Blenheim Equisports • photos: McCool Photography

The highlight events of Blenheim Spring Classic II was the highly anticipated West Coast Gold Tour. Renowned Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela built a 1.45m track and two 1.50m courses for the Gold Tour exhibitors in the grass Derby Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Keri Potter and Toscana set the pace winning the $7,500 1.45m Gold Tour Two-Phase. Thursday’s feature class was won by Will Simpson and Chacco P who raced to the blue in the $40,000 1.50m Gold Tour Welcome Speed Stake, sponsored by Competitive Equestrian. Finishing out the week on a high note was Luis Sabino claiming first and second aboard Camino Imperio Egipcio and Argan de Beliard respectively in the $100,000 1.50m Gold Tour Grand Prix, sponsored by the Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.

The feature class of the West Coast Jumping tour was the $100,000 1.50m Gold Tour Grand Prix, sponsored by the Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, held on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Thirteen competitors navigated the first-round track, which featured thirteen numbered obstacles offering sixteen total jumping efforts, technical turns, a liverpool, and a water jump with a rail on top.

“This is a very beautiful ring and different than all the others and I believe the variety is most important in this sport today,” commented Palacios. “Here we break all the standards and are going with different – I have different fences – I have a fixed water jump that is different; I have a fixed low liverpool set under the shadow of the trees. I think it is very important to give the sport another dimension and this gives it.”

Luis Sabino and Camino Imperio Egipcio win the $100,000 Gold Tour Grand Prix

Luis Sabino and Camino Imperio Egipcio win the $100,000 Gold Tour Grand Prix

In an interview prior to the class, Palacios commented on his building process and reasoning behind his decisions claiming nothing to be over done but each fence having a question attached to it.

He predicted about four horses going clear and five ended up making it to the jump off. In the end, Luis Sabino took home first place aboard Camino Imperio Egipcio with a clean go in 43.122 seconds. Sabino claimed second place aboard his other mount Argan de Beliard with another clear effort in 43.525 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Hanna Mauritzson and Parkmore Lux who also jumped without faults in 43.797 seconds.

“Normally Camino is not faster than Argan,” said Sabino. “I figured if I did a clear round, I could put more pressure on them (the other riders) and I could be relaxed with the second horse.”

Hailing from Portugal, Sabino just added to the already amazing success he is having during his inaugural stent in California. His first and only other outing in the US was back in 2019 while representing Portugal at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. This season, Sabino has had multiple top three finishes in the grand prix classes at the Desert International Horse Park with his biggest accomplishment placing first in the $137,000 FEI 1.55m CSI3* and winning the $36,600 FEI 1.50m, both aboard Argan de Beliard.

Sixteen competitors navigated the $40,000 1.50m Gold Tour Welcome Speed Stake, sponsored by Competitive Equestrian. Consisting of fourteen total jumping efforts and designed by top FEI course designer Leopoldo Palacios, the track was set on the impressive Derby Field at the 1.50m height.

The top three podium winners all jumped clean. Speeding to a decisive victory was Will Simpson aboard his own Chacco P in 67.149 seconds. With a time of 70.597 seconds, Chandler Meadows with Christy JNR placed second, and rounding out the top three was Luis Sabino and Argan de Beliard who finished on a time of 72.033 seconds.

“My horse was on fire today,” exclaimed Simpson. “First time on the grass but it was fantastic footing. My horse left out a stride in the first line but still made the inside turn, really felt good right off the bat.” About the course, Simpson went on to say, “It was fantastic. We had a lot of turns, we had the wall, the grass footing was perfect and just a lot of questions that Leopoldo asked out there. It really felt good to have a horse with confidence.”

Will Simpson and his own Chacco P win the $40,000 1.50m Gold Tour Welcome Speed Stake

Will Simpson and his own Chacco P win the $40,000 1.50m Gold Tour Welcome Speed Stake

Simpson and Chacco P, a twelve-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, are longtime partners in the show arena. The duo competes on both the national and international level with a recent third place finish in the $250,000 FEI 1.55m CSI4* at the Desert International Horse Park.

In a pre-event interview Palacios explained that this specific track was designed to “improve the horses for the future jump off class” and that “this is not a normal speed class at a lower height that they are able to go super-fast…..I think it is very important to have these types of classes….since speed is not the only factor.”

Palacios also expounded on the grass footing, mentioning its importance in developing a horse and showcasing the best of the sport. “Grass is better; at the really big shows, like Aachen and Calgary, that are the grand slam of this sport, they are on grass. Today, more natural is more important, and this Derby field is fantastic in my opinion. It is one of the best fields that I have built on.”

Twelve horse and rider pairings battled it out in the $7,500 1.45m Gold Tour Two-Phase. The fastest of the double clear and the winner of the class was Keri Potter and Toscana. Claiming second was Matt Archer and Luigi VD Bisschop; third place was awarded to Kyle King and Enzo.

The Bronze level of the West Coast Jumping Tour returns to Blenheim EquiSports during the third week of the Blenheim Spring Classic Series. Additionally, week three features a $75,000 1.50m Interactive Mortgage “Ticket to Ride” Grand Prix and a USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Keri Potter and Toscana claim victory in the $7,500 1.45m Gold Tour Two-Phase


May 2021 - What To Do When Your Foal Fails To Thrive
Written by courtesy of Southern States
Friday, 30 April 2021 04:59
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courtesy of Southern States

As horse owners we should all hope for the best and plan for the worst when it comes to our beloved horses. This saying rings particularly true as we welcome foals into our families this spring. If you’ve been tending to your broodmare and all her nutritional needs, chances are you will be greeted with a healthy foal that sails through the baby stages without problem. Unfortunately even with the best laid plans, problems may arise. So what should you do if your foal doesn’t thrive?

Easy As 1-2-3

“A healthy newborn foal will be bright, alert, active and responsive,” according to Dr. Kelly Kalf, DVM. A good broodmare will encourage their newborn foal to get up and nurse within an hour of birth. A basic rule of thumb to know if your foal is getting off to a healthy start is by following the 1-2-3 rule. Healthy foals should:

Stand within one hour
Start nursing within two hours
Pass the first meconium (first feces) within 3 hours of birth

If your foal doesn’t meet these key milestones you should contact your vet.

Reasons Your Foal Won’t Thrive

There are many reasons why your foal may not be thriving as expected. The most common reason is Failure of Passive Transfer. “Inadequate consumption of colostrum or consumption of poor quality colostrum in the first 24 hours of life will cause either complete or partial failure of passive antibodies to the foal,” explains Kalf. “The foal’s immune system is naïve at birth and it depends on the transfer of antibodies in the mare’s colostrums in order to thrive.”

Neonatal infections may also occur. These infections typically come from the environment the foal lives in and enter the foal via umbilicus, GI tract or the respiratory tract. Navel (umbilical) infections are a significant health risk to newborn foals as the bacteria enters the foal’s bloodstream through the umbilicus shortly after birth. “Infection risk is why it is important to dip the foal’s umbilicus 1-2 times per day with 0.5% chlorhexidine solution or 2% iodine solution for 2-3 days after birth, or until the umbilical stump has dried,” notes Kalf. “Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can make the foal very sick, get septic joints, umbilical abscesses or widespread septicemia.”

Intestinal parasites can also affect how your foal thrives. Dr. Justin Sobota, DVM says, “At our practice, we are advocates of Strategic Deworming and treat each horse and foal as an individual much as you would with a nutrition plan.” However, there are some basic guidelines he suggests. “Provide oxibendazole at 6-8 weeks, submit a fecal sample at 14-16 weeks and provide pyrantel, deworm with oxibendazole again at 22-24 weeks, then submit another fecal sample at 30-32 weeks and give pyrantel again,” advises Sobota. “When the foal is 38 weeks of age we then put them on an adult deworming schedule.”

When To Call The Vet

The best way to help your foal avoid a setback is through good observation and prompt action when something appears to be amiss.

Remember, not all foals will act the same way when they don’t feel good, much like a human baby. It’s also important to know high risk foals may look normal for several hours after birth before exhibiting signs of distress.

All foals should be examined by the vet during their first 24 hours. This initial visit will help determine the health of your foal and alert you to any potential problems. However after this initial visit do not hesitate to call your veterinarian again if you have concerns about the health of your foal. “It is better to call sooner than later as foals can become ill quickly,” emphasizes Sobota.