San Diego County is one of a handful of areas in the world with a diverse and accomplished equestrian community and a temperate climate allowing outdoor riding year around. Olympic dressage riders, international show jumpers, and a host of world class competitors in specialties ranging from Arabians to reining, as well as California’s top Quarter Horse breeders, all call San Diego County their home. In addition, a significant number of recreational riders with no competitive intentions enjoy pleasure and trail riding in our area.
One of the greatest challenges facing all equestrians, regardless of discipline, is the diminishing supply of land for horse property, particularly in locations close to urban population centers. Many former stables have been gobbled up by housing and other uses as regional population has grown explosively. The regulatory climate in even traditionally “horsey” areas makes entitlement of professional quality horse facilities a lengthy, costly and uncertain process. In the old days, it was relatively easy to buy a piece of land, put up some improvements and a sign, and open your doors for business. Both property values and times have definitely changed.
What can be done to preserve places to ride? First, it is important for the equestrian community to work together, be well informed and participate actively in land use issues. This can include participation in a local trail group or a national advocacy such as the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, or it can simply mean being a good neighbor. If you already own horse property, do not automatically assume that your highest value “exit” will be development. A well located horse property may be worth more preserved as horse property than its net development value, after the costs of the process are considered. If you don’t own horse property but you would like to, then consider the next year or so as the market pauses from its appreciation binge to represent a remarkable buying opportunity.
If you are a boarder, as I am, and your work, family or personal choice constrains you from moving to the back country, you may not like what I have to say next: It is almost inevitable that one of our contributions to the preservation of horse property will include paying more over time to board our horses, given the significant investment made by property owners. It is all part of the law of supply and demand. Despite the expense, the inherent risks and the inevitable ups and downs of the sport, it is still a privilege to participate with these amazing animals. I don’t foresee the demand side of the equation subsiding any time soon. May we all enjoy the ride!
Caren Kelley of Equestrian Real Estate assists people with the purchase, sale and entitlement of horse properties in San Diego County. She has been a licensed California real estate broker for almost two decades and prior to that worked as a rider and trainer (Caren Brown). She can be reached at 858-350-1018 or via email at email@example.com.