We’re not talking about moving a horse into the guest room or teaching it to work the microwave. It’s just that here in the magical Santa Ynez Valley, horses are an important part of many people’s lifestyles. There may be a little cowboy or cowgirl hiding inside of many perfectly sane people. Realtor Allan Jones knows this only too well and has handled horse properties for many years.
He had a great start with animals as he and his brothers, Bob, Randy and Gordon grew up with horses. Their father and mother, George and Sally Jones, introduced Peruvian Paso horses here. In fact they actually chose the name because the original South American name was a real tongue twister. The Jones boys also raised pigs as both 4-H and FFA members. They won many blue ribbons with their pigs at the fair.
Those days bring back fond memories.“Pigs are really smart and they used to outsmart me all the time,” jokes Jones, who prepared for his interesting life by graduating from the University of Illinois in agri-business.
He says that the demand for rural real estate here is still strong. “People are interested in places where they can keep horses and luckily, there are great opportunities here. It’s mostly because of the excellent planning started in the 1950s by some of the early families. They created a plan for growth called The Valley Blueprint. It has been enhanced by the county’s downzoning of certain areas, for controlled growth. They insured that the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley has been preserved. It’s like some European countries where you can go through the beautiful countryside from one charming village to another. This is the reason that property here is not cheap. But the exciting news is that one can still buy 5-20 acre parcels for about the same price as just a fine house.”
So how much space do you need? The rule of thumb is that two horses are allowed per acre (or eight Quarter horses, says Jones) or one horse per half acre, depending on the area.
"Everything is about $1 million and they go up to $15 million. But there are some very good buys with existing barns and tack rooms which is a big plus. The Valley has changed from the days where we had many large Thoroughbred farms and we were compared with Kentucky. But we still are a very strong horse location. We have famous equestrians like Sandy Collier and Audrey Griffith who were inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Charlotte Bredahl-Baker of the Olympic dressage competitions. Monty Roberts has been sent almost all over the world by Queen Elizabeth on behalf of gentle horse training. He also works with troubled war veterans. Our Therapeutic Riding Program helps children and adults with certain disabilities,"Jones says.
Valley horse facilities range from a corral with a manger and covered shelter to beautiful big barns with horse stalls, hay storage, round pen, or even a covered exercise arena.
"Some include a small house or apartment for the trainer or caretaker. Although some buyers are looking for a small house in one of our villages, others really want more outdoor space. Sometimes the semi-rural areas that people want to move from have just become too crowded and the traffic is a real challenge," Jones says.
"Here we have beautiful residential areas with plenty of space and even riding trails as in Woodstock, Oak Trail Estates, Oak Trail Ranch, and Rancho Ynecita. The Santa Ynez Valley is still a fine place to raise a family. They can have a horse for a pal or enjoy learning to ride. Maybe they’ll join a riding club and take part in other country activities. The schools are excellent and we have FFA, 4-H, and the Pony Club. At the Equestrian Center they play special horse games designed for children of all ages. Even if a child isn’t athletic or doesn’t want to ride, they can still take pigs, sheep or cattle projects through 4-H or FFA and exhibit them at the Santa Barbara County Fair.”
So Jones’s message is “come and enjoy country living in our beautiful Valley.”