Saturday, June 14, 2014

Taj Mahal of Horse Barns

So NOT my Barn
By Alison Hart

How fancy does a barn have to be?  Laura wrote about a good barn cleaning session and showed some pictures of her set up that works for a California horse keeper. Her horses (and Laura) are content and healthy with the arrangement. Environment plays a huge part in how horses are housed and kept, but I must confess the simpler the better for me.

Here in Virginia my horses can graze almost year round--I fed about twenty bales last winter, and only because we had so much snow. Run in shelter with access to several large pastures that I rotate works beautifully.

Barn aka Shop
We also have a nice barn that is perfect for summer with large fans to keep the flies away (the biggest problem here.) However, it was recently taken over by my son and husband and turned into a shop. They left me two stalls, but with a giant lift (you gotta be a car person), dismantled vehicles and many tool boxes and carts, it was not hospitable for horses (or me.)   I didn't mind that much--they needed a place to work, and the horses were often across the street at the neighbors, but something needed to be done to make it more practical for me.

I suggested, and my husband agreed, that we add outside doors and a mall feed/ tack room. That way, the horses and I did not need to clomp through the car parts. All it took was money (what doesn't?) but my husband was feeling slightly guilty about pushing us out, so we came up with our version of the Taj Mahal of horse barns.

On the outside wall of the barn, an overhang was built with two bays and a middle 'room.'  The far left bay would be for the tractor. The right bay would be a loafing shed and entrance into two stalls.  This arrangement is so much better than before when the horses had to be led down a middle aisle into the barn. The tack/feed room will be steps away so when I get older, it will be easier to saddle up and ride as well as do chores.  A small amount of hay will still be kept in the main barn in the loft.

On the left is a photo of the almost-finished version. So cute and practical! The stall doors are dutch, so the horses can look outside as well as keep an eye on all the car work. The fans will still blow in summer and the overhang will protect the area from most bad weather.  I wish we had done this twenty years ago when we first built. The doors need painting and there's some trim work, but those projects can be easily tackled.

Not fancy, but perfect for me and my two coach-potato horses.

What is your version of a 'fancy barn.'  What would you like that you don't have? What do you love about your own set-up?


Laura Crum said...

Love it, Alison. Your new set-up looks great. As you already know, since you saw my photos, I don't have a fancy barn. But I've never wanted a fancy barn. My little pole barn for hay storage, with a shed that can become a stall when needed, along with the run-in pasture sheds is just right for me. Let's see--what I love: I built my barn and sheds with metal uprights and no wood that could be reached by horses. It is so nice not to deal with the wood chewing problem. What I wish I had: I sometimes (not often) wish I had a clean dry place besides the horse trailer tack box to keep tack. My barn does not work well for tack. Everything gets dusty in the summer and moldy in the winter. But the trailer tack box works OK for this, so mostly it's all good.

alison said...

Your weather is so different (dryer) than ours than I am surprised you even have mold. Maybe that can be your next project--a tidy tack room!

Anonymous said...

I went to a Carriage Driving show yesterday, and their barn was the Buckingham Palace of barns. It had several beautiful tackrooms, almost entirely devoted to harnesses. It has an indoor large enough for several rigs to drive in, two apartments on the second floor, one for the manager, that has a big deck where she can overlook several fields. I didn't even see the whole thing.

For myself, I'd like two more stalls (for a pair of driving ponies) which would bring me to 6. A larger tack room and a feed room that was a little handier. I'd also like a small indoor for those long Michigan winters.

Alison said...

All it takes is money and a handyman, RedHorse!

I don't know how you survive with horses in Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I recently saw a barn that had two tack rooms, and, get this, two revolving saddle rack walls. That way, the loaded saddle racks can just spin around to the barn's aisle and you can access the saddle without wrestling through a door. It was quite fabulous!

Alison said...

Anonymous--fabulous, yes! But doable for most of the population is definitely no.

I have a big western saddle, and I figure it's better than pumping iron at the gym for keeping my arms in shape.