My favorite time saving tools!
If you are like me, you always dreamed of one day having your horses (or other pets) with you on your own property. You may have relished the idea of being able to run out to the barn to give your horse a hug good night, or to watch them out your window as they frolicked on a windy day. However, as someone who has boarded in the past, and currently has their horses in their backyard, there are pros and cons to consider before building a barn. If you decide to build your own barn, I have shared some the best decisions, the mistakes and the most useful equipment I found which saved me hours of work and streamlined my horse/alpaca care routine.
First, to board or not to board?
Pros for keeping your own horses in your backyard
- Hands on daily care for your own horses and
developing a closer relationship with them
- Potentially save money (after initial investments)
- Ability to have total control over basic decisions
(type of hay, feed, turnout schedule etc)
- No travel time to another barn to see your horse
- Not having to adhere to another barn's hours or routine
- No barn drama (unfortunately, this can exist)
- A very rewarding labor of love
- Muscles...you build lots of muscles. :)
Cons for keeping your own horses
- Requires full time care morning and night, even
with a full time work load or during illness.
* Trust me, you spend waaay more time maintaining the barn than you ever do riding.
- No weekend or overnight trips without first finding,
and paying for, reliable barn care.
- Responsible for finding hay (possibly hauling and stacking too), fixing fences, manure removal etc
- Big initial investment in barn and equipment
- No group of "horsey" folks to ride with; usually riding
solo or trailering to meet with a trainer or friends
If you have decided to build your dream barn, read on....
Check the zoning requirements to ensure that horses are allowed in your neighborhood. There may be setback restrictions and other rules that you will need to comply with.
Even the cleanest barns will have some BO (barn odor) and flies. It is best to build your barn at least 75 feet (I recommend 150') away from your home.
The slope of the land is critical.
You want to ensure that water drains away from your barn, not towards it, otherwise you may have a flooded barn and eternally soggy paddocks (yes, I made this mistake...)
Ensure that hay trucks, trailers and other equipment can easily reach your barn. You might want to consider a horseshoe driveway for larger equipment/trailers. Try to avoid very steep driveways or tight turns which may hinder or even prevent access.
Do you plan to tap into water or electric? If so, keep the location of those in mind when you choose your barn location. The further the barn from the existing utilities, the more expensive it will be to tie into them.
Consider the orientation of the barn.
From which direction do most of the storms come from? In colder climates, face the openings (aisle doors, stall doors, etc.) away from the prevailing wind to form a natural wind block. However, keep in mind that wind can also keep a barn cool and improve ventilation. Also, you want to take advantage of solar gain and the natural lighting it provides.
Where will your paddocks be located?
I strongly recommend, having paddocks attached to the stalls to enable your horse to walk freely between the stall and paddock. While you are away during the day your horse will always have access to shelter, especially during very hot weather or storms. Your horse will have a clean dry place to eat (less hay wasted, less chance of sand colic, less distance to carry hay when feeding). Also, with 24-hour access to the stall it is easier to provide clean (and heated) water. Additionally, with the stalls and paddocks connected, it will eliminate the need to hand walk your horse to and from a paddock each morning and night. (Think about when you are tired, you don't want to change into boots, its dark, windy, rainy, icy or muddy.) Its just plain safer. less time consuming and more convenient.