Monday, February 3, 2014

Horse Keeping on a small place: Site Selection

Part 2 of "Horse Keeping on a small space"

Planning Your Horse BarnThis project deserves much needed preplanning. I wanted to build a barn that would provide adequate shelter from the elements and storage for all of my equipment such as saddles, tack, hay, grain, shavings, etc. If you are a spring trail riding enthusiast, a barn is advantageous in keeping your horse ready to ride without an enormous amount of work shedding that heavy coat in the spring. By keeping your horse out of inclement weather and blanketed you will be ready to hit the trail with much less work not to mention the added benefit of keeping your horse healthy and your life less complicated.

Also since you will be limited with pasture turn-out on a small acreage, you will find it becomes necessary to regulate the turn-out time of your horse to preserve the pasture. A barn, run pen and round pen will provide opportunity for turn-out and allow the pasture to rest.

The initial stage of planning is the correct time to select a contractor that can provide references and has knowledge of what is required to build an equine facility. A general contractor can work as well, just be ready to guide them with each detail as you progress.

Drainage & Utilities

As you study a site selection, keep in mind drainage. Your contractor will want to be able to slope the earth away from the barn to provide proper drainage. There may possibly be property line set-backs enforced by the city or county to consider as well. Bringing utilities such as electrical lines and water to the barn should also be taken into consideration. Will you need to access city water or do you want to provide well water? If well water is a consideration, contact a well digger to provide their suggestions on a location on the property. During this process give some consideration to various locations you might want access to running water. I wanted to be able to wash out my trailer so I planned access to a yard hydrant a distance from the barn with the proper drainage for that purpose. I also wanted to make water available near the fenced pasture so I could provide fresh water at all times while the horse is on pasture.

You may also want to provide a fenced run-pen type enclosure for your horse to roam in and out of the barn stall. If so, space on either side or end will be necessary. If a run pen is on your “must have” list, give some preliminary research during the site planning to the type of soil and drainage required. The worst situation is to provide run pen space for your horse only to find that with every rain your horse is walking in mud or standing water because the drainage was inadequate. I chose river sand as it drained well. Some may have objections to sand given the horse is always capable ingesting sand if they are the “busy” type. That was not my case.

Manure Disposal

Manure disposal should be considered during the site planning stage. Do you have the ability to create a compost pile given covenants or county/city rules? If so, consider where on your site you can create a disposal pile that is far enough from the barn so as not to draw flies nor aggravate neighbors. Keep in mind if you bed your stalls with shavings, straw or some other type of bedding, the amount of waste will increase beyond just manure disposal.

If you are unable to create a compost pile and spreading manure on a small acreage such as we are discussing is not possible, another option available is bagging and disposing in a dumpster. If a dumpster is utilized, plan a space for the container and adequate access by the removal company to come and haul it away. In my case, I provided an 8” blacktop road bed for a large disposal truck to come in and out.

One last structure to consider is a round pen. A round pen is extremely effective for training purposes and warming up. It can also provide another space for turn-out to eliminate boredom. An effective size is a minimum of 25’, four board high. Some trainers prefer sold walls, but I chose to fence a round structure, 25 feet, four board high. It proved to be an excellent exercise outlet when time was limited.

The final portion of your planning stage should include an access or roadway to your barn and an area to store your horse trailer. If you are going to utilize a waste removal company and you plan on keeping your horse trailer onsite, work with your contractor to provide an adequate road to the barn and a space for your horse trailer.

This concludes the second segment of our HORSE KEEPING ON A SMALL SPACE. Check back with us either on our web site, FaceBook or enewsletters for the BARN PLANS segment.

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