Horses, Hay and Homesteading

Newsdate: Fri March 9, 2018, 8:30 am
Location: ATGLEN, Pennsylvania

In her latest article, "Horizon Structures Presents Series…. Horses, Hay and Homesteading," Nikki Alvin-Smith addresses the idea that everything old is new again. Horse owners are increasingly adding value to their lives by returning to agricultural practices to produce organic produce and animal products on their farms.

Center aisle horse barn

Center aisle horse barn

Horse owners are increasingly adding value to their lives by returning to agricultural practices to produce organic produce and animal products on their farms. New window.

The notion of going ‘old school’ and designing the barn to keep everything under one roof has seen a rise in popularity as a result. Naturally, there is a sincere convenience this provides as daily chores can be completed without venturing into the elements whether the weather is hot or cold.

If the barn owner is away from home the completion of these tasks can be easily taken care of by a friend or family member without the need to trudge back and forth from building to building.

It also makes the storage of provisions such as hay and grain supplies easy to store and access. The provision of water and electric is also directed to just one building, which saves on costs of installation. In fact, the idea of keeping a variety of animals and planting projects under one roof is an efficient method to homestead.

The modular design of farm structures for horses, mules and donkeys, miniature horses, milking cow, goats, alpacas, chickens and poultry, dogs, storage and potting sheds, lends itself to the creation of the perfect multiple use building.

Family friendly

Many horse owners keep a miniature horse, pony for the kids, or donkey alongside their horses for company and use by the smaller members of the family.

When you ‘hatch’ your own little person, along with this new responsibility often comes the desire to create an organic food source for the health of the family.

During my experiences giving dressage clinics across the USA and abroad, I have come across beautiful center aisle barns with a Jersey cow standing in a stall mooing for milking time, a goat trying to escape a miniature horse stall or seen chickens and geese pecking about in the stalls and marching through the barn as if they owned the place.

The horse crazy twelve year old that will ride in our clinic and diligently showcase their talents in the saddle, will later be found collecting eggs from the chickens and offering them up to make a little extra cash from the visiting equestrians.

The knowledge that children gain from being taught the responsibility of caring for livestock and seeing where their food comes from is invaluable.

Fresh herbs and vegetables can be started early in a potting shed area within the building, and children delight in learning how to seed and start the growing process and watch their efforts evolve into full grown plants and vegetables they can eat.

Some folks start a line of products and operate a small business of jams and jellies, pickles and provisions, dairy products and poultry offerings and other farm to table delights.

The boarding barn

The addition of a kennel where your family pets can be safely kept during busy times or where boarders can safely leave their dogs out of the dangers of a hot car provides added value to your farm operation.

These same boarders can also become customers of your home-grown products and will also enjoy bringing their kids along to visit with the critters. Who knows, maybe the same kids will join in your summer camp sessions or take a few riding lessons and become hooked on horses.

How do you design this multiple use horse structure?

Integration of stalls for your horses and other wee beasties, storage for your ATV or electric golf cart or other farm equipment, and an area for hay and provisions, tack and equipment, does require expertise in design to be successful.

For example: For chicken coops there are many easy care design options and size requirements to consider; for dog kennels you want a tear resistant flooring material, the right gate size to a run, kennel sizes to fit your breed of dogs and drainage; for storage you may want to keep it easy access with an overhang design or wish to have a secure space you can lock up.

For this advice it is wise to seek experts in the field that know what each type of animal needs for proper care and comfort, and what you need to make care of the animals user-friendly with an efficient design for daily chores.

There is a lot that the entire family will enjoy and benefit from with the homestead lifestyle. Our forefathers had it right. But we don’t have to work with an old, cold, antique barn with low ceilings, lack of hygiene and an absence of modern conveniences.

With the right planning you can execute the perfect structure for your needs. Seek out a manufacturer that encompasses the experience you need in all facets of animal housing and care and leverage the wealth of their advice.

By Nikki Alvin-Smith

This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Please visit to learn more.

About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -

Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.

For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at

About Nikki Alvin-Smith: International and national published freelance writer and photographer in such world renowned publications such as The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse and Hound, Dressage and CT, The Horseman’s Yankee Pedlar, The Equine Journal, Spur, Hoofprint, Horsin’ Around, Horses All, Field & Stream, Pony Quarterly, Catskill Horse to name a few. Ghostwriting, blog services, PR/Marketing copy either direct with manufacturer or for agencies, copy editing and editor services also available. Nikki has produced catalog copy, corporate brochures and advertising copy for international corporations and PR/Marketing for celebrities. 

As a Brit who has called the America home for the past 34 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. Nikki is also an accomplished Grand Prix dressage trainer/competitor, competing at international Grand Prix level to scores over 72% and is a highly sought clinician offering clinics worldwide. She has been a horse breeder/importer of warmblood and Baroque breeds for more than 25 years. Together with her husband Paul who is also a Grand Prix trainer, they run a private dressage breeding operation and training yard in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York. Please visit to learn more.

About the author

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