In their Horizon Structures Presents Series… This month's article asks, "Why did you put it there?" Adressing the question, author Nikki Alvin-Smith writes an informative and entertaining article related to ten common errors horse owners make in determining the best site for their barn.
There is more to placing your barn on the best site possible than you might think. Here’s our top ten list of mistakes folks make and a few hints on what to avoid doing yourself. New window.
Did you ever look at a horse barn and stare in amazement wondering, “Why on earth did they put it there?”
I have. There is more to placing your barn on the best site possible than you might think. Here’s our top ten list of mistakes folks make and a few hints on what to avoid doing yourself.
- I put it right next to my house so I could see my horse’s face peeping out in the morning.
Well who wouldn’t want to see their horse from the kitchen window while completing the drudgeries of kitchen chores. But did you think about the flies, the smells of manure, variant horse noises during the night that might disturb your sleep? You might not mind them but how about the rest of the family? Perhaps the barn also represents a possible fire hazard close to your home, depending on if you have hay or equipment stored there too.
- I didn’t want to walk up the hill like Jack and Jill to fetch my horse so I put my run in shed at the bottom of the hill. My horse can walk to me.
Well I can understand that. Who wants a long arduous walk to see their horse and to fetch water. However, like Jack and Jill gravity plays a rather major part not just in folks falling down the hill and suffering a concussion but also in where water travels. If you site your run in shed or barn at the bottom of a hill you may find your horse mimicking the actions described in Paul Simon’s song, “Slip Slidin' Away.”
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away.”
A few torn equine tendons will soon dampen your spirit and give you a headache of your very own.
If you do site your structure at the bottom of a hill build the site up above level and add some provisions for drainage to take water away from the building. And by the way, why did Jack and Jill go up a hill to fetch water in the first place. Does water sit on top of a hill? Perhaps if you have a small pond but it will it be useful for watering horses?
- I put it on top of the hill because it is nice and breezy up there.
Humm. Breezy in the summer means windy in the winter so be careful about choosing the top of a hill. How will you ascend to its location during snowstorms? Will you be able to trudge hay and shavings and other supplies up the hill with confidence? If you do site a barn at the top of a hill also think about lightning protection. I’d want to have a nice breeze and a good view too but you need to look carefully at your individual situation. How will this location this work for the paddocks? Will your horse be ‘slip slidin’ away’ once more?
Also consider electricity and water sources. The top of the hill may be far away from either option.
- I figured next to the road was best so I didn’t have to drag my supplies far on delivery.
Sounds like a fine plan. But will your horses be secured from passing traffic if they escape the barn? Can you monitor their safety and security from your house? When placing your barn always consider the vehicular traffic, the parking and that wherever the barn is placed having a good visual on it is a good security measure.
- I put my barn next to the stream because the land was so flat.
Fair enough. A flat site is a good site in general as minimal backfill or earth moving will be required. Consider the innocent stream. Quietly babbling along. How pleasant in the summer. However streams are also targets for wildlife to visit, can harbor insects and wildlife that spread disease and can of course, flood! So while the proximity of a stream can appear to be a good idea, the reality is that you should consider very carefully how you can protect your barn from that ‘one hundred year’ flood.
- I had an area backfilled already that was fairly level is I placed my barn there.
Well. O.K. Level is good but what was it backfilled with exactly and was it compacted? Gravel with a layer of stone dust on top will work well over some compacted clay. A sand base is obviously not so good. You need to talk to your site contractor to be sure the pillars will be on hard ground that will not subside.
- I didn’t realize we had water springs here until after we put up the barn.
That’s not good. Not good at all. Always check the building site at the height of Spring rains to be sure that an errant spring does not pop up. If you excavate and find one then you’ll need to address the drainage of that spring or make another site selection. Always allow a generous apron around the building when you add material as well as the actual barn size.
- I put the barn on the boundary. My neighbor said he liked horses.
I’m sure you neighbor does like horses just as he says. Perhaps however the proximity of the barn to his home does not make him happy. The associated smells, bugs and noises are not to everyone’s taste. Plus which your zoning officer may not be pleased as most towns have specific set back limits for both the front, sides and rear of property (not always the same amount of feet) to protect people from light infringement and other issues. Driveways are also limited in their placement both to the road and to property lines so always find out what permits/limits apply before building.
- I didn’t want to hear the noises from the horses so I put the barn over there.
A barn you can’t see at all from your home can be O.K. You can add security cameras/monitors that you can utilize as needed and it will save you the noise/smells etc. As a horse owner it is generally pleasurable for us to be able to actually view our horse barn, so bear this in mind for future owners as in the case of resale of the property it may affect curb appeal. They might prefer it to be closer where they can see and hear what is going on in the barn.
- My friend had built a barn once and she thought this was the best place.
Good intended advice is always hard to refuse but unless your friend has years of experience with site preparation and the vagaries of geology and construction, perhaps a professional that is experienced in building the sort of barn you wish to purchase would be a more prudent option. Most companies have a wealth of experience and ideas to share. Why not utilize their expert advice?
In conclusion none of us knows what we don’t know. So seek out some expert advice. Do your due diligence, it will save you much expense and heartache later.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen, PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Please visit https://www.HorizonStructures.com 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 https://www.horizonstructures.com
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, Horse Bits, 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 http://www.NikkiAlvinSmithStudio.com to learn more.
Article by Nikki Alvin-Smith
About the author
The news team at EquiMed is dedicated to keeping the horse community informed about the latest developments related to horse health and the horse industry from a community, state, national and global and political perspective.
Check back daily for the latest in up-to-date news!