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Barn From the Ground Up: Show Time!

CJ takes her barn research on the road.

In June, we kicked off the building a horse property series covering everything I am researching from the ground up to build a horse property. (Need to catch up? Read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4!) With things halfway done, it was time to hit the road to work at a show (you know, the whole day job that supports the horsey habit!) and spend some time researching even more barn building options. Whee!

It was a beautiful weekend in Virginia for Great Meadow International. Photo by CJ Millar.

This week, I got to take a break from building a barn to travel to The Plains, Virginia to attend the Great Meadow International Nation’s Cup CICO3* event. Not only was it a great show to watch, I also had the opportunity to further my research on barn building and next steps for when I return home. For starters, the immediate focus at the new farm was putting up functional shelters and stalls for the horses so we could get moved in, but long term the goal is to build a center aisle barn that is both beautiful and functional. Great Meadow’s Meadow Market was a great place to talk to vendors about many of the different options available and start my research for the next phase of the project.

Lighthoof attended the show, and had a great booth with the panel fully laid out for people to see and I was happy to share my stories of using their product. People just LOVED the video from last week’s installment, part 4 where the truck pulled the barn onto the Lighthoof base! Fortunately for me, we were right across from Lucas Equine Equipment and I got to peruse their stuff as well. Their lovely display caught my eye, and I had the chance to talk to Shawn about their products.

They also make custom entry gates – oooh! Definitely on the list as I am a firm believer in perimeter fencing. Photo from Lucas Equine Equipment.

The goal of Lucas Equine Equipment is to build beautiful, functional and healthy stalls, doors and gates for equestrian properties that are high quality and low maintenance to last for years to come – music to my ears! Their options ranged from more basic racehorse style stalls that provided good ventilation and airflow, to fabulous European stall sides and fronts with sweeping lines, smart features, and a luxurious look.

I was most impressed by the attention to detail and ventilation aspect for the stalls. Many of their stalls had ventilation in the lower portion which is something many places overlook. This is important as horses eat with their heads down (this is most healthy for them) and even when lying down, a fully enclosed lower portion of the stall can trap moisture and ammonia odors from the urine and manure and contribute to less than ideal conditions. Lucas Equine definitely fit the bill here for great ventilation.

Stalls that look beautiful with great ventilation that are built to last are definitely on the list! Photo from Lucas Equine Equipment.

I also got to drool over B&D Builders barn catalog and all of their fancy-schmancy options. While they are most definitely out of my price range unless I win the lottery, I was excited to learn that the barn company I am using locally (American Storage Solutions) can do stick built barns and customize however I need. They’ll also work with Lucas Equine Equipment on the stalls so that I can create something affordable and beautiful whenever I am ready. In addition, I can build what I need in the next year or so and add on to the barn as I have more budget and still have it look like the same barn without that modular added-on-later feel.

What a barn! Photo by B&D Builders.

Nelson automatic waterers were also in attendance, and I’ve always been interested in the concept of automatic, always fresh water for my horses. They’re set up with easy to clean removable bowls, as well as heaters so that you don’t have to worry about de-icing troughs in winter – definitely a nice thought in the Catskill Mountains. I was always skeptical about monitoring water intake with a product like this, so have shied away from Nelson and similar products in the past, but they now even have a way to monitor how much water you are going through. And if you happen to have a horse that’s a trough swimmer (*ahem* Spirit *ahem*), the idea of having something that they can’t climb into is also quite appealing. I think they are on the list for a late 2017/early 2018 install along with the center aisle barn, but I’d love to hear feedback from anyone that has used them, especially with their new features!

Key points in my research:

  • Expandable barn that still looks like it was all built together so that I can start with what I can afford and expand later as budget and needs grow
  • Safe barn that is built to last – while I’d love something fireproof like MD Barnmaster offers, it just isn’t in the budget so I also looked at well-built wood barns that can be done in a way to reduce risk
  • Easy to maintain – I would rather spend more up front for something that needs less maintenance down the line.
  • Healthy with good ventilation is also a must, so stall fronts that are more open and allow airflow along with a barn built to allow good air movement is important
  • Access to clean, fresh and defrosted water 24/7/365

What else do you consider when reviewing barn building options? I’d love to hear from you and include your thoughts and questions as I move along with my research! And next week I’ll have updates on the shedrow barn with the Lighthoof base in conjunction with Stall Savers – the permeable stall mats that I’ll be testing out. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the permeable stall mats, so I am curious to see how they perform with the Lighthoof underneath and how well they last. The plan is to put traditional stall mats in the entrance area that is higher traffic to see if that helps with durability which has been the biggest complaint I found. Fingers crossed – the shedrow and stall mats and last bit of fencing arrive later this week along with new family member, Bartholomule the mule. Yay!

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