Barn on a Budget: 5 cheap and easy stable fixes
So your barn is in desperate need of a few basic upgrades… but your checking account is barren. Lisi Edwards feels your pain and offers the following resourceful ideas.
Washington keeps telling us that the economy is improving, but my checkbook begs to differ. For those who do not have the custom-designed, rubber-brick-aisled, gilt-edged castles in which to house your horses, keeping your stable functioning and neat may be a challenge, especially if you have a husband who is cheap frugal. You can find ways to save money while at the same time maintaining a safe and tidy barn and possibly even upgrade your facility.
Pass on the $30 pivoting blanket hangers (whose swinging action allows the hanger to evade every attempt you make to actually hang a blanket on them). Go to your local home improvement center and purchase some heavy duty shelving brackets. These go for about $3-$8 each, and while they don’t swivel, they do support up to 500 lbs each (which is equivalent to several mud- and muck-encrusted turnout rugs).
Forget those elegant (and expensive) whip holders made of some exotic wood highlighted with brass plating or those cheap plastic whip hangers which break as soon as the temperature drops below 32°. The corrugated steel on your pole barn has whip hangers build right in. (Just make sure you don’t let your whips touch the ground. Some ice/snow piled up on the outside of the barn will leave you desperately trying to remove your fiberglass Excalibur from its frozen stone.)
Ground/jump poles can run hundreds of dollars. Try using 4” landscaping timbers. They require no modification as they are treated lumber with two flat sides and two rounded sides (no sanding, shaping, cutting, or painting needed). They do not roll on the ground, they fit in jump cups, and are often much less expensive than other types of treated lumber/poles. Granted, they are only 8’ long, but that will give you more room in your ring, right? Besides, you need to practice using your legs to steer your horse. You could also try drilling a number of ¼” holes in them, then after a midnight run to your local memorial garden (or your local crafts store), put some silk/plastic flowers in the holes for a colorful way to spook your horse.
Those FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic) water troughs are great until, say, a crabby mare with the Hooves of Death misses her offensive-gelding target and instead renders a trough useless as a water vessel. Inverted and properly placed, the newly designated mounting block is weatherproof and, depending on the size and power of the H’s of D, offers refuge to small- and/or medium-sized critters.
If, after all these money saving ideas your “frugal” husband still won’t loosen the purse strings and let you install a heated wash rack in the barn, let him know how he could have the cleanest bike at Daytona.
I currently own a small boarding barn in east central Illinois, along with two horses (a 21-year-old retired event horse, now combined driving horse, and her 8-year-old dingle-dork-but-oh-so-
I have a non-horse life as well, riding motorcycles and working for a large company that wholesales, retails and manufactures radio control and general hobby products. My husband enjoys my employee discount regularly and often…
Top photo: Frugal Horse Live Journal
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