Don’t skip these 4 winter prep essentials in your barn!

Fall is definitely here and Winter is right around the corner even if it doesn’t start until December.  You want to be prepared for fall/winter right now!  This is the time to do your cleaning and preparing for the colder weather.  Your barn fans may be turned off (if you have an enclosed barn) and you should be preparing for the cold winds, snow and rainy season.

#1 – Power wash your rain gutters.  Make sure to check your rain gutters for leaves, birds’ nests, rocks and other debris that can stop the successful flow of rain water away from your barn and stalls.  Washing them out is a good way to clean things AFTER you have physically removed large sticks, leaves and other items.  If you wash these things out and they get stuck in the downspouts then that doesn’t do you any good.  Make sure that the largest items are removed first.  Check your gutters when you are washing them out for leaks, holes or if the sections have separated or moved.  If you are in a HEAVY snow area you may not have gutters, which is normal and if you do have them you may want to remove them now! Snow can and will damage your gutters and when the snow slides it may well tear the gutters from your roof.  This is the time to get those things repaired.

#2 – Check all the welds around your barn to make sure that nothing has rusted through which can affect the integrity of the structure.  If so, then you will want to contact a certified welder to fix any issues.  You also want to check all your bolts if your barn is “redheaded” into your foundation.  Believe it or not these can come loose.  You may have to remove the cover that hides these bolts, but it is worth it to make sure that they are tightened.  If your barn has sections that are screwed together, then you will want to check each and EVERY screw to make sure it is as tight as it can be also.

#3 – Checking your roof is another important inspection that needs to be completed at this time of year.  You will want to make sure that the sections of your metal roof that overlay each other have not lifted because of wind or tree limbs, vines or other sources.  First you will want to remove any objects that may be rubbing on your roof.  If you have sections that are lifted adding additional screws to secure them down again is advisable.  The obvious thing to avoid is lifted sections that can be torn off in heavy wind.  If you have a composition roof or tile make sure that there are not missing tiles which will then leak and damage the wood underneath your roof.  You don’t want damage and the entire roof caves in on your stock.

#4 – Last but not least!  Remove the bedding from all your stalls and check each base channel in the stalls to confirm that they have not rusted through because of urine or fecal matter build-up.  If you find rust areas, but there are not wholes this is a good time to get”rust” proof paint and apply it immediately.  This can help to prevent further erosion of the metal.  You may want to think about contacting the original barn company for replacement parts if they are damaged severely because if your horse(s) rub on the wall with damaged base channels then the entire wall will move and possibly break thus loosing the entire weight barring load on that wall which then stresses the other walls & roof.

Let’s all get our winter jackets from the closet and prepare to batten down the hatches for winter.  This will get you one more step towards that preparation.  Keeping you and your horses is always the way to have a good winter season and to error on the side of caution is always the best avenue to take.

One last thingDO NOT forget to check ALL your water lines.  Look for leaks, cracks, loose fittings etc.  Also insolate all exposed pipe with either rubber insulation or insulation tape.  If you have automatic waters in your barn you will want to make sure that these are especially insolated.  You surely do not want to come out one morning and find your horse standing in 6-10 inches of freezing water.

Have a Safe, successful and fun Fall/Winter season with your riding and everything you do.    Follow us on Twitter and Facebook as well.

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Recently one of my horses was kicked in the hock and it looked like a soccer ball when I went to feed.  Now I didn’t see it done, but the hoof impression was enough evidence to tell me that it was pretty hard. 

Immediately I went to wrapping ice around the hock and giving meds to help with swelling and pain.  When the swelling went down 5 days later I called the vet for x-rays.  Good news nothing is broken.  This happened 3 weeks ago so that is why I haven’t written lately.

A regiment of walking 10-15 min 3x day; spraying cool water for 5 min after each walk, meds in a syringe – oh my.  This is really the worst I’ve ever had it.

This little guy is the smallest of my herd yet he is the herd leader for sure.  We say that he is just a brat.  He likes to boss everyone around, bite, kick and push his way through everyone.  My biggest guy is the low man on the totem pole (if you can believe it), he is my saddle horse and just wants to be left alone, but alas NO, the little guy picks and picks until he is kicked.

As my farrier put it “maybe he will learn his lesson”.  I don’t think so because he is still nipping and kicking through the corral panels.  He is ALL boy that is for sure and a youngster at that. Oh well, he has gotten his just deserves with this one.

He still isn’t quite right, but with the walking & water I hope he will be back to himself soon and not be a 3 legged horse!

Best to you and your Barn desires.  I’d love to help you keep your horses warm and covered for the winter.  Let me know if we can help.

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Interview with Professionals

Just this last week I had the opportunity to interview a Farrier and a Veterinarian about what they like to see in “your” barn when they come to visit.

#1 – Water and electricity: These are both helpful for several reason. They should be readily available and accessible when needed for things like X-rays, washing a wound, cooling off hot shoes for the farrier, general clean-up when necessary.

#2 – Level working surface: Some place where your horse can be either tied or cross tied that is a level working surface. Preferrably with rubber mats so that dirt and debris are cleaned away from the working area. (I have been told that rubber pavers look great but may not be the best surface to work on) Make sure the area is groomed and clean of rocks, manure etc. before the professional arrives.

#3 – Shade or cover: enough said I think. But if you live in any area that get’s lots of rain, wind or sun then for the professionals benefit if you do not have an area that is level and shaded you may want to think about using an umbrella, pop up or move to some place where they can be shaded and/or protected from the elements.

#4 -Working area AWAY from other horses or animals

#5 – Barn doors that do not have catches on them

Last but not least

#6 – Lighting! – this can be a big one especially if you are calling a vet out for a colic horse in the middle of the night. You and the Vet need to be able to treat the horse, see what is happening in the dead of night, so lighting is VERY important.

If you are a professional – I would love to hear your feedback and opinions also.

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Stop crushing those Horse pills!

So you might wonder why I’m talking about pills?  Well recently I have had to give not only my horse but a friends horse these HUGE pills and while they don’t go down easily we decided to crush them with a pestel.  So that took all kinds of time and still didn’t work to well.

Here is what my friend came up with.  The small blender/crusher “The Magic Bullet”  it’s a cute little blender that you can make all kinds of things in your kitchen with like Salsa, shakes, snow cones etc.  You get the idea.

Well this little thing in less than 30sec turns these pills into powder that can then make a nice paste and you can flavor it so that your horse is more likely to accept you putting a syringe in his mouth.  We added about 2tblsp water, 1tblsp corn oil and about 1tsp of apple sauce and that was it.  The horses are accepting the paste, it’s smooth & runny enough so that they don’t spit it all out when you administer it and all is well.

I just had to share this with you because I would have never thought of using a kitchen appliance for this purpose, but it makes for a perfect solution to a problem that I know I’m not the only one who has faced it.  So next time you are crushing pills think about using a small kitchen appliance to make a power and give your horse a better chance to heal when he’s getting his meds correctly.

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Stale Stalls

All barns can become hot boxes.  Particularly during the summer months.  So what do you do if your barn is already built?

Box fans are a good way to move air around your barn, industrial fans or other types of fans that can be mounted high above the stalls to circulate air through and around your stalls.  This system is very effective for a couple of things besides just circulating air.  The more air you are moving in your barn the less flies like it and are more likely to look elsewhere for places to stay, also your barn stays much cooler when air is being moved about.  The downfall is that if you have your fan to high, then you have a wind tunnel – particularly if you have a Breezeway or RCA barn. Ok, that might be alittle much but you get the idea. 

Another problem could be in the construction of your barn.  If you have solid walls between your stalls there is an obvious roadblock for air to move about your barn.  In this case you may have 1 or 2 stalls in particular that get no circulation.  This can create a fly fest, they love to hang out where there is no wind.  You can install a smaller fan for these particular stalls if nessesary.

I advocate in a barn the use of grilled walls between your stalls, this will help to avoid stale stalls.  The advantage to grilled walls go beyond just air circulation, horses are social animals and the walls allow them to see other horses in the barn and yet be safe from harm.  The wall pictured here has 2 sections that are grilled for just those purposes I named above.  The solid section in this wall is next to the feeder.  Most horse do not like being interupted when feed or you may have a horse that is “food agressive” and this solid panel can avoid conflicts, anxiety among horses.

My final thoughs are that if you have a barn that currently is constructed with solid wall dividers, then there most likely is not need to change it.  However if you are needing to make repairs to an existing barn or you wish to upgrade your barn, then grilled stall divider walls can be a great addition.  Be sure also that when you go to install any object (ie: lights, fans, fly spray systems, etc) above your horse stalls that you make sure they are secure to wind, earthquakes and even your horses rubbing against the walls.  You don’t need to have a vet bill because the “object” came crashing down in the stall.

This may go without saying also that if you are looking to purchase a used barn(before you have it reconstructed on your property) you may wish to look into the cost to replace solid walls with grill divider walls.  This will be a nice addition to the barn if you are having to replace any wall sections. 

One more thing, if you have a foaling stall, then a grill divider wall may not be advisable.  If you have a boarding facility again grill dividers may not be advisable.  You do not want disease to spead throughout your barn, that does nothing for a good reputation or the overall health of all your boarded horses and clients.

Don’t forget to check out our barn projects at Go now to also get your “free” report – 5 mistakes to avoid when you buy a new or used barn.

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Grading where to start?

When you choose the location for your project are you thinking of grading?  If you are, then most counties in California require some type of grading permit, which then requires a survey of your property, topography and engineering.  This can be a long drawn out process that can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years depending on the amount of dirt you are needing to move.  For clarification when I say “move” I don’t just mean the grading.  For instance are you going to have to bring in “fill” dirt?  Are you cutting and filling?  That’s what I mean by moving dirt, not the actual process of having the tractors move dirt.

All these questions are answered through the engineering process.  Basically here is how it works.  First you have to have a surveyor come to your property and survey your property lines, they will also do the slope to your property (if any).  You will receive of report and “map” from them with all this information on it.

This is then what you take to the engineer.  There are many different types of engineers, so be sure that you are not taking your project to an engineer that doesn’t know anything about moving dirt.  May sound funny, but stranger things have happened.  Once the engineer has all the information from the surveyor he can begin to design your grading.  Again designing may sound strange, but that is what it is.  You may have to build retaining walls, put in “V” ditches for drainage, create different levels on your property for different things like round pen, arena’s etc.  There are alot of regulation, considerations and finances that must be taken into account with each project. 

If you are lucky enough to have a fairly flat piece of land then maybe just bringing dirt up in one corner or another is all you have to do.  That’s GREAT!  But if you have any type of slope, then either cut-n-fill or fill may be required. 

Once the engineer is done with your plans and you have approved them then you are on your way to the “red tape” of your local county.  You must pay fees and submit your plans for them to determine if they are correct before you can proceed.  Ok, for purposes of this writing we will make it easy.  Your plans are approved without incident and you are now ready to grade.

Dirt moving day is here and you have the crew in place they have thier lazers out and start moving your dirt.  They MUST follow the plans the county has approved.  Once your grading is completed, DO NOT be surprised if before you can build the county requires one or two other reports.  If they had not ask for it before, the county engineer may require a soils test.  This test tells them what type of soil you are on which then can determine your grading and future foundation requirements.  The second test they can and “may” ask for is a compaction test.  When you are building on natural grade/soil this usually is not called for, but when you cut-n-fill or use fill dirt then they want to know how dense the compaction is before you build. 

For arenas and other “non” building purposes the county “should not” require this, however each county is different and they tend to surprise all of us with new regulations without telling the public.  For structure however they want to know that the newly graded area is not going to errode away in the next rain storm and that if there is an earthquake the soil is compacted enough to also withstand slippage.

This is just a quick glimpse into what may happen if you need to move dirt for you project and some things to keep in the back of your mind to be watchful of when dealing with your local county government.

Happy building and don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and twitter.

Now head over to our website and get your “FREE” report – 5 mistakes to avoid when buying/building a barn.

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Building your relationships with others in your horse life.

As I wonder around the horse community I have begun to notice the different relationships that are developing amongst horse people.  There are those that are competitors to each other, riding pals, barn friends, emergency friends, trainers & students just to name a few.

Relationships among horse people are very important.  We feel that we are part of a community and people that understand us and our passion for our 4 legged pals.  All be  it sometimes we are not understood by others, but those of use who endear ourselves to horses get the passion, patience, and language that we speak.

Each industry has “jargen” and I know us horse people do to.  I’d love to hear some of the “jargen” that you and your horse friends speak that maybe the outside world doesn’t understand.  Maybe it’s naming the different parts of tack, or the horse themselves that people don’t understand and give you funny looks. I’d love it if you would share.

Ok, so back to building relationships with others in your horse life.  What do these people mean to you?  Are they truely friends that you can count on in a crisis?  Are they just business relationships?  Are they professional relationships with understanding of who’s job it is for different parts of the relationship?

Friends in a crisis are GREAT!  If you are out of town and a disaster strikes then you know who you can count on to take care of your horse or horses, property etc.  These are the people that should know your secret hiding place for the key to your barn, house, horse trailer, truck etc.  These are the ones that call out of the blue when there is a disaster they have heard about or seen on the news and ask if you are ok or is there anything they can do to help.  These are the people you can rely on to feed if you are out town for a weekend, running late from work or get snowed out of your house.  Friends like this do not come along everyday – cherish them for they are rare.

Business relationships – such as your farrier, veterinarian, trainer, exercise person (for your horse).  These relationships are based on your paying them for thier knowledge, service, information and overall expertise.  Yes, you can become personnal friends with them too, but remember that they are being paid to help you in one way or another.  When you stop paying them, then they are your friend!  Keep your professional relationships professional, if you cross the line, then there is a chance of a disaster. 

Riding buddies – these can be “true” friends or just acquaintences.  People that are in the same riding club as you, barn mates.  When you have riding friends be aware of what this relationship is too.  If you are all of the same riding caliber then great! But if you have riders that are of different levels then those differences can take a toll on your riding experiences, so make sure that when you are riding everybody knows exactly what is expected.  The last thing you want to do is alienate riding buddies because then you have to ride by yourself.

All of these relationships are important to you, your horse and your overall horse experience.  Acknowledge and cherish each and every one of these relationships for what they are and how they impact your life!

Happy Hors’n around!

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Construction vs. looks

When you are looking for the right type of barn for your equine friends, your first question should be “How you are going to use your barn?”

If you are going to have a boarding facility the needs of your clients also needs to be considered besides just what you might like in a barn.  There may be features that will draw clients & others that may drive them away.  So do your research with other boarding facilities to see how they keep thier barns full & clients happy.  You should also find current boarders to get thier opinions of what they want and like in the facility that they are currently boarding with.  People are happy to tell you what they like & dislike, so talk to people.

Looking at the variety of barns that are available on the market today, you really need to research your needs before you even contact a company for quotes.  Contact them for sales brochures and research online for quality, customer service & see if thier are reviews from clients about the products.  After you have done your research then you may be ready to take action.

Project Managers like myself are here to help you with that too.  See I personnally feel that this is one part of my job.  

In California there are alot of different needs for your equine friends.  If you are in a high elevation you will want a structure that can withstand wind & possibly snow, so when you are constructing know what your elevation is AND the snowload of your area.  This information can usually be obtained by contacting your County Building Department. 

If you live in a desert area, then you may not need a full barn, just a shade cover may do, but if temperatures drop then you might want to look into a 3 sided shader or even with a fourth wall & door so they can get out of the wind and cold.

You know your area best, so consider the following when wanting to install a barn on your property: Wind, Rain & Snow blowing direction, Rising & falling of the sun (yah I know east & west-haha).  Maybe you want to hide something on your neighbors property?  All things considered it’s fun and exciting when your barn in built and you can move your horses into thier new home. 

I often tell clients that for me it’s like the birth of a new foal – you know your getting a horse, but what it looks like is always a surprise!

For more information feel free to contact me at:

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Costly mistakes to avoid when building a barn

When you are in the market to purchase a horse facility, be it a full barn, shade cover or just corrals there are things you need to discuss, analyis and expect.

Costly Mistake #1 – Getting facilities that are to big or to small for your needs.  When you look at how many horses you have or want along with the type of equine pals you are looking for, then you should take into consideration the type of facilities you need.  When you have mini’s or ponies then smaller facilities may be just perfect – down size you barn, the corral heights and sizes etc. but if you are going to have draft horses then you will want to have larger gauge corrals or even wire panels, larger stalls as well as paddocks for these animals.  So analyis what your specific needs and wants are before you buy.

Costly Mistake #2 – Purchasing from a fly by night company.  If you have a facility installed and then in 6 months they are not in business and you need them for repairs, what do you do?  Punt I guess! NO, you will then have to contact another company who can come out and view your repairs and/or correct them for you.  In today’s economy there are many companies having difficult times be sure to do your do diligence before you purchase.

Costly Mistake #3 – Buying the wrong product for you.  Let’s say you love the look of wood barns.  I know I do, however if you are in a HIGH fire area, this may not be the best solution for you unless you have several 100′ clearance around your barn in particular.  You live in a HIGH wind area and you’ve purchased shade covers and in the dead of night you hear a crash and the entire structure has pulled out or off your corrals and is either in the neighbors yard (which can pose a BIG problem) or it has crashed into the stall and now you have injured horses, vet bills or worse.  That being said, shade covers in hot areas are a great way to provide needed shelter for horses without having a “hot box” situation.  So advice #3 is know your climate, your individual property and dangers and “choose wisely my friend”.

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Rodeo’s are so much fun (in my opinion).  I went to a showing of the PBR on Friday night & it was great fun, however I found myself watching the 3 working horses in the arena.  The way they worked with each other, the bulls and the crowd.

At one point in the evening because of the wind that was swirling around there where napkins, programs and all sorts of paper flying into the area.  What was funny was that one large yellow program swirled down into the arena and decided to attach itself to the front elbow of one of the working horses.  Now I don’t know about your horses or what they would do, but I would assume that one of mine would have just stood there & taken no notice, however the 5yr old mustang I have probably would have been running bent for Las Vegas at the sight of this yellow flying “horseavore” coming at him.

This bay horse just stood there, watched it come in and land on his leg, turned his nose at it as if to tell his rider, now you can remove it, which he promptly did.  The crowd got some amusement out of it and there was laughing amongst us, but my guess is they were (or most of them) waiting to see a “side” rodeo. 

You know I go to these events as entertainment and I do enjoy them, but as a spectator I’m sure most people are waiting for the danger.   Yes, there is lots of danger, there were a couple of bulls that charged at the pick-up horses and boy did you see them spin and get the heck out of dodge when that happened.  These horses also worked the sheep for the mutton busting along with the young calfs, steers & yearling bulls that the youngsters rode (ages 5-17).  It was amazing to me to watch these horses and riders work – I know I learned a few things just by observing the actions of the horse & rider.

With horses you have to always be on your toes – they are a 1000 lbs of energy and spook if they want to, they also need to be responsive to the rider and surroundings, other animals, people (in this case), equipment, noise the crowd, speakers and so much more that is happening.

Ok, so I know this isn’t about horse barns, but I beg the question “How well are you and your horse prepared for the unexpected?”  It’s worth asking because you never know what type of horseavore might jump out and spook your steady steed!

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