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Setting a *small* at-home barn?

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  • Setting a *small* at-home barn?

    Okay, so my sister has decided that she is moving her horse to our house after realizing that she can't really afford board and having a big blow-up with her trainer of 7 years. Right now we just need a place to put the horse because he's going to be here by Friday. The neighbors have a barn, so he may stay there for a few days though. We'll worry about the ring, etc. after the initial paddock/run-in situation is set up.

    We have 7 acres, about 5 of which can be used for the horse(s). Obviously, I know that he'll need a paddock, shelter, water and food, but I really need some advice and maybe a checklist for the smaller things.

    We have a friend who's very knowledgeable coming in the morning to look at what we have to work with and give us some guidance but I'd still like some input from all of you

  • #2
    Well, do make sure you aren't enabling your sister who it sounds like is really putting you in a hard spot. You are dumping an awful lot of money into taking care of somebody else's responsiblity and I'd really think hard about it even though she's family.


    • #3
      ouch. If she can't afford board, how is she going to afford even a run-in plus fencing/gates not to mention all the other start-up expenses? Don't forget you need a place to store hay/feed/bedding. It sounds to me like she isn't thinking this through all the way.


      • #4
        Um. *She* decided? For you?

        A paddock and a shelter can run 5-10,000 easy, even for a simple but safe setup. Never mind a hay barn, and an arena. It's not a plan for someone who "can't afford board."
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          Since the arrangement will be on your property you have to consider eye appeal, location and drainage on the property, where the power/water lines are located and ease of access to get a truck & trailer on site. Your in CT so I would think a shed should face south. Consider which direction your snow comes from and being able to get back to the shed/barn with minimal issues.

          A 16' wide by 24' long shed would give the horse a nice loafing area and provide covered space for hay storage. Figure out how long the pasture last during the summer and how much hay your sister needs for the fall/winter/spring for her horse. Depending on the size of the horse it might need a half bale a day in the winter, more it's a big horse and it's bitter cold, a little less if it's a smaller horse and an easy keeper.


          • #6
            Depending on how much fencing you have to put up, and what type of fencing you put up, you can easily run into a couple grand just in inexpensive fencing and gates. And that's if you do it yourself. Putting up fencing is HARD work, especially in the summer. Add a run-in, plus water trough, hay storage, and you're in for even more. Add in a real ring with a base and footing, you're at about $50k.


            • #7
              You're considering putting in a riding ring for your sister??? That alone is a MAJOR investment. If you're serious, have someone come survey your property before doing anything about putting up a shed or fencing because the placement of the ring will take priority over everything else.


              • #8
                Well...how much money do you have?

                You can spend as much money as you have and then some if you want....so really what you need to figure out first is how much are you willing to spend?

                You definitely need:
                Storage for Hay
                Storage for Grain/First Aid/Barn supplies

                People do manage small barns without electric or water, but I would never want to have to do that. Hauling water, even in summer, is hard work, and not having running water is a big chore - makes it very difficult to do even the smallest jobs (grooming, cleaning a wound, scrubbing a feed pan)...in my opinion your overall care will suffer without electric and water.

                If I were going to create a space for a horse on a new property, I would make sure I had space for 3-4 horses. It is difficult to keep only one horse, and the additional costs for 2-3 horses v. 1 won't be that much more.

                Then you could potentially get a companion horse, or have room to take in another boarder or two to help offset the facilities costs.

                No matter what, though, you will be putting in way more than the cost of boarding a horse for a long time. (Maybe forever). And that's without a ring too! I shudder to think what we've put into my small farm since we moved here, and the barn was already here. I could easily have boarded a few horses at top notch barns for several years for much less.


                • #9
                  #1 Stall - should be about 10x12ft. Suggest insulation in roof and (enclosed) sides for heating/cooling. Roof is a must as is access to clean water.
                  #2 Feed storage area (covered with sides). Needs to be able to be secured away from horse - by at least 1 structure (e.g. door) if not 2 structures (metal garbage can with bungee cord to hold top on). Two "structures" between horse and feed is the safest.
                  Hay storage needs structure so hay doesn't lay on ground and get "musty" and to provide air circulation to help prevent fire if you buy wet hay and it needs to dry.
                  #3 Pasture. Needs access to clean water - water trough, flowing creek which never dries up, etc. Need horse safe fencing. Suggest perimeter fencing to keep stray dogs/animal out - No climb is what we've used for years. http://www.redbrand.com/Products/Hor...Non-Climb.aspx Needs to be mounter on fence posts at least 3 feet in the ground 4+ feet above ground. Fence is "stapled" into wooden fence posts (usually 4 inches diameter posts - nothing skinny or horse will push over / break off at base) and wire is pulled tight. Corners are cross braced - suggest you pay a local horse/cattle fencing expert to put up a fence for you. Suggest pasture be about 2-3 acres and if possible horse can enter pasture just by opening stall door (no leading horse to pasture).
                  #4 Farrier / cleaning area. Needs a pad which is level so farrier can see if they are doing a good job (4 inches thick minimum if you go with concrete). Should have thick posts to tie to. Suggest buying rubber (stall) pads to put on the concrete to prevent slippage. Usually a 10 x 10 slab is decent size.
                  Now in Kentucky


                  • #10
                    While I love having my horses at home, there is NO WAY it is cheaper than board. Unless you expect to subsidize your sister's horse to the tune of thousands, don't do it.


                    • #11
                      If the property is already there and the pasture being maintained, then on the long run, it's probably cheaper than boarding, especially with multiple horses. Property upkeep per horse goes down on a per-horse basis as the number of horses goes up, more or less. Absolute costs of feeding goes up, since you have to feed each horse.

                      "Luxuries", like a barn and riding ring, raise the cost, and while that might make X number of years cost more than boarding the horses, basic setups will even out and be cheaper over time.

                      I don't understand "my sister has decided that she is moving her horse to our house ". Is that really how it's playing out? If so, your SISTER needs to be financing all the additions.

                      Horseguard fending, put on wood posts driven in, would be my first choice for fencing that's cost efficient and (importantly) cheap and easy to maintain going forward. A good solar charger works well.

                      Do you have trees in the pasture? If so, unless your zoning requires a man-made shelter, you can get by with that for now. Get a 100g Rubbermaid water tub from Tractor Supply or something, and you're set for water. How you fill it depends on your setup, but the most convenient thing is to hook a hose to the house. Sam's has a 120' fantastic professional grade hose for $26. This means putting fencing close enough to the house to reach.

                      Fencing isn't going to get done by Friday though unless you spend a LOT of money. There's that triangle to always think about - time, cost, quality. You can have 2 of the 3.

                      Just 1 horse? Horses need company, so this really means another horse, or a goat or donkey or something. Horses CAN live by themselves, but generally it doesn't work well.

                      Do you have a hay source? You'll be feeding hay from Oct/Nov through April-May, depending on how early Winter comes and how long it stays. This means a VERY reliable source close by where you can get 20 bales at a time in a pickup truck, or some setup to store a few tons of hay for 6 months. 5 acres up there is not going to sustain even a single horse for a year.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                        It's not a plan for someone who "can't afford board."

                        She clearly has not really thought this through, or she does not realize the ENORMOUS imposition and expense this will be, for YOU. If you can't afford simple pasture board someplace safe, you have no business owning a horse. Sorry, but that's the harsh reality. What will happen when this horse gets hurt (or she gets hurt) on your property?

                        Think carefully about what you are about to get yourself into.



                        • #13
                          Seriously and truly, please re-direct this sense of urgency and duress to finding an existing farm that offers pasture board, even if it's not immediately local. The horse will survive living an hour away from your sister. It's not permanent. Your sister will survive not being able to ride for awhile. I may be mistaken, but the neighbor's place doesn't sound like it's a valid option for several months of "horse storage" LOL. You AND your sister time to figure things out in a more rational manner. I hope the feedback you've gotten already helps you see that this may not be a rational thing you're doing.

                          Couple of additions to the prior feedback:
                          think long and hard whether you want to convert 70% of your property, which I assume you've enjoyed having for other uses, to horsekeeping--make really really sure there is complete consensus within your house about this? Are you sure that consensus will hold after a few months, when the emergency has worn off?

                          Has your sister demonstrated to you, consistently and for a long, long time, that she will follow through on DAILY commitments to the chores and financial burden?

                          On a small acreage like that, you will have to aggressively manage manure, both for horse health issues (flies and worm infestation) as well as your own enjoyment of the property. This means picking up ~50lbs of manure a day, double that if you follow the recommendations and keep a buddy horse/pony, which I hope you would do. Once you pick it up, how will you dispose of it?
                          I recommend calling a local waste hauler to see if they'll drop a container on your site and pick up every few weeks (or whatever is your own tipping point for pickup expense vs. having a really stinky container on your property).

                          Health care: people often don't realize how much horse knowledge and handling skill is necessary to keep a horse at home. Do you know what are the warning signs of colic? If you don't and ignore those signs, your horse may well die (in agony) before you realize you needed to call the vet many hours ago. If the horse is limping or worse bloodied up from a run in with a fence (or the many leg-eating goblins that seem to exist :-)--are you yourself capable of catching and haltering and restraining the horse until a vet can arrive? If not, do you have a list of 3 people who can get there on a moment's notice to help you?

                          Training: Horses can be dangerous animals, even for people with years of experience handling them. A horse is never "done with training"--every time we handle them we're teaching them how to behave, for better or worse. People new to horses are almost invariably too timid and permissive in response to bratty, disrespectful behavior from the horse. With all the good intentions in the world, they mistake this behavior as affection or fear, and then it escalates. Without consistent, proper handling, a well-mannered horse can turn into a dangerous animal who can seriously hurt or kill someone. Search this forum for some posts by Mah Navu.

                          I do wish you the best and think you're a very generous sister. It's just that there may be better ways you can help her out.


                          • #14
                            I see some huge fundamental problems here. Some have already been mentioned by others.Your sister's approach seems impulsive and poorly thought out (and you are one extremely generous and enabling sister if you let it happen.)

                            1. I am moving horse home because I can't afford to board = most likely really can't afford to own a horse.

                            2. For this to work well the thought process really needs to be I am moving horse home because I CAN afford not to board. I know it will cost me more (especially up front, right now.)

                            I would tell sis to step back and keep horse boarded for now. When she can show you a written plan of all that horse is going to need for facilities (shed/barn, fence, water source, hay storage & supplier - good luck with that in this short crop year, riding area, and more) AND how SHE is going to pay for all that, then you can consider the possibility.

                            Sis also needs to show you a budget of annual care costs for horsey - feed, bedding, vet care, farrier, unexpected emergency or insurance to cover....... and again, how SHE will cover all this.

                            And she needs a plan for how she is going to manage HER time to get all the chores done, AM & PM, 7 days a week, when it's hot, cold, snowy, rainy, she's is sick, tired, has something else going on....every single day of the year.

                            If all that alone hasn't opened her eyes, hopefully it has opened yours. There is a lot to keeping a horse. Sis may be unhappy with you for now, but you will both end up even more unhappy with each other if you jump into this impulsive plan in a hurry.

                            Yes, I did bring horses home after several years of boarding, including several years of self care board. Yes, I spend several years putting my plan together. Yes, it is the best most fun thing I have ever done (most of the time.) Yes, I work harder at all the barn related maintenance than I did before. Yes, I would do it again in a heart beat.

                            NO, I don't save money. It costs me a bit more but I did it for reasons other than money and they were the right reasons for me. That is why it works for me. You and sis should think long & hard about whether it will work for you or not.


                            • #15
                              Find a cheap place to pasture-board the horse, even if your sister has to drive a decent ways.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by baudelist View Post
                                Okay, so my sister has decided that she is moving her horse to our house after realizing that she can't really afford board and having a big blow-up with her trainer of 7 years. Right now we just need a place to put the horse because he's going to be here by Friday. The neighbors have a barn, so he may stay there for a few days though. We'll worry about the ring, etc. after the initial paddock/run-in situation is set up.

                                We have 7 acres, about 5 of which can be used for the horse(s). Obviously, I know that he'll need a paddock, shelter, water and food, but I really need some advice and maybe a checklist for the smaller things.

                                We have a friend who's very knowledgeable coming in the morning to look at what we have to work with and give us some guidance but I'd still like some input from all of you
                                WOW!! You must be the most giving person EVER!! My breakeven is around 3 horses, otherwise is it much cheaper to board. That isn't counting the cost of structures either. I would highly recommend finding another boarding barn while you guys work through the details of bringing horse(s) home. It will be a ton cheaper, even if you float her a month's board, and you will have time to come up with a thoughtful plan.

                                You will want a salt/mineral block, hay, feeders/buckets, grain, rodent proof grain storage, water, shelter, safe and secure fencing, adequate insurance in case the horse gets free and causes an accident or something, proper hay storage, fly spray, a buddy for the horse (has her horse been turned out on grass this summer or will this be the first time?--this is important), first aid kit, vet contact info, manure management system, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Also, I would not want to do fencing right now...I would board until the ground is softer and it isn't 100 degrees out.

                                I agree with everyone else that it would be better to rethink this plan. Good Luck!
                                DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                • #17
                                  Even just all the stupid equipment like wheelbarrows, buckets, water tanks, manure forks, hoses, hay hooks, trash cans for grain - all that stupid stuff we take for granted as "just being there and practically free" :-) ran me on order $1,000 when we brought the horses home and I stupidly added it all up.

                                  Edited to add:
                                  Because I was shell-shocked at all the costs, I made a critical error that haunts me to this day: I should have bought the mini manure cart that my daughter begged me for in addition to mine, even though it cost nearly as much as the extra large ones. Would have instilled some very good habits, plus it would have been useful for away trips. Live and learn!
                                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                                  • #18
                                    By far the cheapest and easiest option would be for you to pay your sister's board bill. Find a nice commercial barn. Mail them a check once a month.


                                    • #19
                                      Lots of good--and very, very true--advice here. Even if you go the super-cheap route (electric on step-in posts, water trough and garden hose), you're committing yourself to do work twice a day, 7 days a week.

                                      The cheaper the fence, the more day-to-day work it is to maintain in a safe and operating condition. For electric, that means weedwhacking frequently and checking the whole thing at least once daily for sagging, shorts, and damage from deer. Horses also need a lot of fresh water 24/7, and what's in troughs gets foul very quickly in this weather.

                                      The other thing that hasn't been emphasized enough is your liability, as landowner. I'll bet, since she's family, you hadn't planned on her signing a boarding agreement, getting additional insurance, etc. Well, guess what--her horse can cost you your home. No joke. If the horse were, for example, to injure neighbor kids who went in your field or got out and was hit on the road, or even if your sister got seriously hurt riding HER horse on YOUR property...insurance companies and lawyers *will* get involved. There's a good chance your existing homeowner's coverage won't be enough.

                                      And, finally, since she has already shown she's not a good boarder *and* takes you for granted, you'd be wise to plan for 'down the road'. You know, when she gradually stops doing chores, paying for feed, etc. and you find yourself paying and working so her horse doesn't starve to death on your property.


                                      • #20
                                        All good points, and only the half of it. The other half of home horse keeping reality can never be put into words for someone who has never lived it.

                                        One other issue... when you build something you need permits which take a while, and you may need to pay 100's for them depending on your situation. Then they will want to come inspect what you've built before you can use it. And it probably won't pass inspection the first time.

                                        I agree it would be much cheaper to just pay your sister's board for her.