Renovations to Spruce Up Your Horse Barn
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Is your barn looking tired and worn out? Dirt floors and dirty windows, chomped and chewed down wood surfaces, cluttered and chaotic aisle ways can all combine to give an unkempt appearance. These factors can also promote an unhealthy and unsafe environment for equines and their human caregivers.
For example, a chewed wood door is much more inviting to the next horse occupant to munch on than one that has never been started. When a horse chows down on this lumber it may cause ingestion issues for the horse such as choke, mouth sores or splinters or even be toxic depending on the type of wood and how it has been treated.
Dirty windows are often hard to open, provide no light or sanitary benefit. The windows can be ugly to view with masses of dead flies from the last summer season accumulated in the corners and spiders in residence.
Nothing says you take good care of your horses better than a spic and span barn. Feed and tack supplies organized with military precision, careful consideration of safety features in the design with no hard edges and lockable areas to keep items away from inquisitive visitors such as dogs and children, all add up to more than just a flashing red neon light declaring your prowess as a horse care provider. A well-organized barn adds efficiency for daily chores and improves the form and function of structure.
Here are some ideas on how to spruce up your barn this Spring:
What’s Afoot ‘Underfoot’
If your barn currently offers dirt stall floors and a dirt aisleway consider upgrading both areas for ease of cleaning and to improve comfort.
Rubber matted stalls add comfort for the horse, diminish bedding expenses and make stall cleaning more efficient. There are many options on the market. Depending on the size of the barn most mats can be easily installed by two people who are up for a physical workout. The provision of mats will prevent horses digging ‘downunder’ when bored.
Aisleways can be paved, concreted and/or matted to make sweeping or vacuuming quick and easy. Care should be taken to ensure all floor surfaces are non-slip, including when wet.
Heavy traffic areas such as exterior access doors to the barn can be concreted to the outside with an apron area or gravel/stonedust base can be compacted to prevent mud and mayhem issues in rainy months.
Metal Trim Adds Longevity
Replacing the top of wood doors or stall walls because the timber has been damaged by incessant chewing from horses is a fantastic way to immediately improve the appearance of the horse barn.
Once you have taken the time and effort to replace the bad wood, the addition of inexpensive metal corner trim to all surfaces will prevent further damage and save you money long term.
Stall doors can also be totally replaced with slider door options with top grills, and front walls of stalls can similarly be upgraded with new grills if necessary. Doors take a beating in any barn environment. A securely hung door with a slider option versus a door that swings open is far safer for daily use.
The Benefits of Built-In
When it comes to equestrian pursuits storage is always in short supply when and the benefit of built-in cupboards, benches, metal or plastic lined feed bins is that no corner goes unused.
Shelves can be helpful for frequently used products but do accumulate dust and invite vermin to investigate the space.
An upgrade to your tack room or feed room with some built-in construction will make the smaller space feel bigger, be more useful for purpose and encourages users to tidy up. Surfaces are easy to clean without removing and replacing every item and supplies are kept secure.
Floors should be wood or tile for ease of cleaning and durability. Washable rugs can add color accents.
Don’t be shy to add some personal touches to walls and windows in tack and feed rooms. While there will inevitably be some dust and detritus in the aisle and open areas of the barn, converted stalls that serve as tack or feed rooms, bathrooms or office space will be protected to some degree from degradation by sealed door egress/ingress and of course a ceiling.
Framed pictures of horses past and present, show ribbons and accolades, needlepoint, art and other handiwork can all add ambience to the interior spaces.
Separate Storage Ideas
Bulky items such as hay and bedding supplies, seasonal use items such as jumping standards and poles, garden furniture and planters, spare hose pipes, ATVs and UTVs etc. can all take up valuable space in the horse barn.
Free up stall space with the addition of a separate storage shed to house these supplies. Consider prefabricated or modular sheds as an instant option that require little to no site preparation, offer mobility for future needs and can be purchased for a ‘to the penny’ quote often with financing options available to ease the cash flow crunch.
Other sincere benefits of the separate storage shed is that any fire hazard from machine engines or hay can be kept away from the main barn. Obviously do not house a ‘hot engine’ close to hay supplies. Vermin and other critters often like to take up residence in the haystack and so this separation from the main barn can also decrease the rodent population in the barn.
Consider a run-in shed or small shedrow structure where the front sides can be either left open or be sealed with large sliding doors for easy access.
The Power of The Powerwasher
Cleanliness in the barn should always be a high priority. Manure stained walls, cobwebbed rafters and dusty ledges can all be powerwashed with a mixture of dish detergent (Dawn x 3 works well), and water.
Once the surfaces are thoroughly dry, consider adding a non-toxic sealant to wood to make the cleaning process easier the next time around. This can also protect the wood from being chewed by the equine occupant.
Boost the aesthetic of the barn with a fresh application of a new coat of non-toxic paint to areas that are already painted. Coordinating the color scheme throughout the barn and tack/feed room areas, cross bars on exterior doors etc. can add artistic flair to the space. But coordinate the color scheme carefully!
It’s always hard to find time to spare to work on the horse barn. We’d all rather be riding. Consider the real benefits of organizing your supplies, cleaning the barn and upgrading poorly finished areas.
First impressions count, especially when it comes to securing boarders for your barn or when family and friends come to visit your backyard horsekeeping operation. Even more importantly, attention to simple changes and upgrades will give you great pleasure when using the barn. Expensive supplies will be kept in good condition and it will provide a safer environment for your horse and may even save you money in the long run.
This article is published courtesy of Horizon Structures LLC., the leading modular and pre-fabricated horse barn company based in Atglen, PA.