Simple is best, right? Just you, your horses, a space to ride and a space to turn-out… what else could a happy horseman want?
Not so fast. For one thing, private barns have a way of becoming semi-private barns fairly easily. Oh, your friend Denise needs a place for her horse to stay during the equestrian festival! What? Your coworker can’t afford the board at her dressage barn anymore? Come on over, we have a spare stall!
And even if you manage to maintain your privacy, sometimes the walk (or golf-cart-ride) between the barn and the house is just too inconvenient to bother with. Tack up your horse and realize you left your hard hat in the mud-room just once and you’ll see what I mean.
So what amenities are absolutely worth the extra trouble to design into your stable? Try these four:
You need this. When Denise brings her horses for six weeks, and you know you’ll let her, because you’re too nice to say no and anyway she’ll pay you board and you can tell your significant other “SEE, I told you having our own barn would pay off!”, you’re not going to want Denise in your house at all hours using your bathroom. Denise is weird. Okay she’s not weird. But if she’s getting the horses out at five a.m. and decides she needs to run inside and use your facilities, no one, including your significant other, is going to be amused.
Especially when she wakes up all the dogs.
A finished tack room
Tack is funny. It’s made to be used outdoors, but everything outdoors will kill it. Leather hates dirt, sweat, rain, humidity, bugs: basically everything that it will be exposed to in the course of a saddle’s normal lifespan. Sure, there’s room for the saddle rack and a bridle peg in the hay-room, but you know your saddle won’t be happy there, and if your saddle isn’t happy, are you? Really?
And then there’s the question of riding gear. You can keep it all inside to protect it from the elements and the icky things, like spiders, but this has its shortcomings. See the above statement about leaving your hard hat in the house. This is the worst. Your saddled, bridled, leg-wrapped horse is ready to go, and you are not. On goes the halter, into the stall goes the horse, loping across the yard goes you, hoping that he won’t decide to roll on his saddle.
A finished tack room, with actual walls, insulation, windows, and climate control (or, at the very least, a window air-conditioning unit) provides a safe haven for your beloved saddle, and is much easier to keep spider-free than the hay-room, which means that your hard hat is safe to put on your head. It’s also a nice spot to sit around, drinking Gatorade and talking to Denise.
A wash-stall with heat-lamps
Some might consider this an amenity most necessary to stables north of the Mason-Dixon line, but allow me to inform you: this will come in handy if you’re north of the Tropic of Cancer line. It has snowed in Ocala, folks, and it will happen again. An indoor wash-stall with heat lamps isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity if you want to unfreeze yourself after an arctic ride, especially if the words “mixed precipitation” were in the day’s forecast.
It’s also good for washing horses before winter horse shows (which I believe is its original purpose), especially if said horses have any white patches. Got a paint? Get a heat-lamp. You can’t go to the show with that green spot, friend.
Sure, some scrappy riders have made it to the Olympics by training with only the headlights of their truck to guide them. But that was before gas was so expensive, and if the truck isn’t idling, what’s happening to the battery during your tempi changes? Arena lighting isn’t just the cure to the winter blues, when it gets dark insanely early, it’s also the green choice (certainly when compared to letting a car run). Having a lit workspace means that you can work on your schedule, not the tilt of the earth’s, and that can only be good for your riding career.
Four amenities, four little extras in your private stable, but oh, what a difference they make!