We live on a small one acre property with an older existing barn that's 20x36'. We tried for a few years to figure out a way to make the barn work as a horse barn and garage - it would work for either, but not both. We looked at adding on, but the existing structure is a gambrel style and an addition was pretty complicated and kind of ugly. Plus, given that we're on a small lot, the addition didn't make the best use of the limited space we have. So, we started pricing pole barns and stick-built structures. Do you have any idea how expensive barns are? Holy crap!
We looked at Morton, Cleary, and finally Lester pole barns because those were way closer to what we could afford than some of the fancier timber frame barns that are gorgeous, but oh so expensive. I've been Pinteresting barn ideas for years, but we got serious about it over the winter. We priced Morton and Cleary first - in January and February. They're both good companies with nice products, but we have a friend who has a Lester barn and is really happy with it. I'd never heard of Lester, but her barn is 15 years old and in great shape. This is her second Lester barn and her indoor arena is also a Lester. Based on her recommendation, I found the closest Lester dealer to us, Jasper Ridge Construction in Carr, CO. Phil, the owner, came and met with us and we started the design process (for the third time - we were starting to get the design narrowed down in our minds). That was in early March. We finally got it finalized and ordered June 5th. Due to COVID delays, it won't be here until mid-August, but I don't even care because it's actually coming! It's really going to happen.
The building is 36x84'. The north end is a 36x36' shop/garage, and the horse barn is 36x48'. It's 3 stalls, with a tack room, wash rack/grooming bay, and hay storage. We're going to put 12x36' runs off the east side of the horse stalls and we were able to buy the lot across the street that we can use for an arena and turnout paddock.
We put a 12' overhang on the horse run side of the barn because we wanted to shelter the stalls, but also so we can park the horse trailer under the overhand on the shop portion. Because of the budget, we reduced the overhand on the porch side to 6'. That side will face our backyard so we wanted some overhang, but didn't need the same size.
There are a lot of challenges with keeping horses on a small acreage, but I think we've thought of most of the issues and can manage it well. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. When I was searching for barn planning advice, there isn't a lot out there for small barns - most of what I could find was big, beautiful professional barns. I've agonized over a lot of the decisions, so I thought I'd share the process with you and if you're thinking of building a barn, hopefully I can be of some help. Next up, we'll talk about stalls!
I've been using the Eskadron Training Bandages and the associated Climatex Bandage Liners for about three years and thought it would be worthwhile to write a review on them.
The Eskadron Training Bandages are made of high density elastic for the utmost support for tendons and ligaments. Hard wearing, with double VELCRO brand closures
The wraps are 70" long and retail for $54.95 for a set of two from Dressage Extensions. They are available in black and white in the US, and a variety of other colors from UK retailers. I've had good luck ordering from Amira Equi if you want a UK retailer.
These bandages are very elastic and are even firmer than standing wraps. The description says they can be used without the Climatex liners, but I wouldn't. I think you could very easily wrap them too tight and run the risk of bowing a tendon. They're very easy to wrap and give a firm bandage when you're done. I find that they need washed less often than polo wraps. The Eskadron bandages are much stretchier than a polo wrap, but are similar in height and length. They're also a bit thinner, which I think allows them to be wrapped tighter. Depending on your needs, that may or may not be a good thing.
The Eskadron bandages are also slightly different than Saratoga Bandages. The Eskadron bandages are an elasticized fabric, while the Saratoga bandages are a breathable, woven fabric with evenly spaced silicone beading along the bandage. The Saratoga bandages are designed to be used without liners, are available in 6', 9' or 12' lengths and start at $57 (for the 6') for a set of 4.
Now, let's talk about the Climatex bandage liners.
Eskadron® Climatex bandage linings are made with the phenomenal three-dimensional super-breathable Climatex fabric. With ventilation channels built into the elasticized high-quality cotton foam material, these linings are designed to improve air circulation and prevent heat accumulation under leg wraps. These linings provide the ideal padding for stable or travel bandages and are also suitable for medical dressings.
Climatex liners are available in two sizes - 18"x18" and 13"x18". You can only buy them in black and white in the US, but five additional colors in Europe. They say the smaller ones are designed to be used under the training bandages and the larger ones under standing wraps or stable bandages, however, there are a lot of dressage riders using the larger ones under polo wraps for training. Any time you see the white liners poking out of the top of color wraps, it's likely the larger Climatex liners. The larger liners sell as a set of 4 for $78.95 and the smaller for $59.95. The inside of all the liners is white and feels like a terry cloth towel; the outside is smoother - more like a typical quilt used with a standing wrap. There are vertical channels in the lining that disperse the heat and provide cushion under your wraps.
I really like the Climatex liners. I use them all the time and find that they do a great job of dispersing heat - in the warm summer months, they feel damp when I take them off. I've recently started using the larger ones under polo wraps to help my young guy with his loosy goosy joints (he's growing like a weed). They stick up to about the middle of his knees on the front and just under his hocks on the hind. I also put them down over part of his pasterns for a little added protection there as well. I don't know that they help, but every little bit of support is good, and it makes me feel better. I don't find that I use the bandages that often (mostly when I take my polos home to wash them and forget to bring them back to the barn). I find that the polo wraps with the liners gives me plenty of support and cushion and I like having all of the colors of polo wraps to play with!
The liners get dirty, just like everything, but they wash up nicely in cold water without bleach and hang dry. I find myself using these more often than I use brushing boots when I'm riding in an arena. Don't use them if you're going to ride outside on a trail, but then I don't image you'd want to use polo wraps for that either, unless you really like picking grass seeds and burs out of fabric! What do you use when you ride? Have you tried these? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Soldier was my best friend for 16 years. I bought him from my brother when he was 4 years old - my dad and brother raised him, but I still had to buy him in a horse sale, where he was the high selling horse. Coincidence? I doubt it. He became a heel horse and eventually turned into a dressage horse. People think that's a weird transition, or somehow impressive, but it's proof of the kind of guy he was. He'd do anything for me. I always joke that I'll try anything twice, but Soldier really would. He'd try as many times as it took for him to get it.
He was kind of a grouch in his early years. He was very aloof and content to be a loner and he didn't like a lot of people. He could also be a real jerk to other horses - he always took that alpha horse idea pretty seriously. He spent one winter, when he was probably around 12 years old, at the ranch with my brother and sister-in-law. In the spring my sister-in-law told me he wasn't welcome back at the ranch because he was such an asshole to the other horses.
When my life changed, he changed with me. He went from being a wonderful heel horse to a dressage horse. And he did that with a lot of class and try. I don't know if you know this, but dressage is hard! And it's really hard for 13 year old heel horses. I had a trainer explain it once as asking a linebacker to do ballet when they'd never even stretched before. But in typical Soldier fashion, he gave it his all.
I think he secretly liked being babied and really liked learning how to stretch and use his body properly. I always told him it was way easier to be a dressage horse than a team roping horse and I'm pretty sure he agreed. He settled into dressage life and became quite the gentleman.
We lost Soldier in late January. He was 21 years old and it still makes me cry to think about it. He was healthy... some might say as healthy as a horse. But on that day, I went out to feed in the morning and he couldn't breathe. I'll spare you the gory details, but I assure you, it was awful. I made the decision to put him down because that was what was best for him. That's the hardest part of owning animals - thinking about what's best for them when it isn't at all what you want. They never live as long as we wish they did. We had a necropsy done because he'd been in such good health and his death was such a surprise. The Wyoming State Vet Lab was awesome and they gave us the answers we needed. It turns out he had a lesion on his heart, likely from an old infection (pigeon fever when he was probably 7 or 8). We never knew he had a heart problem, but as he got older, the lesion made it harder for his heart to work. His heart couldn't beat hard enough to make his respiratory system work properly and his lungs filled with fluid. There's some small comfort in knowing that there was nothing I could have done to prevent this and that I made the right decision at the time.
Not long before we lost Soldier, I got another horse from my brother - a two year old we named Deets. I'd been planning on him for over a year because Soldier was getting older and it was time for him to enjoy retirement and pass the torch to the next generation. We just didn't know how soon that would happen.
I still think about him every day, but it's mostly with a smile at all the good memories we had together. Sometimes I'll glance down the barn aisle and think I see him. I catch myself leaving Deet's stall door open thinking that Soldier won't ever go out that open door without being asked. Turns out Deets doesn't have the same manners yet. I've had to capture him more than once after making that mistake!
Rest In Peace my friend. Know that you are loved and missed, but that I know you earned that belly deep grass you're enjoying.