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Old 12-31-2012, 01:41 AM   #1
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Barns that aren't thought through.

This is about 50% rant, 50% honest critique/questioning.

It seems like people decide they want to run a barn, but then cut corners every step of the way to afford to do so. IMO I'd rather wait longer, save up more, and have the money to build the facilities the right way, the first time. Honestly, some of the things I've seen around here could have easily been fixed with proper planning. On the east coast buying an fixing up an old run down barn was easy--I wouldn't "fix up" half the barns I see in this area.

The Issues

Issue #1: Drainage.
Everywhere. The paddocks, the arenas, sometimes even the barn itself. People will build an arena at the bottom of a hill in the pacific northwest. They won't properly "crown" the arena to prevent pooling and I've seen arenas with gigantic puddles in the center of them. There's a boarding barn 2 miles from my house, where the paddocks turn into literally a lake (we're talking several feet deep) when it rains heavily. When you have to work with the land you should find a way to irrigate that water and drain everything properly.

One barn in particular I saw was rotting around the base of it because water pooled and seeped in.

Issue #2: Barn layout.
I could go really deep into this, and I actually did type out ~3 paragraphs about it, but decided to shorten it. Safe cross-tie areas for farrier (wide aisles or dedicated cross-tie stalls), large enough stall size for horses (since turnout is VERY limited here), fire safe hay storage, and barns completely forgetting to put in a tack room when they have 20+ stalls. To add to the list, we live in a very wet area and yet no place offers proper ventilation for barns to keep things from getting musty.

Issue #3: Arena footing.
It rains most of the year here. What good is spending $5,000 on an outdoor arena if you can only use it two months out of the year? Please spend the extra money and have proper, safe footing put in. Another thing is arenas going super cheap on the footing and then having dangerous footing that causes splints and other injuries.

Issue #4: Quality of facilities.
We can't all have the fancy, european stalls that BarnPros advertises in the magazines. I get that. But would it kill half the places around here to try looking like a barn instead of looking like a repurposed shed? Wood that hasn't been treated or repaired in 20+ years? Really? Concrete flooring when we know how dangerous that is? Sliding doors that are falling apart or get stuck (which can be dangerous)? Cobwebs, broken gates, etc. In many cases something as simple as new stall fronts (or even simpler: restaining the wood) can be the difference between a place looking like garbage and a place looking like a million bucks.

- - -

I don't want to go on. But . I've seen facility after facility and each time I get increasingly fed up. That last one is a little less important but it still happens. It seems nobody puts any money into their facilities these days. And if I see one more barn that has a custom built multi-million dollar home sitting there while the BO says they can't afford to fix broken paddock gates, I'm going to crack some skulls.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:02 AM   #2
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Wow!
I understand your frustration, but are these professional stables,
or more back yard barn owners??
I mean its expensive to build a decent facility, and maintaining it is constant work.
Thats not to excuse simple, routine fixes, but,..,
if BOs don't charge the $$, then they don't have much $$ to keep their facilities maintained.

I used to think how nice it would be to have an indoor,
and I would daydream of ways to make our farm a nicer 'facility',
BUT the upkeep is constant, a never ending 'trickle' of out flowing $$.

Now when I drive by a big massive indoor, complete with arenas, SAND, Gravel, tractors and equipment to maintain 'said' arenas, additional outbuildings, etc.
I 'think' to myself - MAINTENANCE NIGHTMARE!
And I am ever sooooooo glad that we didn't build BIGGER, or fancier.

You've posted several threads about your situation, and mentioned that the higher end barns were too costly.
Perhaps you are realizing why it is that they charge those additional 'fees',..,
not so much to 'gouge' people, but to have extra $$
in their 'coffers' to keep up with the constant maintenance that a nicer facility requires.

JMO

Good luck in your search, I know something will pop up that suits you better.
Just keep looking.

** I could address each of your complaints individually, but I
know how much I spent to
build my 'back yard' barn (56x24) pole building.
Basically 'custom built' on the outside, and hired a friend,
and my hubby for the inside.
It was nothing to have spent well over $25,000.00+ in a 2 stall barn/tack/feed room and fencing.
Not to mention running the electric, buying the equipment to cut/maintain pastures, and my manure spreader,..,
A dang decent wheel barrel costs a $100 bucks!!
I had to do things, as I had the mean$,
given that horses are my HOBBY, not my livelihood.

Again, JMO**


PS. FYI, I would never put a horse in cross ties for the farrier, much better to have someone hold them instead.
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Last edited by redboy; 12-31-2012 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:31 AM   #3
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I agree with Redboy. Maintaining a barn, no matter the size- is definitely a lot of work. That's no excuse for not doing ANYTHING, but like RB said, if they don't charge appropriately, they won't have any money to do repairs.
When we built our barn 36 x 60, we went very basic and did what made it safe for horses and people. We are not a boarding facility, mind you, but safety should be foremost in your mind no matter what. I too, am glad to not have the HUGE barn with the HUGE maintenance involved.
My horses are my hobby also, not my livelihood. Who wants to spend all their time maintaining when you could be out riding and having fun?!!
Good luck in your search for a safe facility. I'm sure there's some out there.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redboy View Post
Wow!
I understand your frustration, but are these professional stables,
or more back yard barn owners??
I mean its expensive to build a decent facility, and maintaining it is constant work.
Thats not to excuse simple, routine fixes, but,..,
if BOs don't charge the $$, then they don't have much $$ to keep their facilities maintained.

I used to think how nice it would be to have an indoor,
and I would daydream of ways to make our farm a nicer 'facility',
BUT the upkeep is constant, a never ending 'trickle' of out flowing $$.

Now when I drive by a big massive indoor, complete with arenas, SAND, Gravel, tractors and equipment to maintain 'said' arenas, additional outbuildings, etc.
I 'think' to myself - MAINTENANCE NIGHTMARE!
And I am ever sooooooo glad that we didn't build BIGGER, or fancier.

You've posted several threads about your situation, and mentioned that the higher end barns were too costly.
Perhaps you are realizing why it is that they charge those additional 'fees',..,
not so much to 'gouge' people, but to have extra $$
in their 'coffers' to keep up with the constant maintenance that a nicer facility requires.

JMO

Good luck in your search, I know something will pop up that suits you better.
Just keep looking.

** I could address each of your complaints individually, but I
know how much I spent to
build my 'back yard' barn (56x24) pole building.
Basically 'custom built' on the outside, and hired a friend,
and my hubby for the inside.
It was nothing to have spent well over $20,000.00+ in a 2 stall barn/tack/feed room and fencing.
Not to mention running the electric, buying the equipment to cut/maintain pastures, and my manure spreader,..,
A dang decent wheel barrel costs a $100 bucks!!
I had to do things, as I had the mean$,
given that horses are my HOBBY, not my livelihood.

Again, JMO**


PS. FYI, I would never put a horse in cross ties for the farrier, much better to have someone hold them instead.
Nope! Backyard barns I can understand--I don't expect them to have anything other than a well maintained barn that's leak proof. Don't even care if they have an arena. It's commercial facilities, which charge a ton of money, and yet haven't done basic maintenance. This rant, as such, is directed purely at commercial large facilities.

The reason I ranted about arenas wasn't because I want more arenas, it was cause I'd rather pay less and board at a place without an arena than pay more for an "arena" with horrible footing. Less is more, IMO. I get that these things cost money but in all honesty the things I've seen are not excusable. We're talking about splintering wood sticking out in stalls, broken stall doors, broken gates, etc. All the facilities in the world are useless if you can't afford to take care of what you have.

What appalls me is that some of the cheaper places are in better condition than the $800/mo places. If I didn't want a trainer working my horse, or I had a trailer to haul in to training, I would totally board with the smaller privat facilities that don't make a huge living off of board. I've seen what it costs to make repairs and maintain show facilities and it's not cheap, but somehow certain places here are able to do it while charging the same amount or less per month than some other places.

Out of the top five best condition commercial barns, the top 3 are less
expensive than the bottom two. By several hundred a month.


Edit in:


I'm not kidding, with the cross tie thing, I've seen several barns that only had maybe 5' wide aisles. Couldn't even turn the horse around. No cross tie area either. That's just unsafe.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:53 AM   #5
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I personally don't like cross ties in the aisle....if you have a busy boarding barn, you should have designated grooming areas. nothing worse than having to tie in the aisle and either untie or move your horse everytime somebody comes down the aisle with another horse. not only is this an inconvenience for both parties, it could lead to a dangerous situation as well.

but I do have to agree....sometimes it seems some places people just didn't think at all when building the first time around. the few places I have seen done correctly are always crazy expensive. but then again....those amenities are probably what we are paying for
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jazzymonster View Post
I personally don't like cross ties in the aisle....if you have a busy boarding barn, you should have designated grooming areas. nothing worse than having to tie in the aisle and either untie or move your horse everytime somebody comes down the aisle with another horse. not only is this an inconvenience for both parties, it could lead to a dangerous situation as well.

but I do have to agree....sometimes it seems some places people just didn't think at all when building the first time around. the few places I have seen done correctly are always crazy expensive. but then again....those amenities are probably what we are paying for
Yes, precisely. A lot of the barns in this area are older and the original owners no longer are there, so I can't hold the current places responsible. What doesn't help is the fact that many of the barns in the area are leasing the facilities and would rather work in a deteriorating barn than spend any money on facilities that don't belong to them. I can understand it, I really can, but when it comes to safety I'd cut my losses and make safety improvements.

The aisleway cross-ties bother me a lot because I've seen dangerous situations result from them. It costs less money to put one less stall in and turn that area into a cross tie area, not more.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
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hex...

I think you might be looking at salaries, insurance premiums, etc.. that can and do make a huge difference sometimes to that bottom line. Not every barn worker is paid, not every barn is insured. The variables are huge.

Personally, I've yet to see a "huge" amount of money made off of board only. With the variables in costs this year alone, hay & grain prices skyrocketing around the US & Canada... boarding isn't where the money is but in lessons and training of clients horses and showing of them.

I know when I worked/managed those "big" priced establishments, the overhead was enormous. I think things are somewhat relative... big barns need more help, supplies and that costs more money. Smaller places need less additional help which although you still have outlay for supplies and materials, if you take out the salary because it is done by the owners...

IDK... think you will be still searching for sometime to find what you desire. Wishes and needs lists to pare down the barns available in your price range, then time to be realistic when actually doing on-site checking out of facilities.

I've surely seen as I think you have the beautiful estate setting "show" appearance barns where the horse gets piss-poor care, then looking at the slightly run-down appearing facility that needs a face-lift but the horses get premium care...
I told my gf to put the horse in the place that wasn't pretty, needed some work, but the animals were well cared for and the fence board that was cracked... the replacement was waiting to be nailed up, they just needed to find the missing hammer! The stalls were safe as were turn-outs and OK riding surfaces and that is what made the place hands-down the winner. You can keep the grandeur, it doesn't impress me at all... I'll take the good care and attention to my or anyones horse any-day.

Jazzy... those barns that "work"... were probably designed by a real horseman or horsewoman to be practical, safe and horse/rider friendly.
I think we have all seen the disasters out there and just scratch our heads at the "stupidity" of designs... cause someone has a degree doesn't necessarily mean they have common sense nor know how to apply it!
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by horselover4life View Post
hex...

I think you might be looking at salaries, insurance premiums, etc.. that can and do make a huge difference sometimes to that bottom line. Not every barn worker is paid, not every barn is insured. The variables are huge.

Personally, I've yet to see a "huge" amount of money made off of board only. With the variables in costs this year alone, hay & grain prices skyrocketing around the US & Canada... boarding isn't where the money is but in lessons and training of clients horses and showing of them.

I know when I worked/managed those "big" priced establishments, the overhead was enormous. I think things are somewhat relative... big barns need more help, supplies and that costs more money. Smaller places need less additional help which although you still have outlay for supplies and materials, if you take out the salary because it is done by the owners...

IDK... think you will be still searching for sometime to find what you desire. Wishes and needs lists to pare down the barns available in your price range, then time to be realistic when actually doing on-site checking out of facilities.

I've surely seen as I think you have the beautiful estate setting "show" appearance barns where the horse gets piss-poor care, then looking at the slightly run-down appearing facility that needs a face-lift but the horses get premium care...
I told my gf to put the horse in the place that wasn't pretty, needed some work, but the animals were well cared for and the fence board that was cracked... the replacement was waiting to be nailed up, they just needed to find the missing hammer! The stalls were safe as were turn-outs and OK riding surfaces and that is what made the place hands-down the winner. You can keep the grandeur, it doesn't impress me at all... I'll take the good care and attention to my or anyones horse any-day.

Jazzy... those barns that "work"... were probably designed by a real horseman or horsewoman to be practical, safe and horse/rider friendly.
I think we have all seen the disasters out there and just scratch our heads at the "stupidity" of designs... cause someone has a degree doesn't necessarily mean they have common sense nor know how to apply it!
I'm sorry, but why do people keep responding to everything I say with implications that I can't find what I'm looking for or I have unrealistic expectations? Did you not see me say I don't even care about having an arena? I think, to me, this is part of the problem. I work in two barns right now. Two very different barns. I know what the overhead costs are. I know about insurance premiums.

The mentality that "as long as the care is great we don't need to maintain our facilities" is a huge issue, especially when it comes to safety. I dislike that I ask for something as simple as proper drainage in fields and wood that isn't splintering, and doors that aren't broken... and people tell me I'm asking for too much because "barns are expensive". I've seen it done. I've seen barns I would be happy to board at. Right now I'm trying to find a situation that fits me best in terms of training.

My complaint isn't that I can't find a place... it's that I'm consistently seeing this across the board and seeing barns that don't seem to suffer from the same problems.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:45 PM   #9
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I dislike that I ask for something as simple as proper drainage in fields and wood that isn't splintering,
and doors that aren't broken... and people tell me I'm asking for too much because "barns are expensive".
Sounds like you won't be happy until you build your very own place.
Its not unrealistic to want things to be properly taken care of,
but if you aren't the one fixing whats broke, it might take awhile.

Not EVERYTHING can be taken into consideration, when initially building, without the costs becoming unrealistic, straight out of the gate.
Especially as you say, many of these places are older.
Thats why many times, barns, personal and professional, are a 'work in progress'.

Perhaps when you visit these places, you can point out whats wrong
and have owners, or BMs better explain themselves to you.
You came here asking WHY, venting WHY, and you got precise responses.

I'd be careful to not alienate myself from potential boarding facilities.
Its not wrong to want the safest and best, it just costs money.

Good luck
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:30 PM   #10
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An example... to help explain.

Probably my favorite barn within 10 miles of me is very modest. They have ONE arena, that is partially covered, and their paddocks are minimal/electric/movable fencing. The footing in the arena is not the best, but good. The barn has dedicated cross-tie areas and is in pristine condition. $625/mo (however you must be in a lesson/training program). It's top on my list of places to board, however I'm thinking of different trainers for my horse at the current stage of the horse's training.

Another great barn, also within ten miles, is $550/mo for board. They have a small round pen, trails, minimal turnout, and an indoor arena (attached to the stalls). It's a small, private facility. Most of the riders are western. Everything is maintained, though there are no fancy extras on top of what they have (no hot wash rack, for example). If I was more experienced and independent, and didn't want a trainer, I might board my horse here.

Now, here's the third. It's six miles from my house and has a training program. There is a small indoor/covered (3 sides are covered/closed) arena and a medium sized outdoor arena (lower quality footing in both). Almost everything is chipping away/falling apart and the fences are in disrepair. Aisles are 4' wide, and there is no dedicated cross-tie area. The stalls are 10x12. It's $700/mo which to me is ridiculous. The barn is old, but not in the charming, 1800s kind of way I saw out east. It's old in the "we built this in the 70s and cut as many corners as possible" kind of way. The outdoor arena was added in the past year which is shocking to me because I would have personally fixed the fencing in the paddocks first.

The hoity toity example is also within ten miles and is pretty well known. They have two outdoor arenas and one indoor arena. The stalls are in various sizes. Everything is maintained, though not updated. It's starting to look dated. The outdoor arena pools water when it rains. There are 3 different, large barns with individual cross-ties and other things. There's a covered hot walker and a covered round pen. It's $1,100/mo. Can't really whine about that.

Another barn is $665. This one has a covered arena, an outdoor arena (world's worst footing, I swear), and an indoor arena. There are 80 stalls, and half of them are all but falling apart. There is dust everywhere and the stalls are not cleaned every day. This is basically the prime example of "you get what you pay for". Some of the stalls are 9x18'. A lot of things are broken or don't work, and the horses are rarely turned out because there are no paddocks.

Another barn, which I haven't gone to more than once, is $1000. This is the worst. Falling apart just like the $700 one I mentioned. Every horse that went through that barn ended up with shin splints because of how bad the arena footing was. Gates were rusted shut or easy to kick open. There's an outdoor arena, a round pen with weeds growing through the footing, and a tiny indoor arena with horrible footing. The whole barn has plumbing and hot water, every 5 stalls has their own hose. There's a sprinkler and sound system for the indoor arena. The horses escaped the paddocks constantly. There is a racetrack, also overgrowing with weeds. The barn is stuffy and has dusty air and poor ventilation. Meanwhile, the owners are living in a mansion. It's not a backyard barn though, it's a training facility. The owners hired a trainer and profit off of the board, but have basically done nothing to improve these facilities. This is the kind of place I can't help but look at and go "what were they THINKING". $1000/mo. The board has been the same for four years now, and the place has continued deteriorating in that time. It's the perfect example of someone who picked number of fancy features and gimmicks over quality and safety.

Now... what to get out of that book/wall of text?

There are barns with fancy facilities, hot wash racks, etc that cost a ton to maintain. Yet notice, how I gravitate immediately towards the small barn with maybe one arena. Sure, for only $200 more I could get a lot, but the extra stuff I get would come at a price of not being as safe or being as well maintained. I don't care about fancy gimmicks.

I'll take the partially covered arena with the nice barn over the multiple arenas indoor/outdoor/covered/round pens with the fancy whatsits any day.

I guess the bottom line of my whole rant is: I don't care what you have as long as you only buy what you can take care of.

Owning a barn isn't really parenting, but think of it from an economic standpoint. If you couldn't afford to adequately feed and car for 8 kids, and you had the means to avoid having 8 kids (pretend this is a fantasy world where you can take a magical potion that stops your fertility cycle and does no damage)... why on earth would you have 8 kids? If you can't afford to maintain seven arenas, don't build seven arenas or buy a facility that has seven arenas.

Luckily, in terms of the whole cross-tie thing, that seems to have been a phase in the 70s and 80s. Most of the guilty barns are older. But I thought I'd include it for people building a commercial barn to consider.

As a boarder I want a place that's safe, well maintained, and efficient for getting the job done. Barns make that impossible when they overbuild for what they can afford to maintain.
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redboy View Post
Sounds like you won't be happy until you build your very own place.

Probably. But I'd like to at least be satisfied.

Quote:
Its not unrealistic to want things to be properly taken care of,
but if you aren't the one fixing whats broke, it might take awhile.
...It isn't too late for me to go to carpentering school.........

Quote:
Not EVERYTHING can be taken into consideration, when initially building, without the costs becoming unrealistic, straight out of the gate.
Especially as you say, many of these places are older.
Thats why many times, barns, personal and professional, are a 'work in progress'.

Perhaps when you visit these places, you can point out whats wrong
and have owners, or BMs better explain themselves to you.
You came here asking WHY, venting WHY, and you got precise responses.

I'd be careful to not alienate myself from potential boarding facilities.
Its not wrong to want the safest and best, it just costs money.

Good luck
Thanks for explaining. I don't think I got "precise" responses, though I did get a few from people who thought I was talking about backyard barns when I wasn't.

When I tour places I usually inquire into why rather than throw accusations or criticisms at them. I'll start by pointing out some things and hinting for more information.

Example
Me: This barn's a lot newer looking than the other one (there were 3x barns at the facility).
Other person: Oh, yeah, we just built it last year.
Me: Where are the cross ties? Do you just tack up in the other barn (the other falling apart barn has a dedicated cross tie area).
Other person: We just cross tie in the stalls *points at a tiny 9x10 stall with uneven cross ties*
Me: I don't know if that'd be safe with a greener horse... would I be able to use the other barn's cross ties?
Other person: There are a lot of horses here so we prefer tacking up the barn you board in.
Me: I don't know... that's something to consider. I'll have to think about it.


I try to be understanding and I know how it goes, one of the barns I work for is like this. They lease an older facility and put the money into high quality hay over fixing it up since they think the owner will probably knock it down someday. But they charge accordingly and take care of what they can. Some things fall apart.

What bugs me, is seeing the countless places with really dumb/unsafe barn layouts that are newer, or the places that do things like building a fancy new arena when the paddock fencing is falling apart and they already have one arena. Priorities, barns, priorities!
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:43 PM   #12
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Well, like my husband always says,..,
"Getting it is the easy part,..its the keeping it is where it gets expensive."
I think you have to consider your audience also.
Horse people are easily sold a lot of things.
Realistically, you don't NEED an arena, you can ride in a pasture/field with corners.
You don't need a round pen.
You don't need a cross tie area, a post works fine with a proper horsesman's knot.

The more you 'add on' the more you have to fix when it breaks.
Just like buying a car with all the 'bells and whistles',
its great til it breaks down and the dealer has to repair it.
Then it gets expensive.

Good luck Hex
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Old 12-31-2012, 01:55 PM   #13
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Well, like my husband always says,..,
"Getting it is the easy part,..its the keeping it is where it gets expensive."
I think you have to consider your audience also.
Horse people are easily sold a lot of things.
It's actually really funny how true this is. My boss and I were laughing about it the other day when we bought plastic buckets, the same size as muck buckets, at hom depot for maybe 1/3 of the price. We both know horse people that will spend $60 on a plastic bucket to stick manure in and we got one that's almost identical for I think $25.

This is an industry that's heavily influenced by hearsay and a lot of people don't respect books or learning by researching. I've seen people on other horse forums say that "if you were really a horse person you'd already know!" about someone just trying to see how other people did things. I don't know of a single industry that would ever benefit from only getting information from one place.

..I almost want to start a funny thread about it.

Quote:
Realistically, you don't NEED an arena, you can ride in a pasture/field with corners.
You don't need a round pen.
You don't need a cross tie area, a post works fine with a proper horsesman's knot.

The more you 'add on' the more you have to fix when it breaks.
Just like buying a car with all the 'bells and whistles',
its great til it breaks down and the dealer has to repair it.
Then it gets expensive.

Good luck Hex
BMWs

I still want one Someday. After my dream farm is built. In all seriousness you make perfect sense. I think cross-ties are safer than posts (unless you have a BROKE horse), but that's nitpicking.


Right now this is on my wish list:
  • Round pen (hopefully but not required)
  • a decent trainer to start my horse properly.
  • A barn that's safe and green-horse proof (safety is HUGE for me right now)
  • Hopefully not having to pay $800 to board a horse I can't even ride.
  • Turnout (she grew up in a pasture)
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:00 PM   #14
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I see what you're saying. I agree, I'd rather have the minimalist barn that provides good care and is safe.

I have been at a barn like you mention- I pb'ed there for years. It was an old cow barn (about 150 years old) converted with stalls. Then, there was another building attached with stalls, then the arena. The main barn was slowly falling apart- sagging ceiling beams, exposed electrical, the aisles were only about 5 fit wide with several cross ties- that the farrier had to use no less (I used the stall), stall doors often getting jammed (as the ceiling was slowly sagging and the walls slowly buckling). The back barn, which was "newer" often flooded when it rained because the drainage wasn't done properly (there goes a bunch of money down the drain in wasted shavings, hay, and time). The arena roof leaked and it damaged the base layer so there were permanent bumps in the arena footing. Fencing was often broken. Etc... The barn itself wasn't worth repairing (and the owners eventually moved to a new facility that is gorgeous), but often boarders would come up with great ideas, like lets spend money to paint the stall doors and paint the jump standards to impress new boarders, instead of actually repairing broken paddock boards! (That's sarcasm ).

Anyway...I digress.

My current barn is older, and some things are starting to look worn, BUT, everything is kept in good repair and is SAFE. I'm not worried my horse is going to cut herself in her stall on a nail sticking out, or on broken fence boards (which has happened before and previously mentioned barn).

The thing is, you can only vote with your feet and money. And you'll never find the barn that is 100% to your liking, so go for the barn that suits you best.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by hexomega View Post


What bugs me, is seeing the countless places with really dumb/unsafe barn layouts that are newer,
or the places that do things like building a fancy new arena
when the paddock fencing is falling apart and they already have one arena. Priorities, barns, priorities!
I'll tell you a sad story,...,

The year I built my barn there was a local girl who had done really well for herself selling real estate (during the boom).
She began to invest heavily into her horse 'hobby', well over a $100,000.00+ having it all.
Originally she started out with a cute little Amish shed with 2 stalls/tack room,
but she went ALL OUT.
Built a nice pole building barn (not that fancy, but nice),
put in new fences, cleared trees, fancy Tucker saddles,
big New Holland tractor,
John Lyons round pen, brand new heavy duty truck for hauling her brand new Eby LQ 3 horse, etc. etc..
EASILY over a $100K in 6 months time.
All nice and pretty 'top of the line' stuff.

Of course I was rather envious,.., here I'd had horses ALL MY LIFE
but it had taken a lot years to get my 'dream farm and barn'.

She spent EVERY DIME she made on her hobby, and lost everything when the market went bust (also got divorced, that didn't help).

I drove by her old house the other day, and its sad.
That brand new barn has hardly (6 months maybe) been used,
but its sat EMPTY with the slider doors wide open for getting on 5 years
Whenever I drive by, I can't believe that no one has closed those doors, or put that facility to use.
All the $$ wasted.

I've known A LOT of people to get into horses, OVER SPEND, and lose it all.
They get taken in by having to have huge facilities and fancy this and that.
Sometimes they don't realize the difference between their 'wants' and their 'needs'.
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Old 12-31-2012, 02:50 PM   #16
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Oh hex, where to begin.

I will give you some examples.

1) You are a trainer. You work out of someone else's facility and make a living, but aren't getting rich. They decide to stop boarding so you have to leave. But there is nowhere to go with your clients....so you take what little money you have, convince some clients to invest with you, and buy what you can barely afford figuring you can fix it up as you go. Only because you have client investors who want some return, you can barely keep up with maintenance, much less get ahead. Plus, to advance your career you have to spend money on buying competition horses and competing. Your good intentions slip away as you start to get used to how things are.

2) You own a facility that is small and nice. Then a trainer comes in and starts to build a business, and they want more pens, more stalls, and eventually an indoor. The only place to build the indoor within good proximity to the barn is down the hill in a bit of a low spot...but that is ok, it hasn't flooded there for as long as you live there. Of course you don't count on the heaviest rain in years, or on the heavy machines packing the ground down and destroying natural drainage...so you have flooding. Sure, maybe you should have hired an engineering firm to test the ground, but you didn't want to spend the extra $50,000 to do so.

Sometimes too, repairs get away from you to the point you don't know where to begin.

Bottom line, sometimes trainers make the best out of what they have on a very small budget. Sometimes barn owners don't see the sense in spending 6 figures on an outdoor arena, when they would have to make an extra $1500 a month just to pay it off and maintain it for the lifetime of the arena. (keep in mind some areas are naturally well drained/easy to build on, some are not).

I think if owning a barn or being a trainer is in your future plans, you may not be realistic on the costs vs the revenue. it just isn't there anymore. You may also not understand that it is hard/expensive to borrow money towards a riding stable/land.

My guess is that some of the barns you have been to, were not started as boarding facilities, but rather are converted private facilities such as racing barns or breeding stables that didn't need much of what a boarding facillity needs, so the new owners are doing their best to adapt to what was there.

Want to start from scratch? Decent barn with cross ties and tack room, and non-cement floor...hay shed...all weather outdoor footing, engineered drainage...without land and no indoor, you would be looking at what? $350,000? Or $2000+ a month if you had to borrow to do it?

That is why you are seeing what you see; bottom line...money.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:18 PM   #17
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Heck, sometimes Blue Cross/Blue Shield jacks your health insurance up an extra $100 per person,
per month and the 'little stash' you were counting on to buy sand for the arenas,
or upgrade the tractor, gets eaten up in your daily 'cost of LIVING'....
Then again, theres the government going over the 'fiscal cliff' and taking middle America down with it.
Grrrrrrrrr!!!!!

Wow, did I just type that!!!! YEP!

It ALL gets expensive after awhile and sometimes the 'extras' get pushed back on the 'list'
Sometimes reality dictates other things have to be paid for first!
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:59 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by EquineAlberta View Post
Oh hex, where to begin.

I will give you some examples.

1) You are a trainer. You work out of someone else's facility and make a living, but aren't getting rich. They decide to stop boarding so you have to leave. But there is nowhere to go with your clients....so you take what little money you have, convince some clients to invest with you, and buy what you can barely afford figuring you can fix it up as you go. Only because you have client investors who want some return, you can barely keep up with maintenance, much less get ahead. Plus, to advance your career you have to spend money on buying competition horses and competing. Your good intentions slip away as you start to get used to how things are.

2) You own a facility that is small and nice. Then a trainer comes in and starts to build a business, and they want more pens, more stalls, and eventually an indoor. The only place to build the indoor within good proximity to the barn is down the hill in a bit of a low spot...but that is ok, it hasn't flooded there for as long as you live there. Of course you don't count on the heaviest rain in years, or on the heavy machines packing the ground down and destroying natural drainage...so you have flooding. Sure, maybe you should have hired an engineering firm to test the ground, but you didn't want to spend the extra $50,000 to do so.

Sometimes too, repairs get away from you to the point you don't know where to begin.

Bottom line, sometimes trainers make the best out of what they have on a very small budget. Sometimes barn owners don't see the sense in spending 6 figures on an outdoor arena, when they would have to make an extra $1500 a month just to pay it off and maintain it for the lifetime of the arena. (keep in mind some areas are naturally well drained/easy to build on, some are not).

I think if owning a barn or being a trainer is in your future plans, you may not be realistic on the costs vs the revenue. it just isn't there anymore. You may also not understand that it is hard/expensive to borrow money towards a riding stable/land.

My guess is that some of the barns you have been to, were not started as boarding facilities, but rather are converted private facilities such as racing barns or breeding stables that didn't need much of what a boarding facillity needs, so the new owners are doing their best to adapt to what was there.

Want to start from scratch? Decent barn with cross ties and tack room, and non-cement floor...hay shed...all weather outdoor footing, engineered drainage...without land and no indoor, you would be looking at what? $350,000? Or $2000+ a month if you had to borrow to do it?

That is why you are seeing what you see; bottom line...money.
A barn I interned at was fixing up an old place and we managed to cover the cement flooring with rubber mats for less than $100. Not thousands. And I never said I wanted a hay shed, just fire safe hay storage. Another barn I almost took a job with built an 8-10 stall barn with a hot wash rack, two cross tie areas, and a tack room for ~$100,000. I was helping photograph when they were building it and remember being surprised it was that cheap. What I describe is no where near $300,000.

I know about costs, or I wouldn't be complaining about it.

I've also seen "engineered" drainage (that's a bunch of hooey) done. It doesn't cost ANYWHERE near $50,000 and whoever is trying to charge that is ripping you off. I've seen 5 acres of paddocks given proper drainage done for $3,000. Proper arena drainage is not rocket science, nor is proper footing.

The thing I want to state is that I'm not attacking the trainers who couldn't afford to build their own facilities. I'm not attacking barn owners. Or anyone, really. What I'm criticizing is the people that made the decision in the first place to build more than could be taken care of. And I don't mean from a financial standpoint.

Let's ignore the maintenance fees for one second. Say you have x amount of money to build a barn or you have a client willing to invest x amount for you. With that money, you have these options:

A) Pour all the money into buying the best quality (i.e. what will last the longest at the most reasonable price point) materials and set-up you can buy and build what you can with it, starting with shelter.
B) Pick one major project (a barn, for example) and once that i complete save what money is left over for repairs.
C) Go with the cheapest materials possible to build as many facilities as you can so you can have an outdoor arena, a barn, and an indoor all on the cheap!

My main criticism is the people who go with option C. The example I gave in previous posts regarding trainers who have taken over facilities is when there are things that need to be repaired, but the trainers pick new things over repairing what they already have. You can't maintain what you already have... so why build more? It's silly. If you come across money, put it into making what you have functional before you go out and add to it.

I can't remember where I found the article, but it was an exceptional one a woman wrote on footing. She always went with what she could afford for 10-15 years. Finally, she gave up and actually invested in it. She couldn't figure out why her footing was lasting 2-5 years tops. She put real money into it, and spent a decent amount on getting everything done the right way, and when it was done it didn't need to be redone for 12 years--and when it was redone it was far less expensive since they just had to bring in some new footing. She ended her article on the note that "If I could start over, I would have found a way to do things right the first time. It would have saved me so much money in the long run. Even if it meant waiting a bit and saving up more before having an arena, it would have been worth it."


It's not a perfect world where we're all saving money every month, and on the salary of a stablehand/working student all of my money goes into my animals, my hobby, and food . Buying what you can afford is smart. But it's also smart to be smart with your money. And by that I mean... if a poor trainer comes across funds to fix up a barn, don't spend those funds on something that would require more maintenance. Try making what you already have easier to maintain.

I just really hope I haven't offended anyone or made anyone feel as though their barn isn't good enough because that wasn't my intention or what I was getting it. I made a thread awhile back about how I never seem to word things correctly and this is one of those times, I suppose. The main criticism was directed towards people who are A) Fixing up a place (and not fixing it up in a way that actually makes sense) or B) Building a place from scratch.

And regarding A even though it's already been said, I'm not faulting trainers for building what they need. I just faulted one very specific barn which spent thousands on a new arena rather than fixing up broken and insecure paddock fencing (I have a lot of experience with fixing broken fences and such... annoyingly so. If I never have to fix a fence again it'll be too soon, but I know from experience that it is not that huge of a job.). Priorities.
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Last edited by hexomega; 12-31-2012 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:37 PM   #19
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A barn I interned at was fixing up an old place and we managed to cover the cement flooring with rubber mats for less than $100.
Not thousands.
And I never said I wanted a hay shed, just fire safe hay storage.
Another barn I almost took a job with built an 8-10 stall barn with a hot wash rack,
two cross tie areas, and a tack room for ~$100,000.
I was helping photograph when they were building it and remember being surprised it was that cheap.
What I describe is no where near $300,000.

I know about costs, or I wouldn't be complaining about it.

I've also seen "engineered" drainage (that's a bunch of hooey) done.
It doesn't cost ANYWHERE near $50,000 and whoever is trying to charge that is ripping you off.
I've seen 5 acres of paddocks given proper drainage done for $3,000. Proper arena drainage is not rocket science, nor is proper footing.
$100,000.00 dollars is actually a lot of money.
Have you borrowed a $100,000.00 lately to start up a business

When you are building/rehabbing an existing property, most people generally have a budget.
Usually you tackle those things that get you 'up and running' FIRST,
then try to come back over time and finish up and maintain.
As I ranted about in my previous post, there are ALWAYS lots of
unforeseen extras that redirect the 'funds',
be it business, personal, or controlled by current politics, or stock market, fluctuations.

You act like its so easy to appropriate funds for those extras,
but the REALITY isn't always the IDEAL.
It takes money to make money.

Start up money isn't that easy to find right now, especially for equine related activities, horses don't generally MAKE money, they COST money.

And its easy to get behind in business when 'fixed' costs change.
The reality is there are no fixed costs anymore in anything

You seem to have an unrealistic perspective about real life.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:51 PM   #20
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I tried to read the posts and my mind began to wander, and not concentrate.
So the ideal solution to your problem is to build your own facility and have all the things you mention in perfect condition, and all your boarders will be happy paying for a better facility for a low board rate.
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