Beat The Heat Strategies in Horse Barn Design

Cold winter months may dampen the spirit with the arduous chores breaking ice, digging out from snowfall, and switching blankets on horses, but summer heat poses its own set of challenges.

Hot, humid days with their sultry still air can cause horses and their human caregivers to become dehydrated. The impact of direct sunlight can cause sunburn around sensitive areas of the horse such as eyes and muzzle. If you’ve ever seen a pink-nosed horse standing with his head over the water trough on a humid day trying to improve his own oxygen intake and cool down, then you’ll probably also experienced rushing to the pharmacy for diaper creams and sunblock supplies in an attempt to fix sunburn that your horse suffers as a result of his effort to stay cool.

As with all things health wise, prevention is better than cure. When considering how you design and set up your horse barn it’s smart to plan for those ‘dog days of summer’ and add barn ventilation features that will be useful daily to mitigate the negative effects of high temperatures and humid days.

Passive Ventilation and Mechanical Intervention

Cupolas, Monitor style horse barns with gable venting and a high ceiling with a long line of windows that can be opened, plus stall windows that can be opened in every stall can all aid in passive barn ventilation.

Siting the barn so that the sun arcs over the center of the building rather than along one side and for center aisle barns facing the entrance doors toward a prevailing summer breeze can all improve air circulation within the building.

Roof and wall insulation can further mitigate ambient heat from metal roofs and/or siding.

Mechanical intervention via commercial grade fans (any fan used in a barn should have a sealed/enclosed motor that is protected from dust), ceiling fans and fans located at the base of a cupola can all aid in moving air throughout the building.

The addition of shades on windows or shutters, can prevent the sun’s rays from entering the building and heating up the interior.

Shelter From Direct Sun

Horses turned out should have some form of shelter from direct sun. Ideally a large run-in shed that is sited to catch summer breezes without direct sun glare to its open side is best.

The addition of a grill protected window on the rear of the shed can improve airflow across the horses’ backs when they shelter inside the space.

A stand of mature trees, a wall of a large building that is close by a pasture may offer shade and some protection from the sun.

Figure out how to keep your horse cool and how you can manage your horses’ turnout times to minimize their exposure to sun during the heat of the day. The routine of turning horses out at night after dusk and bringing them in early in the morning works well if your pasture has no available shelter from the sun.

For horses prone to laminitis, grazing grass during night hours also minimizes the risk of hoof inflammation as the sugars are lowest in the grass stems during this time.

Water and Wash Stalls

Incorporating a designated wash stall within a barn may seem like a waste of space when stall space is at a premium, but it is a significant boon to have a wash stall available especially during the summer months.

Standing outside the barn with a hose at hand also works, but you will have to deal with the biting horseflies and won’t be able to escape the sun.

An outside wash stall space with a pavilion style roof can also serve well if a frost-free faucet or other water source is readily available outside.

A cold-water wash down using a sponge and bucket of water is also a great way to cool down a hot horse. Pay especial attention to the large muscle groups of the hindquarters and neck area.

Horses dehydrate quickly in hot weather so ensure a supply of fresh clean water whether the horse is inside or outside.

If you suspect your horse is overheated and application of cold water hasn’t lessened his respiratory rate after 15 minutes, then call the vet as this indicates sincere heat stress and requires medical intervention.

When designing your horse farm property or horse barn, a permanent year around water source is essential. It should be accessible, regularly cleaned and refilled to keep it fresh and prevented from icing up in winter or drying up or becoming contaminated with algae and other detritus in summer months.

Freedom to Choose ~ Let the Horse Decide

The beauty and benefit of adding Dutch doors to stalls that open to enclosures where the horse can decide it’s preferred spot to hang out during different times of day is a boon. The addition of an overhang to the barn design further enhances the opportunity to shelter from the sun and allows the horse to pick the best possible location for its comfort.

The inclusion of Dutch doors in the barn design can also facilitate additional airflow throughout the interior of the barn.

Moving still sultry air is essential to mitigate the negative effects of humidity on the horse’s ability to cool down and dispel body heat.

Riding High

Horses don’t get to choose when and where they are ridden. If you are riding high on your passion for working your horse in readiness for a competition, or schooling in a hot dusty outdoor arena focused on the task at hand, it is easy to overlook the stress you are subjecting your horse to by working him hard in hot weather.

Ensure your horse is fit enough for the job you ask him to do by building up to the workload. If possible, avoid riding during the hottest times of the day. Choose the shady forest trail over the hot sandy mountain ridge, pick showgrounds that have good facilities such as barns with mist fans outside, mature trees for shade etc. that is, use your common sense.

Take lots of breaks between schooling sessions, provide electrolytes either in an additional water bucket to his regular water supply, or by administration of electrolyte pastes if necessary.

Always wash sweat off a horse at the end of a workout or if he has sweated up in a stall as the latherin and salts/minerals in the coat will hamper the ability of his skin to breathe and to continue to perspire to cool down if sweat is left to dry. There are different types of ‘sweat. A horse that has lathered into a white foam versus a stall bound horse that is perspiring to help dispel body heat both require a thorough wash down but the need for intervention with electrolytes may be different.

Age Matters

Pay especial attention to the very young or older horses, as both ends of the age spectrum are more readily affected by dehydration and ill effects from high temperatures and humidity than other equine age groups. This is because their ability to regulate their body temperature is compromised.

Whatever age your horse, you owe it to him to pay extra attention to his needs during extreme weather conditions. And don’t forget to manage your own too!

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Let the Head Rule the Heart ~ Horse Barn Selection by Logic

Making the dream of owning your own horse barn a reality is not an easy task and let’s face it, building a horse barn is not an inexpensive endeavor. The size and scale of the structure that horses require for housing needs means a capital outlay that, despite financing options, horse owners often cannot contemplate being able to afford. But don’t despair, there is a logical way forward to realizing the dream of horse barn ownership.

Financial constraints should not dim the dream of keeping horses in the backyard for the horse lover or put equine aficionados off starting their own horse training/lesson or boarding business. But it is essential that the horse owner allow their head to rule their heart and ensure that logic is the driving force in their horse barn selection. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the entire project will fall apart, possibly even resulting in financial failure that requires foreclosure on a property.

Think Big Start Small

The most common mistake folks make when developing a horse property is to think too big. Going big can mean not going home with your horses at all. While budget overruns can pop up in any project, the savvy shopper nails down their prices with ‘to the penny’ quotes, not estimates with open ended language, and does their due diligence when it comes to who they choose to collaborate with on every aspect of the building process.

Planning Perfection

Success in any project will be determined by having a clear idea of the start and finish point of the venture and how each step will be achieved throughout the process. In terms of a horse property, areas for service lines such as water, electricity and possibly sewer, vehicular and pedestrian access, fencing needs and the horse barn itself all factor into the plan.Avoid Critical Mistakes When Choosing the BEST Location for Your New Barn READ THESE EXPERT TIPS

While fencing may be temporary and moved or added to later with the use of electric rope/wire, and overhead electric power lines can be moved and new wells drilled, the reality is it is not easy to move a substantial structure like a barn. Even if you have the stalwart Amish attitude and manpower to make it happen. Aside from a run-in shed with tow hooks installed on its corners that facilitate moving the structure from A to B with a tractor or large ATV/UTV, the barn’s positioning and size will likely dictate the rest.

Barns Big and Small

When on the hunt for a horse barn builder search for a company that can provide barns big and small in a myriad of designs. This will provide maximum choice as well as offer a great deal of flexibility later if you decide to add to the initial design and want buildings to match.

For example, a straight shed-row barn can easily be added to later with adjacent buildings placed to either side in an ‘L’ or ‘U’ configuration to create a courtyard to the inside. A neighborhood of large run-in sheds placed in a line can provide hay and equipment storage opposite a center aisle barn built in the future but be used in the short term as shelter in fields and placed later in the perfect position to serve as storage or even be finished across their open sides as quarantine stalls in a location set distant from the main barn.

There are many advantages to working with a modular construction company over a stick-built on-site construction crew. Two key factors are the accuracy on pricing and the ease with which the design and details can be ‘nailed down’ too. Shopping for a new horse barn should be painless and fun. Choose your collaborative partner with due diligence, to ensure a happy experience.

There probably isn’t any simpler or less stressful way to add a new barn to your property. Delivery is straightforward, site prep minimal and there is no upheaval caused by the yard becoming a worksite with all the negatives of noise, mess and traffic that entails.

Think Outside the Box

The advantages of working with a modular/prefabricated barn building company are without question the nailed down price, and the almost instant set up and readiness for use as soon as Day 1 (for a run-in or shedrow barn) but typically not later than 1 week (for a modular, center aisle barn) after arrival. Monitor barns that arrive in three sections via truck and then are cleverly placed 2 in parallel with the 3rd on top offer a neat way to have the advantages of a center aisle barn in a budget friendly manner.

Consider the placement of each structure in relation to its future neighbor barns carefully. Dutch doors that open to large runs outside can save on labor cleaning stalls and moving horses back and forth to pastures. They can also offer an ideal ‘dry lot’ for equines prone to laminitis or in rehabilitation following an injury they may have sustained that requires limited freedom of movement during recovery.

The Indoor Arena Expense

A great way to utilize your planned riding arena space is to first finish it regarding footing and drainage as an outdoor ring and provide in advance any special requirements for the addition of covering it as an indoor when funds allow.

These factors may include increasing the overall size of the ring to facilitate an apron around the building later, laying in services such as electric and water to the site, and leaving plenty of space around the area for construction equipment such as cranes and large trucks.

It may be prudent to avoid siting the outdoor arena close to neighbors’ property lines or mature trees where their roots may compromise construction, or their swaying canopies pose a hazard to the structure during high winds. Ensure the location offers sufficient space for parking and tractor access ideally on multiple sides of the building for arena grooming later, as well as plenty of room for construction material deliveries that will be required for the big build.

The Budget Bear

Unless you are blessed with unlimited financial resources managing the budget for your backyard horse property project or envisioned full-blown horse boarding and training enterprise is an absolute necessity.

Most of us must deal with unexpected increases in running costs such as hay and feed prices, electric hikes, pasture management expenses and wear and tear on the property such as driveways and fences. The more logic you apply now to how these direct and indirect costs will be managed and how they factor into the capital outlay you anticipate for the new barn and horse property development, the better off you will ultimately be managing the issues that will surely arise.

The most significant component of running any successful business is cash flow. If you have good income but high costs too, eventually the lack of profit margin will limit not just your opportunity to expand your business or horse owning project, but it could also lead to a cash crunch crisis that takes you down a road nobody wants to travel.

Be realistic with your expectations when it comes to building a horse barn and equine property development. There is a great deal of pleasure in building as you go and doing some of the work yourself along the way. Over time many initial ideas become irrelevant or impractical and needs and wants do change as more experience is gained in managing a life with horses in your care, custody, and control.

When building a barn work within your budget and immediate needs to get what you need now and add what you want later. Remember, going big can mean not going home with your horses at all.

Don’t be afraid to dream but at the same time, don’t be tempted to jump in with all four hooves and build too big out of the gate if your funds are limited. Stay the course and plan your best route but take it one fence at a time.