Blog By Nikki Alvin-Smith
If there is anything the Covid19 crisis has taught us all it is to have a Plan B.
Horse owners never expected suddenly to find themselves cut off from access to their horses that were in livery. Commercial barn owners did not expect to be left holding the muck fork and dealing with frustrated clients. In some states, folks were not affected, but for others, such as those in the North-East, the time away from being allowed to see/ride their horses was over 80 days depending on their particular situation.
Lesson horses at therapeutic riding centers and equestrian centers were suddenly left with no job to do, while the expenses of their care continued to mount with no income to offset their costs. Equines previously used to a busy stable life were turned out for long periods at pasture and farm owners scrambled to locate run-in sheds to shelter them from the sun.
As the pause and quarantine restrictions abate, it is the perfect time to come up with a Plan B. Many scientists and political pundits expect a 2nd/3rd wave of infections and hospitalizations as the virus ‘ washes through’ the U.S. population. It is not unreasonable to expect that another quarantine could be necessary. If not for this pandemic, there is always the chance of another in the future.
What’s a horse owner to do? Plan B could be to have the availability to bring their horse(s) home for a limited time should a shutdown occur. Many Europeans, in particular the Brits, are very good at keeping horses in the backyard on relatively small acreage.
Of course the factors to consider such as problematic permits, complaints of neighs and noise and horsey smells from neighbors in close proximity, quality of land such as open and suitable for pasture versus a wooded lot, are all to be considered.
An ‘instant’ horse barn can be delivered and set up in a matter of days and provides the ideal solution for horse owners who don’t want the noise, mess, and hassle, of an onsite build but would like to have the ability to ‘shelter their horses in place’. Their place!
The general rule for acreage allowance per horse is one acre. Some towns will have different rules requiring an acre per horse for the first 3 and then different requirements for larger herds. Other authorities simply don’t care how many horses you put where. Some will want to know how you plan to dispose of manure, require special permits and insurance and not allow any horse at all within town limits or on properties of less than 5 acres. The variance in regulations by region is huge so it is important to do your homework and check with local authorities before purchasing a horse structure.
If you are unlucky enough to live in a town that will not allow a fixed permanent structure, consider a prefabricated run-in shed or shedrow barn with built in tow hooks. A tractor and some chains will allow you to move it thus classifying it as a ‘temporary’ structure.
Don’t forget to allow room in your budget for other cost considerations. Here’s a good resource to check those out. Also, be sure to look into financing options that may be available through the modular barn builder to help out with the capital outlay. Finally, review what items are in stock on their website as often these are discounted and have the added benefit of a much shorter lead time.
Housing your horse at home not only provides a significant emotional benefit during stressful times, it also provides much needed structure to your day and outdoor activity to help keep anxiety and stress levels minimized. While many horse barns were restricted from being allowed to ride and school horses from the saddle, horse owners with their equines at home were not always included in that directive.
Bringing your horse(s) home sweet home, doesn’t mean you can’t go back to boarding later to enjoy the many benefits of being part of a larger equestrian barn family. Facilities such as indoor and outdoor riding arenas, jumps and large fields and trail access, training help from a professional who won’t come to you, and the enjoyable social aspects are all great reasons to board your horse.
Whatever the future holds in these uncertain times, building a better brighter future can be a silver lining. Home is sometimes not just where the heart is, it can be where your horse is too.