Horse Barn Planning, Designing Building

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Excerpt from Horse Housing by Richard Klimesh and Cherry Hill

By Cherry Hill

When it comes to horsekeeping facilities, I am very particular. Not only do I want a safe and sturdy barn that is comfortable and healthy for my horses, but I also want the barn to run efficiently, be easy to maintain, and have that special ambiance. That's because I spend more time at my barn than in my house!

Before we settled in Colorado in 1983, my husband Richard Klimesh and I had owned and leased horse acreages in Canada and seven states from Alaska to Arizona and from Oregon to Illinois. During that time, we experienced quite a variety of weather and encountered topography and soil ranging from rocky mountains to desert to lush farmland to swampland. And we saw all kinds of horse barns -- dank dungeons, luxurious people palaces, wind tunnels, ammonia factories, sweatboxes, flimsy ticky-tacks, chewed down and patched up shacks, and barns that rained inside when it wasn't raining outside.We also saw a handful of barns that were just right. We learned that there are certain things that just don't work well for horses, whereas other layouts and materials make horsekeeping sweet.

When we designed my current barn, we employed the good ideas we'd gathered over the years. Like many of our projects, the barn started on a napkin in a restaurant. From that, we honed the plan, inserting all of the necessary details. Then, Richard masterfully crafted a barn that suits my particular needs perfectly.

I usually have between six and eight horses (from foals to seniors) in various stages of training and management. With no children or employees to help, the "Klim Team" does it all. I'm responsible for the health care and training, and Richard heads up facilities' design and maintenance. In addition to that, we both are full-time photojournalists, book authors, and together work as a video production team. The term "spare time" just isn't in our vocabulary. That's why we both appreciate an efficient set up that facilitates daily chores and routine tasks.

Because all of my training and riding and the majority of our photo and video shoots start at the barn, my tack room functions as command central. Not only do I store tack and equipment there, but veterinary supplies, horse records, film, daily shot lists, and storyboards are kept there as well. In addition, the tack room has a section where I clean, repair, and launder horse items. The wash rack and grooming area make up a full-service equine "beauty salon" complete with overhead infrared heater and a central vacuum for grooming horses and blankets. There are varied places to tie horses, which is a necessity for photo/video shoots when I need to have a few groomed and tacked horses ready at a moment's notice.

Where we live, we have a full spectrum of seasonal weather -- from frigid winter winds to blazing summer sun at 7,000 feet in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. So we designed the barn to provide comfortable shelter from both. In the last chapter of this book, I'll take you on a personal tour of my barn, which, I hope, will help you come up with some ideas that will work for you.

Building a horse barn is a big deal. It requires considerable space and lots of labor, money, and time. The more time you invest in the planning of your horse barn, the less redesigning and remodeling you'll have to do.

I know I'm somewhat biased because Richard is my best buddy and husband of over 25 years, but he has built me some great horse facilities and has practical ideas and suggestions for horse housing. That's why I'm so glad that he is sharing his knowledge and our collective horsekeeping experience with you.

Horse Housing is a tremendous resource whether you are planning a new barn, remodeling existing buildings, or are in the process of purchasing real estate with horse facilities. You'll know barns inside and out after reading this book.

As you research and plan, let those gray cells work as you design your own dream barn to fit your horse needs, your locale, and your lifestyle.

A poorly designed barn can make you gnash and gnarl on a daily basis -- believe me, I've been there.

A well designed barn, on the other hand, makes daily horse care and training flow like a peaceful Rocky Mountain stream.

Happy horsekeeping, Cherry Hill, author of 25 book on horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at

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