Are You Ready For Your Own Barn?

horses in stallsWhether you’ve been around horses a long time and have lots of ideas from boarding stables or you are brand new to horses, building your own barn can be a challenge.  Location, construction materials, stall types and amenities are all decisions to be made. There are literally hundreds of options when building your barn and we won’t be able to cover them all.  But we’ll go over the most common types of barns and stalls as well as tips to remember before and during the construction process.

Before we even start, let’s just take a moment to decide if horsekeeping on your own property, especially if you’re thinking of  opening it to other boarders, is right for you.   If you’ve never owned horses before, starting at a boarding stable with a knowledgeable barn manager, workers and trainers is a good option.  You will have total responsibility for your horse and the horse’s of others.  Basic and special feeding, deworming schedules, getting horses ready for the vet or farrier, and basic wound care are all necessary skills.  Since every horse is different, new horse owners often have questions about feed, shoeing and general health.  It’s very helpful (and comforting) to know that there’s someone at the barn who can helps answer your questions. And they will look to you to be that person.  In addition, you will be expected to have adequate coverage to look after the horses if you decide to go away for a few days.

Another consideration of keeping horses at your barn is cost of supplies.  Remember that large boarding stables often buy hay and bedding in bulk because they have the room to store it.  This help keeps cost down.

Vet visits are another cost that can be reduced with other horse owners.  Vets charge a “farm call” fee in addition to any medical treatment.  With a large stable full of horses, there is usually someone else at the barn who’d like to talk to the vet or have him take a look at their horse while he’s there.  You can usually split the farm visit fee with another boarder.  Spring /fall shots and dental visits are another way to save money.  Boarding stables often have “shot clinics” where the vet comes out and all the shots are done at one time.  The same is true for dental work.  Again, this saves you the cost of the farm call fee.

Finally, farrier services can be difficult to find if you only have one or two horses and live in a remote location.  Farriers often like to work at stables where they can go to just one place, set up once and shoe numerous horses.  It may not be worth his time to have you as a client if most of it is spent driving to and from your barn for just a few hoof trims.

horses and friends

Finally, there’s the camaraderie principle.  This doesn’t have a cost, but after a few months of keeping horses at home, you may find you miss the social aspect of being at a barn.  It’s nice to talk to someone after a good lesson or have a shoulder to cry on after a bad one. On the other hand, if you are the barn owner or manager, your privacy will be in jeopardy as clients feel free to stop by your home at any time.


If boarding horses at your home still sounds like a good idea, the next step is doing a business plan.  It’s a necessary step to ensuring that your barn is a success. We’ll tell you more about how to do create basic and easy next time.

Photo credit: Petattack, iHeartHorses

In For The Long Haul

commerical horse hauler truck outsideWhile many horse owners are used to trailering their horse several hours, there may come a time when you’ll need to move your horse a much longer distance.  This could be because of a move you will be making to another state and you’ll be taking your horse with you, or you may be purchasing a horse that lives in another part of the country.  If you have the time and the truck/trailer to do so, you can certainly trailer your horse yourself, but there are many benefits to using a professional horse hauling company.

“A horse in a trailer is constantly working and using energy to maintain his balance,” says Carolyn Stull, PhD, of the University of California–Davis, who has done extensive research on the effects of trailering horses on horses.  Stull compares it to mild jogging or trotting. One of the major reasons to use a professional horse hauling company is that, like professional residential and commercial movers, they have all the “right stuff” to minimize stress and strain on your most prized possession – your horse:

horse in commercial hauler

Their trailers have special air ride suspension that makes long trips more comfortable for your horse with fewer bumps across the way. Acceleration, deceleration and lane changes all can have an effect on your horse’s legs.

You have the option of different size stalls. Most horses are most comfortable in a 4’x9’ stall-and-a-half.  The narrow stall comes with a chest bar which makes it easier for the horse to balance himself on the road.  You may also opt for an 8’x9’ box stall.  While these are typically used to transport mares with foals, these are also ideal when transporting senior horses, especially those with joint issues.  Horses are loose and can turn and shift weight and even lay down to make tired legs more comfortable.

Your horse will have company along the way – both equine and human. The humans ride with your horse in the trailer to make sure that they have adequate hay and are safe.

They have teams of drivers who can take turns and get your horse to his destination in the quickest possible time. This is especially important if you are shipping your horse in the summer heat.

They have scheduled stops every 4-6 hours along the way where horses get water and rest from constant movement of the trailer. On most cross country trips, there are scheduled layovers at facilities that are used on a regular basis and, therefore, are known to be of high-quality. The layovers normally use a 12′ x 12′ box stall for each horse and all horses are monitored throughout their stay. Veterinarians are on call at these locations.

As an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) regulated carrier, your professional carrier will typically have equine mortality insurance included in the price.

They know what your horse needs. From Coggins tests and health certificates to the benefits of blanketing and boots, your professional horse hauler can answer your questions on shipping.

You’ll know where your horse is and how he’s doing. Most professional movers have GPS and communications systems that allow dispatchers to keep you updated on where your horse is and how they are doing.

Most professional horse haulers will be happy to quote you a price and give you a window for pick-up and delivery.


It’s understandable that horse owners have concerns when it comes to someone else transporting their horse.  Make sure your horse hauling company is licensed and insured, has quality people driving and looking after your horse, and is willing to provide you with references.  Then relax.

horse coming off horse transport

photo credits: Holly Hill Transport

Cleaning Up After the Winter of 2017

barn in snow photography bloggerIt’s been a long, hard winter.  High winds, excessive snow, rain, ice and flooding have taken their toll on whole communities, including our farms and stables.  What are some things to look for when evaluating the safety and sturdiness of your barn for the rest of the year.

  • Have the wind or ice dumped tree branches on or around your barn?  These branches are a danger not only now, but in the summer when dry conditions can makes branches instant fire-starters. Clear debris, combustible material and weeds  at least 30 feet from structures for fire protection?
  • Check barn structure. Is there damage to posts, beams or walls? Is the roof in good condition?  End doors and paddock windows? These are key components to keeping your barn strong so repair or replace these as soon as possible.
  • Are the outside electrical outlets and switches safe to use?  Water and electricity never mix and can cause shock or fire.  In the future, consider waterproof covers for electric outlets.
  • Inspect all wiring. Older wiring may have damage from weather or rodents looking for a dry place to hand out. .
  • Check all electrical cords. Appliances and equipment should be unplugged when not in use.
  • Barn aisles are a common place to store things when bad weather causes havoc. wick buildings tree in barnAre you storing hay, farm equipment or jumps in the aisles? Make sure you clear aisles of unnecessary items. Any items remaining stored in the aisles should be placed on hooks high enough that a panicked horse will not injure himself. Tack boxes and other items on the floor should not prevent stall doors from opening.
  • Daily barn cleaning may have gone by the wayside during stormy weather.  Now’s a good time to check if there are  cobwebs and dust accumulating behind refrigerators and other appliance, around lights, near electrical sources.  If so, clean the area.
  • Horses stuck inside for extended periods of time can find destroying their stalls a great way to pass the time.  Also, horses afraid of thunder or strong wind can panic and break stall items.  It’s a good idea to:
    • Check stalls for damage to wood surfaces, broken or cracked feeders, protruding nails.
    • Check the floor for damage or uneven surfaces, especially if you use dirt stalls.
    • Look around the bottom of stalls for areas that may be hazardous when a horse rolls.
    • Check latches and door knobs. Are they in good working order? Do they pose a hazard? Will tack or horses be hung up on them?
    • Check floors for standing water, slick surfaces and uneven areas. Are your water pipes in good order? Freezing conditions can cause floors to “heave” up and become uneven.
  • Check your tack room to be sure that water isn’t dripping from a missing roof tile onto someone’s tack.
  • Your arena(s) should be checked for the same things are your barn – broken posts, damaged wiring, uneven footing and other safety issues.
  • Don’t forget to check your fencing all around your stable for loose or broken boards.

If you love your barn and your damage isn’t great, you should be able to be back to normal with alot of good riding time left.  However, if the damage is too great, now may be a good time to consider a new or renovated barn.  We’ll try to give you helpful hints for that in the next blog.

photo credits:  photography blogger, wick buildings


Looking Your Horse In The Mouth

horse teeth wikepediaEquine teeth are designed to wear against the tooth above or below as the horse chews, thus preventing excess growth. The upper jaw is wider than the lower one. In some cases, sharp edges can occur on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars, as they are unopposed by an opposite grinding surface. These sharp edges can reduce chewing efficiency of the teeth, interfere with jaw motion, and in extreme cases can cut the tongue or cheek, making eating and riding painful.

In the wild, a horse’s food supply allowed their teeth to wear evenly.  But with domesticated horses grazing on lush, soft forage and a large number being fed grain or other concentrated feed, natural wear may be reduced.  Equine dentistry can be undertaken by a vet or by a trained specialist such as an equine dental technician, or in some cases is performed by lay persons, including owners or trainers.  Regular checks by a professional are normally recommended every six months or at least annually. 

Many horses require floating (or rasping) of teeth once every 12 months, although this, too, is variable and dependent on the individual horse. The first four or five years of a horse’s life are when the most growth-related changes occur and hence frequent checkups may prevent problems from developing. Equine teeth get harder as the horse gets older and may not have rapid changes during the prime adult years of life, but as horses become aged, particularly from the late teens on, additional changes in incisor angle and other molar growth patterns often necessitate frequent care. Once a horse is in its late 20s or early 30s, molar loss becomes a concern. Floating involves a veterinarian wearing down the surface of the teeth, usually to remove sharp points or to balance out the mouth. dr johnson dental

Problems with dentition for horses in work can result in poor performance or behavioral issues.  The wear of the teeth can cause problems if it is uneven, with sharp points appearing, especially on the outer edge of the molars, the inner edge of the premolars and the posterior end of the last molars on the bottom jaw.

Other specific conditions relating to wear include a “step mouth”, where one molar or premolar grows longer than the others in that jaw, normally because the corresponding tooth in the opposite jaw is missing or broken, and therefore could not wear down its opposite, a “wave mouth”, where at least two molars or premolars are higher than the others, so that, when viewed from the side, the grinding surfaces produce a wave-like pattern rather than a straight line, leading to periodontal disease and excessive wear of some of the teeth, and a “shear mouth” when the grinding surfaces of the molars or premolars are severely sloped on each individual tooth (so the inner side of the teeth are much higher or lower than the outer side of the teeth), severely affecting chewing.

Horses may also experience an overbite/brachygnathism (parrot mouth), or an underbite/prognathism (sow mouth, monkey mouth). These may affect how the incisors wear. In severe cases, the horse’s ability to graze may be affected. Horses also sometimes suffer from equine malocclusion where there is a misalignment between their upper and lower jaws.

The curvature of the incisors may also vary from the normal, straight bite. The curvature may be dorsal or ventral . These curvatures may be the result of an incisor malocclusion (e.g. ventral=overbite, dorsal=underbite). The curvature may also be diagonal, stemming from a wear pattern, offset incisors, or pain in the cheek teeth (rather than the incisors), which causes the horse to chew in one direction over the other.

Other common problems include abscessed, loose, infected, or cracked teeth, retained deciduous teeth, and plaque build-up. Wolf teeth may also cause problems, and are many times removed, as are retained caps.

Good dental care can not only eliminate these problems, but can help your horse lead a longer, healthier life.

Photo credits:  Wikepedia, EquineVeterinaryService

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Stall Bedding

horse in shavings horseandhoundUK

When it’s time to bed your horse down for the night, there are a wide variety of options to use for bedding  your horse’s stall.  Here are some things to  consider when deciding on what your horse will stand and sleep..

  1. What are you going to use it for?

The most common use of bedding for stalls is to absorb urine and make cleaning manure easier in your horse’s stalls.  In this case, shavings or wood pellets or even newspaper are your best bet.   Most will absorb the urine and some will even help with odor control.  However, be careful when you select your shavings – black walnut shavings can be dangerous to your horse.

horse stall with matsHowever, if you plan to use bedding to help protect your horse’s legs and give him a soft spot to stand, you will probably want to use shavings.  But also consider putting stall mats (like those offered by Classic Equine Equipment at down first.  This can help reduce the amount of shavings you use and give your horse another layer of cushioning.

  1. What’s available in your area and in your budget?

Not all products are available everywhere.  For example, I saw several advertisements in national magazines for a pelleted product called “Woody Pet.”  It sounded perfect, but it was not available in my area. If you live near a woodworker or lumber mill, you might be able to get a deal on shavings or sawdust – must make sure you ask what type they are as some can be hazardous to horses.  

  1. Where are you going to store it?

Bedding made from shavings or sawdust requires a large, covered area to keep them from flying around and/or getting wet.  If you have a large horse operation, buying bulk shavings may be economical.  But if you have a smaller farm with 4 or so horses, you may find that wood pellets that come in bags are the easiest to store and use.

  1. How long will it last?

You want a bedding that does the job of cushioning your horse and absorbing urine, but does not become so saturated that it is hard to remove or causes irritation to your horse. It’s better to clean more often than to wait until bedding becomes thoroughly saturated. Damp or wet bedding softens the horse’s hooves and provides a bacterial breeding ground. Bedding that does not absorb well also allows more ammonia to be released and can irritate your horse’s respiratory system. Dusty or moldy bedding can also be a respiratory irritant. 

It’s important to develop a good mucking routine when cleaning the stalls.  By teaching workers to only pick up manure and soiled bedding, you can make all products last longer.  In addition, consider where you put your shavings.  If you spread them all over the stall, even under the water and feed buckets, you are probably wasting your bedding.  Some horses have favorite spots where they urinate – bed more heavily there and skip areas where your horse doesn’t go.

  1. What are you going to do with it after it’s been used?manure and bedding compost pile

Once the bedding has been soiled, you will, of course, have to get rid of it.  Composting is one way, but certain beddings don’t break down as quickly as others.  Straw and wood pellets break down quite quickly in the compost pile.  Wood shavings and sawdust do not.

Photo credits: Horse & Hound, Classic Equine Equipment; Red Worm Composting

Introducing the Horses of Ireland

shamrock in horse shoe


Ireland is a land of incredible beauty and incredible horses.  The following three breeds were developed to work with  people of Ireland under a variety of tough conditions. Their hardiness and easy temperament are legendary.

CONNEMARA PONYConnemara pony

Legend says that when the Spanish Armada sank off the Connemara coast in the 16th Century, the horses, a mix of Barbs and Andalusians, swam to shore and bred with the native ponies running wild in the mountains.  The resulting Arab blood is still recognizable in present day Connemaras. Steep mountain trails and treacherous bogs, fierce winds sweeping in from the Atlantic in the winter, and relatively small areas of grazing developed a breed that was tough and surefooted.  The Connemara became known for their agility and hardiness. The Irish soon came to depend on this stocky little horse as a means of transportation, both ridden and driving, and for its ability to pull a plow, cart turf from the bogs or seaweed from the shore, and carry heavy baskets of produce to market.  On Sunday, the pony carted the family off to church. Because of this strong partnership, the Connemara developed an easy-going and reliable temperament.

The Connemara is the largest of the pony breeds.  They range in height from 13–15hh. The most common colors are grey and dun, but also acceptable are black, bay, brown, chestnut, palomino and even roan! 

More information:  American Connemara Pony Society

Liam Irish Sport HorseIRISH DRAUGHT

The Irish Draught is sometimes referred to as an RID for Registered Irish Draught. According to the legends, it was the god Lugh who brought the horse to Ireland.  He was and Irish god viewed as a   hero and High King of Ireland’s distant past.  Lugh’s special festival, Lughnasa, was celebrated at harvest time in early August. As a means of reinforcing tribal bonds, Lughnasa was a time for meeting, for settling arguments – and for horseracing. The Irish farmer needed a horse that could do more than just plow the field.  Like the Connemara, the Irish Draught can work all week, successfully go fox-hunting on Saturdays, and drive the family in their cart to Church on Sunday.  During the Great European Wars, they were used as army artillery horses. 

The Irish Draught is an active,  powerful horse with substance and quality. Colors include any solid color, including grey.  Height is typically 15.3hh to 16.3hh and has an exceptionally strong and sound constitution.They are intelligent with a gentle nature  and common sense.

More information:  Irish Draught Horse Society of North America

gypsy vanner horseGYPSY VANNER

From about 1885, people travelling  in the British Isles (then including all of Ireland) began to use a distinct type of horse to pull their vardos, the caravans in which they had just begun to live and travel.  The Gypsy  Vanner  was bred by the Roma (also called Romani or Romany), a traditionally nomadic ethnic group. The Roma are widely known as “Gypsies”. They used colored horses, included a significant number of colored Shire horses, which had become unfashionable in mainstream society and were typically culled. Among these were a significant number of colored Shire horses. The term “vanner” dates to at least 1888 and referred to a type of horse rather than to a distinct breed.   A “vanner” is “a light horse suitable for drawing a small van.

The first glance, impression of the breed is its stature as a small draft horse with feathering, muscular development and size. The height is usually between 13.2hh to 15.2hh.  One of the unique characteristics of the breed is the excessive feathering on the rear of the fore and hind legs, starting from the knee and hock and extending down and over the hooves. The leg feathering provides natural protection to the legs from the weather and working conditions. The Gypsy Vanner is not a breed based on color, although the easily recognizable coat colors set the breed apart from others. The acceptable descriptive terms for the coat colors of the Gypsy Vanner horse are:

  • Piebald – Black and white Tobiano
  • Skewbald – Combinations of brown, red and white, including tri-colored Tobiano
  • Blagdon – Solid color with white splashed up from underneath

The breed temperament should be gentle, cooperative and willing, yet powerful. The breed should be relaxed, mannerly, and respectful of its environment. Their willingness should be expressed in their ability of being both ridden and driven.

More information:  Gypsy Vanner Horse Society

Sláinte mhaith!  (Good health!)

Credits:  Wikipedia

Handling Hoof Abscesse

hoof-abscess-smartpakWith the constant changes of weather – warm to cold, wet to dry – it’s a common time for horses to come up lame with a hoof abscess. A hoof abscess is a localized bacterial infection in the sensitive structures of the hoof, typically in the front feet.  Typical signs of a hoof abscess include sudden and severe lameness and pain. The horse bears little to no weight on the leg with the abscess or may walk on its toe. Most abscesses are found in the sole of the hoof, but an abscess can be found elsewhere.   Other signs include heat in the limb or hoof, an increased digital pulse, and can include a swollen leg and/or a low-grade fever. The tendons in the affected leg can become painful and swollen due to congestion of blood vessels.

Purulent fluid (commonly called “pus”) is produced as a reaction by the horse’s body to the infection. The pus accumulates between the keratinized and germinal layers of the hoof wall. Since the hoof cannot expand, the increased pressure of pus collecting within the hoof capsule causes significant pain. As the abscess progresses, the infection and pressure of purulent fluid (pus) accumulation in the hoof often cause severe pain until the infection works its way up the hoof wall and pops out at the coronary band, or the bulb of the heel or drains out the sole.

A hoof abscess can be diagnosed by examining the hoof for heat and pain, swelling in the pastern and fetlock and by the presence of a pronounced digital arterial pulse. If the horse is shod, the shoe is removed and the hoof cleaned. Hoof testers are often used to test the horses’ sensitivity to pressure in specific areas of the hoof to locate the point of origin.

A hoof abscess can be caused by a sharp object penetrating the sole of the hoof (such as a nail), damage to the corium from decreased blood flow, or by bacteria migrating in to the defects, fissures and cracks in the white line. Sole penetration by a sharp object is not a very common scenario for a hoof abscess. More often, an abscess is a result of corium or lateral cartilage area compression or most frequently due to the introduction of bacteria and moisture in to the hoof.

If the abscess is caused by bacteria in to hoof from the outside, a particle of sand or soil enters the softer white line area and becomes engrained in the sensitive lamina underneath the hoof wall, resulting in an infection inside the hoof. The infection can travel up the hoof and drain at the coronary band or stay close to the sole of the hoof. An abscess can also occur under the bars of the hoof.

The infection can also enter as a result of a nail driven too close to the white line, a hoof wall defect or hoof separation. Horses that have been shod and then go barefoot tend to have an increased chance of developing a hoof abscess until the hoof becomes stronger.

While a hoof abscess can heal on its own, this is not recommended. An abscess can be extremely painful for the horse and the healing process will take significantly longer without intervention. It is recommended that you work with your veterinarian and/or farrier to diagnose and treat an abscess.  If the horse is shod, the shoe is normally pulled. The hoof is then thoroughly cleaned and hoof testers can be used to help locate the point of entry and better determine the location of the abscess.

Often a black line is identified and the line is followed to locate the infected area. Using a hoof knife or loop knife, your veterinarian will make a very small hole in the sole of the hoof to allow for drainage and provide relief of the pressurized fluid. When the pressure built up by the trapped pus is released from the hoof capsule, often a black or brown fluid will drain from the site and the horse will experience some relief immediately.

If the point of origin and the abscess cannot be identified or the infection is too deep in the hoof, (the abscess could be deep in the heel/frog/bars region), no cutting or holes will be made. Cutting too much or going too deep can be more harmful than beneficial to treatment. If a drain hole is not able to be made or cannot sufficiently drain the abscess, then most likely the abscess will progress up to the coronary band and the pus will drain there.

hoof-abscess-polticeWhether a hole is made or not, it is important to keep the hoof as clean and protected as possible and to apply a poultice. A standard recommended protocol for treatment begins with Epsom salt added to water and soaking your horse’s hoof in a shallow pan, bucket or soaking boot for 15 minutes 2 times/day.  The soaking will “draw” the abscess, pulling the bacterial infection from the hoof.  If no hole is made, the poultice can help soften the sole. If a drain hole is made in the hoof, then it is imperative that the hole be protected and kept clean while the abscess drains and the hoof heals.

The hoof is then wrapped to help cushion and protect the hoof to ensure that dirt and manure cannot come in contact with the hole and sensitive tissues. Creating a “pad” by using a plastic baby diaper and attaching it with duct tape (both waterproof) can help keep the area clean and dry.

To help lessen the chances of your horse having a hoof abscess, maintain a regular schedule with your farrier or trim your horse on a regular basis. Often hooves with too much toe or excessive bars are more prone to hoof abscesses.

With proper treatment, hoof abscesses are no fun for you or your horse, but not dangerous.

Photo credit: SmarkPak

Types and Styles of Barns

One of your toughest decisions – but many people feel the most fun – you’ll make when building your barn is the style. There are many to choose from and each style can have modifications. Things to consider are the style’s suitability to your climate, the function or “flow” of your horse work and, of course, your budget. The amount of time you can wait for a new barn is also a factor. A modular barn can be erected in a few days, while a pole barn building can take months.


A Pole Barn (Post Frame) framing utilizes posts and beams to minimize the number of framing elements in walls. It is economical, strong and relatively simple to build, making it the most popular framing method for custom barns. A pole barn frame consists of 6- to 8-inch round or rectangular pressure-treated wood posts set 3 to 6 feet below the ground. Poles are typically set at 8- to 12-foot intervals and rest on a pad of concrete at the bottom of each hole. Poles and trusses or rafters are generally visible inside the barn. Pole barns are easy to build in part because they require no trench work for a foundation, only holes; and these can be dug using a tractor auger or a hand posthole digger.

A Timber Frame (Post and Beam) is another type of post and beam construction, but rather than plugging into the ground like a pole barn, a timber frame barn sets on a concrete foundation. A properly constructed timber frame is incredibly sturdy–some have lasted for hundreds of years. It is typically comprised of 8- and 10-inch square timbers for main members and smaller timbers for roof purlins and floor joists. Major joints are traditionally dovetails and mortise and tenon, often hand cut and secured with wooden pins, like fine furniture construction on a larger scale. Craftsmen using traditional timber frame methods don’t use nails or other metal fasteners unless they are required by local codes. Timber frame barns are sometimes built in or near the builder’s shop and shipped to the site to be erected by the builder, a local contractor or the owner. Timber-frame kits that use metal connectors to secure joints are available

Modular barns generally consist of a steel framework with steel-framed panels fitted in between. The panels are typically comprised of a plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) core with sheet steel laminated to the inside surface and steel, wood or other siding material laminated to the outside surface. An advantage of this framing is that damaged panels can be replaced relatively easily. Some modular barns have a “warehouse” appearance, but many manufacturers offer a variety of styles, siding and roofing materials. If you don’t see a plan you like, most manufacturers will modify an existing plan to suit your needs. Modular barns generally go up quicker and with less expense than custom barns. They are especially fire resistant because of the steel framing and steel-skinned wall panels.


shed-rowA shed row barn is the most common type of modular (or prefabricated) barn.  It is a good choice for warm climates as they maximize air flow and ventilation.  They can vary in the size of the overhand and can be configured in a straight line, an “L” shape or a “U” shape, depending on the number of horses and your work flow.  Shed rows is also an option for colder climates, but consider enclosing the overhand area and adding insulation to the walls and roofing. Shed row barns have a shed or pitched flat roof. The shed roof is all one plane and is often used for three-sided shelters or small stables. It is also commonly attached to the eaves of an existing gable roof or to the wall of a barn.

monitor-or-raised-aisle-barnOne pole barn (or post-frame) style is called the Full Monitor or Raised Center Aisle barn.  It has a high center raised roof that lets hot air rise above the stalls and horses.  The design also allows skylights and windows to be installed on each side of the center roofline, letting in more light and additional fresh air. The monitor has essentially two shed roofs with a gable in the middle. This is good for long rows of stalls.

gambrel-styleAnother popular pole barn style is called the Gambrel.  It offers the benefit of a large loft located above the stalls for added storage. The Gambrel has a double-pitched roof popular on two-story barns having a second floor because of the increased headroom and useable floor space it allows. Gambrel trusses eliminate the need for interior post and beam supports, which allows you to create any floor plan you wish.

Take some times to fully consider what type of barn best suits how you intend to care for your horses.  They each have pros and cons – in the end, it will be up to you.


Photo credits:
Horizon Structures
The Carriage Shed
Harvest Moon Timber

The Word On Wood For Your Barn

wood-barn-integrityThinking of remodeling or building a new barn this spring?  One of your big decisions (and biggest expense) could be the type of wood you use for your project. There are many types of wood out there and it can be daunting to figure out which one to use.  The general answer?  It depends on what’s most available in your area as well as your area’s weather condition.  Heavy snows may require one type of wood while areas with insect issues might be best with another.  Whatever you choose, if you’re building your walls with wood, use pressure treated wood whenever it’s in contact with earth or steel.  However, pressure-treated wood should never be placed where horses can get to it.

There are many horse owners who like the traditional look of a wood when designing their barn.  And if you are interested in “going green,” often wood barns provide a much smaller environmental footprint than those made with other materials.  Wood is also a natural insulator so is an excellent choice for areas where summer heat and winter cold temperatures are extreme.

When researching the best wood for your barn, look for lumber that has a high-bending strength, good nail holding power, moderate shrinkage, decay resistance, withstands splitting, good painting and weathering qualities, freedom from warping and is easy to work with.

Classic Equine Equipment keep in stock premium imported hardwood and Southern Yellow Pine.  Both types are milled to their exacting specifications – including a tongue and groove as well as a v-notch on the face of each board. Additional types of wood are also available upon request.  Wood is sold separately.

Tongue and groove wood material for your stall lining is one of your best options because it’s flush and there are no ledges.  Some horses find chewing on wood an amusing pastime.  But there’s a possibility of splintering and chemical ingestion. Keep your barn looking good and your horse safe by eliminating opportunities to chew.

brazilian-hardwoodTheir Brazilian hardwood is 1” this and comes in 12” increments.  A true hardwood, it is very dense and durable.  Although no wood can be considered “horse proof”, the strength of this wood is exceptional.southern-yellow-pine

The Southern Yellow Pine comes in 2”x 8”x 12’ lengths.  It is #1 or better premium wood – no warping, stains, stamps or discolorations.  Although not as dense as the hardwood, this is the strongest of the “softwoods” and is a very popular choice for horse stalls.

wood-alternative-hdpeHDPE (High Density Polyethylene) uses primarily recycled post-consumer plastic with a positive environmental impact to create a long-lasting, no maintenance and weather resistant material.  HDPE is UV resistant, easy to maintain and does not require staining.  It comes in a variety of lengths and colors.

Many barn builders use high-grade 90% Spruce J-Grade logs.  The lumber is uniformly seasoned in dry kilns which improves strength and stiffness.  It also enhances its appearance and increases its resistance to decay and insect attack. It can be used for all aspects of barn building, including a log siding. 

Red cedar is another option for your barn.  However, the oils in cedar that help protect it are extremely enticing to horses.  They love to chew on cedar wood so confine your use of cedar to the outside of the barn.  While beautiful, it is not as structurally strong as other types of wood.

Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, with reported growth rates of 39 inches in 24 hours.  Bamboo is best used as flooring in the tack room, your office or in the barn club house.

Be as picky with your choice of lumber as you are with the rest of your barn design.  Low grade wood may look just fine when you put it in, but five years later you can have problems.  Like most everything else, you get what you pay for.

aisle 7



Vital Signs To Know For Your Horse’s Health


Knowing how your horse acts and reacts when he is feeling good will help you to faster realize when there is something “not right” with him. Every horse owner needs to know what is “normal” for their horse. Being able to report these to your veterinarian when you contact him can help evaluate whether a visit is necessary and/or how quickly your horse needs to be seen.

Get a baseline of your horse’s temperature, pulse and respiration when he is healthy, relaxed and before working himYou may also want to get additional readings in both summer and winter and after riding to know what is normal for your horse in different circumstances.

What you’ll need:

  • watch that counts seconds
  • a thermometer – plastic digital one are best for ease and safety)
  • a stethoscope.
  • A notepad or record book for recording the vital sounds


The normal temperature for the horse is 100.0 degrees. However, a horse’s temperature can vary somewhat with the season. During the winter, your horse’s “normal” temperature may drop several degrees, but low temperatures generally are not causes for concern.  On the other hand, summer heat, as well as exercise, can often raise a horse’s temperature a few degrees.  These circumstances must also be taken into account when determining if there is cause for concern.

 It is easiest to take your horse’s temperature rectally with a clean digital thermometer. Coating the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly can make it easier for you to insert and more comfortable for your horse.  Always tie a string to the end of the thermometer to make sure you can retrieve it.  You can also briefly wrap your horse’s dock in a bandage to make it easier to push the tail hair away to insert the thermometer. Most thermometers will beep when the maximum temperature has been reached.

If your horse’s temperature is over 102 F, you should call your veterinarian.


The pulse rate is taken by listening to the heart, located on the left side of the chest just behind the elbow. You can also take the pulse at the thick artery that runs underneath the cheekbone on either side of your horse’s face.  Place three fingers (never your thumb which has its own pulse) on the artery and press upward and inward.

Using a stethoscope can often make hearing and counting the heart beats easier.  Some people listen to the heart rate for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6, or 30 seconds and multiply by 2.  However, if you have any questions, listen to the pulse rate for the full minute.

The normal pulse rate is 40 beats per minute.

 Horses that are fit may have rates as low as 28 so knowing your horse’s condition is important.   Young horses and ponies can sometimes have a bit faster pulse rate.

Rates between 40-60 are considered “serious”, but may be explained by an elevated
temperature such as on a very hot day.  Also, if the horse is suddenly frightened or excited, his heart rate can become temporarily elevated on a very temporary.  Wait a few minutes and then recheck to see if the rate comes down when he is more relaxed. However, rates above 80 are considered “critical” and indicate a very serious problem.

However, ANY rate above 40, even 44, should be regarded with suspicion and evaluated in the overall picture of how the horse is feeling.


Respiration is how hard your horse is breathing. Watch his sides as he breathes in and out and count the number of complete breaths.  Deep heavy breathing, or breathing with an extra abdominal effort, abnormal noise, labored breathing, or gasping are all indications of a serious problem.  

 The normal rate for horses is between 8-12 breaths per minute. Again, many things can effect this that must be taken into consideration before considering whether it is abnormal.  One common factor is his temperature, excitement or a heavy workout.


While temperature, pulse and respiration are the three most common vital signs used to determine your horse’s health, there are other indicators that you may want to check and report to your veterinarian:

  • Mucus Membrane Color: The normal color is pink
  • Capillary Refill Time: After depressing the gums, the color should return within 1-2 seconds.
  • Gut sounds (borborygmus): A horse should have a normal gurgling sound on both sides of the abdomen back near the flanks.
  • Hydration: Pinch and elevate the horse’s skin over the shoulder, then let go. If it snaps back into place very quickly, your horse is properly hydrated

For a chart that can be posted next to your horse’s stall with instructions on how to take temperature, pulse and respiration, as well as normals and critical values, click HERE.