by Nikki Alvin-Smith
Seasonal use barns present a different set of design challenges to those of an average barn build. The summers of the Carolinas, Florida and Southern States are often too hot and humid for equestrian pursuits during the daytime.
Vacating the premises during summer months and heading to cooler climes further north is a common practice across multiple riding disciplines from dressage and showjumping to reining and horse racing. Meantime, the barn located in these cooler regions may be closed or kept running by a skeleton staff during winter months and the structure may endure significant snowstorms, heavy rains, and high winds.
Packing up the provisions, tack, and equipment, alongside horses and human families to transition from one property to another is an arduous task that requires much planning to execute. Clever barn design will ensure that the barn structures wherever located, are constructed of materials that will encourage minimal maintenance, and provide maximum security when empty. The ideal barn style will offer form, fit, and function without features that will cost more money to manage during the owner’s absence.
Here are some commonsense considerations to address when constructing your barn away from home:
Perhaps not something you think about, but the siting of your barn plays a big part in its access and availability during adverse weather as well as affecting the privacy and security of the structure.
The advantage of a long and winding driveway where the barn is set a long way back from the road and hidden from view, with a driveway that can be securely gated with a fully fenced enclosure of the entire property, is an attractive if expensive option for the seasonal use farm.
The disadvantage of the extensive distance is poor accessibility in bad weather such as snowstorms, or the likelihood of blocked access due to fallen trees or debris caused by wind damage.
An additional negative is the distance overhead electric wires must travel that necessarily subjects them to a higher risk of tree or wind damage and hence increases the risk for power outages. While electric and other services can be buried underground, the costs for repairs can be excessive if they become necessary due to failure.
The barn structure may be sited with such a high level of privacy that there is no opportunity for neighborhood watch help from others within view of the building.
Reliance on alarm and surveillance monitoring is likely if the buildings are vulnerable to unwanted activities that might include everything from vandalism caused by hungry bears or mischievous bored teens to squatter ‘past employees’ (yes, that happens!).
On the other hand, a barn sited by the road will be subject to more attention from passers-by and long periods of inactivity will be noticed, which can be a plus or a minus.
Installation of security systems, perimeters secured from intrusion and physical check-ins at the property from trusted family and friends are all methods to ease the property owner’s stress associated with being absent from the property.
The Security Question In Barn Design From The Weather and Mischief Perspective
In warm climates the open sided barn structure or shelter is a popular horse housing choice to facilitate better airflow for the horses housed. This is an inexpensive option in the realm of horse barn design. The downside of this design in hurricane prone regions is the ‘hat’ or roof of such a barn is at significant risk of lifting during high winds. Such buildings also offer no protection from flying debris caused by excessive winds or driving wind and rain blasting its equine occupants.
The open sided or half-sided barn also provides no security to whatever is housed within the space, horses or equipment and tack stored therein.
Dutch doors with adjoining loafing areas or small paddock access will be more easily accessible during poor weather if an overhang is provided to protect the area. But remember that when vacating the property for long periods these doors should be closed and have provision to be bolted from the interior to ensure the structure is secure from nefarious intent. A thief will always find the weakest spot to gain entry.
Abandon Winter Worries – Let It Snow
Beautiful Monitor Barn and Center Aisle barn designs offer loft space suitable for storage of supplies or additional living space. However, with adoption of exterior space such as exterior staircase access and gable end balconies, the need to clear these areas of snow to utilize them during snowfall months in northern regions makes them both a slip hazard and encompasses a lot of extra labor to shovel the white stuff away. And to where?
Heating systems for plumbing fixtures from hot water faucets to tack rooms that are heated to protect valuable tack, equipment, and supplies from freezing weather, may require access for repair. Placing these locations at the end of the building closest to driveway ingress/egress for ease of access and grouping them together will minimize the need for long runs of vulnerable plumbing.
Plumbing that is installed to gravity drain for winter shut down is essential if electric or other services to operate the system are intended. The addition of RV anti-freeze/propylene glycol (safer than ethanol glycol as less toxic) to water can lower the freezing temperature of the liquid to help prevent the expensive repair of damage caused by burst water pipes. These products can also be particularly useful in toilet bowls and water traps to prevent freezing but read the instructions for appropriate uses.
Backup power systems such as generators offer peace of mind. Especially when properly installed by a licensed electrician to kick on automatically when needed. Consider their placement carefully to allow all weather access for refilling of propane, diesel, or gasoline.
It is important to keep the power on to ensure Wi-Fi and other alarm systems are kept active and to protect the interior of the building from temperature extremes to avoid damp and mold damaging the contents.
The type of material laid on pathways/driveways should facilitate the use of power equipment such as snow throwers and plowing by truck. While the owner may be absent during the winter months there is still a need to be able to access the property for maintenance or in an emergency such as fire.
Barn design should also include consideration for mitigating the risks of infestation by critters other than the horse variety that inevitably seek refuge from cold or hot weather (pests such as rats, mice, snakes, and possibly bats, squirrels, and raccoons in roof spaces). Consultation with a pest control professional can provide helpful advice on simple fixes as well as features to be implemented in the initial build such a roof ridge mesh and stainless-steel vent covers to deter bats and squirrels.
A quiet, empty barn is the perfect haven for a variety of creatures.
Plan On Additional Storage
While it is obviously a good idea to remove valuables from the barn during any planned long-term absence, there will still be many items that will need to be safely tucked away and stored for long periods.
In warm climates that lend themselves to lots of outside time entertaining and enjoying the good weather alongside container gardening and pool side activities, the abundance of furniture and garden paraphernalia that can be amassed in a short period of time is astonishing. Where will it all go when you head north? It is smart to allow space for extra storage needs in your horse barn design that is not only secure from interference by thieves, but also secure from inclement weather.
Similarly for the barn to be closed in cooler climates there will be hose pipes, buckets, skips, driveway markers, tools, and mowing equipment that all have their moment in the sun but that need to be safely stashed away when not in use.
A separate storage shed, or other building can provide much needed space to address seasonal storage needs, or extra stalls can be adapted to serve the purpose. Many homes in warmer climates offer no basement option or secure garage space to accommodate the need for storage. Smart barn plans that encompass specific, easy to access and lock storage regions can save much labor when it comes time to pack up and leave. Windowless spaces are an obvious design choice from a security standpoint.
For more information on barn design options and advice, please visit leading modular horse barn producer Horizon Structures. Their blog offers an additional wealth of resources that you won’t want to miss. Horizon Structures also offers a full range of sheds and storage options through their sister company.
PLEASE NOTE: AHP members ~ Please share this content. Kindly include Horizon Structures URL and author’s URL wherever published. Please advise use so we can share your platform too. Feel free to contact Nikki Alvin-Smith for further information and high res photos.
About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –
Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
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Grand Prix Dressage