(post by Jason)
Melissa and I have been doing a bunch of thinking about what the next barn at the new farm needs to look like and be able to do. As most of you know, we've already built one fully functional horse barn at the new farm. The question at this point is do we need another fully functional horse barn, just like the one we already built, or would another type of structure suit our purposes better ?
In many ways that count, I like our horse barn. It was designed to make the work easy and to be comfortable for the horses when they need to be inside. But ours is a very non-traditional boarding operation. With a few exceptions, our horses don't spend any real time in their stalls. Most of the horses live outside on pasture. With the exception of farrier days, when someone needs to see the vet, and when the dentist comes, the stalls stand empty. When we think about allocating financial resources as wisely as possible it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend that much money on another "single purpose" structure that stands empty most of the time.
To be sure, anything we build needs to have a place to hold horses temporarily; perhaps a few stalls and a crosstie area for when the farrier, vet or dentist needs to pay a visit. But I don't think it needs to be designed as a typical horse barn would be. Horses aren't going to live in it full time; they are going to come to it, stay a short time, and either return to be with their friends or move to our other barn which is designed for more permanent accommodations.
What I'd really like is a big, open, versatile center structure with two partially or fully enclosed sheds, one on each side. As I see it right now, partially or fully enclosed sheds might lend themselves to preparing feed, temporarily stalling and cross-tieing horses, and storing and accessing voluminous numbers of blankets and supplies. A large, open center structure could potentially store hay, feed, bedding, and odd pieces of wayward equipment, especially during inclement weather. It would also provide a safe, sheltered, cool place to work on horses, and could incorporate some portable stalls if it became necessary.
Since we are still undecided as to what sort of structure we are going to build, and since I'm always open to good ideas, I'm going to be very curious to hear what everyone has to say on this !