Help me design my new property! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Montgomery, AL
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Question Help me design my new property!

Hi y'all. Newcomer to the forum and am enjoying reading through. My wife and I are moving to the Montgomery, AL area in a couple of months and we are buying a home with 20 acres, mostly relatively flat pasture. I want to create a place for a couple of horses and I'm interested in how you might design a new space with a blank slate?

I don't think I'm interested in a large barn. Rather, pasturing the horses with a run-in type barn. I'm thinking of either fencing in the whole 20 acres with white vinyl and a hot wire OR making an oval shaped paddock of around 5 acres, with Electrobraid and moveable fence posts to keep the pastures in good shape. Another alternative I have considered is a large rectangular pasture with the run-in barn/hay storage in the middle and gates to turn out the horses to one side or the other.

Any thoughts or recommendations?


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post #2 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 02:07 PM
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Run in with storage and a place for hay and equipment, tack, feed. Can be all in one or separate. Water in an accessible location for ease of filling troughs. I'd go with sectioned rectangles or squares and shared troughs. Put in some trees for shade and wind break.
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post #3 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 05:43 PM
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First off.... WELCOME to the FORUM!!!!

So, make sure any vinyl fence you consider is only livestock rated and safe.
Vinyl fencing once aged a few seasons becomes horrible brittle and breaks easily making shards that can be deadly to a horse, forget the escape route now open.

I would be fencing the entire perimeter anyway no matter what you do inside so any escapees stay safely on your property.
I would consider making 4 pastures fenced adjoining each other that have gates and access all from the central area of the large run-in shed.
Allows you to open and send horse to a designated area yet come home to shelter as needed.
So, think a rectangle with barn in middle, with gates on each corner of the rectangle opening to a spearate fenced pasture space. Closing other gates allows either just the barn area access or open any gate{s} allows access to more space.
I would also fence off a section for the house so you not have the horses standing on the back porch in the morning...some space and distance so you have a backyard free of horse poop, urine smell and the flies all horses do attract...a buffer if you will. Allows a place you can go outside and enjoy the horses yet also enjoy having a outdoor bar-b-que with friends.
To break that down more...
20 acres total.
2 acres fenced off for house, backyard and driveway in off the road.
18 acres now and I would fence off approx 2 more acres for the run-in shelter and storage area with the gates to other fields.
Now down to 16 acres of pasture field.
4 acres per pasture field x 4 fields allows great rotation of one week on and either 2 or 3 off for good regrowth and not overgrazing.
Shared water troughs under common fence lines or they come home to drink at the barn no matter where the horses are on the property.
Of course size and dimensions would vary depending upon the number of head of horses owned and kept.
You mention yourself and wife so 2 horses, this would work for, and work well. It could work reasonably well for up to and including 4 horses.
You always though have a sacrifice area large enough there will be some grass, space to wander and play or ride near the barn. Small enough to have great control of maintenance things needing done but large enough you aren't a slave to having to pick up every bit of poop...
Horses are picky eaters so having the ability to turn under a field, spray weed and feed to enhance good grass growth and keep the horses off till rain and established growth returns is something I would search for.
Having several fields also will allow you to hay your field and save the expense of purchasing hay when the fields are dormant...where you hay you not graze normally for horses. 4 acres of unobstructed field can produce quite a nice field of hay. Do this once or twice a season of grow and harvest you will be selling off extra hay and be self sufficient at least for this important food item.
Just my idea...can't wait to see what others contribute...

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post #4 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Montgomery, AL
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Super helpful, HLG! Thanks for the info and the welcome.
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post #5 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 06:40 PM
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I built a barn a couple of years ago on our land, and designed it so the horses can come in and out of their stalls as they please (dutch doors, so much like a run-in). My only comment would be to consider flow, and pasture rotation. My horses can exit their stalls into a paddock, which doubles as a riding arena and wintering area. From there, there is a shared fence with a gate that leads to pasture A. Off pasture A is another gate (this time I just used the electrobraid handles) that leads to pasture B. Pasture A can be closed off to recover with a few step-ins and some more electrobraid. The fact that there are different pastures and that I can easily open and close them means easy pasture rotation. The fact that the horses always have a clear path back to the barn means I don't have to provide additional shelter, and watering can be done near the barn. They come back to the barn a few times a day to cool down, have a drink, and nap in the shade on those hot summer days.

Altogether, I have about 5 acres of planted pastures for two horses. They eat it all down between May and November or so, but that's all they eat - I don't feed hay in the summer. I close my pastures for the winter so they can recover, and because we have too much snow to leave the horses out all winter anyway. So they are in the paddock for the winter. You may not have to do this though, and with 20 acres, or even 10, you may have enough to just keep rotating, though you'll undoubtedly have to supplement when the growing slows down. Also, it depends on what your 20 acres looks like. 20 acres of pasture is one thing, but 20 acres of woods, scrubs, and sparse grass is another. Also, it's great that you're realistic and are only aiming for two horses! I have two, and it's perfect. That said, plan to be able to add another stall or two for a retired, aging horse down the road. You always need more room than you think. A closed tack room is essential, hay storage, and a place for your implements are crucial too. We have a 48 x 32' barn, divided in half - one side is for the horses, the other is for equipment (tractor, atvs, trailer, etc.). There's no way I could imagine going any smaller than this.

If you have satellite images of your property (just search it on google maps), folks here are really good at critiquing designs. I posted some of my own (rendered anonymous of course) and found it really useful. It will also help you figure out how many posts you will need, make rough calculations of the amount of electrobraid, etc.

Have fun! This will be an exciting adventure!
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post #6 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 08:24 PM
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Moveable fences very quickly become tedious, so end up being semi-permanent

If you have and aerial map of your property you could draw out some plans.

I agree with @QtrBel

Also ideally you don't want to go through one paddock to get to another so a 'race' can be handy.

Where will you be riding? If at home a lot, small paddocks could be a nuisance. Consider if you want smaller ready paddocks or a few larger ones that can be break-fenced. Cost may contribute to that decision.

Think of water and power wires (if using electric fencing - and good earthing is essential) in relation to fences, and where source of water located.

Access for trucks or trailers later if you might have stock to pick up or send away so yards, even small ones, are useful.

A concreted area for hosing down is worth considering for washing down horses as the ground goes to mud so quickly.

You may want a round pen, and/or arena. Dressage arena's can be semi-permanent or very basic if you are in to that.

Width and placing of gates - the natural 'flow' of animals (sheep run downhill, cattle uphill - I think that's the right way round!!). consider that you may need to get a tractor in at some stage (hay or silage etc) so especially any 3-way gates need planning well, which way the gate swings etc.

Where you tie up your horses is out of the way of any vehicles coming and going. That might sound obvious, but its not. You might be grooming your horses so 'it doens't matter' if you partly block the driveway - until you have someone else delivering another horse!

If you have/plan to have kids a large-animal free garden is a good idea for young kids.

A few ideas, hope it helps

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post #7 of 33 Old 03-18-2018, 08:42 PM
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A well appointed barn, with grooming areas, tack & feed storage areas in it, whether you choose a raised center aisle or shed row style (doesn't really matter) will add value to your property. Fencing all around the property and then cross fencing various pastures and paddocks, all add value. Temporary fencing doesn't and it ends up looking really shabby. If you want to use vinyl, buy the one you can put 1X4 or 2X4 boards in, helps to keep it sturdy and lessens the chance of a run through. Hot wire or electrobraid (my personal choice) is a sanity saver for the humans. Keeps the horses off whatever fencing you choose to put up.

I like the idea of fencing off 2 acres or so for the house proper, 2 acres to house the barn facility, round pen, hot walker, outside wash rack/grooming area, hitching rail, arena, whatever other amenities you want to add as time goes on. Then split the others as you see fit. 4 4 acre pastures, 2 4 acre pastures & 4 2 acre pastures, however you want to split it up. You can put 3 sided loafing sheds in each pasture (again, adds resale) and make sure you make provision for a good sized area for the muck heap.
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post #8 of 33 Old 03-19-2018, 01:15 AM
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I know exactly how i would design the property.

#1 put up perimeter fence all the way around. For me, i like one top rail with field wire underneath. You want something that will keep stray dogs out and your dogs in, if you have dogs. I don't want stray dogs attacking my horses.

The barn goes in the middle of the property. Your paddocks should be designed like a pie chart. All paddocks lead directly to the barn.For example, If you have an 8 stall barn, then every 2 stalls open up onto a separate pasture. Or if you want individual turnout, then one paddock for each stall. Electric fencing would work fine here. The barn i saw that did this had huge 5-8 acre pastures for every 2 stalls. Seemed to work well.

If you don't like that idea, and want more of a run-in setup, I would do one rectangular paddock around your barn. With all pastures leading to this area. This way you can rotate pastures and your horses will always have barn access. Your rectangular paddock will probably be a sacrifice area during winter so make sure you can get a drag in there to spread manure. A round paddock may work better than rectangular if you are planning on dragging your manure. Horses like to stand in corners your drag can't fit in!

Remember, hay storage needs to be separate from the barn to reduce the risk of a barn fire.

Don't forget drainage and flooding. You want to build high and dry!

I would build at least 2 extra stalls for extra storage (or more horses) and enough overhang to park your trailer under.

If you do make stalls, don't put boards at floor level. You want airflow. It is nice to get one large fan that can blow through the entire barn at floor level, rather than putting fans in each stall. This obviously works best for small barns. Large barns need individual stall fans.
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post #9 of 33 Old 03-19-2018, 03:55 AM
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Can't stress enough something that @4horses mentioned. Build high and dry. You pretty much want your barn and the smaller corral you'll probably have attached to it at the highest point possible on your property. Won't completely eliminate any mud problems but it sure helps a bunch.
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post #10 of 33 Old 03-19-2018, 05:00 PM
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Location: Middle Tennessee
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"Mostly relatively flat"is not totally flat, lollol

Take serious note of how your land drains and erect all of your buildings accordingly----- meaning you don't want anatural water path flowing into your barn, shed, workshop, or anything else.

Whatever type of outbuildings you put up, dont be cheap --- add gutters anddown spouts . It will be the best money you will ever spend.

Our 25 acres was completely perimeter fenced with cattle woven wire, when we purchased it. Good thing as we had 11K in cross-fencing as it was.

Don't under-gate yourself and don't put small gates in to save money, where you will need access for the farm tractor or the electric company. I have 16' tractor gates in most places. Those will accommodate an electric bucket truck if you have to have a power transformer placed on your property ---- you do NOT want the power company to have to cut your fence to get to the transformer if there is an emergency. We w ended up with two power transformers on our property

20 acres is way to much to mow with a sub-compact and a belly style finish mower. A nice older but well maintenance farm tractor will do the job, with a six foot bushhog. Unless you know someone who will come in and bush hog for a reasonable fee. It's $50/acre where I live in southern Middle Tennessee. Our 1969 Ford 3000 has well earned her keep, even with the money we have put into her:)

We all have our own preferences for a barn --- you mentioned a run-in style. Give serious thought to the open end placement based on your prevailing weather pattern. If you are originally from Alabama you already know summer generally equals Gulf air, winter generally equals air flow from the NW.

Put an overhang on the entrance to the run-in. My overhang and barn have metal roofs. BOTH are insulated --- mainly for the humidity, insulation also deflects the pounding of the rain to some degree. Plus your farrier will appreciate a dry place out of the weather to trim the horses:)

If Montgomery gets snow, it gets cold enough to freeze so you might want to consider electric in the run-in shed. That will allow you to have heated water for the horses and you won't have to be out there breaking ice a couple of times thru the day into the evening.

^^^^Thats all of the no-nonsense-but-needed stuff I can think of, based on your post.

As I write this my area is under the gun for tornadoes---- I hope your area is safe and fares well --- after the storm would be a excellent time to inspect your 20 acres and see which corners fare well and which do not:)

Welcome to the forum!
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Last edited by walkinthewalk; 03-19-2018 at 05:06 PM.
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