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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can I get some constructive feedback on this tough draft drawing of how we may potentially setup our new place? Total acreage is 3 acres, roughly 2 will be fenced for 2 horses. I know it鈥檚 small acreage and yes I am prepared for the manure management, rotating paddocks, etc. 馃檪

Any tips or anything to add/take away? The highlighted yellow parts will all be four strand barbless wire with a strand of hot wire. I鈥檓 attaching a picture of the layout of the house and land as it sits. It is fenced with 5ft tall chain link for our dogs, that is the part already done as pictured.

Thanks guys!


Premium Member
23,921 Posts
Hi, I drew on your photo to show what I would likely do...

Firstly the horses would be living mostly on a track around the outside. You'd need 2 gates to get in your drive is the only hassle with having a full loop, but you could just make it 'c' shaped, the ends coming to either side of the drive. With a track, the horses get more exercise/motivation for movement than in a boring small square paddock, especially if their water, hay & shelter areas are at different places. They will quickly eat that area down, so it will mean there's no need for a 'sacrifice' area - I presume that's for if you need to keep them off any grass for any reason? While the track will get 'worn', the rest of your property, which will all be eaten out pretty quickly otherwise, will not be. You can then divide the rest into a few paddocks that you can open up off the track to allow more 'rotational' grazing. The middle areas, being unworn, will be decent areas to 'play' too - set up obstacles, jumps, whatever you like. Instead of a pen IN a paddock, you could just cut off one end of the right hand paddock I drew, for when you want to put a horse in a small separate area.

I'd personally give the dogs a smaller area, if you want to make a separate contained area for them. They don't tend to need big 'backyards' but are pretty sedentary in a yard unless out with their humans. I'd also personally be inclined to have the dog yard around the house rather than just one side. I'd have the big section for my garden personally, as I strive for self sufficiency & that looks a good size for some vegies & fruit trees! If you're building shedding, wash area, etc, I'd be inclined to put everything together in one spot, rather than spread out all over the place. Prob close to the house too, for the sake of running plumbing & power. You could have that in the front left of the drive or such, so it's not encroaching in other spaces.


9,598 Posts
I would put the barn where you're showing the round pen and make a wash rack right there at the barn. Round pen where you have the concrete pad. The long, thin paddock #2 (You have 2, #2 paddocks in your drawing) would be combination dry lot and a driveway back to your barn with a gate at the road. This will make it much easier for hauling in bedding, feed, hay, etc... Then as much pasture space as you can squeeze out of the rest of your property. Regardless of how you decide you want your layout I would make sure they had access to the barn from their dry lot unless you are planning on providing a loafing shed separate from the barn in their dry lot.

Super Moderator
12,685 Posts
That concrete pad is way more than needed for a wash rack if drawn to scale. Makes me wonder was it already there as a shed in a past life? I'd say you are likely to find the storage part of your barn will be too small to do much with.

On property this small distance is deceiving. Size can be as well.

What is the orientation? And lengths, widths of the property?

7,055 Posts
Try this exercise:

In your mind, walk out of your house to the barn, get your muck tools, clean the stalls, dump the cart, put fresh bedding down. Now load your feeders with hay, and put hard feed out for your horses. Fill the water tubs.

Next, take a horse out, tack it up, ride somewhere you usually would, come back, untack, rinse off your horse, clean and put away your tack.

Extra credit: do this in the worst summer weather and the worst winter weather you will get.

You may want to print up a site map and use a marker to draw these lines.

How many steps can you eliminate by organizing your spaces better? Do you have sufficient easy-access storage right where you need it? How hard is it to restock those areas?
Where do your water lines go? Will you need frost free hydrants?

What about drainage? Where will the muddy areas likely be (where the gates are, usually). Solar orientation? Prevailing summer and winter winds?

The first place I kept my horse was a kludged-together situation where my horse, my tackroom, my trailer, my arena, my grazing area, and my house, were ALL between an eighth and a half mile apart, each from the other, scattered over four different properties. This set up made me acutely aware of how much time one can waste simply walking from place to place. Setting things up as efficiently, motion-wise, as you can manage, can save hundreds of hours over the course of a year.

I highly recommend buying a copy of Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage. It goes over site planning in great detail, among much other useful information.

Super Moderator
12,685 Posts
I'll add to Avna because I have experienced that as well as having someone that doesn't consider storage needs or how the human interacts with that space. He and I argued incessantly over what was needed. I even laid out everything that would go in the space he planned or represented it by painting outlines on the ground. He still couldn't see it. I used posts and string to mark off what I wanted with the same items and made him walk through it to show him the difference. He still didn't see it. 2 weeks after building his shed he was raising the roof and increasing the size (lengthwise as width was fixed). Second building had to be added but same result so we decided to add a barn. The barn sits unfinished because of the same mistakes. It may end up being finished as a chicken coop if he ever gets over his dented ego.

You need to know what you want to go where on such small property where mistakes are more significant and repurposing and adding on can take up valuable grazing. What is built needs to be suitable for the intended use 1st time around.

I'd decrease concrete pad size and place it alongside one of the barn walls potentially covered so it would be multi use in event of weather. I'd also put the round pen in that same area and have the other for pasture. I'd put gates at corners instead of mid fenceline. Because of vehicle access there is one that needs to stay off the corner on the front line parallel to drive.

Hay storage? How much do you need? How long will it last? When are you looking to buy? And once that is gone what time of year are you purchasing more? Availability of hay in your area? Are you feeding grass and legume. Separate bales or mixed pasture so both in one?

Super Moderator
14,753 Posts
So the parts of the yard existing are already you a lovely backyard to enjoy and a safe place for the dogs to be. A existing garden space, perfect.

That concrete pad probably had a shed that did not meet zoning compliance so either move it or pay fines/fees the previous owner faced, so not giving much value to the property they dumped it.

Now for me, I would incorporate that concrete pad existing into my barn structure = less concrete needed poured and purchased.
Yes, I would make my barn that close to the yard/dog area.
I would also put the round pen off the back of the barn area and the wash-rack would go out the back area near the round pen, all in close proximity to each other.
Wash rack would be on screened road surface material with grid mats on top to drain water.
You probably already have sprinklers in your existing backyard and garden area or need to install them, so dragging a line for water further to the barn is not a huge deal...
When you drag water drag electricity underground, always underground so delivery trucks not worry about overhead lines catching a tall load of hay or such.
With your drawings as you have them you already have marked wide gates for in/out with delivery trucks.
Your farrier or vet can just drive around across the grass when they are due to arrive too.
I would put in a walk-through gate at the back of the backyard/dog area fence so a easy access to the barn it is.
I would make your sacrifice lot as close to the house as possible actually cause if one is sick you want eyes on them closer than binocular seen and closer to the other animals for companionship would make paddock #1 at the property line, move the fence and use part of the backyard/dog fence for that line and install gates, both drive-through and walk-through so safe entry size appropriate to controlling the animals is accomplished.
You do not want to walk across several hundred feet to get to that sacrifice area with a fractious horse on a shank either.
Your barn area can also be your sacrifice area since it will be fenced off from the other areas, fully gated to access all or any location.
When you need to mow/bush-hog your property you want to open gates and just drive and get it you have it laid-out you can do that and have the horses in the barn area safe and secured away from moving equipment.
I see easy places to put water spigots in all paddocks, bring power out for heated troughs if needed and to run electric fence for both perimeter fence and cross-fenced paddock areas...only place not sure how to address a hot wire is where your dogs could possibly urinate on their yard fence could electrocute them so might not hot that area. :|
Your perimeter is fully fenced with real fence, not barbless wire and hot as that might not be allowed by zoning code with out a perimeter fence first...check into fence requirements permitted before setting your heart on something particular or purchasing/installing anything.
People across the street from me recently had installed what looks like Ramm fence of vinyl with support wires through it, possibly something like the first 2 pictures you were thinking or...
Second 2 pictures are barbless horse wire fence with visibility factor that can also be hotted if wanted...all is from Ramm fence website.

Looked beautiful when first went up several months, it is sagging and needs tightening already in our sunny hot climate so beware of this is you contemplate certain styles of fence products they are not always maintenance free as is advertised.

With limited size property and smaller distances to get to the gates to t/o or retrieve your horses the idea of "lanes" and making the horses walk to get to anyplace to me doesn't work well or give the desired effect of actuality it carves up your property further that you can't afford to lose imo. You easily could become a walk path and dust-bowl.
What I haven't figured out is where to place the manure pile so it works for your garden and composting easiest yet furthest away so flies are not a issue nor some of the essence of horse urine over-whelming in summer swelter.:|

I would also take the perimeter fence right across the front of the property, completely fencing you in so if you get a loose horse or dog, a gate innocently left open does not allow to the road escape, period. No gates except for your driveway gates go off the property either...a very contained and easily secured property to maintain and watch out for the safety of and security of land, animals and you all must come in or out from one spot..
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