Building a Dream Barn: A Place for My Barn Family

Dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares an update on her barn construction.

Hi everyone! There has been so much progress since my last blog entry. It’s amazing how fast a big structure like an indoor arena can go up! It’s been pretty fascinating to watch. Our builders, Byler Builders out of Delaware, do excellent work and they have been wonderful in answering all of our questions and keeping us informed of what will be happening each day.

Byler Builders has been wonderful to work with and we are so happy with the quality of their work. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

They arrive early and stay late. We have been very impressed with the attention to detail and their professionalism. For example, the windows had come with white trim but when we picked a tan color for the barn and indoor, they sent the windows back and ordered some with trim that would match the siding. We decided on tan and black as the colors to match the house. I had fun looking at the color samples in this process!

In my last blog entry, I mentioned they had just finished digging the holes for the footers of the indoor arena and had set the footers in concrete. Early in the morning on May 4, they began framing up the indoor and getting ready for the trusses, which are framework, made of rafters, posts, and struts to support the roof of the building. The trusses are built at a facility in Pennsylvania and shipped in. 

Harvey, the foreman (who is extremely nice and answers my many questions) told me that the trusses were arriving that afternoon. Luckily, I was home in time to see the first set of trusses come into the driveway. This was definitely impressive to watch! It was a huge truck and the driver did a great job getting it into the driveway and backing it up to the work site. And I thought backing the horse trailer up was tricky! Harvey said to me “These are just the little ones.” I stood there for a second with my mouth open. I couldn’t wait to see the big ones!

This is a picture of the truck with the small trusses.

About an hour later, the big ones arrived. They parked the truck on the road and several guys got out to discuss getting the truck into the driveway. If you’ve ever been driving on the highway and you’ve seen one of those giant trucks with a caution car in front and behind with lights and a sign that says “wide load,” that’s what this was! It took a caravan of cars to get these trusses to their destination safely.

Here is the truck with the big trusses, these are for the indoor. The small ones are for the barn.

Once they got into the driveway, they came up with a plan to get the truck closer to the indoor as they use a crane—I don’t know the technical construction term for these things, so I apologize to all the builders out there reading this—that’s built into the truck to get the trusses from the truck onto the building, so it needed to be close. The problem was that we had had so much rain that the ground was squishy and this was one heavy truck! They decided to get up some speed and get as far as they could before the truck bogged down. The driver backed up as much as the space would allow and hit the pedal. It was pretty impressive to watch! The truck made it all the way to the end of the indoor before it got too low in the mud and stopped. At that point, they got organized and got the first truss ready to put up. It was amazing to watch this giant truss hanging from wire, floating through the air and being put into place. I now have much respect for everyone from the guy controlling the crane to the guys with the guidelines keeping it from blowing in the wind to the guys nailing it in place, hanging off the frame of the building. It could so easily have gone wrong, but the first truss was placed perfectly. We all sighed with relief. At this point, it was late in the day, so it was time to for them to head home.

First truss going up! It was pretty windy this day, so it was an exciting thing to watch!

Early the next morning they were back and working on getting the rest of the trusses up. By the time I got back from the barn that afternoon, all of the trusses were up! I was completely amazed! Once the trusses were all in place, they began framing up the trusses and getting ready to begin the roof. The next day, there were at least 15 guys here working to get the roof on.

Harvey said they bring in extra guys to get the roof done quickly, and it was done quickly! It was finished by the end of the day. I am including lots of pictures of this process. In three days, we literally had a building with a roof!

We planned for the indoor to sit close to the existing garage/storage building and the barn will come off of the indoor, so it is a T-shape. I wanted it this way so that every stall would have a door/window for the horses to look out and it’s great for ventilation. The garage/storage building already had a large hay loft and there is plenty of room for storage of farm equipment. It will be nice to have the hay and equipment stored away from the barn and the horses, as this will keep dust and fumes down in the barn.

By the end of the third day after the trusses arrived, we had a building with a roof. Pretty amazing!

Our favorite time of the day has been the evening when the guys have all gone home and we go out to see the work and actually take it all in. It’s still very surreal for me! This barn is literally in my back yard. I have been working toward this for so long that it still sometimes doesn’t feel real. I have always felt that the barn has been my second home and it’s a place I want my clients, who have become friends, to feel as if it’s their second home as well—a place they can come to work on their craft, feel at ease with their horse and be with others who are supportive and share their love of horses and our sport. We were all brought together because of horses— this is something that I love about this business. I have made lifelong friends because of horses and had the best times of my life because of horses. So this barn is not “just a barn” to me. It represents a lifetime of memories and relationships built from the love of horses; a place where we will want to be, building a feeling of teamwork and togetherness in a sport that can sometimes feel like we are alone.

Celebrating in the new indoor!

The horse business is interesting and it’s one that I don’t think can be related to many other businesses. We become close with our clients as we train them as riders and their horses. We share dreams, hopes, fears, victories, setbacks, happiness and sadness. We often spend weekends away together, we get to know their families and our children play together. In doing all of this, we become family. Our barn family. I am especially excited to share this barn with my barn family.

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Kelly McGinn is an FEI rider, trainer and coach. She has brought many horses and riders up through the levels and has enjoyed success in regional and national championships as well as year end awards. Kelly was also chosen to ride the Friesian stallion Lolke 372 in the opening ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games in 2010 in the famed 10 horse Friesian train. Kelly has trained with Scott Hassler since 1991 and she credits Scott for her teaching and training style as he has been a big influence in her education. Kelly has also had the opportunity to ride with many well known clinicians including Steffen Peters, Michael Klimke and Debbie McDonald. Kelly also participated in the Young Dressage Trainers Symposium for 9 years where she developed a love for the process of training young horses. She runs a small teaching and training business in Easton, Maryland, where she has a variety of different horses in training and believes that every horse can benefit from good dressage training regardless of the breed.






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