Building the Dream Barn: The Barn Takes Shape

Dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares an update on the construction process of her new dressage facility.

Hi All! It seems like all of a sudden summer is in full swing! COVID-19 gave me some down time as the building of my facility started. It was kind of nice to be home fairly early every day to watch some of the progress and take pictures. I usually do quite a bit of teaching off property in the afternoons and if I’m not teaching somewhere else, I schedule trailer-in lessons in the afternoons. But with the stay at home order, I was just riding the training horses. It was kind of nice to have some quiet time… for about two weeks. Then I really missed the interaction with my clients and I especially missed teaching—that is where I find inspiration. A special energy comes from helping others with their own passion.

I kept the barn closed for about seven weeks and then opened it back up. Fast forward to now and it’s starting to slowly get back to normal. I went to Scott Hassler’s a few weekends ago for some lessons. It was so great to check in for him to see the progress on a couple horses, as I haven’t seen him since the winter. He was pleased with the progress and that is always a great feeling. I am also getting busy again with lots of trailer-in lessons and clinics. It feels good to be busy again!

I had some lessons with Scott to check on our progress. So nice to get away for a day!

I have a tendency to babble… You are probably waiting for an update on the barn building! It’s going well and we have made a lot of progress! In my last blog, they had set the posts and had the roof on the indoor. A few days after that they had the frame up for the barn. 

Early morning on June 3, about five dump trucks with dirt, stone dust and bank run rolled into the driveway. Dave Wisner, of K and L Contracting, who came highly recommended as “the arena guy” in our area came to begin the excavation. Dave is well known in our area as the one to call when you want your drainage done correctly and he is the main man for the arena base. I figured I had one chance to get this right, so we hired the best. He began digging swales around the barn that will connect to the bio retention ponds. We will have excellent drainage and from the looks of it, we shouldn’t ever have any flooding. It’s fascinating to me to watch this process. The moving of the earth to help rain runoff is definitely an art. If it isn’t done correctly, it could be a huge mess but to see Dave know exactly where to put the soil and where to cut in is pretty cool to watch. Definitely different from what I do every day. We all have our craft!

Here is one of the swales in progress. This is designed to draw water away from the barn and toward the bio retention ponds.
Trench for water and electric
Dave Wisner has been moving a lot of dirt around!

During this time, my husband, Bobby, was still busy making calls and setting up a plumber and electrician.

The nice thing is that while Dave and his guys are working around the barn, the Byler Builders team is in the barn working on that. So it has definitely been busy around here! The builders were working on getting the windows framed up for the indoor and the roof on the barn as rain was expected. I picked a black roof, which I was initially worried might be too hot in the summer but Harvey assured me that would not be an issue, as it is insulated. A couple of days after the windows were framed up, they started the siding on the indoor. We chose light panels along top of the indoor in a smoke color to match the roof. It looks dark on the outside but still allows natural light in. I’m including pictures of this. After the siding was on the indoor, the gutters could be installed and this was a good thing, as we had some rain. It was a nice test for Dave’s swales that he had just dug!

This shows the siding on the indoor with the light panel at the top in the smoke color.

At this point, the barn and indoor are both up and it actually looks like a barn! I will let you all know that it still surprises me to look out the window and see a barn in my back yard! From my kitchen window, I can see the tack room door and it’s at the corner where the barn connects to the indoor. I have a plan for a patio here with a table and chairs and some plants—a place for my barn family to hang out and connect! Maybe we’ll even have a garden!

The barn is framed and has a roof! It’s actually looking like a barn now!
Here is the door to the tack room and where I envision a nice patio with chairs and a table. Bobby rolls his eyes when I say this—but don’t worry, it will happen!

It feels good to have life get back to a sort of normal. We have entered our first show and we are all so excited to get back to it! I will be getting back into the FEI ring for the first time in a long time. I think I might be crazy with everything we have going on, but hey, I can rest when I retire!

Stay tuned for the next blog as we get started on framing for the stalls and the interior!

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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