Building the Dream Barn: The Finishing Touches

Maryland-based dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares an update on the construction of her dressage facility, detailing the addition of stall mats, doors, fans and other fixtures.

I hope everyone has been staying cool in the heat! It has been pretty hot here in Maryland with high humidity that makes it even steamier.

In my last blog entry, we had just started the fencing and the indoor footing was completed. I think you all might remember me mentioning that the barn I have been leasing for the past five years is very close to our property where we are building. It’s so close, in fact, that we can easily take a five-minute hack to my new farm. I couldn’t wait to ride in the new indoor, so we took a few of the horses over to ride in it. It was wonderful!

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Hacking down the driveway to ride in the indoor!
First ride on the new footing. It felt wonderful!

I have been waiting a very long time to have my own indoor, so this was definitely exciting for me and I can’t wait until we can start training and I can teach in it. The footing felt perfect—a little like riding on a cloud. I was very pleased with the footing we chose! We didn’t spend a lot of time in the indoor as the concrete guys were there to finish pouring concrete in the grooming area and feed room, so we took a few laps around and then hacked back.

Here I am on Donny (owned by Ruth Pomraning) in our first ride in the indoor.

Since we were still waiting for the stall fronts to be delivered, this gave us time to do some of the work that we are doing ourselves, like laying out the stall mats. We chose Stall Savers stall mats. With this system, the matting for each stall is only one piece so there aren’t any seams and it doesn’t shift like traditional stall mats. It’s also pretty indestructible. I researched these mats and they get great reviews. I’m eager to get horses in the stalls to see how they perform over time.

Bobby and Lu taking a break from working. Our weekends and evenings are spent working in the barn to get ready.

I ordered fans that are specifically made for agricultural use and are very safe for use in a barn. Bobby and I installed the fans ourselves. There was some swearing and a lot of sweat! But we did it and we were able to turn them on, which was nice to have while we continued securing the stall mats—and it was hot! It was nice to feel how much air flow we have in the barn.

Here is one of the 13 fans we hung.
Bobby running wire for the sound system—good thing he’s used to this sort of thing!

Bobby also ran wire for the sound system for the barn and indoor—this is the benefit of having a husband who works for Verizon. He can wire just about anything! We also started hanging cross ties, saddle and bridle racks and all of the other little odds and ends throughout the barn. I’m sure when we are in the barn and working throughout our days I will find things that I have missed!

I was able to have the concrete guys put some horseshoes at the entrance to the tack room for good luck.
Here are some of the saddle and bridle racks. The tack room is getting there!

Our fencing guy, Steve Windsor with Natural Concepts Landscaping and his crew have been steadily working on the fencing. I don’t envy their job as they have been out in the sun and heat daily. There have been several days they were still there at 8:30 p.m. The paddocks are looking great and I can envision the horses out there happily grazing. One of the first things we did when we bought this property was to plant pasture, so it’s had several years to grow and get established. We’ve actually had several hay cuttings from it, too.

The fencing is coming along nicely.
Each paddock is a nice size.

Finally the day I have been waiting for arrived! On July 24, the stall fronts arrived. I briefly saw them on the truck as they arrived and I was able to take a little break to run over to see the first stall fronts as they were installed. I really had no idea what to expect. I knew they would be nice because the outer stall doors were so well-made, but they were even nicer!

This shows the completed stall fronts with the yoke and hay/feed door.

I had sent Jeff Byler a picture of what I wanted many, many months ago, but I wasn’t sure if they would be what I had wanted as I had asked for a couple of changes from the picture. I chose metal mesh fronts with a feed/hay door. I wanted the feed door so that if you need to feed hay or grain, it’s easy to do that without opening the stall door. This is just one of those little things that make taking care of the barn a little easier. I also wanted the metal mesh fronts for air flow and so that as I am walking through the barn, I can easily see the horses and the horses can see each other. The doors have a yoke that can be open or closed, again another small detail that was important to me. I don’t mind horses hanging their heads out of the stalls but sometimes it’s safer to not let them do this, so the option to close the doors is there if needed. These stall fronts are so beautiful and well made! Again, Byler Builders exceeded our expectations. I’m including a lot of pictures of the stall fronts for you to see.

After the builders were finished installing the stall fronts, they had a few things to complete and then they were finished—just like that. After months of work, they were gone. I will miss seeing them. They were all very nice and we enjoyed talking with them almost daily. We even made lunch for them one of the days as a thank you with burgers on the grill. It was the least we could do for all their hard work.

A few days after the builders finished, Nick Slayden of Slayden’s Paving and Excavating came out and he and Bobby had a final meeting to go over the plans for the bioretention ponds. The next morning, he and his crew got started on those. I was happy to see this phase begin as it signifies the last phase of building and it means we are very close to being able to move horses in! They are busy working on the ponds as I write this.

Nick Slayden started the bio retention ponds a few day ago. Excited to see this phase begin!

Bobby and I have been busy getting other parts of farm ownership in place. We needed farm insurance and care and custody insurance to run the farm in addition to some other aspects of insurance. So we met with our agent, Justin Daniels of TL Daniels Insurance. Justin was able to help us easily navigate the process of insuring the farm and business. He is local to us, which we like, but he also serves most of Maryland. I was surprised at how seamless he made the process and I like that he is local, so that if we have any problems, he is close by. I also met with the representative for the Maryland Horse Industry Board to give her a tour of the farm. I had applied for my Maryland State Boarding License a couple of months ago, so this was the last step to get our boarding license. I can say we are now officially a licensed boarding facility!

All of the pieces are falling into place. We still have work to do but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have tentatively set a move in date of August 10, so I am hoping that in my next blog I can share that exciting day with you all!

It’s starting to look like a real barn!

I appreciate every single person who is reading about this journey and sharing in our adventure with us! Stay tuned …

Click here to read more of Kelly’s blogs about building her dream farm!

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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