Building the Dream Barn: Move-In Day

Dressage professional Kelly McGinn shares details of the day she and her clients moved the horses into their brand new, custom-built dressage facility.

Hi everyone! I’m pretty sure most everyone is looking forward to cooler temperatures right about now! I love summer and prefer hot weather over cold weather, but I must say that even I am ready for some fall temperatures. 

I hope you all enjoyed Bobby’s blog entry last week! I know he enjoyed writing it and I told him that if people liked it, then maybe he could write another one! Maybe.

So the day that we have all been waiting for finally came: move-in day. I have to admit that it was starting to feel like it was never going to happen. If you remember, we were originally hoping to move in July 1, so it was definitely overdue. We had some setbacks and had to delay moving in because of weather, which delayed the work on the retention ponds. Once they were completed, we decided to just bite the bullet and move the horses over. We had more than 11 inches of rain the days before we moved in, so it was wet here on the Eastern Shore but I couldn’t delay it any more and I figured we would see just see how well the retention ponds worked! 

Move-in day is finally here!
Nick Slayden and his crew working hard to get the retention ponds completed so we could move in. I was adamant that there wasn’t any big equipment on the property when the horses were there. I didn’t want the horses to spook at big machinery.
The retention ponds handled the huge amounts of rain we had!

Saturday, August 15, was the day! Bobby and I were in the barn late the night before doing last-minute work to get ready. We put bedding in the stalls and hung water buckets. Everything was perfect. It felt a little bit like Christmas Eve when I was a kid. It was quiet and there was a magical excitement in the air.

Last minute details before move in day: numbered feed buckets that match the stall numbers

On the morning of the move, I was wide awake at 4 a.m.. My mind was too full of ideas and excitement to sleep. I had lessons scheduled all morning and then the afternoon was moving time. Luckily, the trailer ride over was literally about a minute’s drive. I’m pretty sure it was the shortest trailer ride ever for the horses. 

I am lucky that I have a wonderful group of clients! We had many hands to help us move equipment and horses. We decided to load equipment on the trailers and move that first and then go back and load the horses. That way they could have their normal turnout and routine and they could have the evening to settle into their new home.

Happy people!
Bobby had fun using the tractor to move tack boxes!
This is only a small amount of the equipment!

I’m going to admit that most of the equipment was mine. I have accumulated a lot of stuff in more than 25 years in the horse business. Needless to say, we will be hosting a used-tack sale in the near future!

Once we had the equipment somewhat organized, we went back over for the horses. This was the moment I have been waiting for, for basically my whole life: horses arriving in my own barn for the first time. I was doing my best to take it all in and enjoy the moment, but I was also trying to make sure it was a smooth transition and that the horses had everything they needed and that my clients also had what they needed. I may have shed a tear or two as we finally walked down the aisleway and settled each horse into their stall. 

Walking the horses in!
Lu loves having the horses at home.

It was a busy afternoon with lots of hustle and bustle getting everything organized and put away. I don’t think the magnitude of the day really set in for me until everyone went home and I was alone in the barn listening to the horses quietly munching their hay. I sat down and just listened for a long time. It was magical! After I fed dinner, I went into the house and started dinner for us. I can look out my kitchen window and see the horses looking back at me. I’m pretty sure some of them were saying “So that’s where she goes when she leaves us. We finally know.” Others were saying “Watcha cooking in there?” I love that I can keep an eye on them and I can walk out my back door to do night check and get up early and feed and turn out before it gets too hot. 

The view from my kitchen window

I will say that the first couple of days I was checking on them constantly to make sure they all settled in well and that none of them were stressed in new surroundings. They all did great! 

Things rolled along pretty smoothly the first week. There were a few things that needed some tweaking, like organizing turn out, making sure gates and stall doors worked properly, getting some last minute equipment, etc. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’ll need until you are in the barn and working daily. There are still a few things that need to be completed and I’m sure I will always be tweaking the organization, schedule and routine to make it perfect. 

I have had to embrace the fact that the barn will never be as clean as it was before the horses moved in! It’s going to be a constant battle to keep the black metal stall fronts clean. I think power washing will be our best friend! 

Overall, this barn has exceeded my expectations and I love that the horses seem to be so happy and relaxed here. I actually had several of the horses lay down in their paddocks the first few days we were here. At first I was alarmed, but I realized that they felt relaxed enough to lay down and nap. That was a great feeling!

Laying down and eating at the same time—is there anything better?!
The grass is so lush that we made sure to limit turn out the first week.
Everyone settled well.
Happy horses!

Stay tuned for the next blog when I will talk about the first week of working the horses in the new barn and going to a show only five days after moving in. Talk about hitting the ground running! Until then, enjoy your rides!


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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