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How do I get started?

Virtually every construction project can be distilled down to three main components Ė time, money and quality. Start by prioritizing these components for your individual situation. And then keep control of your project, remind yourself frequently of the priorities you set for yourself. If quality is number one then you may compromise on time and money. If time is most important be prepared to either pay more money or to sacrifice on quality. If money is tight you may choose to spread the project over more time or to compromise quality. The only thing that is paramount and that should not be compromised is the safety, health and well being of the horse.

Begin by defining your needs. Sit down with a pencil and paper (lots of paper). Create a list with three columns; one for what you need, one for what you want or might like if you can afford it, and one for what you donít want. You can refer back to this list over and over as questions arise during planning to keep yourself on track and focused. Consider all aspects of the plan during your initial brainstorming and then add to the list as you visit other farms for ideas and as you read books and magazines.

Some things to consider during list making:

  • What and how many animals will you have here?
  • Are they all your own or might you board others?
  • Define your tastes, quality and esthetics, keeping in mind potential resale value.
  • Consider materials and architecture, is there an existing house you are trying to match?
  • Maintenance is often overlooked in the initial plan. Plan for function as well as form. Keep like functions grouped together. Allow room for tractors and trucks to access all horsekeeping areas.
  • Use your land to your advantage. High traffic areas (barns & paddock gates) should be on high ground with good drainage. A full manure cart is easier to push downhill, an empty one can be pushed back up.
  • Keep in mind the different personalities of animals and remember that you may not always have "Mr. And Mrs. Ed". Horses like to see each other and be social, but you may also need to be able to quarantine a sick or new horse.
  • If you also keep other animals like dogs or sheep, they may dictate what type of fencing you use.
  • Consider other native wildlife. Birds and frogs eat insects, by leaving or creating habitat for wildlife you can assist in keeping the fly and mosquito population at bay.

Plan for expansion. Even if you know you will never modify what you build, could someone else add to it later?

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