Freshen Up Your Barn

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A Little Effort Makes a Big Difference

by Theresa Rice


September 2017
Photo courtesy Theresa Rice

Dreaming of a Pinterest-worthy barn? Me too. But I don’t have a million dollars lying around for those spotless aisles, stylish lighting, a heated and air-conditioned arena, and endless feet of white fencing enclosing mud-free green pastures.

Even though such facilities might be too rich for our horse-poor wallets, there are still things we can do to update our barns. We have much to be thankful for (that we have horses and a barn to put them in). But we also want a barn that beckons us inside after a long day of work, instead of something that looks like a sheep shack.

Our budgets may be tight but there’s plenty we can do to make our barns the best-looking version they can be. Here are some affordable ways to freshen up the barn, even if you’re at a boarding facility.

Add a coat of fresh paint. I know what you’re thinking: I thought you said affordable! I did. I don’t mean a whole exterior treatment, I mean just updating the trim and painting over spots where paint may be flaking off. A crisp trim will help the barn look well cared for.

Add fresh flowers to the front entrance. You can change the potted plants according to the season. You’ll find people naturally help in watering the flowers to keep the beautiful blooms coming. Adding a pop of color that changes with the season might seem like a luxury, but as horse owners we spend a lot of time at the barn; there’s no reason it shouldn’t be just as inviting as our homes.

Wash walls. Are you having flashbacks to a childhood of washing your own handprints off your mom’s white walls? No? Just me? Well I’m not talking about getting out the Windex and a rag. Think big! Get the hose and a broom. While the weather still holds a bit of fall warmth, you can spray down the walls, rinsing away a year’s worth (several years’ worth?) of cobwebs and dust and bird poop. For the really stuck-on debris, you can use a broom to brush down the walls and follow it with a spray of water. Washing the walls isn’t just for a cleaner look, keeping the dust down will help your horse’s respiratory health as well.

Install plenty of bright lighting. The glorious sunlit days of summer are gone. Having a well-lit barn when the days are dreary, dark, and short, can be the difference between having the inspiration to tack up and go for a ride or just get chores done in a dimly lit stall and slink home to sit on the couch with hot cocoa. I don’t blame you. There’s nothing more annoying than looking for a missing spur at the bottom of a darkened tack trunk to make you decide not to ride and put you in bad mood to boot. Add lights. Add more than you think are necessary. You could even install a timer on your lights so you never have to wonder again if you remembered to turn them out at the end of the night; they’ll turn off on their own.

Update your seating. We linger in the barn to chat with our fellow riders, sitting atop tack boxes and overturned buckets. Or we balance on a chair wobbling on its last legs. Make people want to sit down and wax poetic about the difference between a slow-twist snaffle and a Tom Thumb. You’ll probably even learn something new about your barn mates.

Add stylish hooks to common areas. Sure, a long nail can do a similar job, but the idea is to class up the place. You’re not looking to add another randomly-placed nail. Add large hooks that can handle all manner of items from lunge lines to pitchforks to polo wraps that need to air out. Once their up you’ll wonder how you ever thought those long nails were sufficient.


Originally Published September 2017 Issue

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