Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bring on the Ponies - Building a Horse Shelter Part 1

So after the goats (see last post) we wanted to bring The Cowgirl's horse Squid (don't ask) out to the ranch.

And of course to do that we had to have a horse lean to built. Also, in Washington State you have to have a sacrificial confinement area so the horses don't completely tear up your pasture.

Now I had never built a structure that big, so it was quite a daunting task for me. I did some research, and found some basic farm outbuilding plans offered for free from some universities.
LSU has a great collection of free plans on their website.

So I started with this plan for a portable horse shelter. I really like the simplicity of the plan. We thought that we could possibly actually move it around to different areas of the pasture with the seasons. But the more we thought about the sacrificial confinement areas we would need, that didn't seem to be such a good idea.

So I bought a book on Amazon called Habitat For Humanity: How to Build a House by Larry Haun. I really like how simply he lays out his ideas and give practical advice to the first time builder.

Side Note: On buying tools - I had to buy all new tools for this thing. We went through Hurricane Katrina and lost all our stuff so it was time to buy new tools. If you have a Harbor Freight near your house, definitely check them out. Great deals on all kinds of tools.

So with the free plans from LSU and reading from the Habitat For Humanity book, we decided to build a 2 stall structure that would have the sacrificial runs built right in.

We first had to have a spot in our field cleared. Since I didn't have a tractor yet, I found a guy on Craigs List to come out and mow the pasture and level this area for about $350. I absolutely love Craigs List, a truly awesome website. It's amazing that he has resisted selling the website for millions of dollars. But anyway, it was time to build.

As you can see, it's a pretty great setting. The stalls are 12'x12'. Ten feet high in the front, and eight feet high in the back. I framed out the corner posts and bottom stretchers with pressure treated 4"x4".

I would go with bigger posts in the front if I had to do it again. Probably at least 8"x8". I know it's a lot more money, but it's worth it.

I used Simpson Strong Tie connectors for all my corners and roof connections. They're really strong and not that expensive. You can get them at Home Depot or Lowes, usually right by the lumber dept.

I was pretty lucky on some of my materials. My real estate agent who did the deal on the ranch had the metal roofing. He was going to build a garage and never got around to it, and his wife got sick of looking at it in the back yard. And our next door neighbor had a bunch of plywood left over from his llama barn that he sold me for $5 a sheet. That was a great deal.

After we got the stalls done, we put in fencing on the sacrificial runs. They're about 60 feet by twelve feet. Here's another great tip to save some money. I found some 5' fencing at a building supply auction here in the Puget Sound. It's called Ehli Turner Auctions. They run the auction every other Saturday, and I scored about 500 feet of really good quality fence for about $150. I figured I saved at least $500 on that deal.

After the stalls and the runs, we added a hay storage room and tack room.
Here's where we're at as of last weekend. The front part is pretty much done except for a few odds and ends. We bought some pre-primed exterior siding from Home Depot and painted it red. Got the barn door kit off of Ebay for a great price, and built the sliding door out of pressure treated lumber, and CDX plywood. It still needs to be painted. We added a few little planters from IKEA, and a thermometer from Harbor Freight for $1.99.

That's all for now, but up next I'll tell you the lessons learned about construction and cribbing.

See you next time.


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