Over the years we’ve changed the innards of our bank barn. Initially there were ten stalls, now there are five and a tack room. The four corner stalls (two at the east, two at the west) are very large. We’ve taken down the middle wall and in each corner of the structure we’ve made two stalls into one. The north side of the bank barn has no windows because it’s built into the bank. The entrance for horses is at the west end. The east end has a “people” door which is about five feet wide. For over a decade I’ve wanted to do something to the people door to make it horse-friendly, just in case we needed a second exit to get horses out of the barn. Finally I’ve come up with a solution, with a lot of help from my friends!
There’s a BIG step up from the barn floor to the people door. Years ago I placed rubber matting on it. This step is solid cement and at least 15” high and 28” deep. Ron and I stood looking at it, trying to figure out how to lower the height. We knew if the height remained the same a horse would launch itself onto the step and we didn’t want that. We wanted a horse calmly and slowly stepping up and leaving the barn.
The ceiling is relatively low. So, when you combine a big step up and a low ceiling the result is a 6’ high passageway for the horses.
After a few minutes of pondering removing some of the cement Ron and I abandoned that approach. I turned our attention to the south side of the barn. There are five windows looking out onto a roundish paddock (about 12 metres in diameter) which is attached to the barn.
We examined the outside wall and decided it has a layer of cement blocks creating the wall. From the inside we could see that the wooden stall wall is about 18” from the cement blocks. My idea was to create a horse door at the eastern most window. We could lead horses out through the door into the confined space. Ron suggested we’d need steel support around the door to maintain the integrity of the 1850ish structure.
We dismissed all thoughts of creating that door and returned to the original conundrum: how to make the east people door horse-friendly.
Ron walked through the door and examined the area from the outside. That’s when he pointed out that we needed to do something to protect the horses’ heads from hitting the aluminum siding. That sharp metal edge on the outside of the building could cause some damage if a horse hit it. He instantly offered a solution: cover the offending area with strips of rubber matting. No problem.
Then Ron had a brainstorm! Why not put one of our pedestals at the base of the step up? That would reduce the height, slow the horses down and just might work!
Our thoughts then went to “which pedestal”. Our first idea was: the bridge. Our second was: the 3’ x 3’ x 6” high pedestal used for the horses to put just their front feet on. I mentioned, “Sometimes it’s tippy.” Ron countered with, “It won’t tip when it’s placed solidly against the barn wall.”
We fetched the small pedestal.
Two days later the rubber matting was in place.
The next day I saw Ron at the barn. He was smiling from ear to ear. He announced, “Pax walked out the east door and back into the barn again. He never hesitated!”
Wow! Congratulations Pax! He’s big boned and WIDE. Good to know he and Ron could get through the opening.
Within the hour the rest of the horses were brought in from their paddocks. I asked Ron to lead Pax in and out of the new door. We all praised him heartily as he walked down the aisle, out the door and back in again, knowing that the remaining four horses were very much aware of these goings on.
Next we took Zeloso out and in. One of us led the horse and the other walked in front. Zeloso didn’t hesitate. Nothing like having a guinea pig go first.
Zelador was very annoyed. He wanted his turn. We took him out and in.
Blue is a Thoroughbred. He’s been known to be very suspicious of new things. Blue lives in a stall near the real barn door. However, his owner, Allen, decided to take him down the aisle and out the new door. Ron and I walked in front of Blue and Allen. No problem. The Thoroughbred was calm and obedient.
That left one horse, Kye. This Appaloosa-Quarter Horse is 23 years old. He has Blue’s suspicious nature and is strong-willed and opinionated. On top of that, Kye doesn’t like stepping up on pedestals…. The chances of getting Kye quietly and safely through the new door were slim to none. But, we cleared our minds of negative thoughts and prepared ourselves for KYE.
Bill appeared (he’s Kye’s owner) just as Kye was leaving his stall. Ron led Kye. Allen and I got in front and went out the door and WAY far away from the building. Kye’s been known to burst through doorways. This behaviour doesn’t happen all of the time, just every once in a while. We refer to it as his Vietnam Flashbacks. Somewhere in his past he was startled at a doorway and that memory haunts him.
Bill watched as his darling Kye walked down the aisle, stopped at the pedestal, ruminated at the pedestal, finally stepped up onto the pedestal and (low and behold!!!) actually calmly walked out the barn door! We led the way back into the barn and Kye was a saint.
Bottom line: all the worry and thought into the exercise paid off. Because we were at ease with the task, the horses were, too.