Neu Perspectives

The Well-Planned Horse Property

A well-planned horse facility makes horse management easier.

Designing a functional horse property takes a lot of thought and attention to detail.

A well-designed horse property takes a lot of thought of planning.
Photo by Ross Hecox

I’ve driven under a lot of overhead gates and viewed a lot of places in my 30-plus years.

And can I be honest? A lot of the details on every horse property used to go unnoticed.

Sure, the standouts always do just that. They stand out. Striking pipe entrances, immaculate landscaping, tongue-in-groove ceilings above a custom barn — the works. Do their horses live any happier? Probably not. But it’s impressive to see a property that is a work of art, no doubt. 

But even on those fancier places, did I ever really think about the layout and efficiency of a place? No. Did I assess the materials they used to build their places? No. Did I give a silent nod to each and every weld, piece of gravel and square foot of sand that had to be hauled, dumped and allocated to its place? Of course not. We would show up, ride, load horses in the trailer and head home, never the wiser. 

Well, now that I’ve been changing, building on and improving my own place, I can confidently say that I have a whole new appreciation for what it takes to build a training facility, farm or ranch headquarters. I’ve learned that as an owner, if you’re not doing it yourself, your hard-earned money is paying someone else to be there. Either way it takes time, effort, energy and plenty of financial decisions. From the tractor in the yard and the placement of each gate, to the types of feeders and the fencing materials each place utilizes, everything on a property represents choices, labor and sacrifices made. I had no idea what building an overhead for a gate took! It’s a humbling and enlightening feeling to have put myself in the shoes of all of you who’ve understood this for years. 

I suppose the same could be said for finished horses. I have ridden countless hours in my life and have always enjoyed the challenges, friendships and process that every horse brings me. For a long time I would sit back and watch many different demonstrations and competitions of diverse disciplines. I really never thought much about how complicated it really was to have a horse trained and polished to be successful and flourish in specific events such as jumping, barrel racing or cutting. I sometimes would kid myself and think “I should do that,” as I often looked at the price tag on a specialized horse and thought, “Whoa, that’s a lot of money.” 

Talk about a humbling experience! There is so much work, learning and effort that goes into a trained animal for any type of equine event. No doubt, a competitive horse can be expensive. But when breeding, raising, and proper care is factored into the beginning years of a prospect, it creates value. And until I went through the motions and really tried to train something to be competitive did I understand the countless, tireless hours, mistakes and efforts that go into making an accomplished riding horse. 

So yes, it’s safe to say I’ve always enjoyed seeing a tidy, safe and stylish place. One might even say I had some admiration for the fancy ones. And on the same note, I’ve always appreciated an athlete—equine or otherwise—at the top of its game. But over the years, between raising and training my own horses and now building my own little place with my family, I’ve learned to never take someone else’s efforts for granted. I certainly appreciate every place, from that entrance overhead to the arena footing, much more than I used to. And I’m much more keen to understand a high price tag on a well-bred, trained horse after having attempted to do it myself. 

And from here on out? I’ll try harder to make the best decisions in life I can with the time, knowledge and funds I have available. And I promise as I continue forward, my shallow admiration will continue to grow into a deep appreciation, understanding and acknowledgment of the efforts invested and expertise that comes with the building process. 

Horses, properties and overhead gates alike. 

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