Two barrel horse trainers and breeders share what makes their equine facilities safe, efficient and convenient.
When you board your horse or lease a facility, you’re at the mercy of the owner’s barn design. But when you buy a facility—or even make plans to build your own—the ways you can make your place convenient, safe and efficient are endless. We spoke with Jordon Briggs and Andrea Busby—two horsewomen with extensive experience in designing beautifully constructed facilities of their own—to discover what they built into their barns, turnout pens, arenas and work spaces to make life easier and safer for horses and humans.
Briggs Performance Horses
Jordon and Justin Briggs of Chilton, Texas, spent about eight months building their third facility from scratch in 2017. Jordon says they didn’t hire a designer, choosing to gather ideas from their previous facilities and gaining inspiration from friends’ places.
“The design of the place is the hardest part, because we can have a thousand designs on a piece of paper of how we want everything mapped out, but then when you go on the land, there are low spots and high spots you have to work around,” Jordon said. “We’ve made some mistakes on past places, where we’ve built the barn at a low spot, so we were really conscious on this place of building the house at the highest spot and the barn and arena on high spots, because we get so much rain here—you don’t want to build your arena where there could be a washout.”
The hay barn in particular needs to be oriented in the right direction to avoid wind blowing rain onto your hay. The barn also needs to be oriented properly—for Jordon, that means the aisle facing east-west.
The Briggses spent a lot of time staking out their property for where structures would be built and revising their plans over and over. They consulted with the foundation contractor and other contractors as the building progressed. Justin is an experienced welder, so he built all the fences for the arena, pastures and pens. A contractor built the house, and the Briggses hired help to build the horse and hay barns.
Their place sits on 70 acres, with 20–25 horses on-site at any given time, including broodmares, foals and horses in training. The layout places everything fairly close together but with space to easily drive throughout. The house is about 500 feet from the barn, but there’s plenty of room to turn a rig around in the caliche rock-covered parking area—convenient for when people come over to ride and bring a big truck and trailer.
“You have to have a lot of room to turn a big rig around without having to back into every little spot to turn around,” Jordon said. “People can pull in and park anywhere they want to with plenty of room. We don’t need a parking attendant when people come over.”
The Briggses have a 10-stall barn—each stall is 12-by-30 feet and completely covered. The stalls are bedded with deep sand and finished with automatic waterers and corner feeders. The walls are mesh wire, and the north side has a mesh barrier to protect from the wind. Most of the time, the horses are turned out—they may come in the barn at night for the winter or in the heat of the day in the summer.
“Before this, I’ve never had a barn where you walk horses up into it,” Jordon said. “We’ve always had a shed. But with bad weather, it’s really nice to put our horses in their stalls and they still have room to buck and play, without having to fight abscesses due to the mud.”
Jordon says if they build another place in the future—which they plan to do—they may use modular barns such as MD Barnmaster Barns. That way they can offer flexibility for the next buyer.
“If I ever find the perfect barn design we love, if someone didn’t want a 10-stall barn, we could take it down for the next place after that,” Jordon said.