Throughout the Busbys’ property, all gates have latches where nothing sticks out for a horse’s hip to catch. They can all be opened from the saddle.

Stalls are built to reduce chances of horses getting cast, and if they do, the kick rail provides a way for them to push away easily, reducing chances for injury. The fronts of all stalls on-site are heavyweight mesh wire, so anyone walking by can see the whole horse and instantly notice if a horse is injured or unwell.

Stalls and casitas have heated automatic waterers to prevent water freezing over, and they are checked every day to ensure they are working. Each stall and casita has a PVC-covered blanket bar, so blankets are never left on the ground or on a fence where they can be chewed.

On every stall, turnout and pasture, there is an iron plate with a number and room for staff to affix magnetic labels with the horse’s name, feeding requirements and even riding status. This is all cross-referenced with information on spreadsheets kept on the Dropbox app online and on staff members’ phones.

Medications for the horses are kept in more than one location on-site, so no one has to hightail it across the property for emergency medications. For human safety, AED systems and first-aid kits have been placed in all barns, and the Busbys have registered the facility’s coordinates with Care Flight in nearby Fort Worth, Texas.

Large foaling stalls offer privacy and protection.
The Busbys foaling barn has large stalls for foaling out, paneled with solid wood on three sides for privacy. The floors are comprised of a solid piece of rubber for easy sanitizing between mares. Photo by Abigail Boatwright.

Turnout

In several locations on the Busbys’ property, turnouts called “casitas” house individual horses. There are also several bigger pastures for groups. Throughout the property, the fences were designed with equine safety in mind. The fences have a top rail of pipe with no-climb wire and cedar stays.

“They can’t get cast, they can’t get a leg through, babies can’t get hurt as easily if they run into the fence running around the pasture,” Andrea said. “You can’t prevent all accidents, but we’ve tried to figure some things out. Sometimes by trial and error.”

The casitas have high-roofed sheds and cement tilt-walls on top of cement foundations. There’s no rust or eroding, and horses can’t get a leg underneath the wall.

In between the casitas, there are alleys wide enough for an all-terrain vehicle to drive through. This allows horses to see each other and socialize without being able to touch noses or fight.

Turnouts with plenty of space between them minimize fighting at this equine facility.
Each turnout has an alley in between with room for an all-terrain vehicle to pass through. This allows the horses to socialize without touching noses, cutting down on injuries due to fighting. Photo by Abigail Boatwright.

Work Areas

At the Busbys’ place, cross-tie areas are out of the flow of traffic but still located convenient to tack rooms. They even have drainage systems underneath so staff can rinse horses off in the same spot they are untacked and let them dry before returning them to their stall.

Beside the large covered roping arena, the Busbys have temporary Priefert panel pens and cross-tie areas for horses in for the day. This keeps congestion down and allows visitors to get ready to ride easily.

Andrea says their tack rooms are large and recommends not trying to save space with a smaller room.

“Don’t scrimp on the size of your tack room,” Andrea said. “It’s like a closet if you’re a girl—it can never be too big.”

Advice

If you’re thinking about building your own place, Jordon recommends seeking out other facilities that house around the same amount of horses you plan to have. This will allow you to see what kind of layouts make sense for your needs. The Briggses even looked on Pinterest for ideas.

Think about making spaces do double—or even triple—duty when you’re building. Can you add gates to a turnout to make it more than one pen? Can you multi-purpose your saddling area into a wash rack?

The Busbys run through a series of questions when they’re considering improvements on the property. They consider equine behavior, worst-case scenarios and normal workflow when planning new tasks or renovations.

“You learn everything the hard way, and by being around horses long enough, you know they’re going to find a way to hurt themselves,” Andrea said. “You try the best you can to prevent accidents.”

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of Barrel Horse News.

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