Monday, September 24, 2012

Making the Most of an Old Barn, Part 2: Tack Room

Ok, honestly, you don't really NEED a tack room.  If you've got a saddle rack, a good bridle hook, and maybe a shelf to put your grooming stuff, you're fine.  Y'know, maybe a trunk to store some things in like a set of saddle bags, or your first aid kit, would be handy.

Unless you're anything like ME in which case you're a hardcore tack junkie and have a few decades (since childhood) of collecting up any piece of gear that is horse related!

Buckets and trunks and bottles!

I have such a practical justification for it now though -- I am in the horse business.  I teach people how to ride horses.  Of course, this means I need to have a variety of saddles to fit both horse and rider, as well as different bridles for different jobs, and... all kinds of things that are just really important.  This means I have to have a decent place to keep all this stuff and it has to be neat and organized.  I can no longer get away with sharing my saddle rack with a Honda ATV and a 1972 Buick Skylark.

We had to pull her out of the barn with a tractor.  This is what you'd call "Barn Fresh" if you're into Parts Chasing.  The first car I owned came to me in similar condition but that's a whole other book.  

For a few years I've made do with a corner of the barn which I partitioned off with a couple sheets of pegboard.  It did the job okay, but the lack of proper walls meant less wall space for storage.  What with the south wall actually being a set of barn doors (nice gaps between the planks for ventilation right?) it gets pretty cold in there in the winter.

Here you can see in through the open barn doors.

A little closer up,  you can see through the doorway of the tack room into the open shed.  I tie the horses there to saddle  them up before a ride.  

Also, it was crowded once I got myself and a student and a parent all trying to get out of each other's way so we can hang a cinch or saddle pad.

I solved that floor problem by shoving the big saddle rack over it.  But then it made a tight fit in the room.

Larry doesn't care where I put the saddle racks as long as he has a nice place to snooze.

A few weeks ago we decided to build a new room.  We don't know how long we'll be staying here, but in the short term it'll be a nicer place to work over winter, since I'll likely be doing more indoor unmounted lessons when the weather isn't pleasant.  Also in the long term, any improvement done to the barn benefits my dad, so it's all good.

An old barn is wonderful because of those huge beams and the stone foundation.  It has a vibe best described with words I often cringe at, words like, rustic and quaint.  I like to use the word honest.  It's an honest barn. It has no pretensions.

Without going too far into details of the actual construction (because that would be a whole other book and I'm not the one to write that one) we've been bracing up some of the beams with new jack-posts, and a couple new 6x6 beams to help out the old ones.  Apparently we are putting up "load bearing" walls. This is a good opportunity to make sure the old building is solid and safe, and do our best to help it keep standing for maybe another century.

But this isn't going to be beautifully finished construction.  Part of that is our low-budget (um, NO-budget) plan, but also, I just don't see the point in building a room that looks newer and more expensive than the rest of the barn?  I mean, who are we trying to fool?  It will have walls made of re-used plywood and the whitewashed ancient wooden ceiling will be visible.

We're putting in a window - natural light!!!  

I do have fantasies of a tack room with tongue and groove panelling, in-floor heating, a hot water heater, a sink with a tap!  But that's not within my means.  There are some barns with such nice tack rooms, you could darn near live in it, but this gets into Equestrian Centre Training Facility Stable territory and that's not me.

For the next month or so, I'll be putting my brain to work on how I will set it all up, and is that ever fun.  I get to stand there in the barn, running my eyes over all my lead ropes and cinches and bridles, grooming boxes and saddle soap, feed bins and trunks full of kid-sized cowboy boots, visualizing the result: a nice tidy no-nonsense room to store all my horse equipment and teach a few unmounted lessons on days when it's too nasty outside to get on a horse and ride.

I'm glad I kept all the boots my kids grew out of.  They've come in handy since then, when a new rider doesn't have safe boots to wear.  

This is how it looks as of this writing.  That beam at the top of the pic will probably be the exterior wall; we might expand the open shed into the space I was standing to take the picture.  

(I won't be moving a couch in there, even though I'm sure the cats would loooove it!)


Paul Tee said...

I believe in making use of what you got. It is, as you say, honest.

And if you are a pack rat, might as well be a neat one. Well done.

I'm gearing up fro a 2-week trip to Germany to visit friends, so I'm preloading my comment for your next blogg, please forward.

"Heidi, you done it again, putting into words what I have been thinking. Hitting-a-nail-on-the-head stuff. I wonder if the nail knows it's about to get hit?

Paul Tee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi the Hick said...

I like your pre-loaded comment!!

Yes I am a terrible packrat I still have the harness I used on my first pony. It's not even in good shape anymore but it's hanging on a hook and I clean it once a year. At least it's not in a moldy heap in the corner.

Hey - have an excellent trip!!

Heidi Willis said...

This is fantastic. The idea of actually owning a barn - and all that it entails - seems like a fantasy to me. What a cool space you have.. and are continuing to create!

And I love those boots! :)

Heidi the Hick said...

Well, owning a barn, like of my actual own, is something I'd rather be a goal than a fantasy! But for now, this barn will more than suffice. There is so much history in it.

But the thought of what my next barn could be is exciting!

Kimber said...

We have two very old, very "honest" barns. They were designed for horses but have been vacant for 10 years and now house our lawn tractors. Looking at your photos has given me ideas aplenty though! We've been at a loss re: what to do with our barny barns ever since we moved in. Hmmmm.....thanks Hick Chick!

Laura Crum said...

Your tack room is so much more organized than mine--which is just a corner of the hay barn. Hmmm..maybe you've inspired me to clean/straighten it up (!)

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