No two people view a piece of art in the same way, or so they say. The same can be said for a picturesque piece of property.
The original owner of 700 acres in Arena, Wis., envisioned a private equine community, similar to a community of homes surrounding a golf course. Rather than 18 greens and a country club, the centerpiece of the community would be a shared stable and arena, surrounded by many miles of trails that wind through the scenic hills and valleys of this southwestern Wisconsin area.
However, the original owner recently sold the property to John Livesey, who has totally different plans in mind. According to Tammy Jansen, operations manager, the Livesey Running Horse Ranch (formerly known as Falmouth) will be open to the public for trail riding, camping and other events.
The ranch comprises 700 acres; 200 acres are used for a working farm, while the other 500 acres make up the equestrian center, campground and riding trails, all open to the public for a small fee.
“The trails are marked by difficulty, similar to ski trails, and have many scenic overviews,” explains Jansen.
The centerpiece of the Livesey Ranch is a 40,500-sq. ft. equine center and that includes a 200×225-sq. ft. indoor arena. “And that’s open for group riding once a week,” Jansen adds. There is also a 225×125 outdoor arena and two round pens.
There are two barns on the property. The main facility has a climate controlled tack room, 30 12×12-foot stalls, tack room and two grooming bays.
A vintage barn, built in 1917, has 15 stalls and a tack room. This barn, Jansen explains, will be used primarily for clinics and for overnight campers who bring their own horses to ride on the trails.
Where it all began
Retrofitting of the old barn was the first work done on the property and really set the standard for the entire facility.
Matt Gailloreto of Woodstar Products in Delavan, Wis., worked with the original owner to turn the old dairy barn into a state-of-the-art horse barn.
“When I first got there, I was faced with these lolly columns, a metal floor brace, throughout the lower level of the barn,” Gailloreto explains. “The owner wanted to get as many stalls as possible in that area.”
With the Woodstar system, Gailloreto was able to incorporate 15 stalls into the space available.
“If you can envision old dairy barns, they have stone walls,” Gailloreto says. “So we had to use various products to make the stalls fit. That included using expandable U channels, regular U channels, wall stiffeners, stuff like that.”
He boxed in some columns and put doorways right next to each other. The set up of the dairy barn, he adds, made for 15 unique horse stalls.
Retrofitting the dairy barn was a test project for the rest of the facility, Gailloreto says. “He wanted a brand new barn, and I guess he wanted to see how we would do with the first part of the facility.”
Gailloreto and Woodstar Products worked with the original owner and with Meigs Construction, a Wick builder, to construct the new barn and equine facility. Meigs Construction built the barn; Woodstar Products was responsible for the stalls.
Putting the picture together
“The owner consulted other barn owners and people who were knowledgeable about horse barns, so he had some specific ideas in mind for this new barn,” Gailloreto says. “It was our job to make all those things happen.”
Tongue-and-groove lumber – two by eight Southern Yellow Pine, select structural Number One, to be exact – was used throughout the entire project. Inside of the stalls, however, he didn’t want any of the grooves revealed on the walls, for the protection of the horses.
“We brought in this material specifically for this project,” Gailloreto explains. “It was specially milled.”
There also had to be a lot of ventilation and visibility in front of the stalls, so Woodstar Products used its meshed bottom and yoked top door that permits nearly the whole face of the door to give a view of the animal.
Another highlight to the stalls in the new barn are feeder cut-outs. “The doors are in the center so that the water could be separated from feed,” Gailloreto explains.
“On one side of the 12-foot stall front we have a feeder cut-out, where you just put a grain scoop through to feed each animal. On the other side, automatic waterers are put in. That’s a logical way of setting it up if you can do it,” he says.
The original owner also wanted the barn to look finished, so Woodstar Products created wooden covers to cover the track that enables the stall door to open and close. “That made a nice clean line along the top and gave a uniform look to the stalls.”
Finally, the entire facility needed to be stained and polyurethaned by Woodstar Products. Gailloreto said his company was able to use lumber that was already stained, and once the stall assembly was complete, a crew came in to apply the polyurethane.
“We did that after the project was done in case there were scratches, so we could stain again if necessary.”
One of the unique features of the barn is the glass door that leads into the indoor arena. “You can see when people are coming and going into the arena, so the door prevents traffic jams from building up,” Gailloreto adds.
Woodstar Products also added other amenities to the barn. The tack room, Gailloreto says, had to be large enough to accommodate so many horses.
“There are racks with turnstiles in the tack room,” he explains. “We stained and urethaned those to match the stalls.” The two wash bays feature high-density fiberglass board.
“There is a theme that is carried throughout the entire facility,” he says. “It was fun to do.”
The facility does have a few amenities for human comfort, as well. The new barn includes a fitness center and massage room, complete with a locker room with showers. A lunchroom has a viewing window to the arena.
The second floor of that clubhouse area of the facility has a three-season porch, a theater-sized TV, bar and fireplace. It is available to rent for weddings and parties, Jansen says. “It also has an elevator, so it is wheelchair- and handicap-accessible,” she adds.
Livesey plans to add his own flourishes to the facility, Jansen adds, including water features along the trails, as well as adding camping amenities.