By Sue Marquette Poremba
The Justus Equestrian Center in Larkspur, Colo., is relatively small, as far as horse barns go. It has just four stalls for the horses belonging to the family, and an indoor arena, built especially for the family’s young children who ride.
But just because something is small doesn’t mean that the building process doesn’t require the same sort of care and planning that a larger structure would have. The Justus Equestrian Center involved a number of meetings with the designer to get all the details just right, says Joe Hawley of Enhanced Construction in Parker, Colo., and general contractor for the project.
“Rigid Building Systems referred me to the customer,” Hawley explains how he became involved with the project. “My company did all of the general contracting for the job – the concrete, electrical, plumbing, and everything.”
But the overall design work is the result of collaboration. “I hired a designer. We must have come up with four or five iterations, and then we presented them to the owners.”
The 80 feet by 200 feet structure is a metal building – Hawley says he works almost exclusively with metal buildings these days. The barn holds just four horse stalls. The stalls are 12 feet by 12 feet, made of steel. “The stalls come in four parts,” Hawley says, “and we weld them together. They are like steel balusters like you see on a stair rail on a house.” The stalls’ sliding doors are also made of metal, all powder coated in a green color.
“Everything in the barn is steel,” says Hawley. “It’s much stronger than wood.” Well, maybe not quite everything is made of metal. The flooring is rubber mats on top of sand and four inches of gravel.
There is an automatic waterer between sets of two stalls, so two horses can access the water supply. Pull-out feeders are for grains and allow the horses to be fed without the need to go into the stalls. Exhaust fans are on each end of the building, with thermostats to help control humidity.
One of the special touches to the barn is the six-by-six windows that were specially designed for the building and were added throughout the barn. The windows complement the indoor lighting set up in 25-foot bays to create a bright setting. “There are no shadows in the entire building because the horses will spook if they see a shadow,” Hawley says.
“The barn is specifically for the stalls,” Hawley says. The wash bay, the tack room, and other storage are in different areas on the property. The arena is also unattached to the horse barn.
In talking to Hawley, it’s obvious that he takes great pride in the exterior presentation of the barn. The entrance to the barn is canopied. “We put three octagons on the roof, two six footers and one eight footer,” Hawley says. The family name was attached to the octagons. “The name was made out of steel and it looks pretty cool.”
The architectural features added to the building are what make the Justus Equestrian Center stand out for Hawley. “The exterior features are different from a standard box from a steel building company,” he says.
Outstanding as those exterior features are, Hawley says actually building them was all in a day’s work for his company. “If building a normal engineered steel building is at a difficulty of a, say, a level one, then needing to know how to do angles and hexagons and the like, that increases the difficulty to a one point two. That’s nothing for us. We do it all day long.”
Building the barn went smoothly overall. The one challenge that Hawley could think of was hitting water when putting in the foundation, so a drainage system had to be added. “There are a lot of springs in Colorado. You dig down six feet and all of a sudden water is looking at you,” he says, so the problem wasn’t unexpected or that unusual. “It wasn’t even a challenge in the actual building process; it was a challenge with the lot.”
It’s a beautiful structure, Hawley says, one that he is definitely proud to have been a part of. But he is also modest about the work that was involved in building the barn. “It’s really not that complicated,” he says. RB
You may also be interested in these articles on horse barns and arenas:
2012 Guide to Horse Barn Products
Problem-solving horse barn accessories
A builder’s challenges in creating an equine paradise on Mackinac Island
Appeasing horses – and their owners
A barn for the equine athlete
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