We all pretty much have in our minds the horse facility of our dreams. When we imagine our ideal ranch, we know what we want, we know what it looks like. But how best to develop your imagined fairy tale farm?
Okay, let's assume you already have the deed to that property (after meticulously ensuring that you've bought a piece of land well suited for your purposes). Your search complete, papers signed, a loan secured and now you are ready to begin building. You thought the acquisition was the hard part!
For me, safety and convenience are of paramount importance and I take into consideration how best to utilize the entire property, too. If there is an existing home or other structure(s), the challenges increase. Deciding where your barn, arena, turnout paddocks and other amenities should be all relate back to those two factors mentioned above.
First, safety. I want decent latches on stall doors, I prefer v-mesh or welded wire panels on my pipe paddocks for mares with foals, I do not like chain link fencing used as an enclosure for horses and the footing must be decent (excavation may be necessary before bringing in soil or sand for your arena). Another thing to think about is drainage... including for your wash rack.
When it rains it sometimes pours and you want to be prepared for potential flooding. This means taking a good look at how your property sits and determining the route water takes across the landscape. I've seen barn aisles with tiny rivers running through them and pipe corrals with several inches of standing water during and after a rain storm where it was necessary to wade out in rubber boots to dig trenches so the puddles can be drained. Not fun, especially during the storm itself.
Another point to keep in mind will be convenience. For instance, the proximity of your arena to where your horses reside, and more important how close your feed room is to your horses.
Also, my preference is sliding stall doors as opposed to those of the Dutch variety, which can present a hazard when they're left standing open into the barn aisle (so that one can be classified under safety and convenience both). Having at least one set of cross ties, preferably two, is another major convenient point and should be in lose proximity of the tack room.
There are literally millions of ways in which to build your dream ranch. Taking the time to lay out what you want, where you want it in the beginning saved an awful lot of headaches later.
Once you get that far, congratulations!