Are your facilities getting tired?
Horse Deals looks at some bespoke stabling and arena options
Building a yard from scratch might seem a daunting prospect, particularly when you crave the best facilities but have to keep within a budget. But a blank canvas can also be exciting because at the end of it, you should have the yard of your dreams.
And you don’t have to do it alone. Many stabling and arena companies now employ design specialists who will guide you through the entire process from planning to the opening of your new facility.
Cheshire-based Cairn Design and Build (www.cairnuk.co.uk) is just one of a growing number of stabling manufacturers to offer such a bespoke service.
Managing director Mike Croker cut his teeth in building and property development and offers the whole package, from planning to project management, overseeing every project personally.
Former dressage rider Emma Latham-Hill has taken advantage of the Cairn expertise and her timber yard comprising three stables, tackroom, midden and bespoke front gates is about to be completed.
“It looks absolutely amazing,” she says. “When I chose Cairn for the project, I liked the fact that they were a local company, but the quote was also extremely competitive for such a bespoke service.
“I’d been planning this for a long time — it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and it had to be right — and I looked at lots of other yards for ideas, but nowhere came anywhere near the quality of what I’m about to get.”
Emma is impressed by the fact that Mike is such a perfectionist.
Plans drawn up by Cairn Design and Build for a clients’ yard
“He makes sure everything’s spot on — even down to the kicking boards,” she explains. “He also dealt with it all from start to finish and we didn’t have to have any contact with the council. In our case, Mike’s knowledge was a godsend because it wasn’t that straightforward. We had a neighbour who didn’t want the work to go ahead. Because he knows what he’s talking about and has such a rapport with them, Mike soon sorted everything out with the planning office.”
The new yard, which will be home to Emma Welsh section D former affiliated dressage performer and her children’s veteran pony — “plus my Dutch Warmblood when I can persuade my husband I need one!” — is already turning heads.
“It’s better than I ever dreamed and we’ve already had people stopping to look and taking down the Cairn number, so it’s been a good advertisement for them too!”
If you don’t want to go down the “traditional yard” route, maybe you’d like to keep your horses in a brand-new American barn. If so, you could consider the options offered by Monarch (www.monarch-equestrian.co.uk). This West Midlands-based company has been offering stabling solutions for more than 40 years and will also give you advice from the planning stage onwards.
Monarch’s equestrian range may have traditional good looks, but cutting edge technology offers modern benefits. The barn, for instance, features a translucent roof that lets in natural light and helps the building stay cool in summer and provides warmth in the winter months. The Monarch team has also looked at ventilation and invented a roof pitch that allows 25 changes of air per hour.
Just like TV’s House Doctor, if you’re aiming to show off your horse’s five-star accommodation properly, you need the best accessories. Similar to Monarch, as well as tailor made stables, another company based in the Midlands, IAE, offers a bespoke range of feeding troughs and frames, including the natty High Low Hayrack with a drop down hatch for easy filling.
I’d been planning my yard for a long time — it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and it had to be right – Emma Latham Hill
The indoor school under construction by Charles Britton at Lisa Hale’s Shropshire home
IAE (www.iae.co.uk) also produces corn bins and feed hoppers, plus a range of trolleys and feed barrows to help you get the most important jobs done, plus field fencing of every conceivable type.
When it comes to paddocks, another important consideration is some shelter for horses when they’re turned out.
Redmire (www.redmire.co.uk) — which started life in 1995 as a small West Sussex company — has grown into one of Britain’s largest timber building manufacturers.
It now produces four stabling ranges and a staggering 220 different designs of mobile field shelter. Redmire also offers something different in the shape of a mobile field shelter hire service, which is aimed as horseowners moving house or waiting for a new yard to be built.
Prices start at £65 per week plus delivery and VAT for a minimum hire period of a week and the company covers the buildings insurance. All Redmire requires is access to your site for a 4x4 vehicle and trailer carrying the shelter.
Of course, for many riders a yard isn’t totally perfect without some form of arena to ride in. Planning is again something to consider, but many arena construction companies offer assistance.
The Cover-All indoor arena has a fabric-covered steel frame
Among its many other equestrian services, family company Charles Britton (www.charlesbritton.com) has been constructing arenas from start to finish since 1979 and prides itself on managing to secure almost 100% planning consents.
There is an enormous range of arenas and surfaces to choose from and Charles Britton also isn’t sniffy about those wanting to take the DIY route. The company offers a dedicated “supply only” phone line that will deliver materials and equipment ranging from arena additives and toppings to internal stabling and solariums for self-build projects.
One rider who benefited from the Charles Britton know-how without even having to buy a new arena was eventer Oliver Townend, who purchased the family’s old home and head office in Shropshire.
“We’d converted a lovely old Victorian property into a modern equestrian establishment, which also showed what could be done with existing buildings,” says Linda Wright of Charles Britton.
Charles Britton’s high-profile clients include William and Pippa Funnell, Irish team show jumper Dave Quigley and Olympians Nick Skelton and Jane Gregory.
The company also proved the value of equestrian expertise when helping Lisa Hales — whose family owns the great show jumping stallions Arko and Russel, plus countless top racehorses — realise her dream.
You can hire Redmire’s portable field shelter for a week or longer
“I got into terrible planning problems over building an indoor school and stableyard and even thought I was going to have to move from the home I love,” she explains. “It cost me a fortune in architects’ and planning agents’ fees and I virtually gave up, but Charles Britton took over, redesigned everything and sorted things out when the ‘professionals’ couldn’t. I’m extremely grateful.”
Of course, the ultimate in luxury for most riders — particularly in the uncertain British climate — is an indoor arena. Essex-based CR Swift Landscaping (www.swiftlandscaping.co.uk) has won environmental awards and offers a complete package in indoor arena construction.
Swift has teamed up with an architect and is now the British agent for Cover-All arenas. These are constructed with a steel frame, and then covered in fabric that offers natural light as well as protection from the weather.
This type of indoor school certainly looks different from the British norm, but has already gained worldwide approval. Among those who have the Cover-All arena installed are American warmblood breeders Bob and MaryAnn Ford, whose Oak Hill Stables is located in Utah.
“Everyone who walks in is impressed. The environment’s totally unlike conventional indoor arenas and most people can’t believe how much of a difference natural light adds to their training experience. The acoustics are also excellent,” says MaryAnn.