Housing Your Horse … An Affordable Option

by | Mar 16, 2021

When Pat and I moved to the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, I sadly left behind “The barn of my dreams.” It was a 4-stall MD Barn on a cement slab, boasting a turnout on each side that reminded me of bird wings. I had designed it myself so as to accommodate our backyard. To one side was a wash rack, and beyond that was the small animal enclosure which housed one to four goats, a pot belly pig, and assorted chickens. Everything was painted to match our custom-built home, a beautiful buttercream yellow with white trim and black shutters.

But, like millions of other Americans nationwide, we got caught in the devastating bank and real estate collapse that began in 2008. After three years on the market, with no visible buyer in sight, we sold the barn to the editor of our local newspaper, and left that home with our Big Bear Realtor®, flying the friendly skies to our new home, a yurt, in Hawaii. The horse and one goat came along for the ride.

Now came the challenge of creating some kind of confinement and weather protection for my 29-year old Palomino Appaloosa, Smoke, and our Nubian goat, Girdie. Thank God for John Fitzgerald. Most people in the roping world of the Big Island know John. He and his wife, Karen, were involved in just about everything equestrian whether roping, dressage, pulling a cart, the parades, you name it! John was always our go to guy when it came to the “How To” of setting just about anything up. What was his solution? We ordered a 30’ X 30’ canopy from Islandwide Tents, enclosed it with pipe corral sections to separate the horse from the goats, then used solar hot tape to keep the horse where he needed to be. The goats had their turnout as well. We also had a 20’ Matson Container that stored all our worldly possessions that couldn’t fit in the yurt, and we used that to store my tack, hay, supplements, etc. It also served as good weather protection for the horse on one side.

I have to admit that this new fangled barn concept took some getting use to. After all, I had really been spoiled with my MD Barn. But, truth be told, it would have been overkill for what we needed in Hawaii. Due to the moisture in the air, the open concept of the canopy is perfect for air flow. And the cost is unbelievably affordable! (At that point we could hardly afford to buy a postage stamp…the house in Big Bear had not yet sold and we were desperately trying to get out of mortgage debt!)

Here’s the cool thing.. When we moved from the yurt into our own home about ½ mile away, as the wild turkey flies, we took the “barn” with us! I added 4’X6’ rubber mats inside the horse stall area, we set up gutters along one side of the canopy to catch water into a 500 gallon catchment tank we found under some trees on our new property, and we purchased two Sunrise sheds from Home Depot to store all my feed, supplies and tack. Works like a charm!

Of course, the canopy has had to be replaced once in nine years! And, we are just about due for new sheds. But everything else is in great shape! My new horse Palmer, and our two goats – LeLe and Heidi, are very content and well protected when it rains. And, although I have to say that I still miss my beautiful MD Barn, we have exactly what we need for our new life in paradise!

Epilogue: I no longer have John Fitzgerald to go to for sage advice. We lost him in 2020. But, Karen is there whenever I have a question. How grateful Pat and I are to both of them…for their friendship and allowing us to be a part of their ohana! We all miss you, John!

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Jen McGeehan

Phone: 808.747.2365
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I am an adventurer by heart, never letting too much dust settle under my feet. But, I am also a nester, a woman who loves her home, garden, animals, family, and whatever career I happen to be in. In my latest adventure, I’ve successfully merged over 46 years of varied work and life experience into a real estate career that focuses on the goals and dreams of my clients. Are you interested in moving to the Big Island of Hawaiʻi? I’d love to talk with you about your dream goal, and help you achieve it!

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