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10.16.13

John and Healthy Stables by Design are featured in Aiken Standard

Today, Aiken Standard has written an article on John Blackburn’s practice and Healthy Stables by Design. Please feel free to find the article located here. Check it out to find out more about his practice, designs, and the book.

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10.10.13

Blackburn’s Tour Announcement

Click on this link to check out John’s full tour list. Today the first private event kicks off in Illinois!

“Pegaso Farm’s owner challenged Blackburn to design the barn in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright. The goal was to design the farm with the owner’s preferences in mind, while creating a healthy environment for horses with their sensitive respiratory systems. The result balanced the needs of the owner, the demands of the site and the health of the horse.

In addition to his visit to Pegaso Farm, Blackburn will make public appearances at bookshops, museums, equestrian venues and major horse shows across the country. All author profits from the book will be donated to various equine charities.”

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09.23.13

Equestrian Quarterly Fall 2013 is out!

In the recent publication of Equestrian Quarterly, John Blackburn and Great Roads Farm is featured. Take some time to look at Barn Design Masterclass: How to Get the Best Barn While Working Within a Budget. John shares some tips for designing within budget without sacrificing the essential elements of a well-designed barn. 

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09.19.13

Comments on “Safe Stabling: Protect the People”

The article “Safe Stabling:  Protect the People” by Nancy Loving DVM shares a few tips and suggestions on how people can keep themselves safe around horses and in barns. Her fun photo challenge first caught my attention, as we have done similar challenges (as seen here). My career in designing horse farms has continuously focused on how to design for the safety of both horse and handler. I wanted to add some additional tips on how stable design can help keep both people and animals safe. One could write a book on the subject, and I have in fact.  My book Healthy Stables by Design (www.healthystablesbydesign.com) has been released. But for now, I’ll name eight areas of concern: Circulation, Fire Separation, Ventilation, Finishes, Layout, Materials, Orientation, and Natural Light (see diagram below).  I have shared one example under each, but in truth the list is virtually limitless.  Feel free to comment with your own suggestions. Let’s build a list together and see how far we can take it.

Circulation: In planning the farm and the location of the barn relative to paddocks, roadways, service lanes, and lead paths, always try to bring people, vehicles, and horses as close together as possible without crossing paths. They should be separate, but still efficient (as all circulation routes are costs in terms of installation, maintenance and operation).

Fire Separation: It goes without saying that fire safety is a major concern around horse barns.  Both how you design to prevent and contain a fire once it happens is important.  I always suggest isolating hay, bedding, and flammable products (such as fuel and machinery) from the barn by placing them in a separate structure.  Whenever you can, consider fire separations.  For example, I frequently design a fire separation that isolates the stall area from the service areas of the barn by using pocket doors to close off the aisle.  They serve to isolate the “human areas,” such as tack room, laundry, lounge, or office, from the “horse areas.” By doing so, they separate the areas of high risk from the horses. If there is a fire, the fire separation works to contain the smoke and slow the spread of the fire in order to give you more time to get the horses out.

Ventilation:  The most important health concern for your horses.  Natural ventilation, including vertical ventilation, is the most important design consideration. Design the barn to be a natural machine, not just a static structure.  Use the Bernoulli principle and the chimney effect to create that. Place the barn perpendicular to the summer prevailing breeze in order to take the most advantage of the site.

Finishes: Avoid finishes that will collect dirt, moisture, bacteria, etc. For that reason, we do not advise using finishes that are not easily washable or do not drain well.

Layout (site and building):  Consider the natural slope and drainage of the land.  Place the barn on a pad that is at least 18″ to 2 ft above finish grade. Ideally, one wants the ground to slope away from the finish floor of the barn, as this will aid with drainage.

Materials: Never use exposed concrete if you can help it, unless adequately protected (rubber mats, etc). The use of concrete is especially bad in stalls and wash/grooming areas, where horse may be standing for long periods of time.

Orientation:  Orientation is important for natural ventilation, but it’s also important to consider the angles of the sun during different times of the year for natural light. Protection from the sun might also be a concern, so consider the design of openings, overhangs, view corridors, security, etc.

Natural light: When designing a barn for health and safety, natural light is probably only second to natural ventilation in importance. The horse was meant to live in nature. Natural light is key to the natural cycling of broodmares in a thoroughbred-breeding farm, but it also helps promote the health of any horse.  Lighting is also a safety and cost concern.  The more you can use natural light to light your barn, the less you need to depend on man-made light, which is an operational cost but also a fire hazard.

These are 8 of my favorite health and safety design principles.  Read the article by Nancy Loving, look at your own farm and try to add to the list I have started above.  We can all have a little fun with it and maybe learn a few pointers while we are at it.

 

Good luck and I look forward to your responses.

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09.17.13

Healthy Stables by Design at the Washington International Horse Show

I hope some of you saw the mention of River Farm (designed by Blackburn Architects) in Washington Life Magazine, as well as the information on the Washington International Horse Show. I plan to exhibit my new book, Healthy Stables by Design, at the Washington International Horse Show from Oct. 22-27. I will be on the concourse every night (except Friday) from 7 pm to 9 pm selling and signing books. On Friday, there will be a formal book launch party in the Acela club for skybox level ticket holders and invited guests. Ten percent of book sales throughout the entire event will be donated to PATH International’s Wounded Warrior Project. If you are planning to attend the show, please feel free to stop by and say hello!

 

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09.12.13

“Fire, Wind, Water: Thoughtful Barn Design May Reduce Disaster Risk”

Feel free to check out the article “Fire Wind Water: Thoughtful Barn Design May Reduce Disaster Risk” from Polo Magazine’s current issue at the included link. John has provided his comments on how to design a safe barn for a variety of climates and regions. You can find the article from Polo Magazine here: Polo Article September 2013. (Photo credit for image on page 36 to Ken Wyner, Top image on page 37 photo credit to Max MacKenzie)

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08.29.13

Thoughts on “Handicapping Dopers at the Racetrack”

After recently reading the NYT’s opinion article “Handicapping Dopers at the Racetrack,” I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you. From the previous comments I made about the article “Twilight at the Track,” many of you may already know where I stand in regards to the doping of racehorses. This recent article shares encouraging news that doping’s negative effect on bettors, the life blood of the thoroughbred racing industry, may help bring much needed reforms to horse racing.  In the article, NYT’s editorial board states that bettors, large and small, are being discouraged from large wagers because of the rampant illegal drug use in the industry. Since the bettors are threatened by the practice and the horses themselves are dying from it, the Jockey Club is willing to spend as much as $500,000 to employ the use of “out-of-competition” drug-testing. At this time, this type of testing is used only by 1/3rd of the industry.

I want to see thoroughbred racing thrive, not be abused.  I support any reforms that eliminate the doping of racehorses, but I am suspicious of the success of self-policing.  I am not a veterinarian and therefore do not know the pros and cons of different drugs and their use for legitimate or illegitimate health reasons. Those more knowledgeable in animal science and medicine can determine that.  However, I feel there needs to be more transparency in the medications a horse is receiving and which of those are needed, if any. There needs to be an elimination of any and all performance enhancing drugs or medications.  I approve of the Jockey Club’s intent to build a national database that will offer this kind of transparency. Stiffer fines and punishment of offenders, as well as a national or federally instituted policy of policing or monitoring, may also achieve the same end.

I support the Jockey Club’s efforts to control the abuses in the industry, but I’m not convinced it is a sufficient amount or that it will happen soon enough. The inefficient and uneven enforcement of regulations from state to state and track to track may not substantially remove the suspicions held by many bettors.  I hope I am wrong, but if not, then some sort of federally instituted monitoring program with stiffer penalties for abusers should be applied sooner rather than later.

See also this article for more information: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/sports/as-concerns-over-drugs-mount-the-jockey-club-says-it-will-pay-for-testing.html

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08.22.13

Crowded Quarters

The WHS is facing overcrowded conditions once again and is requesting help from volunteers and families in the DC area to assist. Summertime always brings an influx of animals to shelters across the country, and during slow economic conditions it is even worse. The Washington’s Post gallery of photos of the WHS can be viewed at this link.

Daniel Blair, a project architect for our firm, and his wife Ellie typically foster dogs for the WHS and a local non-profit rescue organization called HART. They answered the WHS’s call for help by fostering an extra dog to try to provide some relief at the shelter.

The dog that Dan and Ellie have brought into their home is named Mahlia. According to Dan, she is a very kind and strong willed German Shepherd, who came to the shelter as a stray. Severely emaciated, malnourished, and with a skin condition, life has not been kind for Mahlia. Based on the photos, she has a long road ahead of her (warning: they may be difficult for some). Her best recipe for recovery: medication, constant care, and a low-stress environment.

In my opinion, animals should not have to leave the shelter to find a low-stress environment. When we researched the design of animal care facilities across the country a couple years back, we concluded that providing a low-stress environment for animals is possible with good design. At the most basic level they are no different than designing a horse barn: proper ventilation, care, and attention to detail are most important.

Unfortunately, Mahlia’s case is not isolated; we know the US has animal overpopulation problem. The HSUS estimates approximately 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs are put down each year as a result of over-reproduction. If pet owners simply listened to Bob Barker’s closing words each day and implemented the cheap and easy solution by spaying and neutering their pets, then there would not be a need for all of the non-profit animal rescues. Presently, it is estimated that there are 4,000 to 6,000 operating in the US. Unfortunately, human behavior is a very difficult thing to change. If it took approximately 50 years for 80% of the US population to finally use seat belts, then it may take a long time before we reach the tipping point with this issue.

The Washington Humane Society is one of the ten oldest Humane Societies in the US, and they have always held the contract to provide animal control services for the District of Columbia – meaning they have to take in and care for every animal that is caught or turned in. This includes everything from gerbils, cats, and dogs to pandas and bears. So even if the US overpopulation issue is ever resolved, there will always be places like the WHS to fulfill a public need. Since they are the ones in need right now, please consider volunteering, donating, or spread the word to help provide relief for the WHS or your local animal control shelter. In the meantime, we wish Mahlia the best of luck in her road to recovery, and we will look forward to updates from Dan about her story in the coming months.

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08.22.13

Phelps Media Press Release

Click here to read Phelps Media’s recent press release about Healthy Stables by Design. In this release, you can read about how the barn as an efficient machine can promote health and safety.

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08.22.13

Phelps Media Press Release

 

Click here to read Phelps Media’s recent press release about Healthy Stables by Design. In this release, you can read about how the barn as an efficient machine can promote health and safety.

Posted in News and Press | Leave a comment >