August 2020 - Home Sweet Home
Written by photos: Joshua Nilsen Photography
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:30
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Jamie Barge and her show jumpers are happily settling into their recently completed Malibu training facility.

photos: Joshua Nilsen Photography

International show jumping rider Jamie Barge recently moved her horses into her own training facility near her home in Malibu. The new construction project was preceded by research into best design ideas and equipment. The private six-stall facility is set on two acres close to the Pacific Ocean’s cooling breezes.
Three months of shelter-in-place allowed Jamie and her horses to settle in and take full advantage of the beautiful new facility. California Riding Magazine editor Kim F Miller enjoyed catching up with Jamie about the experience.


Kim: You’d been keeping your horses at a beautiful place, El Campeon Farm in Hidden Valley. Why did you want to have your own barn?
Jamie: I loved my time at El Campeon and still go there on a weekly basis. I had so much support from the staff there, even through the building process of my own barn. Christy Reich and Mark Audenino actually came to visit during construction to make suggestions and answered many, many questions along the way! For me, it was a financial decision to start building equity in a property.

Luebbo enjoys ComfortStall padded flooring and Haygain Steamed Hay.

Kim: How long did the process take and when did you start planning?
Jamie: The actual construction of the barn itself took about two years. We’ve been saving ideas and pictures for many years. My family bought the property in 2013 and began working with a local architect.
We did a lot of research both online and asking show professionals and fellow riders. We went and saw so many barns, too. A big part of planning is just knowing what works for your horses. We were building during the Woolsey Fire in 2018, which was extremely scary but also helped as we added extra fire protection.

Kim: Did you stick with your original plan in terms of design of barns and the arenas and the equipment? Or did you learn things along the way that caused you to make mid-stream changes?
Jamie: We did stick with our original plan which was made keeping coastal California climate as key. I’ve spent most of my life in barns, so I’ve seen many. In that sense, I have learned along the way.

Steamed hay is a stable staple.



Kim: What were “must haves” versus things that you could live without if you had to?
Jamie: My must haves were good footing, turn-out, and a place for my hay steamer. I had to choose between turn-outs or a walker and felt that my horses value their alone time in the turn-out more. They get worked, turned out and hand walked on a daily basis.
I also was never really a fan of in/out stalls, mostly because the ones I was used to were pipe corrals and the idea of the horses getting cast in the metal bars always scared me.  However, with our climate, in/out stalls make so much sense. It also gives the horses more room to move around.
We have one larger “out” for two stalls so two horses share who is outside. We designed the out with vinyl-wrapped wood and as little room as possible for casting. The horses love to be outside.
At first some of them, especially Bo (Luebbo), were skeptical. Bo is used to having a stall guard at the shows so I think he was confused about whether he was allowed to walk “out” of his stall by himself! Now he knows it and loves to sunbathe.

Kim: What barn company did you work with and why were they good?
Jamie: The barn is custom built but we purchased a hay shed from Ulrich Barns. This building was designed, ordered, delivered in consultation with their staff and we are very happy with it.

Kim: What are some of the products that are key to making the barn the best for your horses?
Jamie: The ComfortStall in the horse’s stalls seem to be the biggest hit. It makes stall cleaning easier, especially between horses if you want to disinfect a stall. The biggest plus is the horses love it! They are definitely lying down and off their feet more at night.
My Haygain hay steamer is another product that I think is great in my barn. We have the big one in our hay shed so it’s easy and convenient to use. We place a whole bale inside, but we separate the flakes so the hay steams more evenly. All my horses love their steamed hay.
The arena is also a big one. The footing was the most important thing for me. I originally wanted someone from Germany to build my arena as they were well-known for arenas with good footing.
However, we then met Dave Martin, who was local to my area. I was lucky that he was also re-doing the rings at El Campeon, so I got to ride on his work before he did my ring. He did an amazing job and I absolutely love it! The footing stays great through all the micro-climates here: the wind, the marine layer, the occasional heavy rainstorm!


    
Kim: What lessons did you learn in the process that might help others have an easier time?
Jamie: Be patient. It’s practically impossible to build on a deadline. Hold out for what you want and find a way to make it work with all the building requirements. Having a contractor who was dedicated, conscientious and creative was critical. Also know that as you use the barn there will be some things you’ll have to change or adjust. That’s all a part of being in a new barn. The base board in your arena will get nicked; that’s what it’s there for!
When I first moved my horses to my barn, Rocco figured out how to open the stall doors. But he loves attention so he would wait and open the door right in front of you: kind of like “Look what I did!” Fio quickly learned Rocco’s trick but waited until he thought no one was looking. I came out of the hay shed and he was walking out of his stall! We had to go back and put carabiners on the stall doors. They also figured out how to pull the end cap off the latch and watch the spring go flying. They thought that was really fun for a few days. We ended up just taking the springs off the latches.

Kim: Are there pros and cons to living so close to the barn?
Jamie: I live less than a mile from the barn. This has been really nice as I can get there quickly if necessary. The only con I can think of is there’s not enough time to drink a cup of coffee on my commute! My barn is small enough to make sure each horse gets as much attention, training, and top-level care as needed. My barn was designed and built with the horses as a number one priority, while also being efficient for us caretakers.

Kim: Thank you, Jamie!!