Acreage Life – Fall 2008

2008

A horse-loving family uses every corner
of a new, Tuscan-style barn.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY MICHAEL RAINE

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HORSES ARE IMPORTANT to Marv and Trish Loewen and their daughters Loreal and Sherise. Living in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver, they enjoy riding year-round. But they didn’t enjoy boarding the animals and driving back and forth to the stables.

“I was training horses as well,” Trish says. “So our needs were complex and we were always at someone else’s place working with animals.”

The solution was simple, says Marv. They needed a barn. “A nice barn, and a riding paddock.” They decided the barn should be a focal point, complementing their Mediterranean-style house and displaying the riding area materials produced by Marv’s company.

Then the project expanded. The acreage has a workshop from which Marv operates his business, an excavation company that builds waterproof riding arenas. But there was no garage for cars, trucks and quads. And so the 36 x 95-foot barn that houses six horses also has a three-car garage.

It’s now an equestrian acreage, That adds a lot of value to a property in this area.

—MARV LOEWEN

To get all-season use from the barn and uncovered riding arena, the Loewens had to consider the rainy periods that come with the lower mainland’s mild climate. Under hoof in the arena is nearly a meter of dust-resistant material. Ideal for dry conditions, it also drains rainwater rapidly, ensuring the safety of horses and riders.

The girls’ 4-H club meets at the Loewens’s, and the 120 x 200-foot riding area and adjoining pasture can accommodate 35 to 50 horses during equestrian events. There are six, .16-foot-wide flanking pens with concrete pads covered by recycled rubber mats. Horses can be outdoors yet sheltered from rain or wind. Each pen opens onto a stall inside the barn. To ease horse grooming, there is a waterproof, plywood lined wash pen with a car-wash-style swivel hose overhead. A central vacuum in the barn aids in hair cleanup.

The barn has a tack room, feed and bedding bins, and a hayloft. It also boasts a washroom and laundry facilities. “Having a laundry in the tack room means that all those horse odours and hair – not to mention any soil from the girls’ gear-stays out of the house. At least mostly,” Trish says.

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They use the barn’s upper level for entertaining friends and construction clients. The walls are clad in boards salvaged from an old chicken barn. New, distressed cabinetry incorporates a wet bar, and a balcony overlooks the riding arena.

The patio heater on the balcony makes it a comfy spot- even in winter- for Marv to watch the girls train their horses.

The building’s designer and architect is Ernest Neudorf of Abbotsford, B.C. (Another of his stylish barns, built for Marianne Goriuk and Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger, was featured in our Fall 2007 issue.) For the Loewens’s barn, Neudorf specified double pane, low-E Argon-filled windows to minimize winter heat losses and summer solar gain.

Another feature is recessed rubber matting on the interior’s main aisle. “There’s no step up or down,” Neudorf explains. “Good for horses and people.”

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For added strength and eye appeal, posts and beams enhance the traditional stick-built construction. “It’s a design that looks good, rustic – or in this case, Tuscan,” Neudorf says. At the same time, it controls construction costs in terms of trades and materials.

A dark trim was selected to enhance the cast concrete window mouldings, stacked cast stone features and light brown stucco. This created another challenge for Trish. “I wanted good, safe, durable gates and corral equipment. I went with Hi-Hog stuff, but it is green.

We had to strip it and have it powder coated (to match).”

One thing led to another. They wanted to use recycled material wherever possible, but the plastic fence material they found either didn’t come in a dark colour or didn’t meet equestrian strength and safety standards.

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“I finally found the material,” Trish says. “It’s made in Pennsylvania.” The company had no Canadian dealer and wouldn’t sell it to her unless she found someone willing to become a dealer. “Well, you’re looking at her,” she says with a smile. “I guess it’s one more thing we can do from our acreage.”

Suitable fencing is critical not only for the horses but for security. The Loewens’s acreage, like others in the area, has been subject to some thefts and unwanted foot traffic. Both have stopped, thanks to the fencing and a security system, Marv says. The barn is wired for video surveillance, and it’s more than an anti-theft strategy. “It’s useful for keeping an eye on the kids and livestock,” he says.

Having their own barn has improved the girls’ discipline and work ethic, according to their mother. “They get up at 6:30 and out to the barn to do chores. They are pretty hard-pressed to say they’re bored. Their cousin is now boarding a horse here. We have another horse about to arrive. It brings them together with our extended family. It gives us all a place to gather.”

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The couple say they’ll easily recover the cost of the barn should they ever retire and move away from the community where they were raised. “It’s now an equestrian acreage,” Marv says. “That adds a lot of value to a property in this area. It’s good to have and it’s a good investment.”

The new barn has spurred on Loreal’s and Sherise’s passion for equestrian activities.

“We’ve got a sign planned,” says Loreal. “It’ll be great.”

Sherise chimes in, “Twin Oaks Farm. We work horses. Home to Rusty Spurs 4-H.”