Here I will go into detail about the washrack I would specifically build for my own place.
1.) I would place it outside the barn aisle. In my area of the country, most bathing takes place on those long summer days when everyone decides to come to the barn to ride and have fun.
At my current barn, the wash rack is located in the middle of the length of the barn. This plays havoc with people trying to groom or saddle up vs. people trying to do a hose off and then walk their horse out. The best washrack location I’ve found were those located at the end of the barn or outside the main barn, grooming area.
2.) I would build it for two horses. (Tentative footprint size of 24′ wide x 14′ deep)
There is nothing more irritating then to have to wait behind on someone who is taking ages to shampoo Muffy – or those who are trying to doctor their horse to be given the evil eye by someone who is waiting.
It also needs to have a footprint large enough you can turn to move your horse out for those horses that may be hesitate to stepbackwards over a drain. Of course all horses can be trained to step back and down, but I am trying to make something that would work for horses at all levels of training.
3.) I would ensure it has hot and cold water. That is why I started looking into the solar situation. I don’t really want to run electric to the washrack and hot water would require it, as well as a heater.
I live where sun is plentiful. There is only a few days out of the year when solar power would not work. Besides, let’s face it, in many ways I’m a cheap person – I am always looking for ways to save money. My only question is exactly how much hot water does these types of collectors produce? I will have hubby research it more… My favorite in terms of appearance is this one.
4.) Barriers would center the horse and allow tie up to a safety snap. Nothing irritates me more than a dancing horse when I’m trying to bathe them. Or trying to do a tail when I’m holding a hose.
Because of the wet environment I would go with pipe fencing as the dividing rail and vinyl fencing for the perimeter to define the space or a solid wall to give shelter. Grooming supplies would be on a rack on a wall in front of the horses’ nose, but protected from horses by the pipe barrier.
I do need to plan on a barrier height that can contain horses and ponies.
5.) Drainage and slope with a wide drainage gutter. Another thing that irritates me is wash areas were my horse is standing in soapy water that hasn’t drained down the slow drain, or lack of slope prevents drainage of the water off the standing area.
Manure blocks drains. Being able to remove the drain cover so you can clean it out is important.
6.) Roughed cement seems to be the easiest surface to clean. While I rack my brain for something more comfortable, I do know that a textured concrete is almost always the easiest to clean over other options: mats, grass, gravel, sand, etc…
7.) Overhead boom (think car wash) for the sprayer. I did buy the horsey one in the magazines and it was a cheap piece of crap. I would hunt down a commercial one sold for car wash use. One for each side. These are way too convenient for moving around, side to side, and while I’m cheap, I also LOVE things that help me get my job done right.
8.) Open and inviting appearance. I think the wash rack can be a scary place for a horse. Not only is it where they can get cold water pushed into their private areas or have a vet exam them (such as in stocks) but it can be very dark and confining (similar to a horse trailer and you get the same sort of resistance).
Since I live in a southern clime, bathing most often happens when it is in the 60’s to 110 degrees F, I am not so worried about drafts or issues that may face barns located more north then I. I also do not plan on being a show barn, which again would require bathing and grooming even when the weather was not conducive to such.
With all that in mind, I’ve been playing around with making it look more like a porch structure – such as an arbor or pergola. Wouldn’t that look so nice with some vine over the top (wonder if horses have allergy issues with grapevines?).