How to Keep Your Barn Safe from Crime

horse barn fence


Barns are easy targets for criminals. They are usually accessible, monitored and unsecured, full of animals that can’t raise an alarm of an intruder in their midst. Risk of being caught stealing a horse or equipment and being convicted of the crime is low. Does this sound like your barn?

If you are in a rural setting, with large distances between your neighbors, monitoring the access to your property and the activities of anyone on the premises is crucial to deterring crime. You need to be aware at all times of anything or anyone that is out of place.

The installation of security equipment is one of the best things you can do to deter horse thefts and criminal activity on your property. Thanks to technology, there are several choices that you have as a horse and property owner when it comes to surveillance equipment, alarm systems and anti-theft devices.

The easiest method to protect your barn and property from unwelcome intruders are security gates. These can range from a simple, heavy-duty chain stretched across the driveway to a formal fenced gate with a remote access. there are battery-powered systems just like the one that operates your remote garage door opener to pen and close a gate. Security with digital keypads may be installed professionally at a cost of approximately $500. This may seem like overkill to some smaller horse operations, but it is a serious deterrent to criminal activity.

Another option is an infrared sensor installed at the entrance to your property. Some of these systems can range up to 1,000 feet while others can transmit an alerting signal for miles. Of course, you need to be home to see or hear the alarm, but these systems may be linked to your hoe security system for added monitoring. Consult with a professional security system installer to determine if wireless monitor technology is right for your barn and premises.

Cameras that are strategically placed around your property and in your barn are excellent crime deterrents. They can be installed anywhere, indoors and out, and can be monitored on your television or computer. Good locations for camera placement are in the arena, where your trailer and farm equipment are parked, the hay storage building, and any remote pastures. They can be programmed to record constantly, or at intervals.

Exterior lights are another very effective tool against crime. Install them over each entrance/exit to the barn and arena, by all paddocks, pastures and pens, and along your driveway. If your pastures are large and remote, consider installing solar-powered lights along the fence at intervals, especially in hidden areas of your property. Exterior lights can be economical to install and operate, and are cheap insurance against crime. Use motion sensor lighting combined with exterior lights to provide an extra boos to security.

Lastly, there are many livestock guarding dog breeds that will guard horse as readily as sheep or goats. Breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and Maremma are bred specifically for their strong instincts for protection and they have the muscle to back their barks up if someone threatens “their” herd.

Short of having your property patrolled by security personnel 24/7, what steps can you take to restrict trespassers and to thwart criminals and arsonists?

Don’t follow a daily routine to the letter. Come and go at various times throughout the day, and close the garage door when leaving. Keep the doors of all building and sheds, including the barn, closed and locked when not in use. This includes the feed room, the hay barn, and the tack room.

Keep your horse trailer inaccessible by storing it inside a locked building when not in use. If you do not have trailer parking available inside a building, park it so that it is not hidden from your view but cannot be seen from the road. Keep the doors locked and check them to make sure they stay that way.

Pay special attention to security if your horse or his herd-mates are kept at pasture:

  • Remove halters. Do not store them on pasture gates.
  • Do not feed close to the road or gate.
  • Keep the gates under lock and key.
  • Check on pastured horses regularly and vary the times throughout the day and night.
  • Maintain the pasture fence. Install lights at the corners and/or regular intervals along the fence line for added protection.

Better yet, do not leave horses unattended in pastures overnight. They are easy, approachable victims for vandalism, torture and theft.

Excerpted from When Barn Fire Strikes: How to Protect Your Horses and Facilities from Barn Fires, Wildfires, and Other Emergencies by Kim Mariette.

Check Your Balance for More Effective Horseback Riding


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A chair seat, with the rider's feet

The chair seat. Notice that the feet are slightly forward.

The subtleties of balance are demons for many riders. The difficulty lies in the fact that there are many different balances, or ways of balancing. If you have ridden for any length of time, you have no doubt developed your own form of balance. A chair seat, for example, is balanced similarly to a three-legged stool — a very stable design as long as you are on a flat, stable surface. I have yet to meet a flat, stable horse! A rider should be balanced over her feet with the knees slightly bent, in a similar position to most other athletes, in order to be able to fluidly adjust to the actions of her teammate, the horse, (something a stool cannot do). Because you have already found a certain balance, any change will initially feel unbalanced, even if it is a change for the better. Improving your balance, therefore, requires checking many times per ride for verification and feedback.

To check you lateral balance — that is, whether you are sitting in the center of the saddle — include marching steps in your warm-up. By raising each leg in turn so that the knee comes up to or above the pommel of your saddle, you are taking away the ability of your legs to hide the crookedness of your seat. If you find that you need to adjust your seat to one side in order to complete the exercise, then you should repeat this at frequent intervals during each ride because you are likely to slide off center again. This exercise can be performed at any gait for added challenge!


Marching steps. Lift the left leg.


And then the right leg.











Two very effective exercises for checking vertical alignment are two-point position and posting at a halt or a walk. Both are very easy exercises when done correctly and become much more difficult when the rider’s position is not balanced. If leg position is correct, it is nearly effortless for the rider to push herself up out of the saddle and support herself there. If the leg is too far forward, the rider will struggle to rise from the saddle and will have to fight constantly against gravity pulling her backward again. Legs too far back will cause the rider to tip forward.

The two-point position. Notice that the rider is leaning slightly forward.

The two-point position. Notice that the rider is leaning slightly forward.

The two-point position is achieved by rocking your weight forward off your seat and onto your thigh. The seat should be slightly above the saddle, and your hands should be stretched forward about one-third or one-half of the way up the horse’s neck. Keep your knees bent so that your seat stays close to the saddle seat, and fold slightly at the hips, keeping your back flat.

Posting is essentially standing up and sitting down in the rhythm of the horse’s movement, although the rider actually achieves the movement by shifting her weight from the seat bones forward to the mid-thigh while raising her seat out of the saddle. It makes riding the trot much easier, because you miss half of the bumps, but the trot also provides the initial lift to boost you up and out of the saddle. At a walk or a halt, you – the rider – bear sole responsibility for lifting yourself out of the saddle, and therein lies the challenge! As with two-point, it will be easy if you are in balance. If it is difficult, or becomes difficult after several repetitions, stop and adjust your position. You should feel as though you are pushing yourself up from the lower leg and heel. If you feel the strain in the front of the thigh, your foot is too far forward. Finally, be sure that you lower yourself back into the saddle in a controlled fashion, and do not just collapse your weight onto your horse’s back. If you are not sure whether what you are feeling is correct, try moving your leg either forward or backward and try posting again. Whichever position feels easiest is the closest to correct.

When you can do both of these exercise with ease consistently, you can increase the challenge in a trot. Two-point in the trot will have the added benefit of lowering your center of gravity and develop the flexibility of your knees and ankles, in addition to testing your balance. Posting in a trot is relatively easy, as was discussed, unless you get creative! Instead of one beat up and one beat down, try two beats up and one beat down, or some other variation. As with posting in a walk, it’s easy if your alignment is correct.

Excerpted from Training Tree for Riders: A Systematic Approach to Rider Development by Amanda J. Berges.