Eastern White Pine adds authenticity to an outdoor-activity structure.
In the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire, close to the Vermont border, Full Circle Farm is firmly established as a successful horse-riding facility. The 160-acre property offers anything and everything riders of all levels could want—varieties of riding trails crisscross the property and are regularly groomed. Dotting the landscape are 15 large paddocks, three barns, a tack room, wash stalls, a water complex, a cross-country field, galloping track, outdoor rings, and an indoor riding arena. Services offered at the farm include riding lessons for all skill levels, full-service horse boarding, and specialized clinics.
The three barns hold as many as 20 stalls combined, some with drop-down grills to allow the horses to socialize with visitors in the aisles. A heated tack room takes the edge off winter riding, while large lockers, kitchenettes, and accessible bathrooms are present throughout the property.
Owners Steven and Deborah Cossingham believe that riding is beneficial for all ages and abilities, and operate their business with a strong focus on ensuring rider safety along with learning horsemanship and having fun. It was this core belief that led them to the expansion of services and infrastructure. They had a larger vision—expand existing services to include a therapeutic riding program.
Launched in April 2014, Full Circle Farm’s year-round therapeutic riding program is designed for children and adults and offers mounted and unmounted activities. Within the program, the therapeutic benefits of riding depend on the individual goals and expectations of the rider, but generally fall into three categories: physical (improved balance, coordination, muscle tone, and flexibility), social (increased confidence, patience, and self-esteem), and cognitive (enhanced focus and listening skills). Unmounted activities, for those guests for whom riding would not be beneficial or might be unsafe, focus on grooming, leading, and natural horsemanship.
As the program—which has received numerous glowing reviews from past participants— strengthens, the facility is working to become a PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International Accredited Center. To accomplish the growth of the therapeutic riding program, the indoor riding arena was chosen for expansion. Originally constructed in 2001, the metal building measured 180 x 80 ft.
“The vision was to build-in lifts, waiting areas, and additional elements to allow us to expand the therapeutic riding program,” explained Tony Dattola, a 15-yr. employee of and current property manager for Full Circle Farm. “We needed basic provisions like a space for our guests to tack their horse in the same barn in which they would ride, while protecting them from the elements.”
Helping bring the vision to life were local partners LaValley Building Supply and Jim Martin of James Martin Builders, both of Newport, NH. Together, the team conceived, designed, and constructed an addition to the indoor arena, with special focus on engineering the steep roof to protect against snow load.
Completed in Spring 2015, the new spaces are useful and beautiful. A much-needed kitchenette and accessible bathroom were added to the first floor, along with three stalls for riders to ready their horses indoors. Skylights and mirrors enhance the riding experience. Large mirrors installed inside the arena help the rider check and maintain the proper riding form while allowing visitors to gain a more complete view of the lesson.
A wooden lift and ramp allow riders to mount their horses with ease, while friends and family check out the action from an observation deck with plenty of seating and an unobstructed view. The second floor of the addition offers a large conference space for use during clinics, meetings, or other special events. An added bonus is the perfect view down into the riding ring. The entire new space is heated during the winter and cooled in the summer.
Featured throughout the new addition is Eastern White Pine. The ceilings, walls, kitchen, and office use the natural, renewable, local product that also adds beauty, strength, and elegance to every surface. Additionally, the natural look adds authenticity to outdoor-activity structures like the indoor riding arena addition.
“The interior wood gives this structure a soft look. It’s a warm feeling, with a nice finished look,” added Martin, explaining his product choice. “We’d used Eastern White Pine before on two structures at the farm, and it was easy and fast to install. Choosing this product again was a no-brainer.”
When it came to product specifics, the team choose Springfield, New Hampshire-based Durgin & Crowell’s Enhance product. Martin specifically appreciated the readiness of the product. “The high grade is second to none. We wanted the addition completed quickly, which is why we chose this pre-coated Eastern White Pine product. The quality of the wood equaled our overall goals in building the addition. We wanted the best of the best, for the best. Everything here is wood; wood is calming, wood is comforting. Looking at a sheetrock wall can be jarring. Now our guests, visitors, and employees are surrounded by natural warmth. Any installation is easy when you have a great product! It’s perfect.”
With approximately 12,000 board feet of 1×6 premium Eastern White Pine installed in the indoor riding arena addition, Martin acknowledged that he’s worked with wood his entire career, with no plans to change anytime soon.
Since the completion of the indoor riding arena, Dattola and Martin reported that the interior is holding up wonderfully. The addition has become a very popular spot for riding lessons and therapeutic horsemanship year-round, with special-needs children, adults, and veterans participating in the program.
“Everyone loves this place,” adds Dattola. “People walk in and they’re just in awe.”