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Beth Cooper's Horse Barn and Studio in the Santa Fe New Mexican

07 Aug 2022 2:13 PM | Admin PAPNM (Administrator)

Billy and Beth Cooper — Blue Bird Studios and Horse Barn, Arroyo Hondo

A look inside beautiful barns

Billy and Beth Cooper owned second homes in Santa Fe for a long time, and for years they had thought about building a property here. Then in 2019, they built a main home, guest house and his-and-her barns and made Santa Fe County their permanent residence. Appropriately located on Joy Lane in Arroyo Hondo, seven miles south of the Santa Fe Plaza, the new property accommodates both of their lifelong joys: hers — painting; his — horses.

That was the plan, according to Billy, who based the design of the nearly nine-acre property on his horses’ needs and in accord with horse trainer Clinton Anderson’s method. Charts of Anderson’s training techniques are displayed in the pitched-roof barn that’s painted bright blue on top. Each of his four horses has trained in Texas with Connie Harris, a certified Clinton Anderson Method Ambassador. Billy, who tries to practice daily, demonstrated how he conditions the horses to lower their heads when he places the bridle and bit.

The Cooper horse barn was designed with safety and comfort in mind. Each stall has a fan. When the horses are out, an automatic system sprays fly repellent from the wood-beamed ceiling eight times a day. Surveillance cameras allow Cooper to view the barn and stalls from his phone. The horses enjoy nearly four acres of fenced pasture. Cooper also has direct access from his property to the arroyo that leads to miles and miles of protected trails when he rides. “It’s trust land and always open,” he says. The land is located near the Seton Village castle and extends out to the re-opened train tracks that lead to station in Lamy, New Mexico.

Billy chose each element for the horse barn with Craig Shanks, who designed the Las Campanas horse facilities and the former La Mesita hunter-jumper ranch estate. “I love that I can watch and check on the horses,” he says, as he shows the live views on his smart device.

Beth Cooper uses the Jill side of the Jack-and-Jill barns, which are connected by a shared bathroom, as her art studio. Her Blue Bird Studios ( is built in the same vein as her husband's horse barn, but with mud floors coated with linseed oil. Both barns have pitched, wood-beamed ceilings with industrial-looking steel fasteners.

Beth wanted to design a creative space where people can gather to learn from accomplished painters. Even though the opening of the studio was delayed by the pandemic, she now has well-established artists lined up until 2023 to teach 3- to 5-day workshops. Attendees can also spend time with the horses, if they like. “And I always make Frito pie on the last day,” says Beth. She keeps a basketful of the bagged corn chips in one of the art barn’s kitchen cabinets.

Blue is clearly a theme at the Cooper barns. Blue Bird Studios. Blue roofs. Blue kitchen cabinets. A blue bench on the portal inscribed “Cowboy’s Place.” You could even go so far as saying that double B’s are an element too: Blue Bird, blue barn, blue bench, and Billy and Beth. Perfect, for a story about two beautiful barns.

See also Blue Bird Studios posted under Member Workshops

Click here for full article with images

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