What do you really need for your horse barn? Building a stable for your horses can feel like a monumental task. There are so many designs, many of which we’ve covered here at the blog. In fact, you’ll find links to our articles on center-aisle barns, raised center-aisle barns, and shed-row barns at the end of this post. But if you’re just starting to plan your horse barn design, we can get you started with some useful questions to consider.
1. How many horses should I keep on my property? You could ask yourself how many horses you have, or plan to have, but we all know horses have a tendency to multiply! There’s always a friend’s retiring horse which would be perfect for your sister to trail ride, or a racetrack retiree who would be perfect for a talented teenager as soon as he’s had some time off the track, or a pony you found at an auction you just can’t say no to. You might even end up breeding a mare although you never anticipated having a foal around the farm.
So be honest with yourself as you assess your property for the correct horse capacity. Taking into account turn-out space, grazing quality, and climate will help you determine how many horses you can comfortably house on your farm. Then, you can decide how many stalls you need — or how many stalls you need to limit yourself to!
2. What amenities do you need? Some barn amenities might seem like nice-to-have perks, like an inside wash-rack, but when you consider how often you work your horses hard enough to need hosing, versus the weather you can expect to have, it might make sense to add one to your plans. Also consider your time. If you’re constantly pressed for time to ride and train because of all the other barn chores taking up your precious hours, what steps can you eliminate with smart additions to your barn? These might include automatic waterers, or faucets at each stall to fill buckets without dragging a hose down the aisle twice a day.
3. Give yourself and your horses plenty of space. It can be tempting to downsize a little on certain aspects of your barn, like your aisle, but when you’re trying to drive a dually loaded to the top with hay bales down your center aisle, you’re going to want that extra space. The same thing goes for stalls. While a ten-by-twelve stall is a good minimum size for many average-sized horses, with small stalls can come messy horses, who can’t find a good spot to lie down without being covered in manure, as well as an added risk of becoming cast.
4. Think safety first. Whenever possible, look for added design elements which can make your barn safer for you and your horses. This might mean bucking tradition in favor of more sensible design. For instance, while many barns have sliding doors set to the side of the stall, you might want to consider placing your stall door in the center of each stall wall, giving plenty of clearance for horse and handler to walk into the stall and circle back to the door without being pushed or crowded against any walls.
5. Make sure you have adequate storage for everything you need — or might need down the line. Draw up a list of equipment and supplies, from tack to hay, and determine where in your barn it’s going to live. When you do so, you can consider the pros and cons of different storage options, such as splitting one room into storage for both tack and feed, against your buildable space and budget. This will save some disappointment down the line, as you might just find your business or hobby grows beyond your storage capacity and you’re forced to add a shed to your picturesque new barn area!
For more hints on barn design, take a look at our posts on different styles of barns: