Barn Design Pros & Cons: Shed-Row Barns

by Matt

Having a hard time deciding what kind of barn to build? There are so many options and floor plans out there, it can make such a serious decision extremely difficult to make! Like any tough decision, the best place to start is with a solid list of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at different barn styles one by one, starting with shed-rows.

Shed-row barns include a row of stalls opening onto an open breezeway, such as our Gilroy stable project. You might find one row of stalls, or the stalls can be back-to-back, with the breezeway wrapping all the way around. In really large shed-row barns, a center aisle is handy, allowing traffic between the two rows of stalls, plus providing a convenient location for tack and feed rooms. Another great configuration is an L-shape, with the two rows of stalls facing a shared courtyard.

Shed-row barns are most commonly found in racing and training stables, primarily in warm climates. Enclosed shed-row barns are also found in colder climates, where they’re very useful for winter training.

What are the pros of a shed-row barn? Primarily, it’s ventilation. You’ll never lack for a breeze with a shed-row. The open breezeway is aptly named! Horses can benefit from fresh air at all hours of day and night, as well as enjoy a view of the goings-on around your property. This is great for young or very fit horses, who might be easily bored.

Built with a high enough ceiling, a back-to-back shed-row can also allow for rainy day riding. Racing stables frequently exercise horses in shed-rows. It’s a great option if you need to get in training time when the weather just doesn’t want cooperate. Enclosed shed-row barns with extra-wide aisles offer riding space all winter long.

Of course, all that light and fresh air and interesting views for your horses must come with some cons. The obvious problem with a shed-row is that it’s open to bad weather as well as good. Blowing rain can invade your space, along with whatever the wind happens to be blowing along that day: dust, dirt, bugs, autumn leaves. You can alleviate some of these complaints with extra-deep overhangs, but there’s always going to be some element of the outdoors to your shed-row barn.

Placement is key with a shed-row barn. Correctly oriented on a plot of land, it can be delightful, capturing the prevailing breezes and sheltering you from summer storms. Positioned poorly, it can be scorching hot in summer, freezing cold in winter, and soaked with every rainstorm. This is true of any barn, of course, but when you’re dealing with overhangs that could let the sunshine pour into your stalls, a carefully considered site placement is even more important.

Shed-rows aren’t for everyone, but they’re still a popular type of barn for a reason: they provide ventilation, views for stabled horses, and potential training space. These might be just the pros you’re looking for in your next barn.

2 responses on “Barn Design Pros & Cons: Shed-Row Barns

  1. Mark says:

    In Virginia. Wife likes L shape she’d row. You mentioned summer heat. What direction should the stalls face. We are going 24×24. This will provide a 12 ft overhang

    • Matt Johnson says:

      If you’d like to take advantage of the wind during the summer to cool down your barn, then you’ll want to position the barn in a way that the prevailing direction of the wind can access the stalls. Keep in mind, though, that this can be an issue in winter, with the wind carrying snow directly into your stalls. In Virginia, it may be better to position the barn so that the back faces the wind, and use barn-safe fans to ventilate during the summer.

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