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View Full Version : minimum width for barn aisleway?



Forte
Jul. 10, 2012, 09:45 PM
I am planning the renovation of the little hip roof barn on the farm we bought. It's going to be a 4 stall barn with a center aisle. Of course in the ideal world I would like 12 x 12 stalls and a 12 ' center aisle. However, I'm working with what's there so compromises have to be made. My planned layout is a 10 foot aisleway, stalls will be 11'9" wide and 10'6" deep. I'm a bit concerned about the stalls being not very deep. My significant other suggested that we make the aisleway only 9 feet wide and there give us the room to make the stalls 11 feet deep. however, I'm concerned with a 9 foot aisle I won't be able to turn a horse around comfortably. My largest horse is 16.1.
My horses do live outside all summer and would only be coming into the stalls at night November though April depending on weather.

Sugarbrook
Jul. 10, 2012, 09:57 PM
We have built 2 barns. The newest barn (10 yrs old) has an isleway of 14 feet. I cannot imagine not having it this wide for our purposes. Like, driving our truck thru, or the feed truck or the vets truck in bad weather. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT and well worth the $$$'s. Makes the barn look so big and nice. Our other barn aisle was 12 feet and it sure was a tight fit for everything.

Calvincrowe
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:00 PM
Pretty sure my SIL's barn has a barely 10 foot barn aisle (might be 9) and her 16.3 wide bodied TB has no issues turning around in there. Since your horses will spend more time in the stall than in the aisle, I'd plan for bigger stalls and a narrower aisle. I've been in barns with an 8 foot aisle and it is doable, as well.

cowgirljenn
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:01 PM
Our barn aisle is 12 feet wide, and I think much narrower would be difficult. We can back the truck into the barn aisle to unload shavings and such and it gives me room to move the horses around well (and move around them).

shakeytails
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:06 PM
My wash rack is 9' wide. Even with crap hanging on the walls, I have plenty of room to turn a big horse around. But I'd still want an aisle at least 10' wide. I like to be able to pull a truck or hay wagon in without scraping the sides. The horses won't notice an added 6", but you sure will! My old barn had small stalls, and IIRC the aisle was 10'. My stall doors were half-doors, open at the top, and my horses could and did hang their heads over the doors when they wanted, so they essentially had more room than the actual stall dimensions.

katarine
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:37 PM
You will buy 12' boards and waste a little of all of them. Make 12' stalls.

the smaller aisle is fine- a horse that size can turn around in an 8' wide horse trailer - why not?

Alagirl
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:48 PM
look at your walls, the average modern house has 8 foot ceilings. I kid you not, that's what I am doing right now staring at the wall.

Our old barn the aisle was maybe 4 feet wide, not much bigger, a 4 stall barn, originally 6. That is enough space to manuver around. You won't have vet appointments in the aisle though...

Pulling your truck in the aisle is nice, I am sure, but for a 4 stall barn you really don't need it.

However, 10'6" is almost 11 feet. That is not bad.

Aven
Jul. 10, 2012, 10:54 PM
We have built 2 barns. The newest barn (10 yrs old) has an isleway of 14 feet. I cannot imagine not having it this wide for our purposes. Like, driving our truck thru, or the feed truck or the vets truck in bad weather. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT and well worth the $$$'s. Makes the barn look so big and nice. Our other barn aisle was 12 feet and it sure was a tight fit for everything.

While its nice in the summer.. up here I wouldn't want that large a 'dead' space in the barn. brrrrr. 12 foot is plenty. I am happy with 10. I look at those bright airy beautiful barns of the south and admire them. They wouldn't be at all practical up here though.

My current barn has little aisleway... I don't like it. Minimum should be 10. I remember back in the day when all stalls were 10 x 10 even with big wb in them. Wide and not quite so deep stalls will be fine :)

JB
Jul. 11, 2012, 08:26 AM
My horses do live outside all summer and would only be coming into the stalls at night November though April depending on weather.

How often might they be in at night? If it's fairly frequently, then I would build so the stalls are priority - as big as you can make them.

9' isn't ideal for an aisle, but unless you're dealing with multiple horses and lots of time in the aisle, then as long as they are completely free of "stuff", it would be much preferable to take that minor inconvenience once or twice a day than for the horses to spend 10-12 hours in small stalls :)

And at some point, you may well end up with a horse who needs stall rest for weeks or months, so in addition to wanting a larger stall, make at least 2 of those stalls with a dividable partition

Bluey
Jul. 11, 2012, 08:44 AM
4 stall barn with one person only working in it, use the room for the stalls, the aisle will do.

I had one 8 stall barn with an 8' aisle.
Was really tight to work in there.
Grooming, vacuuming horses cross tied in there, there was not much room to get away if a horse wanted to have a silly moment.

We didn't do any vet or farrier work there, but in the larger barn with a good sized aisle.

While not ideal at all, I think you will be fine for your purpose there.

That we can minimize labor, less people to pay to help care for the horses, less time doing barn work and so more time for the horses, that today is facilitated by aisles you can run tractors/pickups thru for deliveries of supplies and moving manure out.

I think for anyone that can, make aisles at least 12' wide.
That is safer all the way around, especially the more stalls and traffic you may have thru there.

fordtraktor
Jul. 11, 2012, 08:48 AM
I would not do an 8' aisle, especially if you want to have Dutch doors to the aisle. You don't be able to walk a horse through without it getting bit by the bystanders. I have been in barns with this setup and a 10' aisle and getting a horse from back to front was still a bit like running the gauntlet.

With full fronts to the stalls it would be doable. Mine has an 11' aisle and Dutch doors only to the outside, and it is fine -- but I couldn't drive a truck in very easily, if at all. Never tried. I would have no problem turning a horse around in 9'.

If you have to pick between aisle and stall size, I'd go with stall size. Put Dutch doors to the outside if you can, because even an 11' stall will be tightish for a big horse. Mine at 10 by 12 and they are really too small for my 16.1 colt. He virtually always is hitting the wall with his legs when he rolls. But with the Dutch doors at least he can stick his head out and relax in a little more space. It also allows more breeze through the barn, and fresh air which is key. During blizzards you can shut up the Dutch doors and keep them cozy.

For vet work, you can do it in the stall which is bigger than your aisle. But most any vet work can be done in 9' -- sometimes more space is not helpful especially with a young horse, I like to snug them up against a wall a bit so they feel more comfortable.

JB
Jul. 11, 2012, 08:54 AM
Definitely use sliding doors for a smaller aisle (or really any aisle unless it's huge, 14'+) - *hate* doors that open into the aisle. Or, you can use half doors that are off the ground far enough to go over any horse laying down and have them open in.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jul. 11, 2012, 10:26 AM
I boarded at a barn with 8 foot aisles (4 stalls) and somehow we all survived! ;-) A couple horses were over 17 hands. It also had low ceilings. Originally a cattle barn. The farrier worked in the aisle and the vet too. Crazy. The farrier was glad to have a roof over his head and appreciated the heated barn in the winter. Lots of places don't even have a barn, just a lean to, so I think this was a step up compared to some.

It's not ideal, but it worked just fine.

I would not want swinging doors in a little aisle however. This barn had swinging dutch doors, but they are never used--just the covered chain. Pretty tame horses.

trubandloki
Jul. 11, 2012, 10:33 AM
You need to weigh all your options. Will you be pulling a truck or tractor with hay wagons into the aisle? Will the horses be kept inside for long periods of time? Will you ever have boarders or is it just you?

I have a 10' wide aisle and 10'x10' stalls. My horses are almost never (rare extreme weather) closed into their stalls. Their stalls open into paddocks so they can come and go. The 10'x10' stalls are working fine for this.

We buy our sawdust in bulk so every few months we have to pull our truck (dually) with a trailer into the barn to shovel the saw dust into the sawdust stall. If our aisle was any smaller the truck would not fit into the barn for this.


Write down what your plans are for things and weigh aisle versus stalls with that list in front of you. Smaller stalls are not bad/evil/wrong. Smaller aisle is not bad/evil/wrong. Figure what works best for you.

JB
Jul. 11, 2012, 10:49 AM
If you have a "sawdust stall", and many barns do, an alternative to a bigger aisle to get a truck in there is to have an exterior door, either sliding, or a garage type roll up.

Guilherme
Jul. 11, 2012, 11:25 AM
We have built 2 barns. The newest barn (10 yrs old) has an isleway of 14 feet. I cannot imagine not having it this wide for our purposes. Like, driving our truck thru, or the feed truck or the vets truck in bad weather. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT and well worth the $$$'s. Makes the barn look so big and nice. Our other barn aisle was 12 feet and it sure was a tight fit for everything.

This. :)

An 8' aisle seems OK until you park a truck in it and try to open the driver's door.

Between 10-12 you can open the truck doors, but that presumes you have NOTHING in the barn aisle (like tack boxes, mounting blocks, tools, etc.). That includes tack hanging on walls.

14 feet gives some "elbow room" and allows routine work with the vehicle (truck, trailer, etc.) in the barn. Even if there's stuff in the barn aisle.

At the end of the day it's going to be a compromise so think about your needs and how you run your barn and then make the call. :)

G.

horsefaerie
Jul. 11, 2012, 11:36 AM
My stalls are 10 foot square. I have 10x20' run outs off the back of each stall. I have a 12' aisle and if I had it to do over again I would have a 14'aisleway.

Mine is a five stall barn. I drive a dually.

Horses do not need big stalls. My experience has been that the bigger the stall the more likely they'll get cast. I believe it has to do with their vision and eye set.

Of course I am old enough to remember standing stalls being in use as well.

PNWjumper
Jul. 11, 2012, 12:09 PM
My barn is an old converted cow barn. It's 30' x 60' which gives me 10' deep stalls and a 10' aisle. I haven't ever disliked the aisle, but then I tack up/crosstie between my hay area and tack room, which is open on the hay side, so even though it's only 10' between the posts, it's open pallets on the one side (except when I have a full load of hay when I'm back to 10' again). I woudn't mind having a slighty wider aisleway and shallower stalls, but I only feel that way because none of my horses live in stalls (they're all out 24/7). I wouldn't actually do it just in case I end up with one that needs to be on stall rest. On the rare occasion when I've had to keep a horse in they've been fine in my 10' x 12' stalls (of course they're all used to the 10'x10' at horseshows too).

As far as the aisle, my horses have room to turn, two horses can pass each other without a problem, and I can back my F-350 into the aisleway to throw hay in or grain out or whatever else I need to do. I'm not sure I would go narrower than 10', but I guess it comes down to what you can afford to do (money or spacewise) and you can adjust to just about anything.

JB
Jul. 11, 2012, 12:38 PM
My WB gelding regularly cast himself in a 10x11 stall when he was 2. He never cast himself in a 11x20 stall when he was 4 and on stall rest :) He's also one who has rolled into my electric tape fence - THREE TIMES - despite having ACRES to roll in :rolleyes:

He's never gotten cast in his 12x12 stall in the 7+ years he's been here.

I agree that the wider aisle is always ideal But the OP has a perimeter already defined, isn't starting from scratch.

figure out what will be used the most.

Our barn has been built for 7+ years. It has a 12' aisle. The concrete is such that I CAN drive a loaded truck in there, but I've never done it. Never. Never even contemplated it. If I had a shavings stall and needed to unload shavings, I'd have built that stall with an exterior full width door. It's 36x36, and when I need to unload hay, I back the truck up to the door and unload

Trevelyan96
Jul. 11, 2012, 01:00 PM
Mine is 10', and although its wide enough to drive both the pickup and my 97 Tahoe through, its a tight fit. Works for me, but in a larger, busier barn, I think 12' should be the minimum. And no way would a dually fit in there.

RedmondDressage
Jul. 11, 2012, 01:16 PM
I have a 6 stall center aisle barn with 10' x 12' stalls and a 10' aisle. I've never had any issue with the 10' aisle. I can drive the tractor through with plenty of room, never needed to drive my pickup through but I can't imagine it'd be a problem. We put a 12' sliding door instead of the regular turnout doors on the middle stall of the side facing the driveway which has greatly reduced the need to access the interior of the barn with vehicles. Currently I use this stall as shavings storage and the door allows me to back into the stall and load shavings from the outside. We've also used it to store the tractor and lawnmower in the past and if I didn't have a loft it would offer easy access for unloading hay. If I ever fence off the front area of the barn I think the stall will be great as a run-in area for a horse or two to get out of the weather as well. I didn't like the idea of the big door when we built the barn but my dad insisted. Now that I live at and run the farm I've come to realize it's genius.

We also built a loft with access doors on the front of the barn so the hay truck pulls up and loads from the front, again no need to access the interior. Overall I think our barn is about as functional and flexible as you can get which has been wonderful.

horsepoor
Jul. 11, 2012, 01:23 PM
I have a 9' wide space that was my grooming/shoeing/vet area and now is more of an aisle since we added on to the barn. It works, but my big goofy guy that is close to 17 hands with a giraffe neck does have a hard time turning around in there. I often would take him outside to turn around, or back him in, like a big truck (which he is...). And my shoer and vet have both felt a bit cramped in there, so appreciate the larger, more workable space we have now with our remodel.

That said, if I had to choose aisle width or stall size -- I'd go bigger on stalls. In fact, that is why my little area became 9' instead of the original design of 10' as we pushed the stall front out a bit to make the stalls 11'6"x12'6". That stall size has worked nicely for my collection of big and little (the big 1,500 lb. warmblood and his mini mule pet managed to co-exist in one), but I also have attached overhangs and paddocks and rarely lock them in to stall only. I do have a drop down stall front (sliding door) there and have to close it when using the area to keep the stalled horse from causing trouble.

As someone also mentioned, when you go with odd sizes and have to start cutting wood, that will result in waste as most wood you buy is going to be in certain standard lengths -- so you might be cutting 12' boards down to, say 11'6" as I did, and waste of wood is waste of $$. Also if you are matting, that is another thing to keep in mind -- having to cut mats and ending up wasting small strips.

But, no matter what the cost, having them all cozy and at home where I can take care of them -- worth it. No more boarding! Yipppeeeeeeee!

FraggleRock
Jul. 11, 2012, 01:25 PM
my barns aisle is only 8' wide and i have no issues having my 16.3hh TB in there, have also had belgians in there with no problems. as much as i love wide aisles i would take bigger stallers over a bigger aisle any day!

Forte
Jul. 11, 2012, 04:22 PM
Just to add to my original post, I won't need to drive a truck or tractor down the aisleway, so that's not an issue for me. I'll be doing sliding stall fronts as well. My main concern is just turning a horse around comfortable as well as feeling safe grooming in a narrow aisleway (I guess I can always tack in the larger stall if necessary?) The partitions in between the stalls will be removable in case I need to make a bigger stall.

Equibrit
Jul. 11, 2012, 04:47 PM
I had an old barn with a 4ft aisle for the horses. They were fine. It's the rest you have to worry about.I've never seen the need to groom/tack a horse in the aisle anyway, all my horses are groomed and tacked in their stalls without being tied.

Alagirl
Jul. 11, 2012, 06:25 PM
I had an old barn with a 4ft aisle for the horses. They were fine. It's the rest you have to worry about.I've never seen the need to groom/tack a horse in the aisle anyway, all my horses are groomed and tacked in their stalls without being tied.


Euro person that you are! ;)

morgansnmind
Jul. 11, 2012, 11:45 PM
My block barn has a 6ft aisle way with 2 10x18 and 1 10x13.5ish stalls (plus tack rooms). While it would be nice to have it a bit bigger ...it works. Less to clean. I've tacked up in the aisle (but usually in the stalls). If I could change anything though it would be to add a bigger doorway and to add 2ft to the stalls and 2 foot to the aisle. I would be happy if I could drive the four wheeler in there. Oh well this is my starter barn. I'm just happy to have a barn and my horses home! :0)

With the aisle being 6ft my 15.1 horse can turn around in the aisle though it is a squeeze. I boarded a 17hand horse last year and he did ok going through there. No turn around for him. Had a end stall with two stall doors. I felt bad for him though even though the stall is 10x18 it didn't feel big enough for him. He didn't really use the whole stall but stand facing the door the whole time. Course that might have been because he was busy cribbing on my new half doors (grrrrrrr).

I would go with bigger stalls and less aisle way. The barn's that I've been that a truck could drive through hardly ever had one go in. It does makes it easier on the farrier and vet but they can make do with less.

Coyoteco
Jul. 12, 2012, 12:44 AM
My barn's main hallway is 12 feet but I have an 8' aisle that runs perpendicular to the main aisle. I thought the 8' would just be a walk through, but have ended up using it for a lot of things, and have even left it open for the horses some times during this summer when I've had one horse in the stall. This way the other horses use it as a run in rather than their regular run in, and hang out with the stalled horse. The 16.2 tb and the 16 perch/tb have no trouble coming moving around any way they want, and that' usually with a qh in the corner! I am amazed at how well the horses handle the 8' space. I use it for whatever. If the vet comes, I go to a differnt space, but that is not necessary. I wouldn't hesitate to have an 8' hallway, and would want the 12 foot stalls. I think the ability to drive a truck in is much less important in a four stall barn.
Your space would be fine imo.

EquusMagnificus
Jul. 12, 2012, 06:38 AM
I had an old barn with a 4ft aisle for the horses. They were fine. It's the rest you have to worry about.I've never seen the need to groom/tack a horse in the aisle anyway, all my horses are groomed and tacked in their stalls without being tied.

My barn is a converted old pig barn. The aisle was a smidge under 5' wide.

But the stalls were 14 x 14; having mares with foals... I opted to keep the stalls nice and big (with half walls in cement!) and the narrow aisle; and I build a great grooming stall. :yes: I love it better this way. I can setup all my stuff in a convenient location and the aisle serves one purpose: circulation.

Horses can not turn around in it, but they learn to back up or we go and turn around in the grooming stall, or outside, or in a stall.

I was worried about handling a mare and a foal in such a narrow aisle; as it turns out, it makes my life easier. Foal HAS to stay near mom, no exploring or dragging me to the far side. ;)

My grooming stall is 8' wide and it's perfectly fine to use. At my first barn, my aisle was 7' wide and I had no grooming stall; 7' is getting too narrow in my opinion to groom without worrying constantly about getting squashed in a wall.

If you want to groom in your aisle; I'd say minimum 8'. As a previous poster said; make your stalls bigger (12' wood) and take whatever's left for the aisle and it'll be just fiiine. :yes: