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View Full Version : How narrow is too narrow for a barn aisle? Updated post 24



onelanerode
Jul. 28, 2012, 10:35 AM
I'm looking at a listing for a house and four-stall barn on 10 acres. It's in our price range and the barn doesn't look like it needs any work (at least any major work). Fence might be a different story; it's tough to tell from the pics.

However, from the property tax records (which list outer dimensions of the barn), the stalls look to be 10 x 12 and the aisle is a mere 6 feet wide. :eek: Barn is 26 feet by 30 feet with two 10-foot overhangs on the long sides. If you walk into the barn, there are two stalls on either side of you, what appear to be two wash/grooming stalls on either side in the middle, and two more stalls on either side beyond those.

Even with horses under 16 hands, that seems very tight, especially that aisle. :no:

What say you, COTHers?

GoForAGallop
Jul. 28, 2012, 10:53 AM
The stall size I wouldn't worry about, particularly because it sounds like they have an in-out setup, with the overhangs.

The aisle is a slightly different story....it's tight. I have a 10' aisle and I can lead two horses in at a time, plenty of room to tack up a horse crosstied in the middle, etc. It is snug though and I can't imagine losing almost half of it.

That being said...it's just a private barn, right? Just you in there most of the time? And it's in great shape?

If that was the only issue with the whole property, and the barn was in otherwise workable condition, it wouldn't stop me from buying it. Particularly because it doesn't sound like it's the only way to get horses out of the barn. Depending on the specific structure, you could always bump the stalls out a bit under the overhang, and then give yourself a wider aisle, if you wanted to put the time/money in.

So....I guess it depends. Six feet is undeniably narrow. You're certainly not going to walk two horses down it side by side. But if it's just you in the barn most days, and there are separate grooming stalls, and there are no other major issues....personally, I wouldn't let it stop me from buying the property.

SAcres
Jul. 28, 2012, 10:56 AM
I think, while tight, it could be dealt with. In a boarding situation, definitely a no-no, but for a private 4 stall barn, it wouldn't bother me as much.

I would definitely go look at the property before making any decisions.

onelanerode
Jul. 28, 2012, 11:09 AM
Yeah, *if* we bought it, it would likely be just me, with the possibility of one boarder at some point in the future.

Horses would be out most of the time anyway, though my guess would be only about half the property is pasture, so I wouldn't put more than two big horses and a pony/donkey on it, and I'd probably still have to supplement with hay.

Barn aisle runs the length of the barn, with the back doors opening out into the smaller of two pastures. Front doors open out onto driveway area. The two stalls on the left side of the barn appear to have either sliding or dutch doors that open into a small paddock/dry lot; there's a tree blocking my view of the side of the middle area, so I can't tell whether there's a door there. It doesn't look like the area on the right side of the barn is fenced.

Alagirl
Jul. 28, 2012, 11:20 AM
it's for walking through, not hanging out. If you have wash stalls etc, the aisle does not need to be humongous. But it's still wide enough for a tight turn if need be.

Sakura Hill Farm
Jul. 28, 2012, 12:02 PM
Aisles are not just for walking through- think of what might happen if a horse gets cast. Our Big Eq horse was easily 17.3 and was sold to a family that doted on him. However, in his old age, he got out of his stall, cast in a tight aisle and had to be put down because of this. Perhaps you can check whether the stall fronts can easily be dismantled in such an unfortunate eventuality.

goodhors
Jul. 28, 2012, 12:23 PM
For me, 6ft aisle would be unusable on a daily basis. Unsafe, making me do all my moving of things by hand. I would be REALLY cramped leading our horses in or out. My STOCK TRAILER is 6ft wide!! That narrow width can add up painfully, when you consider moving everthing the horses need by carrying it or pushing the wheelbarrow to get to the other end of the barn. Manure would be my big issue, not being able to have the spreader outside the stall door to empty stalls into!

Must be you folks like to work harder than me, doing everything by hand! Just way too much work for me.

If you go to look, you may want to take photos of how the poles for support are placed, spacing, stall construction for taking them apart. With 10ft overhangs, if the poles are usable or could have additional poles added, the stalls might be able to be backed out under the overhang roof, to widen the aisle to a useful size. Not sure what that would entail in moving the wash stall drain, water pipes in place now. Not sure if you would need more outside metal covering or whatever the walls are made of to expand and cover those stalls.

A remodel could be more expense than it is worth on the barn. If I could not remodel, the barn would be a deal breaker for me. I couldn't use it for even a little time, just too hard with our several horses. Way too hard to use after having an excellent design in present barn. Sounds like it was designed as a hobby barn for looks, pretty on the property, not a real, usable horse barn.

Could it be a workshop, storage or studio instead? Then build another barn that really works, if you love the house or location? Budget might not allow that for you.

Alagirl
Jul. 28, 2012, 12:55 PM
shit happens...I am used to a 4 foot aisle. Wheel barrow it is. but since the farm didn't spread fresh manure, it wasn't a whole lot of trouble pushing it out to the manure pile, 15, 20 feed out of the door. :)
Or bringing in hay from around the corner. After a while you get good at balancing a wheel barrow sacked with 6 or more heavy bales across a bumpy barn yard. :yes:

we groomed inside the stall or outside the barn.

I also boarded in a place that had an aisle easily 30 or 40 feet wide. waste of space, but it allowed the farm to bring in several roundbales with a front loader to be fed layer by layer and you didn't have to worry about traffic. But it was a former bull raising barn...you needed the wide middle to feed the critters...

horsepoor
Jul. 28, 2012, 12:57 PM
However, from the property tax records (which list outer dimensions of the barn), the stalls look to be 10 x 12 and the aisle is a mere 6 feet wide. :eek:


I'd go look and verify this. Maybe the records are better where you are, but here, the county tax records are notoriously inaccurate on stuff like this. And you will get a better feel for the space when you are actually IN it and can move around.

While 6' is not ideal, it might work...I would not dump the place off your list without actually visiting. As long as you kept the aisle completely clear and use it as a pass through (not for grooming or shoeing), it might work for a private barn. As long as you can make the turn into the stalls, I think you could make it work. But I'd check it out.

How fun to be shopping! Good luck!

onelanerode
Jul. 28, 2012, 01:10 PM
A remodel could be more expense than it is worth on the barn. ... Sounds like it was designed as a hobby barn for looks, pretty on the property, not a real, usable horse barn.

Could it be a workshop, storage or studio instead? Then build another barn that really works, if you love the house or location? Budget might not allow that for you.

You outlined my concerns; the aisle width might be usable, but it'll be inefficient, and I can't tell without actually keeping horses there how much of a problem that'll be in the long term. And Sakura brought up a point I was worried about: what if someone does spook or otherwise have a meltdown in that aisle? Or what if someone slips?

I can't tell from the pics how easy it would be to renovate, but doing so would likely put it out of our budget, as would converting this barn to storage and building another barn.

It certainly seems to have been built more with "pretty" in mind than "practical" ... I mean, what horseperson intentionally builds a barn with a 6-foot aisle, unless you have miniature horses or small ponies? At least the stall doors are sliding doors, so you don't have to open dutch doors out into the aisle.

It has a very nice apartment on the top level, and current owners do not appear to have horses. It was for sale a year or so ago, no takers, and now it's back on the market again. My feeling is that the barn's probably what's holding horsepeople back from making an offer on it.

It might be worth a drive-by ... I want to see more of the fence/pasture than what I can see on the listing's pictures and Google maps.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Jul. 28, 2012, 01:26 PM
I would definitely look at it and consider whether it could work with the aisle as a human only zone. Like, think of it as 2 shedrow barns conveniently located that a person can walk between them to feed, check horses, and possibly muck. May or may not work for you, but shedrow can be a great setup.

JackSprats Mom
Jul. 29, 2012, 06:29 PM
For my own private barn, wouldn't put me off at all, not ideal but definately liveable. And if we go down the 'what if' road, then we may as well not have horses, cause lets get real, you could give them a 20 ft aisle way and still have 'what ifs'.

Bluey
Jul. 29, 2012, 06:35 PM
Depending on how that barn is built and if you need all the stalls or not, you can take one stall out of one side and have a safer place to work there, with the stall space plus that aisle.
That still leaves you three stalls.:yes:

suz
Jul. 29, 2012, 10:26 PM
my barn is 15x63 with not quite 10x10 stalls. factor in the thickness of barn walls and our aisle is a bit over 3ft wide.
can't be helped because of the footprint and zoning setbacks, if we were to stay here we'd build another barn somewhere else on the property and use this barn as a storage barn.
we did keep horses here fairly easily, as long as we didn't need to move horses through the aisle. though our naughty fatlingers managed to squeeze themselves in there a couple of times.

tcgelec
Jul. 29, 2012, 10:33 PM
My aisle is 7' wide. I wouldn't want it much narrower. My Arabian and TB mares can turn around easily but it's a tad tight for my big Paint, though not dangerously so. Although if everything else is just what you want, it probably wouldn't be a deal- breaker...

gumtree
Jul. 29, 2012, 10:39 PM
From what I understand you have a total of 26 X 50 under roof.? If that’s so and it is built using standard building practices it should be quite simple to dismantle the stalls and move them out with little extra expense other then labor. If you can get some free labor that can disassemble the stalls without destroying the materials you will save quite a bit. Any decent carpenter will give you a quote before you buy. Moving the electrical should be easy and not add too much to cost. Without seeing the wash stall hard to say. Without seeing the layout and site also.
You didn’t say were this is located, don’t know where the 3 legged llama lives. But if weather is not much of a factor the 10’ overhand is plenty to work with for your uses assuming the stalls open to it also.
IMO 10’ isle works but tight, ideally 12-14 makes for a pleasant and safe working environment. If you should choice to remodel don’t go bigger then 10x12 or 12x12 just because you have the space. Not needed and just more sq ft to bed and muck. I have read studies that seem to indicate that horses are more prone to getting cast in larger stalls.

onelanerode
Jul. 30, 2012, 11:09 AM
The overhangs are on the long sides, so "under roof" would be 30 x 46, BUT the overhangs slope fairly steeply, so I'm not sure how far out the stalls could be moved. I'd need to see the inside of the barn better.

Treating it like a shedrow could be doable.

Fence is four stands of high-tensile on 4x4 wood posts; posts look to be in decent shape. Top strand is probably 4'-4'6". There were two ~15.2-16 hand horses out grazing when we did our drive-by, and the pasture was in decent shape. Not lush, but no bare spots other than by the gates. Some weeds, but overall it wasn't bad. Certainly better than what a few BNTs around here try to pass off as "pasture."

SmartAlex
Jul. 30, 2012, 11:35 AM
Ours is 10 feet wide, and even with minimal traffic, I wouldn't want it any narrower. I think 8 feet would be my absolute minimum.

susanne
Jul. 30, 2012, 04:32 PM
I second treating it as a double shedrow with the aisle for you, not the horses. If the outside stall doors are on only one side, it shouldn't be too expensive to add them on the other side.

kookicat
Jul. 30, 2012, 05:37 PM
I wouldn't be comfortable with a 6ft isle. It doesn't give you much space to get out of the way if something goes wrong!

Riverotter
Aug. 2, 2012, 11:12 AM
South of the Mason Dixon line on a small farm, this seems pretty common to me.
In a barn like that, the aisle is not meant for the horses. The outside overhang is meant for the horses. Anything that you might want to do in the aisle, you do under the overhang. The horses go in and out from the outside, not the aisle.

The aisle is only for you, to feed, to muck, to carry hay. And that is wide enough for a garden size tractor, which is about all you'll need on 10 acres anyway. I have 10 acres, and a full size tractor would make hubby happy, but is not needed at all.

Go look at the place.

saultgirl
Aug. 2, 2012, 06:46 PM
If that's the only thing wrong with the whole place, count your lucky stars and write the cheque.

You can put up cross ties in a stall (or all of them) to use that space for tacking, and you can get in and out with a wheelbarrow just fine.

A horse can definitely get hurt in a small place if something goes wrong... or in a big place.... or in a perfectly medium-sized place. A horse can get cast up against a fence in a 100 acre field.

morgansnmind
Aug. 2, 2012, 07:32 PM
My barn aisle is 6ft. It's not so bad. If it's just you and maybe one other boarder it works. I thought I would really really hate it but it's not a big deal really. I cannnot drive anything (maybe a bike LOL) threw it because the doorway is 4 4 1/2ft.

If your horses don't get along then you might want to have full doors (I have half doors but mine are buddies).

onelanerode
Sep. 30, 2012, 09:37 AM
So we hemmed and hawed and finally decided to go see the place yesterday. Of course it was pouring rain. :lol:

House is lovely; it has everything we need and nothing we don't! We would only make one fairly easy/minor change to it before moving in.

So the barn: I said earlier that the stalls were 10x12. Well, I lied (not really, I just *suck* at math and didn't get my dimensions quite right). They are actually 10x10. Sliding doors open into the 6-foot-wide aisle, dutch doors at the back of the stalls. The four stalls are at the four corners of the barn, with two 10x10 bays in the middle across from each other. Barn faces southwest, but is surrounded by pretty big hardwoods (including a pignut hickory whose nuts were dropping onto the metal roof ... sounded like gunshots).

The two stalls on the left open into a small (40x40ish) drylot; the two on the right are currently being used as storage (front one is hay). There are two hayracks bolted to the side of the barn on the drylot side, under the lean-to.

All the stalls have packed gravel bases with shavings on top. There are glass windows in the stalls (one in each stall on the front walls of the barn and the back walls of the barn). Stall walls are rough-cut 2x6 boards; stall fronts look like they might have been kits and have vertical bars starting about 4 feet up. Stall fronts also contain swing-out combo hay/grain feeders.

One bay could be a washstall; hot and cold water are there and so is a drain, but the drain would need a drainpipe to channel the water away from the barn. Current owner has never used it as a wash stall, so drain has been covered. Washstall bay is currently feed/tools; opposite bay is tack and also contains the water filtration system for house and barn apartment.

Drylot opens out into one of three small pastures. That pasture leads to a bigger drylot (~60x80), which is currently being used as a sacrifice area; the horses are fed here, and there are two frost-free hydrants here as well for water. There are two other small pastures that connect to this sacrifice lot.

Fence is four strands of high-tensile on wood posts. It looks to be in good shape. Soil is red clay (no escaping that!) except for the small drylot off the barn, which is coarse packed sand/stonedust. Even with the day's heavy rain, the mud was not awful, and there didn't appear to be any places in the pasture where water was pooling. (Lawn in front of house a different story.)

Current owners have done a good job with pasture maintenance, so there's a decent amount of grass (fescue). Unfortunately, there's only about 4 acres of pasture, so I would have to find a reliable hay supplier.

Plenty of room for farrier/vet to pull back to barn and turn around; barn is well-lit and has spotlights for surrounding area too. Horse trailers would have to load/unload on the gravel road (it's a smallish subdivision with large lots, so very little traffic on the gravel road); you might be able to get a 2h bumper pull turned around by the barn, but not likely anything larger than that.

The biggest drawback is there's nowhere on the property to school. I could hack (W/T) in one of the pastures, but none of them are large enough or flat enough to do a lot of canter work or jumping. However, there are 4.5 miles of hiking/biking/riding trails in the community. Current owner also mentioned that some people in the community had an arrangement with one of the other property owners to use her ring. There's also a large lot not currently developed whose owners keep it mowed, and current owner said people are allowed to ride there. Current owner gave me a copy of the trail map for the neighborhood, and we did a drive-by on our way out. Trails look to be well-maintained and pretty; current owner said there's a group that rides once a week at a certain time, and there are annual trail cleanup days.

House has a propane-powered generator that powers the well pump, so access to water during a power outage shouldn't be a problem.

What we liked most about the property was how well current owners had maintained it. Nothing's terribly fancy, but everything is in good working order.

crosscreeksh
Sep. 30, 2012, 09:33 PM
Sounds like a great/workable place. Good Luck!!

FlashGordon
Sep. 30, 2012, 10:02 PM
Ummmmm..... do it!

feather river
Oct. 1, 2012, 01:39 AM
I have a 20 foot barn aisle. I wouldn't have anything less than 16 foot. What is with 6 foot?? Custom homes have hallways that are 4 foot. Whoever built the barn you are looking at knew nothing about barns/horses/livestock. And the stalls are pony sized. I have overnight only stalls at 12' by 12' and they are a minimum size for a medium warmblood--my mare barn stalls are 12'6" by 16'. And they are on a shed row with a 10 foot covered area in front of each stall.

The barn you are looking at sounds like a closet.

If everything else is good with the house and the rest of the property, put up a legitimate barn, and turn that thing into a potting shed.

onelanerode
Oct. 1, 2012, 06:33 AM
I have a 20 foot barn aisle. I wouldn't have anything less than 16 foot. What is with 6 foot?? Custom homes have hallways that are 4 foot. Whoever built the barn you are looking at knew nothing about barns/horses/livestock. And the stalls are pony sized. I have overnight only stalls at 12' by 12' and they are a minimum size for a medium warmblood--my mare barn stalls are 12'6" by 16'. And they are on a shed row with a 10 foot covered area in front of each stall.

The barn you are looking at sounds like a closet.

If everything else is good with the house and the rest of the property, put up a legitimate barn, and turn that thing into a potting shed.

How fortunate for me, then, that I am 5'2" on a good day in the morning, and thus riding sturdy ponies isn't an issue. :p

Is it ideal? No. Is it what I, or most horse people, would have done? No. I like 12x12 stalls and a 10-12 foot aisle myself. Is it, with careful planning and consideration, workable? Well, it certainly seems to be. Current owner has ~15.2 hand and ~16 hand geldings who've been there for 14 years, and they looked content and healthy. It is small, but after seeing the place, I don't think it's impossibly small.

If we put in an offer, we'll be doing so knowing that any future equine inhabitants will be under 16 hands, there won't be any more than three equids of some kind, and we'll also be doing our best with careful pasture maintenance to keep them out as much as we can, which is better for them anyway. Thankfully the climate here is conducive to this.

We've already discussed removing the first stall on the right, where hay is currently stored, and perhaps enclosing the lean-to on the right side of the barn for hay storage. That, along with some white paint, would open up a big part of the barn and make it roomier and brighter.

Trevelyan96
Oct. 2, 2012, 02:10 PM
It sounds workable for a private facility, and finding a property that's ready to move into, requires no major maintenance, and has a nice house is definitly worth serious consideration. In some over-populated areas on the east and west coast, it would be the equivalent of heaven. One major thing I'd be looking for is adequate hay storage.

If you make the aisle for humans only and tie/groom in the stalls, you should not have any problems. Turn in/out through the dutch doors. Remove one of the stall fronts that you won't be using, and you'll have a nice open area for the vet/farrier to work in as well.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Oct. 2, 2012, 02:19 PM
I have a 20 foot barn aisle. I wouldn't have anything less than 16 foot. What is with 6 foot?? Custom homes have hallways that are 4 foot. Whoever built the barn you are looking at knew nothing about barns/horses/livestock. And the stalls are pony sized. I have overnight only stalls at 12' by 12' and they are a minimum size for a medium warmblood--my mare barn stalls are 12'6" by 16'. And they are on a shed row with a 10 foot covered area in front of each stall.

The barn you are looking at sounds like a closet.

If everything else is good with the house and the rest of the property, put up a legitimate barn, and turn that thing into a potting shed.

You are very fortunate. :) I have visited many, many barns (showbarns, etc.) and the vast majority of stalls were 12x12' and the vast majority of aisles were around 12'-14'.

PeteyPie
Oct. 2, 2012, 03:20 PM
South of the Mason Dixon line on a small farm, this seems pretty common to me.
In a barn like that, the aisle is not meant for the horses. The outside overhang is meant for the horses. Anything that you might want to do in the aisle, you do under the overhang. The horses go in and out from the outside, not the aisle.

The aisle is only for you, to feed, to muck, to carry hay. And that is wide enough for a garden size tractor, which is about all you'll need on 10 acres anyway. I have 10 acres, and a full size tractor would make hubby happy, but is not needed at all.

Go look at the place.

This makes sense to me. Think of this barn as back-to-back shedrow barns with a 6' interior alley for you to access the back of each stall. The front of the stall is the part facing outward onto the 10' overhang side and the horses can be taken in and out that way.

Bluey
Oct. 2, 2012, 03:31 PM
This makes sense to me. Think of this barn as back-to-back shedrow barns with a 6' interior alley for you to access the back of each stall. The front of the stall is the part facing outward onto the 10' overhang side and the horses can be taken in and out that way.

Yes, the 6' aisle is more a feeding aisle for humans, not a leading or working aisle for horse traffic and working on them there but rarely, in a pinch.

Taking one corner stall to open the barn is a great idea and you can put it back in, if you needed it back at some time later.

The whole sounds fine for a small, private barn, with a few horses and only one person working there and room to be out of the weather for that in the space taking that stall out will provide.:cool:

tcgelec
Oct. 2, 2012, 05:37 PM
I have a 4- stall barn with 3- 12 X 12 stalls and a 12 X 12 tack/ feed room. My aisle is 7' wide X 24' long.

All of my horses are about 16hh, and I have no problem working with them and turning them around in the 7' aisle.

I have had no complaints from vet, farrier, trainer, or dentist about working in the aisle.

I do have another set of crossties in the rear stableyard that I use only as a wash rack.

I am in suburbia. My township limits the size barn you can build to 750 s.f. without a variance, obtaining which can be a long drawn out process, and they also limit the amount of horses you can keep.

I wasn't looking to go through the variance proceedings so I went with what was allowed without. Wanted 12 X 12 stalls, so ended up with a barn 31' X 24'. Good size (in-out) stalls, workable aisle, separate hay shed (as they also restrict height to 15' so no loft without a variance either)

I'm happy. My horses are happy and healthy. What more? For myself, the bigger issue would be no on-site schooling ring. Mine is only 60 X 100 but I trailer out to trainer's once a week. But if that's not an issue go for it!