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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2008
    Somewhere wishing for a horse!

    Default Designing a barn - Must haves?

    My fiance and I may possibly be purchasing a "future" horse property. It currently has the "bare" necessities.

    A very open pole barn with no tack/feed/storage area. Just 12 stalls. The perimeter is fenced and has been divided into two separate pastures. (10 acre property).

    I'd like to add a separate tack and feed room. Preferably, a 12x24 tack room, and a 12x12 feed room. I'd only like to have 4 stalls. I don't want to board any horses, and I might breed once.

    So if you had the space to build the barn of your choice, how would you do it? What would you include or not include? OR if you currently own your 'dream barn', please share details!


    *By future I mean, I'm not going to buy a horse as soon as we sign a contract. Maybe a couple of years down the road. I'm just not ready for a horse again.
    I walk into the barn and hear her soothing nicker, feel her soft muzzle against my cheek, her warm breath on my skin, and it is at that moment I realize there is no where else I would rather be.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2009


    Dry lot / sacrifice / re hab lot off one or two (or all 4) of the stalls that also open up to the pasture.

    Make sure the electrical can handle any thing and more than what you would want.

    Either ceiling or wall mounted fans for each stall.

    Lights for each stall off set (so you have good light throughout the stall even when the horse in there.

    Wash stall/grooming stall.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2011


    If you have 12 stalls and only want to use 4 for horses, I would make two of the stalls double 12x24 stalls. Both my horses live in double stalls and they are much happier being able to walk around more inside. What about using a stall for one month's worth of hay storage?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 16, 2010


    PLENTY of storage for hay.

    I can only store 6 months' worth at any given time. Really wish I could store a year's worth.

    Also storage for equipment.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2011
    Just west of BFE


    I like doors in the center of the stall front, not one side or the other. a casting board about 15" up the side all the way around. I dislike full doors. I prefer yoked screens with kick boards.

    Adequate electricity, lighting and fans. There was some research a decade or so back that showed the positive effects of an overhead fan in eliminating ammonia from stalls.

    A small paddock or 2 in case of quarantine, lay up, mare and foal for a few days, whatever.

    Gravel paths wherever you are going to be walking, gravel right up to barn aisle so vet or blacksmith can get in easily.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Saddle View Post
    Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2011


    A dry and dust free tack room and hot water wash for the horses in the wintertime.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2002
    way out west


    My farrier told me to design my place so a non-horsey person could come in and be able to feed my horses without having to handle them, in case of an emergency. It was great advice, and I've had to enlist inexperienced help just once, but what a relief it was when I needed it. My stalls open to 40 foot runs, which open to the pasture. Gives me all kinds of flexibility.

    Automatic wateres are fantastic, too. (I have Nelsons.)

    And lots of gravel around the barn and from my back yard fence to the barn, so I don't have to deal with mud in the spring. Try to grade the area around your barn for good drainage. It's worth the money.

    I can store a year's worth of hay in a separate structure that's next to the barn, and it's great to only have to get hay once a year.

    I built my barn with skylights and huge doors on either end for great ventilation, so I never get an ammonia smell. It helps that I leave the back stall doors open all the time, too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2011


    I second designing the place so non horse people can feed. My best friend boards her horse at our place and she and her fiance stay here when we go out of town. Occasionally her ever so non horsey fiance feeds if she'll be home late. "The one with the line on his face won't go in his cage" was texted to her one time...

    We have out place set up so that if the barn door is opened, the horses can just walk into their stalls and then the process reversed when they're done eating. We have a lean to off the back of the barn with a hay feeder under it. The main water trough is just outside the lean to. There is a second one that is in the left pasture (the only one the hose will reach...) so we can lock them in there if we need to move equipment around.

    All of our pastures (3) open off of the sacrifice lot that surrounds the barn. They always have access to the sacrifice lot and our riding lot. The riding lot is actually what they walk out into to the right of the barn and then the sacrifice lot is behind the barn. They can be locked on either lot if we need to.

    I am married and my husband is horsey and does have a horse, but the vast majority of the horse care falls on me just due to the nature of our jobs. I needed to be able to take care of them efficiently and easily by myself for days at a time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    My most important requirement is, if you have stalls, that they have a back door or opening to runs outside.

    You can keep a horse shut in the stall for any imaginable reason to do so, but in general, most horses are immensely more happy and relaxed if they can come and go, even if outside is only a little bitty run.
    That also helps many horses stay cleaner, they find a designate bathroom and use it, or you can even housebreak them to whatever spot is the most handy for you, as we do here.

    Cleaning after stalled horses any more than necessary is a real waste of time.
    Saving labor where you can will give you more of your barn time to interact with horses.

    A second requirement is, if building a barn, that it be if possible a center aisle, so we have a good place to work out of the rain.
    If that is not possible, try to make some spot as weather proof as possible, out of the weather, rain and wind and snow.
    Have a horse friendly three sided, roofed spot, oriented in the best direction for that.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
    Beside Myself ~ Western NY


    You didn't say what climate you would be in. If it's a cold one... heated tack and feed room and hot water. Hot and cold running water in a large utility sink is my dearest dream.
    Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you're stupid and you made a bad decision.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2012
    New Ringgold, PA


    Quote Originally Posted by SmartAlex View Post
    You didn't say what climate you would be in. If it's a cold one... heated tack and feed room and hot water. Hot and cold running water in a large utility sink is my dearest dream.

    Agree w/ the above!

    Also, spigots near water troughs, hate draggin hose, or do automatic water's in the fields! Good non-slip flouring in the isle ways, if you live in a place w/ winters w/ ice.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2003


    Definitely climate makes a difference. Everyone here raves about runs off of the stalls but that is a no-go in our climate. Those outside doors invariably create draft or freeze open or closed, definitely something I would avoid in a cold climate, you never see those here. What people do instead is have fan systems to exchange air rather than open doors and windows.

    My wishlist:
    -wash stall with hot and cold water
    -stalls that can have horses heads out or closed in
    -foaling stall (or ability to make one stall into a larger stall)
    -Separate tack and feed rooms
    -washer/dryer in tack room
    -human bathroom
    -room to park tractor in barn if necessary
    -Hay storage next to or in barn

    Must haves:
    -option to completely close in barn, or have large open doors in nice weather
    -centre aisle
    -tack room
    -running hot and cold water somewhere in barn

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
    Cascade Foothills


    My must-haves if I had more space and money—

    Adequate hay storage for a year's worth of square bales. Fire safety might dictate that some of this would be separate from the barn.

    A dust-free and well-lit tack room.

    run-in access to every stall, with dry sacrifice paddocks outside.

    A closed wall against the prevailing wind.

    Good lighting in the aisle or grooming stall.

    Lots of headroom and an airy, sunny aisle (possibly illuminated with transparent roofing panels).
    My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

    Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr. 15, 2011
    WNY & NoVA


    I don't have a place of my own but here are some things I've seen & liked (or dream of having):

    • fence around the barn itself that connects to some/all fields
    • both hot and cold water
    • electricity
    • lights down the aisle & stall lights (enough lighting for good visibility everywhere when it's dark)
    • at least 1 smaller pasture, preferably more (depending on how good your future horse is about being caught)
    • stall runs (you can even make them larger & square if you do 2 stalls on one side of the aisle and two on the other)
    • stalls open into smaller pastures (1/2 acre?)
    • wash stall (if not inside barn then put down some sort of footing that won't get muddy/gross, like rubber mats or something)
    • possibility of mounting fans on stalls
    • lots of gravel/concrete/bluestone/whatever floats your boat so you don't have to deal with mud (around barn, paths, at pasture gates both inside and outside)
    • don't put the tack room directly next to the feed room (in case of mice etc)
    • good ventilation in the feed & tack rooms- they can get stuffy! (eg windows, lighted ceiling fans)
    • a gator if you don't have a truck or some other motorized vehicle for when you venture out into those huge pastures
    • designated place of shavings/bedding depending on how you do it (ie get it delivered by truckload etc) just make sure it's covered (even if with a tarp)
    • aisle/wash or grooming stall wide/big enough for farrier and vet
    • removable divider between two stalls so you have 2 12x12s or 1 12x24 depending on what you need at the time
    • sacrifice pasture (possibly dry)
    • barn ventilation fans
    • good drainage
    • tack & feed rooms at barn entrance
    • a covered area to put muck equip, etc
    • bathroom (depending how far the barn is from the house and how easy it is to get to the bathroom without tracking mud)
    • water spigots between stalls (easy watering if you attach a 1.5' hose to it)
    • over do it on water & electrical outlets! you'll be glad you did

    Some tips on barn renovation

    Penn State has some articles that might be worth looking at

    That's all for now. If I think of any more I'll post again

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 5, 2008
    Hagerstown, MD


    A tack room twice as bid as you anticipate you need.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2008
    Somewhere wishing for a horse!


    Thanks for all of the great suggestions! I've got my handy-dandy notebook and some graph paper and I'm working on it.

    Our climate is definitely hot. (SWFL) Luckily there is a separate well just for the barn and lots of spigots throughout the barn. And no heat ... I need an ac!

    So far I have decided on two stalls on each side of the isle with removable center walls that I can open into a 12x24 stalls. Both will open out into paddocks.

    Tack and feed rooms will be across the isle from each other. They will both be the first "rooms" you see when you walk into the barn.

    Electricity has not been run to the barn, so that definitely has to be done.

    There is already a separate building not to far from the barn for hay storage.

    Again, thanks for all the ideas!!
    I walk into the barn and hear her soothing nicker, feel her soft muzzle against my cheek, her warm breath on my skin, and it is at that moment I realize there is no where else I would rather be.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2008


    The thing I would spend my money on is heated auto waterers in the stalls and in the paddocks. Saves so much time and effort, unless of course you live someplace warm. Also a good manure storage area and a plan to dispose of it, such as spreading, getting it picked up.

    Finally a few nice sized sacrifice paddocks with level screen footing, that open into your fields.

    Oh to dream....
    "Your best can be worn at any length"- Jason Mraz

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 4, 2010
    Bozeman, MT


    Lots of electrical outlets. My current 6 stall barn has a great tack room, feed room, nice stalls and two outlets - that's right two TOTAL plugs and they are right in the center of the barn, which really turns into a pain in the bum when I put up fans, clip, plug-in tank heaters, etc. I'm in the process of adding outlets, but it's certainly something that should have been addressed at the beginning. Also, carefully plan where your water is - it can also be a pain if not strategically located. Best of luck with your new barn!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2011
    Coastal Marsh of Texas


    For a small number of horses, the tack and feed room can be the same room. Add a utility room because the broom, muck rakes, ect. smell and don't need the AC like the tack and food.

    In our tack/food room, we have a small window AC, small fridge, hot water heater, deep sink, stereo, and other outlets to charge clippers. So I'd agree with having good electrical. We dump our feed in plastic storage bins and keep the feed buckets in plastic storage bins, so you really can't smell the food in there.

    The hay is stored separately, and we only keep a bale or two in the barn at a time. The 1-2 bales of hay is/are not in the tack room, they are kept in the utility which is actually an extra stall.

    We also have skylights in barn and I think this cuts down on electricity use.

    Back to electricity since you haven't wired yet; we have both indoor and outdoor speakers connected to the stereo in the tack room; it's really nice and not expensive. Good luck with your project!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2002


    Depending on where you live, one of my first calculations would be:
    a) cost of land per acre
    b) value of my time per hour
    c) amount of time it takes to remove manue on the acreage you're considering
    d) cost of hay, delivery, storage and time spent feeding it
    e) number of horses
    f) annual rainfall in your area and quality of soil for grass growth

    You may find it worth the money to buy more land which requires less poop picking and hay throwing.

    For example, keeping 2 horses on 1 acre means daily poop picking and probably 2x daily hay feeds at least, year round.

    Keeping those same 2 horses on 10 acres crossfenced into 2-3 pastures likely only means rotating the pastures every month, and hay fed at a lower rate/for fewer months of the year.

    Keeping 12 horses on your 10 acres = lots of maintenance work. Don't fill up that barn unless you're ready for that!

    Apparenly people in my area have done the math and can't afford more space, because horses are commonly stuffed in small pens with tiny turnouts. But that's CA land prices for you.

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