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How narrow is too narrow for a barn aisle? Updated post 24

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  • How narrow is too narrow for a barn aisle? Updated post 24

    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. 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.

    What say you, COTHers?
    Last edited by onelanerode; Sep. 30, 2012, 10:39 AM.
    Full-time bargain hunter.

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.
      come what may

      Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


      • Original Poster

        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.
        Full-time bargain hunter.


        • #5
          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.


          • #6
            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.
            Sakura Hill Farm
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            Young and developing horses for A-circuit jumper and hunter rings.


            • #7
              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.


              • #8
                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.

                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...


                • #9
                  Originally posted by onelanerode View Post
                  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.
                  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!


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                    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.
                    Full-time bargain hunter.


                    • #11
                      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.



                      • #12
                        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'.
                        I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.


                        • #13
                          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.


                          • #14
                            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.


                            • #15
                              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...
                              HorsePower! www.tcgequine.blogspot.com


                              • #16
                                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.


                                • Original Poster

                                  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."
                                  Full-time bargain hunter.


                                  • #18
                                    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.


                                    • #19
                                      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.
                                      They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                      Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                                      • #20
                                        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!
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