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Your must haves if you were building barn from scratch...based on what you know now!

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  • Your must haves if you were building barn from scratch...based on what you know now!

    Based on what you know now, where you have boarded, etc...and this is for a SMALLER center aisle barn with side porch and awning to block sun (6 stalls max most likely) please share your must haves! I would already include heated tack room, toilet/small bathroom (no boarders now but who knows years from now?), dutch doors a must, wash stall. Flooring? Mats? Lights? doors? Barn will be on hilltop property - windy Also will have small paddock access to the side only and some type of "in/out" option for my older horse. Share it all - materials that worked better, were sturdier, what was worth the money, what wasn't and what you would do differently. Thx!

  • #2
    Biggest stalls I could do --- at least 12 x 14 --- too many barns with 10 x 10 stalls and BIG horses that don't fit well. (Although if you only have small horses or ponies, it may be different for you.) Garage doors at the ends of the barn rather than sliding doors --- if you need a people door at the end of the barn, put one in next to the garage door. Windows in every stall. Easy access to where you store hay/bedding, and a manure pile that will be easy to access for both you and for whoever hauls it away. A ban aisle easily wide enough for a truck to pull through. Self-cleaning stalls would be nice... :-)


    • #3
      I built my barn six years ago. I have six stalls, with three set up as actual stalls and one is a tack room, one is for shavings bales and pellets, and one is the grooming stall. It's gable style, with dutch doors to their 40 foot attached runs, covered by a 10 foot overhang. I have a 16 foot center aisle, which is the perfect width for me because I park my tractor in there when there's snow in the forecast and can still lead my horses out of their stalls if need be.

      I don't have a heated tack room, don't see the need since my barn's not that far from my house. I absolutely love my auto waterers (Nelson). I have a separate hay structure that holds about six tons of hay. My stalls are mats over a road base/gravel floor. The aisle, tack room, and grooming bay are all concrete with mats on top. Make sure you have lots of electrical outlets, by every stall. I have a stock tank with a heater in their turnout field. Also a frost free hydrant right there, which makes it really handy in the winter. No long hose to drain every time you use it.

      The best advice I got was to organize the property so that a non-horsey person could come in and feed my horses in a pinch, in case of a problem. My horses have full access to their stalls but usually stay out. Their runs open to a field, so it's very easy to move them around, shut them in or out. That's a great feature.

      And one more thing..make sure you have great drainage. If you don't, you'll regret it big time. It cost a lot for me to prep the site for the barn, and had to have the grade raised almost two feet, but it was worth every penny. Don't skimp on the prep work.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you everyone! I'd love if any or all of you could post pics of your outside set ups if you have a set up where your horse can go in/out on his own. (full access to stalls if need be but stay out - a.e. runs....) This is so important to me for my older guy. How do you separate each horse doing this a.e. keep one horse from going into the other's stall but still give them access to a full field together?


        • Original Poster

          Sorry, I think I get it. They get their stalls and run OR turnout to full field. Right?


          • #6
            Hot water heater and washer for horse clothes are luxuries I'm loving at the new place. I'm in GA, and insulation in the walls and ceiling keeps the tack room pretty comfortable without the heat on.
            I can't leave the guys with free access to their stalls because they make trouble, but they'll stand under the shed overhang and in the pasture, they enjoy a big run-in.
            Y'all ain't right!


            • #7
              6 stalls for 6 horses or will some of those stalls be used for storage?

              I'd put a loft over the tack/feed/wash stall so you have a place to store hay or winter blankets.

              Enough hay storage for 6 months.

              Tack room next to the wash stall so the heater for the wash rack can go in the tack room. It keeps the tack room warmer in the winter, and keeps the pipes from freezing.

              Trailer turn around. You wouldn't believe how many people put a barn in and expect to turn around on grass year round.

              Enough lights that a vet can do stitches in the aisle.


              • #8
                AT LEAST 200 sq foot of storage space for equipment.
                Storage for bedding.
                Room to store 6+ months worth of hay.

                tile floor or other hard, easily cleaned surface in the tack room.


                • Original Poster

                  Enjoytheride, I have 2 horses however everyone I have spoken to says always go bigger than you need right now. Thought is that at least one stall will be used to store shavings and/or feed, or "about to use" hay bales. I will probably err on the side of caution and not have a hay loft for hay storage, and store the hay in a separate shed. I'm not as happy about this as it would be MUCH easier to throw hay down into the stalls from the loft, but so many say that hay in the barn is a fire risk. Not sure how to get around that. I could possibly get away with 4 stalls total (3, plus the 4th for storage, or tractor?) I have 2 horses now and will need a 3rd or companion at some point (for when I take my pony to shows) but am considering a donkey, goats or sheep. For now, I can take my older horse along. He loves to go places and I am only doing local shows and he is great on trailers and on the ground in general. Really no trouble to take along.

                  Would love all of your opinions on the hay storage in the barn vs. out. Having another building of course increases the cost and issue of moving the hay to and from to hay each stall. My older horse can only chew very soft, dusty alfalfa. (compressed Standlee bales) and he doesn't eat much. The pony will eat lower quality timothy. I can have allergy issues to the alf, so in a way, storing it outside or in another building makes sense, and the dust can fall away on the way to/from the barn stalls OUTSIDE vs. in. Thanks everyone!


                  • #10
                    I just built my barn! Here are some things I did that I am very happy with:
                    1) I poured a concrete aisle and recessed the mats into the concrete so they are flush and not sitting on top. To do this we made a frame so that the center 4' of the aisle was not poured. Then we put stone dust down the path and laid the mats on that. If you flood or get a lot of water in there it just drains away, and I love not tripping over mats and the sweeping is really easy.

                    2) I ran water lines to each stall so I can fill buckets in place. Note if you do this you have to be sure your barn does not freeze in the winter.

                    3) I have dutch doors to each stall leading outside, with an overhang. Love this! I used them all winter for easy turnout. I also have double dutch doors at each end of the aisle. All of the doors have window uppers, so I have wonderful light in the barn.

                    4) I used puck board to line the wash stall walls. Waterproof, kickproof, and easy to clean.

                    5) The interior barn walls are lined with 2' hemlock, which is fine, but if money were no object I would use a nicer wood. The stall partitions and fronts are tongue and groove ash, which is beautiful. The tack room is tongue and groove pine, with a clear low shine varnish. Love it!

                    6) The tack room is heated with a simple wall mounted ceramic heater and that worked really well all winter (which was brutal this year).

                    7) The exterior siding is board and batten hemlock on the sides where the horses have access to the barn. I did this so that if they kick or chew on a board, it would be very easy to pop the board off and replace it myself. The front of the barn which is visible as you come up the driveway is the same siding as the house so they match (barn and house are quite close).

                    8) If you do decide to put in a loft, I made individual hay drop doors above each stall. I absolutely love them.

                    9) To line the ceiling I used the white corrugated vinyl that is used for agricultural buildings. It makes the barn very bright inside.

                    10) I put an overhang on both sides of the barn - one on the paddock side for the horses, and one on the driveway side which I use to park my truck, trailer or tractor as needed. It was a great way to keep snow off vehicles living outside and is cheaper than building a separate garage. It also makes the building look symmetrical, which is a nice aesthetic touch.
                    Last edited by Spooks; Mar. 13, 2013, 01:38 PM.


                    • #11
                      I would have an indoor wash stall. Actually, DH and I are figuring out how to install one in our current 6 bay (4 stalls, 1 tack room, 1 utility area) center aisle barn. The biggest current problem is that I'd have to give up the utility area, and that's part of where I store my 6 months of hay. So, ideally, I want a new hay building and a wash stall!
                      Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                      • #12
                        Wow, everyone is talking heated water, climate-controlled tack rooms, and I was going to put electricity!
                        I live in the south, so priorities will be different in the winter if you're in the north, but my must-haves are similar to others:

                        Electricity. I recently bought my place and it has an old barn and so far I have managed with only one outlet and no lights, but it's on my list to have an outlet by each stall (for stall fans in the summer, necessary down here), and lights above each stall, feed/tack rooms, and in the aisle.

                        Storage for several months' worth of hay, close to the barn (or wherever you'll be feeding). I have a feed room that can fit 10-15 bales with room to spare, enough to feed 3 horses for 1-2 weeks. So I spend some time each weekend hauling hay bales from storage to the feed room, and my storage shed is steps from the barn.

                        Since I'm in the south, I was able to find a place with a completely open-air barn (stall walls only come up to ~4.5'), which has been phenomenal. My horses can hang their heads "outside" and get the sun while in their stalls, they can socialize over walls, and obviously there is a fantastic breeze and it is not stuffy or dark. So far the only downside is during extreme rain (e.g. Hurricane Isaac), rain comes in sideways. So if I were to shop again, an open-air barn would be on my list of must-haves.

                        The back of my barn also opens into a paddock/sacrifice area, which is also a "chute" to my larger pastures in the back. So turning them out or bringing them in requires only me opening stall doors and stepping back. Which isn't a big deal to me, but for my husband who isn't a horsey person, or anyone else who may have to care for them in an emergency, I prefer that they have a way to care for them without having to touch them at all.

                        ETA: large stalls. Mine are currently 11'X15'.

                        My wish list right now would be a climate-controlled tack room to keep mold off my tack. But keeping it in the house isn't a big deal yet. I have plans to put runs attached to the stalls in the next year so they can have 24/7 (separated, as one of mine cannot be turned out with others without supervision due to an old injury) outside time with access to their stalls. I would have shelters in my pastures so I can leave them out all the time without worrying about the next thunderstorm rolling through. My stall floors are dirt, but I'm working on putting down crushed stone with those Stall Skins (I HATE rubber mats). And an outdoor covered arena with the best footing I could find. None of these are requirements, but would be nice if I had unlimited funds (and time!) today, and all are in the plans sooner or later (waaaay later for the arena).

                        As for materials, my barn is old and I would love to replace all the wood with better treated wood to keep those godforsaken carpenter bees out of there. It's a constant battle.


                        • #13
                          If I was doing my own barn - I'd have doors to the inside (opening on the inside aisle) and doors to the outside (opening to paddocks.) I have some stalls like this now, so they can have night access to the paddocks. In the ideal world, those paddocks would open to the pasture so they could have day access to their stalls, but could then be separated for feeding.
                          blogging at HN:
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                          • #14
                            Ditto the in/out stalls with attached runs and an overhang. The overhang is key. Mine are 12 feet deep with 6" of sand footing. I copied this setup from a big reining barn down the road. This barn fascinated me, because unless they're shutting the horses in for some reason, they don't even bed the stalls at all. I know, right? Heresy! But the horses love the covered sand patio, both for going #1 and for lounging. Given the choice of dirty old sand or pristine pine shavings, they'll lie down in the sand every time. Hock sores are a thing of the past, the barn doesn't stink, and manure picking time is reduced by a factor of 10. Okay, maybe not 10, but a lot.

                            An Electrogroom takes care of the sand stuck to the horses.

                            The stalls also have rubber floors with drains in the corners, so, when going the no-bedding route, if my one dumb mare pees inside I can just hose it away.

                            Now, if only my runs could open onto a big main turnout, like others have described, I might have died a happy crone. But alas, the geography was not conducive, and I am destined to turn out by hand. However, all other things considered, that's what you might call a good problem to have.
                            Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                            • #15
                              I just built a barn as well.
                              Things that I like:
                              1) Recycled plastic lumber for stall fronts and dividers. It's an excellent product that is easy to clean, does not mold or mildew that horses can not chew.
                              2)Tack cleaning sink in corner at one end of alleyway
                              3)16' wide alleyway so that we can drive truck or small tractor in alleyway
                              4)Swinging rather than sliding stall doors
                              5)Skylights over alley makes it so beautiful in there during the day
                              6)Seperate lights over washrack so you can really light it up in there
                              7)We recessed the concrete down the centre 8' of the aisle and put rubber pavers in there so they lie flush. I like this, it's a very good work surface but it is hard to clean. We did put floor drains under there so you can hose it, but the water does not seep through the seams as easily as I thought it would.
                              8)EVA soft stall mats. Love these, I went with these over the stall mattress system.
                              9) Feed doors that have a small ring to attach a feed bucket to. Love that you can take away the bucket so they can't play on it and each horse can have his own bucket all the time. Makes it easy for anyone to feed. I also put in hay racks that I love. Keeps hay out of the bedding.
                              10) Thin rubber sheeting on stall walls. Love this. We just bought the top sheet of a stall mattress system and installed it on the stalls walls. No chewing, easy to clean, protects horses.
                              11) In floor heating

                              Things I wish I had:
                              1)More indoor storage. Right now it looks like one of my stalls will have to remain storage but I would rather use it for a horse. I wish I had a bigger feed room and utility room. We were super tight on space and I needed more space for horses, but storing things like shop vac and miscellany and the wheelbarrow is tough.
                              2)More outlets. One at each stall would be nice.
                              3)Seperate grooming stall from wash stall
                              4)Indoor machine storage other than alley. We park the UTV inside because it's cold here but wish it had a seperate room.
                              5)I have thick EVA mats in stalls, I wish I had recessed the concrete under the stall floors so they were flush with the alley as well.
                              6) My interior walls are spruce, definitely wish we had nicer wood on the inside.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by tpup View Post
                                Would love all of your opinions on the hay storage in the barn vs. out. Having another building of course increases the cost and issue of moving the hay to and from to hay each stall. My older horse can only chew very soft, dusty alfalfa. (compressed Standlee bales) and he doesn't eat much. The pony will eat lower quality timothy. I can have allergy issues to the alf, so in a way, storing it outside or in another building makes sense, and the dust can fall away on the way to/from the barn stalls OUTSIDE vs. in. Thanks everyone!
                                I have a loft, which is really convenient for feeding indoors since I put hay drops above each stall. For feeding outdoors I have to drop a bale down and take it out, which does create a bit of a mess, so in that regard it would be nice to have the hay in a separate shed. Ideally I would love to have part of the hay in a loft and part in a shed! I will say that in a snowy climate it was nice not having to clear a path through snow to get to a hay shed. I just took a bale from the loft and transported it out to the paddock on a little snow sled and that was pretty easy. I don't have space for a shed so it was not even a possibility for me.


                                • #17
                                  I built my barn this past May from scratch, literally! I drew my plans on paper and a carpenter built it. I have a 36' x 36' barn...4 12x12 stalls (with walls that can come down easily to make 12x24 stalls), an indoor wash stall and tackroom with stairs to the loft. Loft is only over the isle as I wanted cathedral ceilings in the stalls in case I ever had a huge horse in there. All 4 stalls have dutch doors in the back that open to individual paddocks for 24/7 turnout. Each paddock opens to the ring so i can make their turnout even bigger on some days. I LOVE my barn!!! I even installed security cameras to watch them 24/7 while at work.

                                  If you like my farm page on FB, Kiwayu Farm, you can see my setup on my 1+ acre property.

                                  Kiwayu & Figiso Pictures:


                                  • #18
                                    Make your layout easy to work. Will you be doing the work or paying someone else? Count how many steps from here to there that you want to take to get your daily tasks done.

                                    Lofts aren't all they are cracked up to be. Your hay guy has to get the hay up there first. If he uses a hay elevator you need a special plug for that. Otherwise it is pure muscle power. A loft will make your barn hotter and cut down on ventilation. It can also be a fire hazard. Consider a separate barn for hay.

                                    Make the barn pleasant for the horses and consider good and bad weather and how you will deal with wind, rain, snow hurricanes etc.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks everyone! Kiwayu, I will definitely check it out on FB. I will be doing 80-90% of the work myself. My children (now almost 11 and 8) will be helping as they get older. My husband is non-horsey but 100% supportive and loves being around the horses in general. I will not have a boarder (at least for a few yrs). My two horses are both very easy to handle. Large pony (19 going on 10 and older QUIET Appy. I would LOVE tall ceilings (hence another plus for no loft) and glad someone pointed out the point about getting the hay UP into the loft. The barn will be fairly close to the house. The lot is a perfect rectangle 10 acres that goes from top of hill to the short sides of the rectangle are at the top and bottom...if you can picture, house on top left, angled to bottom right corner. Plan is to have barn to right of home slightly down (right corner flattens out some) at most a 50 yard walk?...then smaller paddock around barn, and one or two larger paddocks in middle of rectangle. Bottom will be cross country course/riding area...maybe pond someday.


                                      • #20
                                        If you live in a cold climate - foam insulation.