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What do you LOVE (or hate!) about your barn?

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  • What do you LOVE (or hate!) about your barn?

    We're getting relatively close (within the next year-ish?) to buying our own place and the lists of wants and don't wants are starting to build.

    There are a lot of things we've accumulated and noticed through years of boarding that we'll integrate into our own place if possible (like electricity and water plumbed out to every field--so much better than running hoses and extension cords!) but I'm curious to hear what sort of things you love or hate about your set up. Especially interested in those little things that I'm probably totally glossing over

  • #2
    Congrats on getting close to your own place!!

    I can't delve too much into my current situation because I don't like the MGMT there, but I can speak from past barn experiences..

    It's frustrating when the washrack is either in the way in the barn or accessed only through one area -- I've had to wait in line or move out of the way in a couple barn situations where the placement of the washrack was really inconvenient.

    My current barn set up has only one electrical outlet... and it's near the indoor.. Frustrating for vet visits, we have to do everything right by the indoor door and it's cramped and tight and not very ideal. Lots of really expensive equipment crammed into a very small space.

    The best barn situation I was in, outlets were on one side of the barn and water on the other. Made it really easy to do water while people were using things like clippers, etc.

    I am one of those people that does not like built in lockers/etc. Frustrating to clean, move, dig around.

    One other thing I can think of.. don't put the manure pile uphill unless you have a tractor to carry the wheelbarrow up with you.. Nothing worse than trying to push a wheelbarrow up a hill in the winter on ice/sleet/slush! Such a work out and the BIGGEST lamentation I had when I worked at a one super nice establishment.

    At this same establishment one thing I loved was that they had a completely separate grooming area that was flanked by a tack room.. Really convenient, and easy to clean.


    • #3
      ^ I agree completely with thoughtful layout of electrical outlets. My barn has an outlet on either side of the isle way, every two stalls. Every three stalls would also most likely be sufficient.

      I really love that my barn has removable boards between the stalls. The stalls were originally built as 10'x10', but for my two bigger horses, making them into 10'x20' was possible without much difficulty.

      I am also a fan of dutch doors. On icky days when the horses are stalled all day, we open their top doors which seems to keep them happy.


      • #4
        Originally posted by NotAtTheBarn View Post
        ^ I agree completely with thoughtful layout of electrical outlets. My barn has an outlet on either side of the isle way, every two stalls. Every three stalls would also most likely be sufficient.

        I really love that my barn has removable boards between the stalls. The stalls were originally built as 10'x10', but for my two bigger horses, making them into 10'x20' was possible without much difficulty.

        I am also a fan of dutch doors. On icky days when the horses are stalled all day, we open their top doors which seems to keep them happy.
        Aw man, removable boards are my favorite..

        If I ever had the resources to build my own barn, I'd love removable boards/stalls with only half a wall.. I'm not sure what they are called, but Black Beauty's movie with the stall layout comes to mind. I just LOVE how bright the barn looks, and if they don't get along, just put the boards up. Goodness knows the horses who are in would enjoy the interaction.
        AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the input!

          We're looking at a place just for us...maybe a friend or two...but no real boarders to speak of. It will be a private facility.

          Something that I really like about where I am now with regard to electrical--they have an outlet way up on the wall for each stall. Might even be in the rafters. In the winter, they plug in radiant heaters and in the summer, it's big fans. The outlets are driven by knobs on the wall, so you can adjust the fan speed or temp.

          If we wind up staying in Colorado, I'd like to figure out a way to have a vet area that can be heated quickly and easily. Current idea is to have two sets of cross ties separated with a low half wall and garage doors that can be lowered in front of each. Still working through that, but want to be able to have a horse, heat, water and enough room to really work.

          I also like dutch doors! I struggle with the desire to be able to open the outside doors easily after a snow storm and the advantages of dutch doors...


          • #6
            Before you decide on any sort of equipment or modification read about it until your eyes bleed
            Or post here for opinions

            Wish I'd done that before settling on cold-ballast fluorescent lighting for my barn.
            I picked that because I hate the buzzing from halide & the wait for them to come on, but instead I have a problem with humidity.
            Too wet and the $#%! lights either don't go on or take 4-Ever to come on.
            I'm probably part of the problem, as I cannot get up to the 10' height to keep them clean.

            I love my Dutch doors at the back of the stalls.
            If you slope the area just in front of the doors they will open unless you get snow deeper than the slope.
            Being in CO I can see where that could be more than the occasional problem I have here.

            Also love:
            *my frost-free hydrant located inside the barn
            *storage for a year's worth of hay on pallets right across from my stalls
            (ideally this would be in an attached but separate area)
            *lights above each stall - at 10' rafter height - that can be operated independently from aisle lights so I can light my work area without lighting the stalls. No levitating sleeping horses when I come in late at night.

            For your vet/shoer workspace consider a heating light fixture hung above the area.
            I use a small plug-in electric heater on the rare occasion I have someone working in bitter cold & it does a bang-up job of heating a space large enough for horse & whoever quickly.

            If at all possible arrange your place so horses are out with free access to shelter or stalls.
            Makes horsekeeping Life so much easier.
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


            • #7
              Originally posted by Simkie View Post
              I also like dutch doors! I struggle with the desire to be able to open the outside doors easily after a snow storm and the advantages of dutch doors...
              I lived in Fort Collins for 4 years and that's actually where I fell in love with dutch doors/stall run-ins. None of my subsequent barns have had them, and I still have a burning desire to install them in my barn. I have all the materials, just have to find the time! I was in FoCo during the big 2003 spring break snow storm (3-4') and for a couple days after the storm, while the snow was still sliding off of the barn roofs, we couldn't open the doors, but it really wasn't that hard when things calmed down a couple days later. That was the only time I remember there being a problem with snow and those doors.

              I love natural light. I'm near the Gulf now so I have an entirely open-air barn (which is great 95% of the time, but has been an invitation for non-equine creatures), but if I were up north I'd put in lots of skylights and windows. Especially in CO! I miss those 360 sunny days a year!


              • #8
                Dutch doors are great. I love that my stalls have outdoor access to individual paddocks. The paddocks open into group turn out areas. To alleviate some of the snow issue put an overhang on the barn on the side that will have the dutch doors. I have a 10' over hang there.

                I have an outlet at every stall that is used for fans in the summer and heated buckets in the winter.

                My biggest complaint about my barn is there is never enough storage room.


                • #9
                  A wide enough center aisle. My barn has two wings...one wing is a converted cattle barn, and because of the original gutters there, my aisle is 12 wide plus another foot or so on either side of that...with a fourteen or fifteen foot aisle it is wide enough to have plenty of space around cross-tied horses. The other wing of my barn only has a ten foot aisle, and I find that tight after my wide aisle. I also have windows in each of the stalls in the converted side of the barn, and light panels along the top of the wall in each of the stalls in the other side of the barn...it allows much better light in the stalls, so I can see much better. Finally, all walls are lagged two inch plank and the outer walls three inch plank...the planks are heavy enough that I seldom have broken boards. Finally, my frost free hydrant in the barn is set up with an adapter, so I can easily change it rather than having to dig it up when it needs work...the adapter will allow me to pull the hydrant completely out of the ground, and slide a new one in when it goes beyond being able to just be rebuilt.


                  • #10
                    It probably wouldn't be worthwhile for a small barn setup, but one thing I think is GENIUS about my boarding barn's layout is that you never have to actually LEAVE the barn while mucking and re-bedding stalls. (Our barn is 24 stalls; it's an old cow barn, with a few additions over the years to convert it for horses.)

                    At one end of the barn is the sawdust pile, inside an attached garage where the sawdust truck can just back in and dump. Wheelbarrows access the sawdust area via concrete ramp back and forth to the stalls. The sawdust area is closed off from the outside via a big garage door, so our sawdust is always nice and dry.

                    At the other end of the barn is a lower-level drive-through area for the tractor and manure spreader, located at the end of an aisle and separated by a sliding door. So to empty your wheelbarrow, you just go to the end of the aisle and dump it down the chute straight into the spreader. When the spreader is full, the barn staff drives it into the adjacent farmers' fields and empties it, so we don't have a manure pile anywhere.

                    When it's pouring-down raining, and/or it's the dead of winter and everything outside is a frozen, frigid mess, it is SOOOO nice to be able to do stalls from start to finish without ever having to set foot outside of the barn!
                    *friend of bar.ka

                    "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by x View Post
                      Finally, my frost free hydrant in the barn is set up with an adapter, so I can easily change it rather than having to dig it up when it needs work...the adapter will allow me to pull the hydrant completely out of the ground, and slide a new one in when it goes beyond being able to just be rebuilt.
                      Can you provide a link to this adapter?

                      No one has ever said 'wow, it is just too bright in here, there are too many lights' in a barn. Think more is better when figuring out your lighting. Allow for light levels by having lots of well labelled switches. The vet and farrier will greatly appreciate this.


                      • #12
                        I love that my barn is perfectly positioned to stop the prevailing wind in the cold months. We use our stalls as run-ins, and I can count on one hand the number of times the snow has actually blown *into* the barn. Only a nor'easter will do it; otherwise in the coldest weather the back of the barn/hay shed blocks the wind, and the stalls open up to the rising sun. Even in -20F weather, the stalls are dry and wind-free, and the sun can help warm up cold horses in the morning.

                        In the summer it is the reverse. The cooler morning sun is on the fronts of the stalls, but by afternoon they are in the shade and horses can retreat from the heat.

                        I wish I had better electricity access. I have to run extension cords across the aisle use stall fans.


                        • #13
                          Big well-ventilated stalls with lots of natural light. Even if you have Shetland ponies, I like a big stall (14 by 14). Depending on how much the horses are stalled/how you bed/how messy a given horse is, a 10 by 10 can get slimy and reek of ammonia pretty quickly.

                          In/outs, with enough of an individual paddock to give everyone room to move around as much as they want at night. Overhang to keep snow/rain from falling down on the horses if they have their heads out or as you're feeding them, and to help keep the footing good in the high-traffic areas.

                          Grading and stone-dust in the high-traffic areas to prevent mud.

                          A separate grooming/vetting/farrier area, with great lighting, so you're not doing grooming, etc. in the aisle (though in a small barn, maybe not as much of an issue).

                          A bathroom, even if it's an incinerator toilet or a composting toilet.

                          Heated tackroom or tackroom designed to take advantage of passive solar in the winter.

                          Swing-out feed and water buckets on the stall fronts.

                          Paddocks that allow a human in and out without having to open the gate (gaps in the fencing that are big enough for a human, but not for a horse).

                          Congratulations! Have fun!


                          • #14

                            I've only boarded/lessoned but a few things come to mind.

                            Inside Light! I hate getting what I call "barn blind" Where you are in the barn and look out the door on a summer day (or are coming back into the barn from being outside) and being completely blinded. Drives me nuts because I have to wait for my eyes to adjust and may be blocking other people.

                            Well done grading stone dust/gravel.

                            The place I'm at now has gates between all pastures for easy rotation! It's easy to swap them out or, if my boy is in the far pasture, block the other horses so I can bring him in with ease. Also nice because he's anti-social and likes to have a pasture to himself.

                            Bathroom. A heated bathroom is even better! It's the one thing my current place doesn't have.

                            A place for tack. Again, temperature regulated would be even better
                            Proud member of the Short Riders Clique
                            Blog of Ashe: http://undertheshavings.blogspot.com
                            Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique


                            • #15
                              Maybe I am still in the honeymoon phase, or maybe I know I can't afford to make any changes, but I look at my barn everyday and think how much I love it.

                              It's a glorified shed row, with a 20' opening on the long side and all the stalls and the tack room opposite that. So each horse can basically see in every direction. I have 12' sidewalls that I cried and cried over while they were building because it looked so big and stupid... now I cant imagine anything else. I am in West TN and it gets hot and humid. Having those tall walls gave all that hot air a place to go.

                              I love my concrete aisle and that my stalls are lower than the aisle sothe horses don't kick their bedding all over the aisle.
                              I love that I have 2 outlets between each stall. One up high for fans (which are on timers) and one down low for me/farrier/vet.
                              I love that I have 1 light per stall and 1 over the washrack and that I have a ceiling fan in my tack/ feed room.
                              I love that everything I need daily I can store in my 24x40' foot print.
                              I love that I have wood in my stalls up to 8' and that I lined the remaining interior stall walls with metal so no 'ribs' are showing.

                              I of course wish that I had one more stall (I couldn't say no to this cute little mare that I found) so now someone sleeps in the aisle at night (I've got mats down and some bedding, but it's obviously not ideal).


                              • #16
                                Having lost a horse to a barn fire - Think fire safety when you build

                                Electrical done professionally, minimal to what you need and in conduit. Do you really need electric every few feet?

                                Two exits from each stall (aisle and back of stall to outside)

                                If possible avoid long rows of stalls with no outside access in any event.

                                Best would be adjacent building with hay/bedding, but at least minimize amount stored with horses.

                                Make sure you can get the horses out of the barn and into some field NOT directly attached to the barn in the event of a fire.

                                Other things to think about - winds

                                Our barn is set up so it's easy to shut up the side the wind is coming from in the winter and still it gets good cross breezes in the summer.

                                We have skylight panels in the roof to let in more light

                                Don't want it too light though or more bugs will come in during warmer months

                                LIKE manure pit built into side of hill or hill alongside spreader so you dump wheel barrow directly without climbing hills or balancing on board

                                Prefer feed room and separate tack room

                                Decent sizes wash stall with overhead swing arm for hose. LIKE window in wash stall for light


                                • #17
                                  My separate hay/feed barn is not as convenient as a hay loft but much safer.
                                  In VA we really have to think heat and humidity so my barns have high ceilings, ceiling fans in each stall, full length ridge vents porches and working cupolas. As others have said Dutch doors to the outside.

                                  I got a used washing machine from Habitat for humanity. It sits outside the hay barn and runs of a hose and an extension cord. Yeah, i'm a redneck.
                                  I wasn't always a Smurf
                                  Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                  "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                  The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                                  • #18
                                    Skylights in our area of big hail are not a good idea.
                                    Those that have them are always in the process of repairing them.

                                    Building our barn, the builder, my neighbor, refused to put any and said "put in more light fixtures" as he named everyone's barn with broken skylights right now, broken for the umpteenth time.

                                    Light panels on walls are just marginally better, but at least you won't get big leaks from those as you do from the roof ones.

                                    Aisles can never be too wide.

                                    Less stalls, more runs, more turnout, makes for easier horse keeping and happier horses.
                                    We have stalls with runs and in the last 20+ years have not had not one horse that needed to be shut in a stall only.


                                    • #19
                                      Our barn here has clear fiberglass panels all along the monitor and I love the natural light. I don't need to turn on lights unless it's actually dark outside and I think the natural light progression is good for the horses.

                                      Love dutch doors-they can get hung up on snow but a few good shoves or a quick shovel handles it fine.

                                      stalls that drain to the outside... I worked in a barn once that did not account for drainage at all and it was a monster to deal with. So I'll state the obvious.

                                      I hate our big slider doors. If you have those, be very picky. Ours hang up on frame work on the interior, let alone if there is ice or snow on the outside. Hate them.

                                      I would have overhang outside the stalls so that the stall are NOT the run-in, that's how we have it here. There's no reason for any of our horses to be in a stall that needs to be cleaned-all they need is a roof over their heads. I would like to have the over hang and a clean stall to pull them into if they need it.

                                      I would not like electricity to each stall. We have extension cords for stuff like that.

                                      Hot water in the barn would be great. We do have a frost free inside the barn and it's very handy.

                                      ETA my brother is a builder and he calls skylights "sky leaks"

                                      The roof line of our barn makes the light panels safe and out of reach of anything that can break them. The barn is 30 years old, doing fine, but it is a monitor style.
                                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                                      • #20
                                        I like the central location of our tack room. The aisle is long-ish, but it's not *too* far of a walk for anyone one person. I also like that the feed room is all the way at one end- you can be a little sneakier and not excite the whole barn while rummaging.

                                        I like the bridle hooks hung on the stall doors. Makes it easy to store lead ropes, hang a bridle while I'm tacking up, hang a halter while I'm riding, hang my keys so I don't lose them in my tack box, etc.

                                        I like the wide aisle in the barn.

                                        I like the dutch doors (that we use as windows, not exits).

                                        I like that there is a driveway that circles around the barn *and* creates a loop in the opposite direction around a grassy spot; it's very easy to get a horse trailer in/out, you can load/unload anywhere and still get out easily. You can get deliveries easily. And the pasture gates are all off this main driveway with a short path between them (maybe 5'). It's easy to plow, easy to have "good footing" when doing turn in/out, and encourages people to walk where they are expected to.

                                        - A ramp with an overhang that you push the wheelbarrow up and dump right into the manure spreader. It takes a bit of caution in wet/icy weather, and because it's wood it could probably use a few new boards, but it really is easy to use.

                                        - Wash stall with hot/cold water. It's a proper wash stall, too. Aluminum (I think?) sides that are easy to scrub, textured concrete with wash stall rubber mats, slopes towards drainage, and safe bumper/barrier that prevents a naughty horse from being able to make contact with the spigots.

                                        Things that I *wish* my barn had but in no way shape or form a deal-breakers?

                                        - More outlets

                                        - A better bathroom facility (it has a nasty toilet and a kinda gross utility sink; they are *clean*, but very old and very used and ergo very stained. And the hot water doesn't seem to work anymore).

                                        - Better attention to the *consistently* muddy spots around the gate of my horses' pasture and on one of the paths to the barn that you simply can't avoid but it's the most direct route from both the indoor and outdoor rings.

                                        - Hay that was stored in an easy-to-access location for snack hay. My BO has said it's fine for us to toss a flake to our horses if we're bringing them in early for whatever reason, but that means I have to climb up into the hay loft... via ladder. I will break my neck one day, by virtue of my own clumsiness.

                                        - Bigger blanket racks on our stall fronts. I know they don't want a lot of clutter, but the bars are so close to the door, I can barely squeeze a midweight and my cooler on the door front. When the weather is changing between midweight and sheet-weight so frequently, I don't want to put the other blanket back in storage. It's as annoying to get as the flake of hay (albeit not in the hayloft lol).

                                        - In general, better storage. Like in the wash stall, things are stored on the floor in a crate, or pitchforks get hung in there near where the cross tie meets the wall. I'm not saying I don't want those right there for ease of use, but I do think there are safer ways to store these items that will make things VERY BAD very quickly if a horse is freaking out.

                                        - A more user-friendly system for the pasture gates. There is a separate electrified wire I have to take down before I go through the gate. It's just one more hassle when you have a horse in your hands, potentially other horses bugging you at the gate, and a trip hazard if the wind blows it around your feet when you have it "open" and it's resting on the ground due to it's length. I'm no electrician, but if you have to have something that goes between the pastures to close the electric loop, can you try and put it underground? Or somehow safely integrate it into the fence with an insulator?