horse barn planning

canning_momJune 16, 2010


I'm new to this forum. We are in the process of planning to bring our 3 horses home. We plan on having them outside 24/7 (they are in rough board right now and do well in the winter outside), but will be building a barn as well. We plan to have 3 stalls, just in case one gets sick or we need them for a future reason. We want to make the barn big enough that we have some open space to do some groundwork/training inside, but don't have the $ to do a big arena sized barn. So my thought was to put the stalls along with a tack room on one side and keep the rest wide open for doing horse training when the weather outside isn't nice.

We are either going to use the area above the stalls and make that a hay loft (since the horses will not be kept in their normally) or possibly overhanging the roof and enclosing that area to store hay.

So my big questions would be:

1. Possible barn sizes to have a few stalls and some area for groundwork/training. Smallest possible and/or ideal size that you think would be best.

2. Hay storage - thoughts or ideas?

3. What would you change about your barn?

4. What do you love about your barn?

5. What do you wish you had put in now that you "know more".

Any and all thoughts are welcome - thanks!!!

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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

My question would be about hay storage. I don't know about your area, but it is becoming very difficult around here (Southern Ontario) to get the small (50 lb) squares. If you want to buy hay, it's the large squares or round bales.
For these, you need a fork on the front of a tractor -- don't know if you're set up for that. And not sure if anyone puts them in the loft -- usually they are stacked on a concrete pad.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 10:58PM
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I bought a property with 2 older barns ... not nice OLD barns, just older barns. One I tore down since it was falling down, the other I have spent the past 12 years fixing.

The first thing I did was put on a metal roof, we get lots of snow and the snow now slides off, so I don't have to worry about the weight of the snow on the roof.

My biggest problem is drainage, when it rains water runs right through the barn. Two years ago, I had the wooden floor taken out of the barn and the stalls, and crushed limestone and then stall mats out down. This year I had to install woooden platforms in the stalls because the level was too low and the stalls were getting wet in the late winter and spring. So I put wooden platforms and the stall mats on top of those ... now I don't have to worry about the donkeys getting wet.

I hate the lights in my barn, they are older flourescents and don't want to work when it is too cold or too damp. One of the next big projects is to redo all the electric in the barn. I did have an electrician install electrical "whips" that hang in each stall so I can plug in my heated buckets in the winter. The previous owner used to run extension cords through the rafters ... not the safest idea, I think.

I also had a frost-free spigot installed, and it's great. Never freezes. My hay is in an end section of the barn, with a wide door and great ventilation .. hay storage needs very good ventilation. I have a guy who makes small bales just for me, so I'm lucky to get those.

I have a large work area for my garden nursery biz ... my donkeys are pets, so I don't really need to "work" them. I did have to cut "windows" in the sides of the stalls so the donkeys could see each other ... everyone comments about that. The stalls were built for horses who could see over them, the donkeys couldn't. They love their "windows".

And then I painted the barn purple .... see pics below.

Not sure if I've helped at all ... I have lots of ideas of what I would do if I could build a whole new barn ... including putting it somewhere that's on higher ground!

Inside before the floors were redone ...

Another before ... took the stall on the far right out .. didn't need 5 stalls for 3 donkeys,

After picture ... no more wood floors ...

The stall mats are great ...

Frost-proof spigot

Barn before paint job...

Purple barn ...

The farthest opening is where my hay is stored ...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 11:43AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

The smallest area you can safely work horses in is a 60 ft diameter circle. Unless all you have in mind is leading them up and down and training them to show at halter.

If you ride or go faster than a walk and use tighter turns than that, you risk damaging the tendons in their legs.

I have an acquaintance who did a covered bull pen (60 ft diameter circle) with solid walls to keep the wind and rain out so she could train during the winter. The dust inside that small enclosed arena is so horrible that it is unusable.

So, keep in mind a method of dust control if you want an enclosed work space.

If you are planning from scratch, a real luxury in a horse barn is a water heater. It's marvelous to bathe the horses in tepid water instead of blasting them with ice cold water.

Put in a safe area to cross tie the horses for grooming, shoeing, vet work, and just plain old standing around and waiting for you. It keeps them off the walls.

Finish all edges of wood with something non-chew. Heavy metal edging is best.

Plan for a dry place to store your bedding. Life is easier if you don't have to remove and replace a tarp every day.

Rubber stall mats are well worth the money. The floors in the stalls will remain level. Uneven flooring is hard on the legs of the horses. The mats will also cut the cost of your bedding and make stall cleaning easier.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 1:20PM
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Thanks for all the great info - we're meeting with a barn builder tomorrow so this will all come in very handy - Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 10:08AM
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We has a similar situation when we were planning our barn. We received some very good advice and direction from a company called Barn Outfitters of Wisconsin, they are a division of Woodstar Products (

There are several ways to approach this and each is dependent on your budget. If you can afford a 60' clear span, that's the way to go. If not, perhaps 40' for lunging with a 12' lean-to for stalls.

Good luck, let us know what your final design is.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 1:17PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

If you are starting from nothing, you have lots of leeway to do whatever you need.

I would strongly suggest you read some books on horse barns, farm layouts, to make things work easily for you in efficiency. Cherry Hill and her husband Richard Klimesh have written a lovely book that covers EVERYTHING you need to think about before starting. Book is called Horse Housing, and you can find it on their site or maybe used on Ebay. They have some other books on their site, that could also be real helpful, Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage, Equipping Your Horse Farm, and a DVD, Your Horse Barn.

There is just a ton of helpful infomration in there. One of my favorite parts is having a GOOD driveway to reach the barn. Seems simple, but some folks never plan for hay delivery wagons or trailers, a big horse trailer, or MY FAVORITE the FIRE TRUCKS!! Driveways are "scenic", not wide enough, not enough base to hold up true "large" loads. Fire trucks can weigh many thousand pounds when loaded with water. They are also TALL AND WIDE, can't make those narrow winding driveways and gates off the road.

We did a Safety Clinic last spring, changed how we looked at things around the farm!! Machinery with gas engines need to be stored in their own shed, never in the barn with dirt, bedding and hay to catch on fire. Super easy to have something combust when hot vehicle is put away for the night in the barn, even on a cement floor. SCARED US! We changed quite a few things, in stalling, cleaning, storing stuff in the horse barn.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cherry Hill Books

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 10:26PM
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My husband works for Cleary buildings...been there almost 20 years, so he has quite a knowledge in this department. And I'm the horse I agree with, if you want a good, workable, indoor space, needing 60x60. Could you perhaps go with a 60x72 barn? That way, on one end, you have room for stalls, tack area and some storage for hay, etc. Our barn is quite primitive, but it works for what we need it for. It's 36x40 with a 15'x36' lean to off one side. We have 2 10x20 stalls inside, a 10x20 hay storage area (if you stack high, you can fit a LOT of small bales in there) and a 10x15 run in area for our minis. We also have cupboards/storage area, and open space right in the middle for clipping, grooming or farrier work...

Of course, the key to putting up a barn is to make it bigger than you think you want, if you can afford it! Another idea is to build your barn (indoor work area) and have perhaps two lean tos on the sides. One side for hay storage, the other for stalls/tack. If I were to build a barn again, that's what i'd do...for extra storage space. Our lean to has dutch doors for barn access inside, which is another nice way for us to help air it out...we just leave the tops open. Since our horses are typically out 24/7 (they have the lean to/run in shelter area), it's nice to come in the barn and see eager heads looking at us over the dutch doors. And, the dutch doors are IN the two big stalls, which is nice too.

haven't been to this form in quite awhile, so I'm sure you've already made plans for your barn....but just to throw another two cents in. Any luck on barn planning yet?


    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 4:05PM
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Thanks for all the info. Angie - funny you came up with close to the design we are going with. A 72x60 building and an additional 12' "porch/lean to" on the entire length of one side of the building. The porch will house a run in shelter on one end and enclosed hay storage on the other end, so our hay storage needs will be met throughout winter. Inside the building along a 60' wall will be 4 stalls and a tack room. So there is a nice 60' area for doing light riding/ground work. Our horses are outside 24 hr/day so the stall will be used for injuries and possibly feeding any supplements.

While I would LOVE dutch doors, the prices on those are so high that we couldn't justify the cost. However we are doing a sliding door at the run in to allow for easy access in and out for the horses that way.

Can't wait to break ground - hopefully in a month or two!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 2:26PM
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