Whether you are building a new barn or renovating an old one, the best way to get the barn you want is to remember the old adage, “form follows function.” Before you start planning your barn, think about the following things:
- How will you use your barn? Are you a boarding stable or breeding facility? The size of your barn might need to be bigger than you thought to accommodate tack rooms, wash racks and/or foaling stalls.
- How many horses will you ultimately care for? You may just have a few horses now, but if you’re dream is to someday have a training facility, you should build a big enough barn to accommodate more horses. It’s always less expensive to build right the first time rather than trying to add on later.
- Consider the weather. Are you planning to have attached paddocks? Cold or wet weather may prompt you to be able to close doors leading to the paddock to keep horses warm and dry. Also consider doors at the end of the barn to keep out inclement weather. With either or both have an overhang or awning over them to keep everyone dry?
- Let there be light – and fresh air. Look at barn designs that will maximize the amount of fresh air and ventilation – both important to your horse’s health – to flow through the barn. Look for designs that allow large amounts of natural light into your barn.
- Consider your daily workflow. Will you use wheelbarrows to clean stalls or feed or will you need a barn with an aisle wide enough to drive a truck down the center aisle for these chores? Will your hay be stored off site or do you want it close by in your barn’s hay loft? Will you need additional room for a viewing area for parents or a kitchen or clubhouse area for boarder parties and relaxing?
- Look at your proposed site location. Is it level? Is the landscape such that water flows away from the barn? From which direction will the wind come? Sun? Is there room for a driveway and parking area for boarders, the farrier and vet? Will you offer trailer parking – will it be part of the barn structure so it can be covered?
- Consider utilities. How far is it to the nearest electrical and water sources?
- Consider barn style. Do you have a preferred barn style that works best for your type of facility? A Shed Row barn a good choice for warm climates as they maximize air flow and ventilation. They can be configured in a straight line, an “L” shape or a “U” shape. The Full Monitor has a high center raised roof that lets hot air rise above the stalls and horses. The design also allows skylights and windows to be installed on each side of the center roofline, letting in more light and additional fresh air. The Monitor is good if you need to build a long row of stalls. The Gambrel offers a large loft located above the stalls for added storage and increased headroom. Gambrel trusses eliminate the need for interior post and beam supports giving you more freedom in your floor plan.
- Look at legal considerations. What do the laws in your area allow you to build? Are there restrictions on size or location? In some areas, the barn must be a certain number of feet from your property line.
- Consider available construction materials. Do you want wood post and beam for the old-fashioned look of a barn? Or do you want the low maintenance and fire-resistance of a steel modular building?
Take some time to day dream about your perfect barn. Visit other barns to get additional ideas. Now make a list of what you absolutely have to have. Examples might be a wood barn with 12 stalls and paddocks with an overhang with each stall. Now think about what you’d like to have. It might be enough room for a full kitchen and TV room for boarders. Make sure you write everything down so you won’t forget anything when talking with your barn builder.
A final consideration when designing the outside of your barn is to make sure it’s horse friendly as well as people friendly. Horses dislike dark, closed in places so design your barn with lots of room and plenty of natural light and air.
Photo credit: Classic Equine Equipment