At our previous stable, the biggest mistake made in the design was setting up the run-in sheds (or loafing sheds) far off from the common alley. This meant that if you were to feed, check on a horse in the rain or snow, or need electricity at the shelter, it was far from the common alley where it would have been cheaper to access water and electricity as well as less trouble to staff.
Here is a photo of the common alley that ran between the pastures, which were located on the left and right. In the distance, you can see how far from the ‘road” the loafing sheds are.
It also means that if a horse gets hurt, he has to be stabled some distance from the road. Checking on him would require opening a gate and walking over to him.
Now, this may not sound like much, but when you are looking after a lot of horses, work another job in addition to being Barn Owner, or if you have lazy help, this really means the horse won’t get checked on. People will say they did it, but because they are lazy or in a rush, won’t.
Here is a better plan – the shelters are at the road and access to feed, water, and storage is directly from the alley – you do not pass through a horse pasture to get there. This set up would work best for boarding faciilties, self-care facilities, and where horses are primarily paddock/pasture board:
The center section has a cement floor. Depending on the climate you can go with a door or gate at the front for human passthrough. If storing feed and/or hay, some sort of blockage is needed to prevent an escaped horse from helping themselves. Depending on how fancy you want to get this could become a tack room also or make it even more basic, and reduce the size to 4×12.
If a horse is sick, they can be stabled up close to the road, insuring more drive by checks by staff; he can be treated easily where the electric and water are already located; and access by the vet is direct.
In my personal opinion, if I was going to run a boarding stable on my own home farm, in my mild climate (less then 3 months of winter and even in winter we have warm, over 50 degree days), this would be my number one choice, as it has many benefits:
– allows boarders to have their own area to store individual feed choices and/or hay (i.e. what if someone wants to feed alfalfa and I don’t buy that type of hay).
– provides an easy method in which to feed a large amount of horses without crossing into a horse pasture with feed or opening gates. Horses can be fed from the common alley where a truck or golf cart can drive through feeding large quantities of horses in a short period of time.
– isolation of horses from each other during feeding (there is no common stall wall where they can see each other during feeding).
– cheapest way to run electric and water is down one straight line.
– horse can be brought up and kept in the stall area if you add in another gate, allowing for stall rest, isolation, or vet care to be done.
– horses are not stall kept; no moving horses in and out of stalls (time-consuming and requires payment of labor even if it is just to yourself).
– though I prefer a herd situation myself, horse owners, especially those with high dollar and/or show animals, prefer their horses isolated to prevent injury.
After managing a 40-stall facility, I will tell you with confidence that labor is the most expensive and time-consuming issue you will have when stabling horses. Anything that cuts that time down is, in the long run, a huge money saver.
Drawbacks: labor in building individual run-in sheds; no common barn; may need another tacking up area; a trainer needing quick access to a large number of horses to work throughout the day would spend too much time in collecting them; and expensive as it takes up a lot of land.