Barn design: Designing the barn the right way

Andrea had asked me about more tips on designing a horse boarding facility. Here are just some quickies on how to get started:

1.) Visit a lot of barns. The more barns you visit and ask the plus and minuses of such a barn the more you will learn. Take photos of features you like.

2.) Write down what the advantages and drawbacks of any barns you have worked or boarded at. Everthing can be improved upon.

I have worked, taken lessons or boarded horses at many barns and each had it’s drawbacks. Some of which I didn’t realize until after I moved there and saw how feeding, moving horses, and care was given to the horses.

3.) Some barns are better suited to a certain purpose then others. At a training barn it is better for horses to be contained in small areas (i.e. stalls, paddocks) so the trainer can get them quickly. For individual boarders paying low board, it’s best to do a group pasture.

It’s important for you to clarify up front what type of barn (in terms of purpose) you want before starting to build.

4.) Weather plays a huge part in barn design. Think of the worst weather your area has and then ask yourself if your plan would handle it?

– did you build up high enough and put in enough drainage to handle rain?

– did you angle your buildings so they are protected against the N and NW wind?

– how will you dispose of manure when you are hit with a blizzard?

– how many times a year are your water buckets going to freeze over?

– really hot, extreme sun? Where is the shade?

5.) Think about daily chores and work through (in your mind) how those chores would be done. Literally, walk the path to dispose of manure — in your mind how would hay delivery enter your gate and drive — is there a large enough gate and road so a truck can dump dirt in your arena?

It helps to make a list of chores, possible repairs and people who would be visiting your place. My current stable lost two boarders coming in for a show, because the huge rigs could not make the turn into their place.

6.) Realize that saving money now isn’t the same as saving money over time. Saving money over time is far more important.

Here is an example of what I mean: Instead of putting the run-in shed closer to the gate, the owner decided to put them in the middle of the field. They looked prettier I guess.

This stupidity bit her in the ass twice – the first time when she injured my friend’s Arabian gelding and the horse had to be “stall kept” in the run in shed. The next time when Big Guy fractured his pelvis and was kept in the run in shed for 3 months in the depth of winter. Again no electricity to heat water meant a frozen bucket.

Because the loafing sheds were quite a distance from the gate, she had to enter the gate and walk 20 yards or so to check on the injured horse. Again, a waste of time and something that would have been much easier if the sheds had been up against the access road.

Another typical stupidity people make — digging a line for electric and not also putting in water lines at the same time forcing them to come back and dig twice when they finally figure it out.

Overall most people make the following key mistakes in their design:

  • Too few water pumps
  • Too few electrical outlets
  • No nighttime lighting for chores and emergency checks
  • Too few barn gates
  • Barn gates not the right size (can a tractor or mower enter a paddock etc…)
  • Shoddy fencing (fencing is extremely expensive)
  • Not enough turning area for larger rigs (i.e. gooseneck horse trailers, dump trucks, delivery trucks etc…)
  • Not putting buildings on a higher foundation then the surronding area
  • Parking area for patrons not well-designed (if there is one at all!)
  • No bathroom in barn
  • Not enough storage for hay or hay storage is awkward to get too
  • Manure pile not well thought out in terms of placement or disposal
  • If living on the property, not putting in a separate entrance for clients so they don’t bother the folks in the house.
This entry was posted in barn management, Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Barn design: Designing the barn the right way

  1. Andrea says:

    Awesome, thanks! Don’t have anything to add here, just wanted to say I appreciate you addressing my question so thoroughly 🙂

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  3. Pingback: tracking horse expenses | horseideology

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