Barn design: My L-shaped dream barn

I had posted previously that I would most likely go with an L-shaped barn. Here is a to-scale plan and some thoughts on it:

Wood L-shaped barn

TACK ROOM: The 8′ x 16′ tack room is the north/NW wall. Those corner walls will be heavily insulated and provide some wind break shelter to the stalls. This should give plenty of room for 4 horses and their collective goodies.

This area will have power and outlets. Would prefer the floor be cement but due to costs may have to go with stone, reclaimed brick or plywood.

EXTERIOR STALL DOORS: The stalls on the north edge have full walls with a 4′ wide door opening from the pasture. These will be sliding, solid barn doors. If you leave these without a door you will regret it – snow and rain will inevitably blow in on those worst days and it plays hell with your bedding and drafts.

I’m not a fan of Dutch doors for horse stalls. If the horse is going to be stalled for long periods of time I guess they help, but I have found that the dinky latches are hard to open/close with gloves on, and they catch in the wind, making it hard to close in storms. I would rather have the north wall be solid during storms and have the horse have viewing interest in the front of the stall where he is protected from the weather.

The stall wall with slashes on the exterior wall will start as an open run-in/loafing shed, and later become half walls with a 4′ wide opening (no door).

Before the dividing wall, a fence panel partition

One thing I like about these types of buildings is they can be built in stages depending on how quickly your budget recovers. Here we used metal U-channels (see photo below on left post) mounted on the posts to slot the boards to make a solid partition. BTW when you use slotted boards, when one is kicked and destroyed you replace ONE board vs. an entire sheet of plywood.

Hmmm naughty Z! that wall needs to be a bit higher…

Another example of staggering work is each stall wing could be built at different times as long as the entire pad is leveled in the beginning.  This is important to me as I do not plan on loaning money to build the barn but build it with cash and our own sweat labor.

INTERIOR STALL DOORS: Stall doors and doors to turnout are also not close together. This alleviates some pushing behavior and allows horses to have  a comfort zone when entering to be fed. This is important as two stalls will open to one pasture.

European Style – open front for stalls

It really depends on you and your horses, but I will be opting for half walls on the aisle side and 3/4 walls between stalls. I like horses being able to reach over and be petted or where they can interact with me and visitors.

100 percent view often seen in vet clinics

OTOH, if you have a biter or boarders this is a real pain in the neck (I had one boarder horse bite the tongue off another boarder horse because they could reach each other over the stall door!!).  That type of design opens you up to issues so I think it’s a personal decision how much you want to close horses off from each other and the barn life.

Horse Gossip Gate… Loving it!

FEED ROOM: The feed room is centrally located. This allows two people to feed going in opposite directions. Anyone who has dealt with impatient horses knows why.

Now here’s some organization!

There will be a way to feed without going inside the stall (a passthrough or door). Note that corner feeders in the stall are NOT adjacent to the neighbor but on opposite corners. When you put feeders together, fights break out, even if there IS a wall between them.

Hay will be placed in slow feeders (BTW in this next pic my only issue is the gap between feeder and floor – a rolling horse could get cast under this). Read this from the website: “the most important aspect of slow grazing for horses is psychological.  Horses live in the moment. If they don’t have something to graze on they think they are going to die.” ROFLMAO!!! So true!!!

The feed room will also contain a laundry sink with cold water to rinse and a water pump. Locating the water pump centrally in the barn allows it to go either direction without being short in length.

There is a hall and gate passage next to the feed room so I can visit the pasture on that side of the barn without going through a stall. For example, imagine that you have quickly called horses up to eat as a blizzard is coming! I can dodge though this gate and close their exterior doors while they are busy munching.

Next to the feed room is an open bay to store square hay bales. This is an awesome feature so you don’t have to wheelbarrow hay from your hay barn when the snow and rain hits (as long as you planned ahead and stacked some!).

AISLES & FLOORING: All aisles are 4′ wide, covered and with a surface of either pea gravel, brushed cement, or brick (rubber or stone). The aisle wall of the feed room (going to the gate) will store shovels and picks for stall cleaning.

All stalls would have rubber matting. It makes the clean up way easier and prevents the soil floors from becoming rutted and stinky. I’ve gone with both soil and mats, and I would choose mats any day. Pine shavings is the preferred bedding in my area and bags can also be stored in the open hay area.

ELECTRIC: The electricity in the barn will be powered by solar panels with back up to “real” electricity. The interior corner of the L will have an exterior barn light mounted on a pole. This should provide me with enough light to get in and check horses or turn on more lights without stumbling around in the dark.

Each stall will have an electrical outlet (safely hidden from playful horses) for water bucket defrosters and summer fans. If there is one thing I can’t stand and that is breaking ice out of water tanks. I’m also a firm believer that horses prefer warm water in winter vs. ice cold.

WASH RACK: I’ve gone into wash rack matters elsewhere, but in brief, I want a stock situation so I can bring the horse up (see the hay rack!?), tie him up to munch and then hose him AND his tail down without dancing about. The wall will have storage for shampoo etc… and the stock be centrally located in the floor space with room on both sides for the groomer to move. The water for the wash rack will be heated with passive solar power.

Also, I prefer wash racks to be located at the end of the barn. It’s a huge pain in the neck for someone to bring a horse all the way through the barn to reach the wash rack! Having it on the end also allows draining off to the grass instead of into a wall or a nearby stall or barn aisle.

COVERED EXTENSION FOR SHADE: BTW if I wanted to make this barn cooler in the summer, I would put an extension on the south facing stalls – such as another 10-12′ overhang. This cools the summer wind before it enters the barn and provides another shade option for the horses.

Hm well I am sure there are other things I could tell you about this plan. I do have photos galore (but not on this computer) of this and that feature I want to put in.

This entry was posted in Barn Design, hay & feed, stabling, tack. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Barn design: My L-shaped dream barn

  1. I am toying with an idea similar to this. I haven’t settled just yet on what I’m going to do. But, I need mine to be much, much bigger. Maybe more like 8 stalls. So, my other thought was a shedrow with back to back stalls. I have a lot to think about still.

    • horseideology says:

      A design I’ve seen is two rows (parallel to each other) of loafing sheds (the roofline is a cheaper than the shedrow) that is then bridged over in the center at a later date. I don’t know if I can find a photo of this but will look around.

      I always thought if I went with that plan I would use one of those white arena covers over the metal frame to be the centerline – so much light! But it’s way too windy here for that.

  2. Pingback: More horses need a parallel stall arrangement « Horse Ideology

  3. Amy Morin says:

    Hi I love this idea and actually wanna try it myself. Did you get your built? I’d love to see some pictures.

    • rebeccadante says:

      Hi – no I didn’t build this barn plan but I did have a friend with this layout and I LOVED IT! It’s very easy to build and cost effective for the small farm with just a few horses.

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