Barn design: More horses need a parallel stall arrangement

Reader and blogger, Oregon Sunshine, has posted some comments about the barn layout and thinking it over, there are some good points to be learned that I would like to pass along to you in this post.

If I was keeping 2 or less horses, I would go with a loafing shed arrangement with a tack shed building. This would keep things on a small, affordable scale with buildings that a competent DIY person could build. Such as this two stall, one or two pasture arrangement with a center feed and tack room OR this shared, 2 shed with pasture OR this 3-stall, two pasture with feed and tack room arrangement.

Loafing sheds have the benefit of a solid north/northwest wall so provide ultimate wind, snow and rain protection. They are the simplest roofline to build and the least costly.

Once you get 3-6 horses you need something a bit larger to manage feed, bedding, hay and tack in easy distance from horses in order to feed and care for them. For that I prefer a shedrow or an L-shaped barn like I’ve been posting about.

A shedrow differs from a loafing shed due to the roofline. With a shedrow you get a covered aisle, making it a bit easier to do multiple chores such as feeding, watering, grooming, tacking up etc… and be protected from the weather. It is linear like a loafing shed with one row of stalls (though I have L-shaped in my plans that have adjacent rows of 2 stalls each). This plan uses a shedrow (for horses) and a small RCA barn (for the ponies).

Molly’s barn used a very enclosed shedrow with a very open and larger loafing shed in an L-shape. While her barn may not look all pretty – pay close attention to the design. Highly functional (view the diagram layout).

When you get to about 6 and more horses, you need to start thinking barn. A big barn with two rows and a cement center aisle wide enough a truck can drive through. OS had mentioned she needs stalls for eight, and for that number I would go with a RCA (raised center aisle) or Gable barn with two rows of four stalls and a feed and tack room at the north end.

Since she is in the southern US, I would also go to the expense of putting in overhangs. This cools the air before it enters the barn and does make a substantial difference in the summer (I’ve been in barns with and without and you would be amazed).

I prefer RCA’s over Gable barns because I am a romantic. However, there are even cute Gable barns out there if you look hard:

Both barns would have a layout similar to this:

click to visit website

She had mentioned that North is on the right side of the drawing so how I would deal with north winds is by simply putting some sort of structure to the right to provide a windbreak.

I am not sure how she wanted to break up the 8 in terms of pasture (2 separate? or 4? or one large?) so this plan just guesses. In my area of the world I am more concerned about NW wind so the hay barn is slightly staggered back from the line of the barn. Some gates (g) would allow you to combine the herd to one side or the other or all. The (c) marks compost.

OS  had mentioned needing to see all horses at all times,and I am just not sure that it is possible with this many. I would opt for two pastures designed so they can wrap back to the front of the property or where they can both be seen from the house. For the stalls, webcams!! heehee.

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6 Responses to Barn design: More horses need a parallel stall arrangement

  1. sybil miller says:

    wow, such great info on barn design! i’m looking now for some land to buy, and will build a barn/shed, etc. – mine will be a retreat for myself and my horse, we are in a hot climate, so shade is really important, as well as protection from the cold wet northern fronts that come through in the winter. thanks so much for sharing your research and thoughts on design, it’s really helpful!

    • horseideology says:

      Thanks Sybil for your comment! The barn design and farm info on this blog is actually the most searched for and read via the blog stats.

      I personally like the loafing shed with a central tackroom – easy to build and provides a lot of comfort to horses when you just have a few. If you insulate the north wall OR build it with cinder block, it will be quite cozy.

      You might want to do a google image search for “mare hotels” – these are often very open and breezy plans.

  2. Oh! I don’t need to see all the horses all the time! I was just commenting that your “L” shape, while I like it, won’t work here. In order to see the horses, I’d have to have them open to the north. Since our property is narrow, I can’t really put a hay barn to the side of the barn either. And, that’s where the arena is. Seriously, it’s the perfect spot for an arena, and it’s already flat and grassy for a grass arena (drainage isn’t a problem).

    I am just frustrated at the moment with the run-in the builder is building and the placement of it in general. Unfortunately, to these old goats (pardon the expression), I am “just a girl”, so I should go do girly things and leave them be. They’re men and they know better. So, all I see is that I’ll have the additional expense of moving it all and doing it all again anyways!

    • horseideology says:


      When I was younger, blonder and buxom a bit of “ooh I’m just a girl! can you do it this way you big strong he-man?” often worked. Not so much anymore.

      Nowadays I just say WTF!? and scream MILES! INFORM THEM THE QUEEN WANTS IT THIS WAY NOW!!! His gentle, softspoken words soothes them down and they all agree I’m hard to deal with but it gets done. heehee

      Little do they know that Miles has a spine of steel and it’s worse if you doublecross him. I’ll at least cut you some slack.

  3. I’m a red-head. I usually get what I want “just because”.

    But, in this case, it’s two old goats. And they’re set in their ways. And BP was on the phone with a client. Heck, I even offered to pound in rebar with or for them. I offered to HELP. I offered to help lay railroad ties. But, clearly I should just go do whatever needs doing in the kitchen, right?

    And by the “builder”, I mean the guy who we are buying the house from, the guy who built it. He is putting the run-in up, etc. I’m frustrated because I gave him FULL ASKING PRICE to do this little bit of work for me. And now it’s all screwed up in my view. WTF?? I have brought better men to tears with minimal effort and had better men eating out of the palm of my hand. At the moment, I am aggrieved that my mama raised me to be respectful to my elders.

    • horseideology says:

      Yeah I was raised by a Southern woman who had to defer to men all men, any man as they are so much smarter then us weak females. blech***

      Good luck!!! ((hugs))

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