The design of your horse barn is important, not only to the well-being of your horse, but the owners as well. Well-designed horse barns can save you time, money and frustration, so careful planning is a must before you dive into designing. Both function and comfort must be taken into account when in the early planning stages as well as space and size in high traffic areas.
Two areas of your barn with frequent human and equine activity are aisle and stalls. Therefore, it is very important to consider the size of these well-used areas when planning your barn.
An often overlooked part of horse barn design is the aisle. Many horse owners tend to plan their stalls and tack rooms first, leaving their aisle size decided for them. In actuality, barn aisle size should be one of your first considerations when setting up your barn. Being a high traffic area, your barn aisle should be roomy and comfortable for both horse and human. Horses should be able to be comfortably moved, maneuvered and turned around in a proper sized barn aisle.
When deciding the width of your barn aisle you must take your door width into consideration. Ideally, a good-sized barn aisle will match the width of your barn door. This width may vary depending upon individual situations but a minimum 12-foot width is recommended. This gives horses ample room to turn and be walked past each other. Additionally, horse owners have plenty of room to negotiate past horses that may be tied in barn aisles for grooming or other reasons. Once you have determined a good width for your barn aisle it is time to consider horse stall sizes.
When stalled, a horse should be able to comfortably move, turn around and lie down. For the average sized horse (14-15 hands) a 12-foot x 12-foot stall would accomplish this. Smaller sizes, such as a 10 x 10 may also be considered. If your horse is smaller than average, you should adjust your stall size accordingly. Ponies for example, typically will do well in a 10-foot x 10-foot stall. On the other hand, a warmblood, thoroughbred or draft breed would fair better in a stall greater in size than the average 12 x 12. Mares approaching their foaling date, or mares with foals, are best housed in an extra large stall. Typically, a good rule of thumb is to double the size of your regular stall when planning for a foaling stall and stall size should always be considered before other rooms such as feed and tack areas.
When designing a horse barn, you must take into account both horse and human comfort and functionality. Careful consideration of these factors will prevent future headaches and frustration when your barn is built. Although feed rooms and tack rooms are important and fun to design, remember it is the highly used aisles and frequently occupied stalls that should take precedence over other areas of your barn. Planning these areas first and making them a priority will ensure safe, comfortable and enjoyable time spent by both horse and human.