If you have ambitious thoughts of building your own horse barn, our contributing editor Cynthia Foley from Horse Journal has some useful tips for you!
When it comes to building your own barn, well, Dickens could well have been writing about that instead of the French Revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”
Few things are as exciting, overwhelming, frustrating and exhilarating as building your own stable. You get exactly what you want in your horse barn, and you can design your stable plan to suit your specific horse needs. But it’s not as easy to design a horse barn floor plan that incorporates everything you want and remains functional and affordable. And the more you add, the more your new horse barn costs and the more decisions you’ll need to make.
Step one is how many stalls—and consider current and future horses—because all the other decisions will revolve around that. If you know you never want to care for more than four horses, then only build a four-stall horse barn. Because—and I promise you this—if you build a six-stall horse barn eventually you will have six horses.
Next decide upon the size of your stalls because that, too, will impact the horse barn design. If you prefer horses 15.2 hands and under, your horse stable floor plan might be fine with 10 x 10 stalls. But if you’re a competitive dressage rider, you probably want taller horses and will need a horse barn with 12 x 12 stalls, possibly larger. It’s difficult to combine stall sizes in one horse-barn layout, although it’s not impossible. However, it may impact the aesthetics of your horse barn. While that might seem petty, when you’re spending $50,000 or $100,000 or more to build a horse barn, it matters. Big time.
I prefer a separate tack room and feed room, and I think it’s worth including a wash stall in your horse-barn floor plans. The drain alone is worth the cost, as it gives you an easy spot to dump water buckets.
Go larger, not smaller when making your horse barn plans. You want functional, and the cost differential isn’t that much. If the difference impacts your budget that much, you may want to rethink the whole process. Rare is the barn that was built for less than the contractor’s quote.
Don’t forget room for hay, bedding and tools (wheelbarrows require more space than you might think, and they’re not “pretty” by any means). All these things eat up space, and space costs money when you’re building a horse barn.
You may think it’s O.K. to store the stuff in the aisle, but (trust me on this) by the 10th time you’ve either moved them to sweep, tripped over them or knocked into them (so they all crash to the floor, scaring the heck out of the horse you’re holding), you’ll wish you had a cubbyhole for them, at least.
I like center-aisle hay lofts, but you’ve got to be able to get the hay up there. The simplest route is to include a loft door in your stable plans and use a hay elevator (you might be able to find a used one for $400; new will run around $1,000, depending upon length). Your hay dealer might be willing to bring one with him. If you bring bedding in a few bales at a time, be sure you have floor space to store them or a good outside site.
A loft means you need inside access to it, too, and one of my contractors actually didn’t include stairs in the stable design. Since I think climbing a ladder on the wall will get “old” even faster than I am, we allocated a stall-space area to the stairs, which gave us a neat little spot for bedding and stall-cleaning tools, as well.
That’s just a start, though, and we’ll continue to explore the options in upcoming blogs.