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Maximizing the Design of Your New Horse Barn

Equestrian safety, functionality and style are among the key objectives when planning a new horse barn. Following are  design recommendations to help ensure the building will meet the needs of the animals and the people who care for them, now and for years to come.

Be realistic about future needs — In determining barn size, don’t limit the building dimensions based on how many horses you have now. That number may increase as your family or equestrian activities expand in future years. For example, build a six-stall barn and finish only two stalls now, and use the remaining space for storage. It will be far more cost-effective to build in additional stalls later rather than having to expand the barn.

Think about utilities — New barn owners often underestimate their lighting, electrical and water needs. Wash stalls should include two lights to minimize shadows under the horse. Switched outlets for stall fans, weatherproof outlets to run a set of clippers or possible veterinary equipment, and electric baseboard heat in the feed room to keep feed warm and dry are all popular features.

Consider your horse management style — Some owners like to leave their animals in the pasture during the daytime; others prefer the convenience of having Dutch doors that give horses access to outdoor paddocks from their stalls. How you intend to manage your horses will have a direct bearing on the barn design. If you intend to utilize Dutch doors to allow your horses free access from paddocks to their stalls, each stall should access its own individual paddock or run.

Factor in feed management — Will you store hay within the barn or in a separate structure? If inside, a 12-by-12-foot stall can hold about 200 small square bales. Also, consider how you plan to purchase feed. Will it be delivered by a supplier or do you plan to pick up hay directly from the field? And will you be purchasing a full-year supply or smaller quantities on a regular basis? All of these factors will impact the square footage requirements of your facility.

Plan for the right stall sizes — Consider the type of horses you own today, as well as those you may have in the future. A 10-by-10-foot stall may be fine now for a child’s pony, but perhaps not for the larger horse they want when they’re older. It’s far better to have a smaller horse in a large stall than trying to cram a large animal into a stall that’s too small. Small stalls are not only unsafe and uncomfortable — they can also drastically affect the future resale value of your property.

Ensure good ventilation — Windows and doors alone may not be sufficient ventilation to address the ammonia formed as urine breaks down. Installing stall fans can be more effective in moving air down into the stalls and creating airflow through the center of the barn compared to just opening windows and doors. Ventilated cupolas or ridge caps in conjunction with ventilated overhangs are also recommended.

Plan for floor comfort and safety — Equipping stalls with dense rubber mats, .5 inches thick, on top of well-compacted stone screenings or an ag-lime base, will provide comfort while also helping to prevent slips and falls for people and animals. Stall mats make the stalls much easier to clean and will help prevent hollowing out over time. In other areas of the barn with a concrete surface, use a textured instead of a trowel finish, which can be slippery when wet.

Consider functional aesthetics — Design features such as cupolas and wainscots can add visual appeal to a new barn. A Diamond M door with a fixed window for the top half enables you to work in the barn and still be able to keep an eye on what’s going on outside.  Ceiling skylights or translucent sidelights installed at the top of barn walls will allow more natural light into the barn, creating a more enjoyable environment.

From stables and stall barns to riding arenas, a Morton building is professionally built for your functional needs, your horses’ safety and your budget. Save now through February on new buildings during their Building Value Days event. Certain restrictions may apply.

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