If the time has come to finally invest in a horse barn on your property, then you should know that the planning stage is very important. Sometimes, horse owners do not consider some of the finer points of the barn and only find out later that the barn could have been designed to be more effective for their needs. Before you commit to a set of plans, take the following insights into consideration:
1. The Location
Obviously, you know the general area where you want to build your barn. It's probably convenient to grazing land and accessible for trucks and tractors. However, you should also make sure your barn faces the right direction. Which way does the wind normally blow on your property? If you build the doors on the side facing the wind, you can let nature do the ventilating on windy days, allowing the air to move right through the barn. This simple design move can save you money on running fans and will make in-barn grooming and cleaning more bearable for farm hands. Usually, a south-facing barn will have the best luck with natural ventilation.
You should also make sure the barn is kept cool. A barn that sits in full afternoon sun will be hotter and stuffier than a barn that enjoys shade. If you don't have trees near your barn, you might consider planting some during the construction process so your barn can enjoy shade in the future.
Finally, you want to make sure your barn is downwind from the house. You don't want to always smell the horse barn when you step out onto the front porch.
2. The Style
Some styles of barns are more efficient and useful than others. Many people stay traditional, with stalls on either side and a large center aisle that opens to the ceiling. The hay is often stored above. However, there are other styles that can be just as useful, if not more so. For example, a Spanish-style barn will have a square design with a common courtyard in the middle. These stalls open directly to the outside. This can be good for those who board horses on your property; they will be able to easily access their own horse without disrupting those in other stalls. But barns with courtyards and individual doors can be more costly to build, as they require extra doors and square footage. Speak with your barn builder about all the designs they offer before making a premature decision. You might be surprised at the variety of barns available.
3. The Layout
A barn is a place of functionality. It's best to design it to make your work easier. For example, while it may look better to have the stalls evenly distributed down the walls, it's actually best to cluster stalls together at one end. This way, you can muck out all the stalls into one pile and clear the large pile away instead of clearing several small stalls from all over the barn. Other layout considerations you might plan for include keeping tack rooms and feeding rooms close together. You can easily gather all the gear you need for a working session when these rooms are close together or even shared.
Also, keep these room separated from the stalls, as you want to keep tack free from excess dirt and grime. Feeding rooms should be closer to the stall than the tack room; you feed horses at least twice a day, while you tack horses less often.
Finally, keep the center aisle (if your barn has one) wide enough to fit a truck or tractor in the door and through. You'll need to use machinery, and skimping on the square footage to save on building costs will quickly backfire when you can't use your new barn the way you wish you could. All the work a wide aisle would have saved is thrown out the window and replaced with hand labor that more time and more money from your pocket if you're paying someone to manage the barn.