Between adhering to building codes and choosing the best equipment, there are many details to bear in mind when planning your dream stall barn. To help you stay organized, here are twelve expert tips to consider when building horse stalls.
As a horse enthusiast, you probably already know your dream barn would have a tack room near the cross-ties and a shower in the bathroom.
But have you thought about your horse stall space? How you are going to ventilate your horse barn and stalls? How will you organize and store your horse feed and equipment? All these questions are part of the planning process.
How to Build a Horse Stall: The Most Important Part
The biggest thing you need to first evaluate is your own personal level of expertise. If you’re going to approach it from a DIY perspective, you really need to think about what you’re comfortable taking on.
“A lot of people don’t understand what goes into a horse barn unless they’re true horse people,” said Tim Noble, a horse barn builder out of Kentucky. “People don’t know what they’re getting into.”
While we will address some specific issues in regards to the horse stalls in this post, it’s impossible to think of a stall without considering the overall structure. These twelve tips focus on designing and planning horse stalls so your overall horse barn will be as effective, organized and comfortable for you and your horses as possible.
1. Think Long-Term With Your Horse Stall Plans
It’s true: people with horses often tend to end up with more horses. That’s why if you currently have four horses, you may want to build a couple more stalls — say five or six total — in your new horse barn.
You could use the extra stalls as storage space in the meantime. (After all, who doesn’t need more storage space?)
Even if you don’t build the added stalls today, you should plan for future growth. “A lot of people think ‘we’ll do things later’,” Noble said. “But even if you’re going to do it later, you should think it through now and design accordingly.”
2. Build Bigger Stalls and Wider Aisleways
In Noble’s experience, a 10’ x 10’ stall is usually too small. “I encourage a 12’ x 12’ stall,” he said. It’s important that your aisleways also have plenty of space. A 14’ aisleway is your best option, as 12’ can feel cramped.
These are options that will cause you more money now, but much regret if you want them later. And Noble notes that people generally do.
3. Consider a Mat System for Horse Stall Flooring
Flooring is a critical consideration when planning your stall barn. Granular base material is commonly used in aisles and stalls, often covered with rubber mats for horse comfort. Concrete and brick pavers may be used in aisles.
Noble is a big proponent of a mat system called Stable Comfort. “People use less bedding with them, and they required little or no maintenance,” he said. “Once they’re in, they’re in.”
4. Determine Which Type of Horse Stall Design Works Best
Horse stall designs can be based on either:
Interior column type: Interior barn columns hold up rafters which support the roof.
Clear span type: Trusses span the width of the building and do not require interior columns to support the roof.
Stalls can be attached to an interior column, or you can have a free-standing stall, which works in a clear span design. Free-standing stalls attach to each other instead of a column for stability.
5. Add a Horse Wash Stall
Dedicate a stall space to a drainage system for a place to wash your horse with an overhead hose system. Having an interior wash stall allows you to wash down and groom your horse in all kinds of weather.
A concrete floor and drain, covered with rubber mats, provides a good surface and footing for the wash stall.
Noble typically builds a wash bay with hot and cold water, and a frost-free fixture that goes into wall. You can also install an overhead hose as well.
6. Dedicate Space for a Tack Room
Your horse stall layout should also have space for a track room. A tack room is essential for immediate access to your bridles, saddles, blankets, brushes and other necessary equipment.
However, you may want to install a door and close it off. You don’t want your valuable equipment to be exposed to too much dust.
7. Ensure Your Horse Stalls Have Adequate Airflow
Adequate airflow is critical for the health of your horses. Install a ventilation system in your roof to keep the quality of air high and your animals happy.
Noble is not a big fan of moisture sensor. “You’re better off designing adequate ventilation throughout the building,” he said. It should be with cross ventilation, where doors are open, that can pull air through the barn.
For larger horse barns with more stalls, airflow can be aided by a product like “Big Ass” fans. These 3 to 8 foot overhead fans can really move air throughout a facility.
PRO TIP: Don’t worry about normal winter weather temperatures when ventilating your building, as well-fed horses generate plenty of heat. They won’t freeze to death if exposed to normal winter elements inside a well-designed stall barn.
However, Noble does recommend a rigid insulation board called ThermMax for stall barns. It helps retain temperature and keep the elements out.
8. Horse Stall Fans and Other Ventilation Options
Some horse owners will install overhead horse stall fans to cool their animals. This is not like a ceiling fan in your house; instead, it is mounted at the top of your stall and blows down into it.
Fans for horse stalls can either be programmed to react to temperature and humidity automatically, or you can manage it manually.
9. Horse Stall Doors: Sliding Doors are Ideal
Sliding doors make less noise than overhead, electric garage doors, which means there’s a lower chance of spooking your horses.
Your sliding door will typically be either one piece and slide in one direction, or split in the middle. If you choose a split slider, the two door halves slide away from each other.
They’re also the most cost-effective type of door. Click here for more information about sliding doors and pole barns.
10. Horse Barn Stall Windows Add Some Natural Lighting for Your Horse Stalls
There are several options for getting natural light into your stall barn. One great option is adding Dutch doors or horse stall windows in your stalls. These provide light in the building, and add an additional source of ventilation.
Fixed windows can be added to your sliding doors which provide light into the entry area and center aisle. Also consider an eave light, which is typically a two-foot long polycarbonate panel placed under the eave of the building.
The more natural light that enters, the better. It saves you from using your electrical lighting during daylight hours.
Pro Tip: One option for more light is to make use of your stall door. Opt for a Dutch door, and make the top half glass. You can add grilles on the bottom half to allow for ventilation.
11. Store Your Hay in a Nearby Building
This is a safety precaution. Although it is very rare, horse barns can spontaneously combust and cause a fire. Because hay burns quickly, there will be little time for you to react before it harms your horses.
Here’s a great video that explains why hay catches fire.
12. Plan for Water and Food Storage
It’s important to consider how your horse will get food and water. Noble notes that some people do a tack feed room, which is separate from a tack room where products such as a leather saddle is stored.
“People like to keep those separate, and temperature-control the tack room so the leather doesn’t get moldy.”
For water, Noble typically installs automatic water in the stalls. This includes a water supply and heater that goes into the bowl. As the horse drinks, the water bowl fills up.
Interested in Horse Stall Building Plans or Horse Stall Construction?
Planning and building horse stalls can be an ambitious endeavor. If you’re interested in working with a builder to help you with the design/planning and overall construction, click here to learn more about our horse barns.