The functionality of your horse stall is heavily influenced by how your horse barn is constructed. The two primary methods of stall barn construction will dictate everything from stall placement to overall costs – and ultimately the health and happiness of your horse.
Essentially, there are two methods used in the construction of a stall barn.
1. Interior column
With this method, rafters are used on the inside of columns to support the roof. Stall areas are defined by columns, and columns are typically 8-9 feet apart, and 8-9 feet from the wall. Note how the columns define the spacing on the stalls.
With this method, you may have a steeper roofline, which some horse owners use to build a deck or hay loft.
2. Clear-Span Truss Barns
In the second method, stall barns are being built using traditional post-frame construction. Stalls are no longer defined by the interior columns supporting the roof. They are either a modular stall system where the stalls are anchored to the columns on the exterior and to the corners of the stall walls on the interior, or a column-anchored stall system where free-standing columns are placed where needed to support the stall walls on the inside.
This method give you more flexibility in terms of what you can do inside of the horse barn. You no longer have to deal with the location of the columns being used to support the roof. Stalls can be configured in any manner you’d like.
Besides being slightly less expensive to construct, the clear-span truss building allows you to build a wider barn, and creates more flexibility for where you store your feed, tack and other supplies.
How Construction Methods Impact Your Options
Classic Equine published a terrific blog post on “How to Choose the Right Stall for Your Horse in a New Boarding Barn.”
Let’s analyze how these construction techniques impact their criteria for choose the right stall. (Quotes in each section are taken from Classic Equine’s post):
1. Stall size
“Ideally, look for a stall that is 12’x12’ or larger. The more room your horse has to move around and lie down in, the better his circulation and digestion will be.” You are somewhat restricted with Interior Column style barns as the size of your stall is dictated by the columns – typically 8-9’ apart. Clear-truss span allows for modular configuration and varying sizes.
2. Stall location
“Consider the stall’s location in relation to the tack room and arena, and also to the parking lot.” The post notes that horse’s characters are a determining factor in stall location – some prefer more active areas, some prefer quiet space. Clear-span truss may give you more flexibility in terms of grouping or locating stalls, even after construction.
3. Presence of Windows
Windows add natural light, ventilation, entertainment and distraction for a horse. Either construction option lends itself to windows.
4. Stall Condition
Stalls should be in good repair. Flooring should be level, doors must close tightly, and boards should be in good shape. While this is less a function of the construction technique (interior column vs clear span) and more your general maintenance plan. However, a squared-up and stoutly constructed barn will help keep your stalls in good working order.
5. Stall Accessibility to the Rest of the Barn
Depending on your horse’s character, you may want to provide them with option to interact and socialize with other horses through their stall. Either construction method can allow for this type of functionality, but a nod goes to the clear-truss technique simply because the modular capability allows you more options.
The factors listed by Classic Equine are essential when you’re designing stalls in a new horse barn. The construction techniques for the overall structure can ultimately decide how much flexibility you have to meet those factors – and the cost to make it happen.