Planning, Building, Remodeling a Building a Horse Barn

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My Barn

Getting the Big Picture Right

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

 Building a horse barn is a big deal. It requires considerable space and lots of labor and money. The more time you invest in planning your horse barn, the less redesigning and remodeling you’ll have to do. If you take the time to develop a good barn plan, you can design a barn to fit your horse’s needs and your locale and lifestyle.

A poorly designed barn plan can make you gnash and gnarl on a daily basis (believe me, I’ve been there) and can result in illness and injury to your horse; a well-designed barn can make you actually look forward to chores and will keep your horse healthy and safe.

Before we settled on our current acreage 14 years ago, my husband, Richard Klimesh, and I had owned and leased horse acreages in 7 states and Canada. During that time, we used as-is, remodeled, and built from scratch horse barns, run-in sheds, hay buildings, equipment sheds, turn-out pens, round pens, and arenas. We’ve found that certain things just don’t work well for horses while other designs make horsekeeping sweet.

Your Horse Barn DVDWhen we designed my current barn, we wanted to use the good ideas we had gathered over the years and Richard took the time to carefully craft a barn to suit my particular needs. I usually have between 6-8 horses (foals to seniors) in various stages of training and management. Because we take a lot of photos and videos, I need a full service “beauty salon”, a generous tack room, and plenty of places to tie groomed and tacked horses. We do have winter weather and hot summer sun here in Colorado so the barn must provide shelter from both. Since Richard and I do all of our own chores, we need an efficient set up for the daily chimp work.

As I take you on a personal tour of my barn, I’d like to tell you what we did and why. This article covers the big issues of Location, Orientation, Size and Style, Stalls, Turnout Pens, Flooring, Aisles, Lights, Water, Wash Rack, Tack Room, Feed Room, Hay Storage, Manure Storage, Tool Room, Tie Areas, and the Porch. Next month, I’ll focus on the details and finishing touches that can make your barn super functional and classy.



What We Did We located the barn downwind from the house on a treeless hill overlooking the arena, round pen, and pastures. We had the site excavated and put the utility trenches in one year, let the site settle, and built the barn the next year.

Why Flies and odors are drawn away from our home. We chose a building site cut into the hill so the barn would be well-drained yet protected by the hill. A view of the training pens, pastures, and other horses on the property keeps us aware of what’s going on and seems to breed contentment in the horses. Building in a treeless area reduces fire hazard. Letting the site settle after excavation minimizes building shift later. For more information, see “Selecting a Barn Site” September 2000 issue of Western Horseman magazine.



What We Did We faced the front of our barn and the pens to the east-southeast.

Why Most of the cold winter weather approaches from the north and the west so this orientation keeps snow and wind from making doors and pens difficult to use and provides shelter under the roof overhang for the horses. The morning sun warms the pens on the “working” side of the barn quickly.


Dimensions and Style

What We Did The barn is 56’ x 33’ with a 15’ overhang on the east and a 26’ roof extension on the south end. The roof has a 4/12 pitch with 9’-high eaves and 17’ peak. There are 11’-wide sliding doors at the north and south ends, an 8’-wide sliding door at the wash rack entrance, and a man door from the porch into the tack room.

The foundation is 8”-diameter pressure-treated posts with a pressure-treated plywood skirting Horse Housingthat extends 1’ above the ground and 1’ below the ground. The siding and roofing are ribbed steel; the walls are uninsulated (except for the tack room); the roof is lined with white pressed-fiber sound board. There are translucent fiberglass panels on the gable ends and on the upper 3’ of the walls (except for the tack room).

Why This is a private barn for 7 horses; some horses live seasonally on pasture or in other pens. For severe weather, we wanted a place for each horse to either be inside or under shelter; with this design there are 4 stalls and 4 covered pens.
The pole foundation is economical and easy to put in. Steel panels are fire-resistant, economical, and low maintenance. The skirting prevents burrowing rodents from entering under the walls and protects the siding from contacting the earth. The white sound board decreases the noise from the metal roof during rain and hail storms, prevents condensation, and brightens the interior. An uninsulated barn is healthier for horses than a heated, insulated barn. The fiberglass panels let in enough light that electric lights are usually unnecessary during daylight hours.

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  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information


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