Planning Horse Facilities - Horse Barn

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Cherry Hill's
Horsekeeping Almanac

Your Horse Barn - DVD
on a Small Acreage
Horse Housing
Your Horse Farm
Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse Housing
Equipping Your Horse Farm
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Your Horse Barn DVD     A barn should provide a safe, comfortable, and healthy home for your horses.  The site for the barn should be properly prepared.  The floor of the barn should be eight to twelve inches above ground level.  It should be located on well drained soil.  The addition of six inches of crushed rock covered by tamped clay is the traditional favorite if the existing soil is well-drained.  Poorly drained soils should be excavated between three and ten feet.  Several feet of large rock should be laid at the base of the excavation.  Crushed rock of decreasing sizes should follow in layers leaving about one foot for the barn's topsoil.  This can be tamped clay or a mixture of three parts clay to one part sand.

     If the soil is too soft, loose, or weak and its bearing capacity is inadequate for the footings (support structures) of the foundation, the design engineer of the barn will have to make adjustments in the location of the footings, the depth of the footings, or the cement forms for the footings.  The barn should have a strong foundation made of either brick or concrete or pressure treated wood.

Horse Housing     There should be plenty of windows or doors to let the sun and air in but keep the cold wind, rain, and snow out.  Design your barn plan so that it can be warm in the winter but cool in the summer.  A temperature range of 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best for horses with 55 degrees being the ideal.  A humidity of fifty to seventy five percent is good with 60 percent optimum, however it is better to be a little too dry than damp.  Horses need adequate ventilation but can not take cold drafts.

     Because horses roll, kick, and sometimes buck while in their stalls, the structure must be very strong.  In addition, all hardware, bolts, doors, handles, latches, locks, and hinges must be heavy duty to withstand horse use.  Stalls, alleyways, and doorways must be safe with no protruding parts or narrow openings.  Heavy traffic areas should be well sloped and drained and have a protective, non-slip surface that is appropriate for the use and the locale.

Stablekeeping     The barn should be located with good access to electricity and water and be situated so that there is room for future addition if desired.  There should be convenient access from feed storage to the barn and from the barn to exercise and training areas.  Many traditional designs and techniques have stood the test of time but new materials and innovations are worth considering.


    In warm climates, an inside aisle isn't essential, so many southern barns are simply single rows of stalls which open to outside pens or runs.  Cold climates require inside access to the stalls.  A very simple and popular barn plan style consists of two rows of stalls which face each other and are separated by an inside aisle.

     Closed barns are either uninsulated, insulated, or insulated and heated.  Heated barns are expensive and an unnatural environment for horses and tend to result in more respiratory illnesses.  Insulation is an air-filled or material-filled space between the inner and outer walls.  It can include blanket, rigid, sprayed-on, and foamed-in-place products.  Insulation prevents condensation by keeping the temperature of the interior walls the same as the air inside the structure.

     The overall shape of your barn is usually decided by the roof type and whether you plan to have a loft in your barn.  Storing hay or bedding in a loft over the stalls does provide some insulation for cold climates but is such a potential fire hazard that it is strongly recommended to locate your hay storage in a building separate from the stable.

     The gable roof is very popular and allows great flexibility in layout.  The shed roof is often used for three-sided shelters or small stables or as an addition to an existing building that has a gable roof.  The monitor is essentially two shed roofs with a gable in the middle.  This is good for long rows of stalls.  The area under the upper gable roof can be windows, vents, or clear panels.

     Commonly horse barns are of pole, frame, or masonry construction.  Pole barns are quick, economical buildings.  They usually consist of 6-8 inch diameter pressure-treated posts set three to six feet below the ground with the bases fixed in concrete.  The poles are set at from eight to sixteen foot intervals and have trusses attached to support the roof.  Since the need for vertical support beams in the center of such a building is eliminated, the result is a clear inside span which makes for very flexible barn planning, the possibility of indoor riding spaces, and ease of expansion.

     Frame or masonry barns require footings and foundation walls which extend out of the ground.  A trench is dug where the outer walls of the building will be to below the frost line (the maximum depth the ground freezes in the winter) or according to the appropriate building code.  Concrete footings are formed and poured in the bottom of the trench to transfer the load of the structure to the soil.  The foundation walls of concrete block or poured concrete sit on the footing and extend about 16 inches above the ground level.

     When choosing the materials for your barn walls and roof, consider cost, durability, maintenance, fire resistance, and aesthetics.


Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage    To handle water from the roof during a rain, you may wish to consider the inclusion of gutters, down spouts, and rones (concrete splash pads).  To keep entry-ways from becoming muddy when snow slides off the roof, you may wish to attach overhangs to the roof to shelter the doorways.  To prevent fire by lightning strike, you may wish to include a properly installed lightning conductor to the most prominent roof.

Cherry Hill

Page 1: Planning Horse Facilities

Page 2: Barn Construction

Page 3: Fencing and Turnout Areas

Page 4: Training Facilties

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