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Horse Barn Design

Horse Barn Design

All horse owners have a vision of what they would like their dream horse barn to look like. Some want to build a completely new horse barn, while others just want to make better use of the one they have. There are many issues to consider when designing or renovating your barn to ensure the comfort and safety of your horse(s).
A gambrel-roofed barn in Wisconsin

Box Stalls

The standard size of a box stall ranges from 10' x 10' to 12' x 14'. These dimensions suit the average riding horse; however, if larger stalls can be built then all the better. Larger stalls (15' x 15') are recommended for foaling stalls. An easy way to create more space for mares and foals is to have a design where you can remove the partitions between two regular box stalls.

Standing Stalls

Standing stalls should be at least 4' to 5' wide, or wide enough for a horse to lie down in comfortably, and 8' long. For ponies, narrower and shorter standing stalls can be used. In these stalls there needs to be a rope tied to a sturdy structure high enough so horses can’t get their legs over, but low enough for them to be able to reach their food and water.

Horse Stalls In these types of stalls, the walls should be 4.6’ high with a strong mesh or grill above so that horses can see one another. A great advantage of this mesh is that it allows for light and ventilation. As for the aisles between the stalls, the average width is 12’.


The average horse stall height is at least 8’, though larger horses need higher ceilings. The stall’s ceiling should be high enough for a horse to raise its head without hitting the ceiling. Take care that there are no nails or anything else upon which a horse could hurt itself when raising its head.
Horse Stable


Concrete is the most popular flooring for horse stalls, although it has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of concrete flooring are that it’s easy to hose down and disinfect, and if roughened it is non-slip. On the other hand, concrete floors don’t offer natural drainage, so drains must be built. Otherwise, concrete-floored stalls need to be regularly and thoroughly cleaned to avoid ammonia buildup. Also, concrete tends to be harsh on the horse’s legs and feet, so rubber stall mats may be placed beneath the bedding.

Some horse barns contain packed dirt or clay floors, which are easier on the horse’s legs, and reduce the noise. However, earthen floors are more difficult to clean and maintain, and if the dirt becomes too damp it will need to be dug out and replaced.

Stall Doors

Barn Doors Stall doors should be no less than 4’ wide and 8’ high and can either be sliding or swinging. Swinging doors ought to open into the aisle, while sliding doors should move smoothly laterally. The latches should unfasten easily, but not so easily that the horses can tamper with them and escape.

Windows and Lighting

Windows are a fundamental part of stable design, allowing natural lighting and ventilation. They can either slide or swing open. Windows that swing open are probably better than sliding ones, which will end up stiff from dirt. All windows should be covered with strong mesh or bars to prevent horses from breaking the glass.
Barn Lighting

If using artificial lighting, either indoors or out, the fittings, plugs and wires should be rodent- and moisture-proof, and all light bulbs and switches must be placed well out of the reach of horses. It’s important to put safety cages around the bulbs to avoid breakage.

Food and Water Equipment

Barn Storage Another essential addition to the barn is the equipment that allows the horses to drink and eat. Hanging a water bucket on the wall is the least expensive option. Alternatively, automatic waterers can be used, though they won’t allow you to determine the amount of water the horse is drinking. For hay, a manger with fan-shaped metal bars is typically attached to a corner of the stall. Hay can then be dropped into the manger, but make sure it does not have large gaps where the horse’s legs can get caught.

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