by Nikki Alvin-Smith
Most folks don’t have an unlimited budget and capital to spend on buying their first horse barn and selecting just the right starter horse barn can be difficult. While planning for the possibility of adding more horses to the herd for spouses and/or children or developing the property to keep several horses sounds easy to do, the reality is finances usually don’t allow much flexibility when it comes to what barn to build as a starter barn. Many folks begin needing stabling for only one or two horses.
Where to begin? What to select? How to fund the purchase? All questions we’ve all asked ourselves at some point or other when we began our journey into keeping horses in our own backyard. In my case I’ve built more than 6 horse barns during my career. And I mean, hands on with hubbie building pole barns from the ground up. I’ve wielded nail guns and laid shingle, climbed ladders while hoisting heavy headers above my head and sustained a few thankfully minor injuries along the way.
Like most horse owners we began with 2 horses, one each. And money was tight. This quickly became three horses and so on. Just the usual horse people doing what they have a passion to do. But today with the advance of modular and prefabricated construction, there are better options. Let’s investigate further.
Examine Your Site
Very often the first horse property you develop will not be a big acreage so this will limit the footprint of the structure you build as well as where it will live. Location selection is important, and so is site preparation. Here’s a super resource on topic.
It’s Always A Good Idea To Double Down
Most horse owners won’t stick with keeping just one horse in the backyard. As herd animals a single equine will be lonely, and another critter of some sort will likely be added to the four-legged family that lives outside. It might be another horse, a pony, a donkey or mule, or a goat or two. Whatever it is, the single horse will welcome its presence. For this reason, it is always wise to start your horse housing operation with room for two.
1/2/3 It’s All The Same To Me
The needs for each equine or animal are principally the same. Shelter from ice, rain, and snow and even more importantly, shade from hot sun is essential.
The stall size should allow room for the animal to safely lay down without becoming cast in the stall, have enough interior and ingress/egress height to allow plenty of room for airflow above the horse’s head. A storage area for bedding and hay/feed supplies is a bonus.
Keeping horse grain in dustbins in the garage, along with hay stacked on a concrete floor, is not the best way to store either product. Moisture from the concrete will damage both supplies without due care in set-up. As an additional headache both will inevitably attract rodents to the residence.
One of the most cost effective and most popular modular horse barns is the 2-stall Shedrow with an overhang, Dutch doors and a small storage area are all tidily ensconced in one easy to deliver and set in place package. Instant use, instant delight. Its relatively small footprint makes it extremely functional, and it keeps everything in one place. It offers the option to secure the building by locking the structure, if necessary, when the animal inhabitants are outside.
The straight in/out feature makes handling horses back and forth easy as no turns are needed, which is very helpful with large breeds of horses and for young horses that can benefit from an adjacent paddock or loafing style area.
Adding an overhang to a barn design is a very cost effective method of providing additional shade and protection from extreme weather and a place to groom and tack up. Doors will be easier to open without the ice and snow built up right in front of them and the stall bedding and occupant will be protected from driving wind and rain, while still being able to enjoy the benefit of fresh air.
The Quick Yard
Placement of a simple shedrow structure, with or without and overhang to one or both sides, offers a good means to create a quick ‘stable yard’ in the future as needs dictate. A 2-or 3-stall shedrow can be easily added to either alongside or opposite. The latter offers an exterior aisleway that offers privacy.
Many eventers such as Olympians Boyd Martin and Phil Dutton, opt for shedrow yards for their event horses. The style of building offers the health benefit that is especially appreciated by owners of equine athletes, the provision for performance horses of plenty of fresh air. The design is also user-friendly for daily chores, as it provides easy functional use for motorized equipment for mucking out chores and an area that can be secured at each end so that horses can be tacked up and groomed outside without worry of escape.
The Delight Of A Low Profile Barn
Regions that experience significant adverse weather especially heavy snow/ice conditions can make the task of horse keeping challenging for even for the most stalwart of horse owners during winter months.
The Low-Profile barn offers a versatile option that offers a cozy interior work area during cold weather as well as good security if the building needs to be locked up to protect inhabitants from being stolen or harmed by animals or humans. Its design assures a safe space for medical emergency care, tack and equipment, and supplies storage as well as room for tacking and grooming the horse.
Any Low-Profile barn build should be carefully engineered to ensure that it meets snow load requirements for the region.
Factor The Age And Use Of The Horse In Barn Building Decision Making
Very young or elderly horses significantly benefit health wise both mentally and physically by having the freedom to move around. All horses value their freedom to choose their own timeline for using shelter, and a simple run-in shed can offer enough shelter to provide for needs year around.
Barns with Dutch doors placed on the exterior or back wall of stalls with adjunct turnout spaces can also be utilized to provide space to roam.
If your horses are not going to be ridden or exercised every day, then negating the need for daily handling to turn in and out can be a boon but remember with young horses that time spent leading them to and from paddocks and interacting with them is a valuable activity for their education.
Must Haves In Every Barn Build
Regardless of the size, style and design of the barn you choose certain components are essential to ensure safety of use and longevity of the building. Here’s a short list – and many of these features do come standard so don’t forget to ask your construction company or barn builder for specifications.
- Sturdy build that meets local building codes with ground contact pressure treated lumber where surfaces meet the earth.
- Interior protection of exterior walls with dimensional lumber kickboards especially where metal is used.
- Low maintenance siding and roofing products with good warranties hopefully not off brand product lines.
- Good quality hardware that is properly treated to withstand degradation from moisture and easy to operate.
- Grill protection for all glass windows.
- Metal edging/trim to protect vulnerable points of wood surfaces from chewing by equine residents, such as the tops of Dutch doors or corner posts.
- Site preparation in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions to prevent settling or future issues with structure.
- Some form of passive ventilation for closed structures.
Take Home Message
Bringing their horse(s) home is one of the most exciting things many horse owners experience. Due diligence in the planning and execution of the horse barn build will give many hours of pleasure in its use over the years.
While some compromises may be necessary in design and upgrades in the barn selection due to cost constraints, don’t be shy to finance with structure if you have the means to do so. The initial capital expense will almost always pay dividends down the road including adding value to your property when if it comes time to sell.
Always select a company to that has a proven good track record to collaborate with on the barn building project And remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
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About Horizon Structures: One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners. At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.
All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –
Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.
Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook. Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business. He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com
Photos are available on request.
About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
Content Creator | PR Partner | Seasoned Writer | Brand Builder |
Major Marketer| Journalist|
PR Marketing Specialist/Strategist|
Grand Prix Dressage
Please visit https://nikkialvinsmithstudio.com/ to learn more about her affordable services.