Barn layout ideas, opinions, insights?

We have an existing shop on our property that we are repurposing into our barn. It’s 30’ by 30’ with an aggravating column in the center. It will primarily house 1 quarter horse and a mini mule, with 2 horses being boarded with us periodically for up to 3 months at a time. Horses will be stalled at most 12 hours/day, with the exception of bad weather (my big guy’s a wimp when it comes to the cold, and thinks he will melt in the rain). The barn butts up to one pasture (the green in the photo) and our other pasture is elsewhere on the property. The horses will be pastured in pairs and the barn will serve as a run-in much of the time (at least for now, we have another spot planned for a run-in in the future).

We need room for feed and tack storage, as well as space to groom/tack (There is a concrete pad with a hitching post immediately outside of the main entrance, so inside of barn just needs a little room appropriate for grooming, really). All of the horses have good ground manners, and if we end up with any younger/lesser trained horses in the future, I will make adjustments as needed.

I’ve been playing with this layout for months and if I stare at it any longer my head may explode lol. Any opinions are welcome.

P.S. I did a bad job with the layout, so just to be clear, the area for grooming/tack up would just be open space and wouldn’t interfere with the main entrance. Any feed storage would have walls around it.

Here are two ideas. One makes the big stalls 10x15 and changes to 8x8 feed room and donkey stall into rectangles about 7x10 (ignore the labels - bedroom = stall, kitchen = feed room

This version incorporates the column into the middle stall with a swing door vs all the others with sliding doors


What equipment do you use to clean stalls? If you drive equipment, it would be worth considering how you would get it in and out of the barn.

Also, how do you plan to tie horses in the grooming stall? Would there be posts?

Also, I really like Xanthoria’s first lay out and it would allow you to drive through the barn potentially, depending on what those measurements are. Whichever route you go, I’d make sure you can access the feed room by truck so you can unload directly to it.

Here’s another that emphasizes aisle flow - I’d put a large triangular manger in the center top stall’s acute corner


Your first design is very similar to the first layout I considered. I liked that it gave the big guys more room and got rid of the column problem. I rearranged it because I wanted the mini stall to have a pasture door, but now that I’m thinking about it I could put a door on the top wall and add a “leg” to the pasture for access. We’re redoing fences anyways so that wouldn’t be hard. I’ll need to look at it more. Thank you!


Okay, I love your last design. A little extra space by keeping one stall smaller, but plenty of room in larger stalls for anyone that needs it. Plus, I’m constantly trying to find ways to make my house “flow” and the idea of carrying that over to the barn is really great.

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Just an old fashioned wheelbarrow and fork for now haha. But any equipment access would be from the bottom where I have “main entrance” marked. In any of the designs, there would be easy truck access to the feed room. (But honestly I hadn’t thought about it as much as I should, so I’m glad you pointed it out)

Tie rings will be bolted through the wall into 4x4’s that are set in concrete, and horses will always be tied with blocker tie rings in the barn.

Okay, I see what you’ve got there, and it looks nice, however, your measurements are off. You need to account for the width of the stall walls. Your 12x10 stalls will be smaller because of multiple walls along that side. You might want to plan for bigger stalls, or it’ll be very tight. Also, it isn’t advisable to build for the animals you have now. That 8x8 space will be quite tiny because of the walls, plus, you might not always have a mini that can fit in there. Make big enough stalls for any horses and you’ll be good. You might need to store tack creatively to make room.


I understand where you’re coming from, and originally I had hoped to just do 4 full size stalls but I can’t figure out a way to make it work. This is the only place on the entire property with room for feed/hay/and tack (I’m already planning on tack not taking up much space at all. It’s all been living fine in my trailer tackroom for a year. But feed/hay storage is a non-negotiable). If you have any ideas, I’m all ears.

The mini is only 4, mini mules live a very long time. She’s bonded with my gelding who is prone to colic, but hasn’t had a single episode in the 3.5 years he’s lived with her. At least for the forseeable future, she’s not going anywhere so I feel comfortable giving her a dedicated stall.

The difference in width will be accounted for in the mini’s stall. Technically a 6 x 8 will be plenty big enough for her and the difference in width will only be around 6 inches at most.

The big horses will all be comfortable in 10x12’s, but ideally I would absolutely build a barn with 4 12x12’s. I just can’t figure out how to make that work in this barn.

Can you do an enclosed lean-to off the side somewhere?

I worked at a barn that put a prefab storage shed off the back of the barn for feed; fully enclosed but separate, though convenient, to the rest of the barn, it was off the concrete pad out the back. Not entirely ideal in the dead of winter but most of the time secure and handy. Extremely handy for unloading feed/supplies as we could back right up to it.

For now, no, but eventually that is the plan for hay. We are on a fairly tight budget to finish the barn right now. We need a setup to last for at least a few years but we’re prepared to renovate it as needed down the road.

Consider that those short narrow aisles in such a small space are wasted space.
Try to work with two full sides using full 3/4 of the space, the fourth can be the open work space for grooming, saddling, bandaging, farrier/vet.
Similar to your first drawing, tweaked a bit more?

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@SunBun93 I like your original layout where each stall has pasture access.
Probably because that’s how my barn is laid out & it’s worked a treat for 18yrs.
I had built a 36X36 metal pole barn, with 2 12X12 (interior measure) stalls, 12’ center aisle & open spaces for feed & tack at the other side of the aisle.
I store my year’s worth of hay - 300 small squares - on pallets across the aisle from the stalls. Takes up a space 24X12, stacked to the 10’ rafters & a bit above.
My pastures surround the barn on 3 sides: drylot in front & at the back of the stalls’ Dutch doors that open out.
Two grass fields to each side of the drylot have gates so each can be closed off.
Horses have free access to stalls & drylot 24/7/365.

Then 6yrs ago I added a mini.
Had a 10X12 stall added for him, still on the side that opens to drylot. No Dutch door for that stall, but a gate I can latch closed or open from inside the stall. There’s also a short “hallway” from the stall to drylot, that keeps weather out of the stall.

My Herd of 3 (horse, pony & mini) come in for grain, separating into “their” stalls…
Well, :unamused: confession:
Mini comes in the service door with me, then plunders the stacked bales while I prep grain.
Then he goes into his stall (back gate closed) & when horse is done with his grain, mini is released to join him for hay.
Their choice, horse is Herd Boss & allows the familiarity, pony would not, but mini never pushes that envelope.
Vet & shoer have the aisle to work in. I tack or harness in the aisle, using a single crosstie.

Re: Lighting
Learn from my Fail :smirk:
I got cold ballast fluorescent fixtures, unenclosed.
Because I hate the buzz from halide.
LED was not available when I built.
The humidity & years of dirt have affected the fixtures so they are finicky about going on.
Get enclosed fixtures :disappointed:
I also had a 2nd switch put in for the lights over the stalls. So if I go in at night, I can light the aisle without levitating a sleeping horse.

Water in the barn from a hydrant located inside.
When temps go below 40F, I remove the hose & water by bucket brigade.
But no heat tape or other means of keeping the hydrant unfrozen is needed (per the plumber who put it in) & even with Polar Vortex temps & those Dutch doors open all Winter, hydrant stays usable.

One last tip.
Barn builder recommended insulating just the roof of the barn with foamboard.
Reason: no condensation raining into stalls.

Have fun with your conversion & pls post pics :grin:

If you have a standard gable barn, consider if you may and can add to the length later, build now where that would be possible, maybe by lengthening some more feet would give you so much more room under roof.

I have a mare and a mini donkey. I built a bigger stall (18x12) that they share. It works great because they’re both easy keepers and the mare is dominant. The stall is versatile for other arrangements we might need in the future. Just an idea.

We just finished building and painting the stalls. Three stalls total in a 24x32 foot metal building.


Oh, another thought, how tall is your building? Ours is too short, but if yours is tall enough, you could store hay in a loft above the stalls.