Loves & Hates of YOUR Barn?

Hello fellow equestrians,

As I make plans to build my barn, I am curious to know…

What do YOU love about your barn? What would you change/do differently?

I am planning on building a five or six stall barn with a climate-controlled feed room, climate-controlled tack room, and a restroom. I will have a grooming stall and a wash stall. All doors will be mesh for maximum ventilation with dutch doors and attached runs on the backside.

Yes, I will be running a small business out of this barn.

Some questions I am currently contemplating include…

What materials do you prefer for your barn exterior? (Wood? Metal?)

Pole Barn VS. Post&Beam Barn VS. Steel Barn ETC.

How big are your grooming/wash stall(s)?

How big is your tack room? What about your feed room? Would you change this size?

Thank you all so much for helping me along this exciting journey.

  • JumpersNDressage

I HATE the drainage. I definitely prefer wood. Metal is impossible to repaint as it ages (I’m sure wood would be expensive, especially right now). I also hate storing hay in the barn.
I do love having extra large stalls.


I love that in my barn, I make the rules!

I hate that building materials are sky high.

For wash racks and grooming stalls, I strongly prefer if the ties are set further back than the front edge of the area so that a horse that shifts forward isn’t all hanging out the front. I also really like designs that provide an emergency exit for humans.


We currently lease a property with a 9 stall barn, tack/feed room, and loft.

What I love:

  • The Dutch doors that open into a paddock which opens into a pasture.
  • The wood construction.
  • The center aisle- at 12’ it is a good width to be useful.
  • The tall ceilings.

What I hate:

  • The location of the water-- the only hydrant is outside the back door of the barn. In a perfect world, I’d want a sink in the both the feed and tack room. But I’d at least prefer the hydrant in a more convenient location closer to the feed room and horses.
  • The lack of overhang outside the Dutch doors-- the horses track the muck straight into their stalls.
  • On that same note, the drainage SUCKS everywhere, but especially outside the Dutch doors.
  • Lofts are always less convenient than ground level hay storage, but this particular loft is extra inconvenient because it has a narrow ladder for access plus the external door to load hay into there is on the same side of the barn as the Dutch doors with the poor drainage. You can’t get a truck over there 6 months out of the year because of the mud.
  • My combo tack/feed room is 10x10, which would be fine for a tack room OR a feed room, but is tight quarters for both.
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Love: insulation under a metal roof, paddocks with geotextile covered with crushed rock, auto waters serving ALL the turnout areas, stalls opening into paddocks opening into fields, hay on the ground floor.

Hate: several stalls that don’t open into paddocks, crushed rock aisle (dusty but it is safe and the farrier loves it), no overhangs on any doors, metal sliding doors at ends of aisle, poor aisle lighting, windows facing West - the stalls get so hot when the sun beats in.

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  • interior and exterior stall doors. Nobody ever said “I wish there wasn’t an exterior door”.
  • half, grated doors on the inside. No standing on a door.
  • Dutch doors on the outside
  • back of wash stall has a full width set of sliding doors for extra ventilation in Summer
  • East-West orientation of aisle (your location may want something different). This means best breezes in Summer, and closing the West doors in Winter winds still allows light without wind
  • enclosed in fencing, which means I can turn horses out without leading all the time
  • enclosed fencing meant I could allow my recently departed horse to have his own pasture (several times) and his stall for weather protection, at will
  • wash stall drain heads out the back, downhill, without creating a mud issue
  • concrete aisle higher than matted stall level
  • matted stalls

Would improve:

  • higher pad for the barn to have been built on. the “front” stall corner has a water issue with enough water. Not bad enough to get into the stall, but enough that the bottom of the exterior door gets wet (and stays wet with enough rain).
  • wish I’d planted suitable trees sooner on the West side, to keep more shade in the afternoon in Winter
  • wish we’d made the front sliding doors higher - they’re a bit too low and dirt/hay/gravel ends up under them and I have to clean it out regularly, just on the uphill side

I would double and triple recommend stalls opening to runs with an overhang, so in a pinch a horse can be shut out of the stall, but it still will have the overhang for protection.

A friend trainer starts all new horses in the run with the overhang and after a few days opens the stall and say most horses then have learned to use a spot outside for a bathroom and tend to use the stall to nap and eat, not as a designated bathroom, as they do if started or shut in there.

Just more to consider, amidst so many good points already made.

Oh, another point, several have runs with all kinds of fencing between horses, but best seems to be some horses can’t stick heads thru and/or chew other horse’s tails.
Friend just had a colt chew his show horse’s tail off! :scream:
He welded some wire mesh on the pipe divisions and now colt can’t do that again. :stuck_out_tongue:

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  • my 12 x 48 foot “overhang” on the outside of the barn, matted, onto which my stalls open
  • my mud-free paddocks, attached to the overhang, so I can have my horses either come and go to the stalls or lock them out so they use the overhang for rain/wind shelter
  • Dutch doors on the paddock side, sliders on the inside
  • big 12x 14 fully matted stalls with great ventilation
  • Lots of storage space in my 40x60 pole building, I can keep hay, bedding, feed, etc. all neatly in the barn near the horses
  • water in the barn, frost free hydrants
    -lots of lights and outlets, properly installed and safe
    -easy vehicle access for vet and farrier
    -good drainage because we created it, and it’s on a slight slope so the paddock area drains nicely
  • concrete aisleway


  • no cross breeze action due to the placement of the building (we bought the farm with the pole building in place)
  • too damn tall! 24 feet at the peak, so it is hard to keep the dust controlled/barn clean
  • too close to the house, just 75 feet from my back door. (this is kind of a love hate–it is nice in the pouring rain/snow but I hear everything, which is good and bad)
  • I have to lead horses to the big front pastures because of where the house is placed
  • Whole barn, except for stalls is a smooth finish concrete, which is slick as snot. We use roll matting for safety anywhere the horses will walk.



  • 1 wall, right outside the tack room door, has a recessed shelf - soooo useful for stashing things that are small and used often
  • hydrant is right outside the barn, which means no concrete to smash up if something needs to be replaced
  • stall dividers are solid to 4.5’, then slatted above that to 9’. This lets everyone eat out of eyeball reach, but still allows socialization and air flow
  • the dividers between the 3 stalls on one side can be removed - they are 2x6 boards slid into a U channel. This allows a large stall for rehab or foaling with very little work. I do screw a metal support to those removable walls for stability


  • protect the hydrant a bit more. I do keep the 100g water tub right by it, so it’s not in big danger of being damaged, but it’s still a possibility
  • We had a large hay shed/overhang built a couple years ago, off the N side which has 1 stall at the end, the wash stall in the middle, tack room the other end. I wish we’d done that from the start, and also had a 12’ overhang on the other South side.
  • window in the tack room, at least a high transom type so as to not take up much wall space

Love - Where the hydrant is located inside the barn we used pavers so when the hydrant needs to be dug up it involves the more simple process of removing pavers and resetting pavers.


Yoke stall with gate that can close off the yoke so horses can look into the aisle. Dutch doors in back. Wood partitions but slats above so everyone can see each other. Stalls are 12 x 12 but horses are rarely locked in stalls and at least have their small paddock in bad weather. Stalls on one side of barn makes the whole turnout thing easier.

Piped water system in each stall with nozzle with that directs the water right into the bucket. No hoses.

Back stall door into individual paddocks (yes). Gate from paddocks into pasture, individual or shared.

Overhang into paddocks. If gates are open, horses can come and go into shade or their stall as they want. East or west facing paddock overhangs.

Hot and cold wash rack. Mine is 12 x 12 and I have a metal rack in there for shampoo, grooming mitts and everything else that accumulates.

Large, rippled concrete aisleway for farrier to work in and horses to safely walk on.

Adjacent “hallway” where hay is stored off the ground.

Room with refrigerator/freezer, place to sit. Could be the tack room if it is large enough or a separate room. Separate room is best if you’ll have clients coming to ride. Or, wooden benches in aisleway if aisle is wide enough. Ours has old church pews. Best thing is an outdoor patio area for people to sit and socialize. Ideally with a built-in or mobile firepit. Nothing very fancy, just a place to say talk with clients. Depending on your arena build, chairs or a stand where clients can watch their horses go.

Dedicated area for shavings. Dep on your set up, could be a stall with a large sliding door on the outside so a truck can easily dump them and you can easily get them from the aisle, or a large alcove next to barn doors so they can be dumped. Cheaper than bags.

My feed room is a deep closet with shelves. I make up feed into individual “named” tupperware so I just grab tupperware at feed times. Garbage cans with lids for feed are under the bottom shelf. I guess a bigger room might be nice but the other space is dedicated to other things. All other rooms but this one is temp controlled. Might be nice to be temp controlled.

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Fully enclosed matted aisle to work out of the weather. Both for daily chores and farrier/vet.

Room to store 3 months of hay in the barn.

Stalls open to stone dust with overhang then on to paddocks. Great for winter turnout.

Auto Waterer in the paddocks makes winter horse keeping so much easier not messing with filling troughs and dealing with deicers in the worse of winter weather. Money well spent.

Outlets above each stall for fans and heated buckets.

1/4 loft to store seasonal items like fans out of sight without impacting airflow.

Manure pile is downhill from the barn.

Don’t hate but would do differently if I built rather than remodeled:

Barn orients North/South rather than East/West making the stall facing west hotter in the summer.

Large field doesn’t connect to paddocks so short walk twice a day. To fix this I’d need to clear some land the resident birds love so I just try to enjoy the walk.

Shingle roof with good insulation keeps the barn both cooler and warmer.

Frost free hydrant is just outside the barn. Makes watering the veg garden easier but a pain in the snow. Would be easy enough to fix but haven’t gotten around to it.

I’ve been renting at a small barn for the past 6 months and doing all the barn work.

Loves -
Huge aisle that allows for some trunks but also ample room to get the spreader in. As well as park the trucks in when we had a tornado threat! Well done mats and pavers on nice level floors.

14x16 stalls with dutch doors as well as gates for when it’s too warm to have the lower door closed. Also second windows on corner stalls.

There is water everywhere and several places with hot water.

Good air flow and very high ceilings.

Laundry in the barn. Office and kitchen space. Climate controlled people areas.

Flood lights in the stalls as well as aisle lights and decent wash rack lighting.

Not enough electric outlets, and they are mostly concentrated in the people areas, not so much in the horse areas. Inconvenient for clipping, vets, farriers, body workers.

Those high ceilings suck for cobweb control and birds and wasps.

The tack rooms are set up more as offices so there aren’t enough saddle racks and bridle racks and places to store things in the tack room. Which means more trunks in the aisle, which is ok except for messy boarders who can’t keep their stuff actually inside the trunks. I put up some more hooks but these spaces need a total overhaul.

The latches for the stall doors are weird and opposite the opening—don’t really lock the stall so much as just act like a stopper for the door to keep it from sliding. It’s an extra step to make sure the door is latched. And annoying.

Nowhere near enough hay storage or bedding storage, and what it does have is not in a separate building. Could use uniform grain storage systems (I brought my own).

Overhead fans are on switches but you have to climb up to work the corner stall fans. At least there are good fans.

Oh yes, aisle width! It’s soooo nice to be able to drive a large pickup truck into the barn when you have bags in the bed that should NOT get wet.

Make sure lights in the barn are suitable for whatever cold you have. You really don’t want to wait and wait for lights to come on in the freezing dark.

short ways! not only comfortable when the weather is bad but also for work.

This and making sure that around the barn, where the barn will be and outside runs are graded as to maximize run off and drainage and properly prepared ( gravel screening or similar compacting materials). I think mud is everyones biggest issue.

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Of various barns I’ve stabled at over way too many years to count …

Favourite things
+++ half walls between stalls can be bars or grates above half wall (so much better for horse health both for circulation and mental health)
+++ bright lighting in aisles and stalls
+++ concrete block stall walls
+++ concrete block or stone construction
+++ stable cleaner (but it sounds your barn will be too small to justify a cleaner system)

Also favourite

  • insulated - spelling correction for Bluey!
  • sliding stall windows
  • concrete (roughened) or pavers set in concrete
  • concrete or other impermeable walls for wash stall
  • roof thingy/porch over barn doors
  • oversized/over-engineered barn door hinges
  • hinged doors at barn entrances
  • roof thingy/porch over barn doors
  • oversized/over-engineered barn door hinges
  • hay storage in separate building
  • ridiculously giant tack room
  • ridiculously giant feed room
  • ventilated stall doors
  • 12’ aisles

+/- steel frame/tin sided construction

Oh hell no

  • dirt/stonedust floors anywhere (stalls, aisles)
  • pavers set in sand/stonedust (because rats)
  • wood frame/tin sided construction
  • crank stall windows
  • giant sliding doors at barn entrances
  • insufficient grade up to barn floor (flooding)
  • standard door hinges and hardware (because we have all fought with doors that fight to be secured)
  • too much grade up to barn floor (this can be an issue in areas with frequent ice in winter)

Reading this thread makes me giggle because some people’s love list is totally on my hate list.


That list above has “insulted”?
I assume that was “insulated”.
Autocorrect is really being a pain, is it.

I would say, do think to make the first feet of the walls dividing stalls solid, so horses have that bit more peace at feeding time, don’t stare at each other every time they lift their head and some make faces or even kick at the other horse so close.


Yes, solid to 4-5’ high and all feed tubs in the same location so that everyone is a stall width away from each other. For instance, if one feed tub goes in the SW corner of the stall, ALL the feed tubs should go in the SW corner of ALL the stalls in that row.