Horse Barn Buying Guide: What to Consider

Whether you are a hobby farmer with one or two horses or you’re running an equestrian property, buying a horse barn is essential. There is a lot of thought that goes into choosing a horse barn — everything from the perfect size and style for your horses to the which materials to choose, and where to place the barn on your property. Read through our horse barn buying guide for the helpful information you need when making this major purchase.

Skip Ahead:

  1. How Big Should a Horse Stall Be?
  2. Where Should I Place My Horse Barn?
  3. What Horse Barn Styles Can I Choose From?
  4. Should I Choose a Wood or Metal Horse Barn?
  5. What Should A Horse Barn Include?
  6. How Much Does It Cost to Build A Horse Barn?

How Big Should a Horse Stall Be?

The first question that you’ll ask yourself when buying a horse barn is what size you need.  This will come down to the number of horses you own and how many horse stalls you require.

Horse stalls need to be big enough so that your horse can stand up, turn around, and lay down. We recommend that a horse stall for an average-size horse be at least 100 sq. ft. in size. You can use these guidelines when determining what size horse barn you should buy:

  • Average-sized horses (15 hands) do well in a 10’ x 12’ stall.
  • For taller breeds (16 hands), you should use a 12’ x 12’ stall.
  • Miniature horses or ponies (12- 14 hands) are comfortable in an 8’ x 10’ stall.

For a run-in horse barn, without individual stalls, a 12’ x 18’ or 12’ x 24’ barn is usually adequate for three average-sized horses.

When designing your barn, it is recommended to add two extra stalls and a little more space than you think you need. This ensures that you are prepared if you ever need to board more horses.

Where Should I Place My Horse Barn?

Where you plan to place the barn on your property is an important decision that should be determined before making a purchase. Consider these points when you survey your property for the ideal location:

  • Choose an area of your property that drains properly. In the event of heavy rains or melting snow, you don’t want your barn area to turn into a swamp area of stagnant water.
  • Choose an area with easy access to utilities and roads or driveways. Since your horse barn may require electric or water hook-ups, you can keep costs down by choosing a location where these utilities already run through your property.  Additionally, a barn that is easily accessible from your driveway will make loading your horses into trailers a much simpler task.
  • Position your horse barn for adequate airflow. Find the direction of the prevailing wind on your property and then set your barn at a 45° angle from the wind. This will allow for natural ventilation without creating a wind tunnel inside your barn.
  • Provide natural shade. Although many horse barns come with lean-to overhangs that can protect your horses from the elements, natural shade is also beneficial for keeping your animals comfortable.
  • Choose an area large enough for expansion. Your team of horses may be small now, but it may also grow over time. It’s wise to choose a location for your barn that has empty space around it to allow for building expansion.

What Horse Barn Styles Can I Choose From?

There are various horse barn styles that you can choose from. The style you choose should be dependent on the number of horses you own, the amount of space you have, and other ways you plan to utilize your barn. Below is a rundown of the benefits of each barn style.

  • Lean-To — Lean-to barns are recognized by their large front overhang. These barns provide shelter during excessive heat and inclement weather in unprotected pastures.
  • Monitor — Monitor barns are two-story barns that are designed to be very long and feature a distinct raised center. This raised area houses a second-story loft space.
  • Kennebec — Kennebec barns are also known as double wide barns. They are center aisle barns that feature two rows of stalls on opposite walls, separated by an enclosed center aisle.
  • High Country — High Country barns utilize a two-story design and feature a single-sided sloped roof. The second story includes a loft door which makes it easier to load hay.
  • Run-In — Run-in barns are covered structures where animals can find shade and relief from heat, rain, and even flies or pests. They feature a three-sided design with an open front.
  • Shed Row — Shed row barns offer space to house your horses and store other farm tools, equipment, or vehicles.  In-line shed rows provide three horse stalls, that open to the outside, with an enclosed shed space for storage. L-shape shed rows also include a tack room off to the side.

Should I Choose a Wood or Metal Horse Barn?

Modular – Trailside 24 x 32 Trailside Center Aisle Horse Barn

Wood and metal are both popular materials used in the construction of horse barns. Penn Dutch Structures sells wood horse barns that are constructed using white pine wood.

White pine is soft and easy to work with but, at the same time, has the strength necessary for framing construction. Pine timber can also be treated to be decay- and rot-resistant. Plus, pine is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear that is often necessary for outdoor structures.

When compared to horse barns constructed of steel, there are several benefits to buying a wood horse barn.

  • Wood is a natural insulator which allows for consistently comfortable temperatures inside your barn in the extremes of winter and summer.
  • Wood has absorption properties that minimize outside noises. This can be especially beneficial in reducing the noise of high winds and thunderstorms, which can rattle animals.
  • Softer woods, like pine, can withstand horse kicks without the potential for injury to the horse. The metal may puncture upon the impact of the kick which could cut your horse or cause a limb to break.

What Should A Horse Barn Include?

feed storage and tack storage cabinets

In addition to your horse stalls, your horse barn should include space for feed storage, a dedicated tack room, and washroom.

  • Feed Storage — In many cases, you can have 2- or 3-compartment feed storage chests built into your barn design.
  • Tack Room — Your tack items should have a dedicated space, away from feed storage. Saddle and harness cabinets can also be constructed right into the design of your barn.
  • Wash Room — Consider dedicating a single horse stall as a washroom. Design this stall to include concrete floors, rubber mats, drains, and an overhead sprayer.

How Much Does It Cost to Build A Horse Barn?

Horse barn costs will ultimately depend on the size and style barn you need. This being said, it can be hard to give an accurate general estimate. Smaller, run-in barns can start around $2,500 while a larger, two-story Monitor barn would cost around $30,000.

A few ways you can save when buying a horse barn include:

  • Choosing a modular design — Modular barns are built off-site, in sections, and then delivered and assembled on your property.  The efficiency of building off-site lowers your expense.
  • Choosing a one-story barn — A second story can add material and labor costs. Shed row barns and lean-to barns are great one-story options to explore.
  • Limiting the number of horse stalls — Although you want to plan for future expansion, you should also be realistic and only include the number of stalls you’re certain you will use.

Have Specific Questions About Your New Horse Barn?

The Penn Dutch Structures team can give you specific answers to your questions like what size is best for you and a customized quote.

Wooden Red Shed Row Two Stall Horse Barn
Two Stall Horse Barn