Build the Barn You Need

Thinking about building a barn this year? In this two-part series, we’ll offer barn plans for a range of needs and budgets.

Building a new barn is a lot like choosing a new home. You want one that fits your needs and has just the right amount of space, without being too big, too small, too expensive, or too spare for your horse life.

But where do you begin? To help sharpen your focus, we’ll offer six barn plans to suit various needs. This month, we’ll start with three plans that’ll fit two to three horses. Next month, we’ll offer three plans that’ll house up to six horses.

We’ll share the advantages and drawbacks of each design, so that you can see how each might fit your horse needs, daily chores, environment, and storage requirements, and you’ll be able to compare your choices side-by-side.

Then, you can try these plans on for size, comfort, and taste. Once you’ve found one that’s just right, you can use it as a starting point to either plan your budget and build, or show to a builder who can further customize it to your specifications.

Derek Bills
Derek Bills



• One of the least expensive structures to build.

• Also one of the healthiest horse shelters you can build, with fresh air and free access to grazing, exercising, and socializing.

• By situating the open side away from prevailing winds, this shed will shelter your horses from the elements.

• Individual hay/grain-eating space for two horses.

• Access to the shelter via gates on either side of the building.

• With the long-wall side incorporated into the pasture fence line, you can deposit hay or feed from the outside—handy for “on-the-go” feeding.

• No need to take time to turn horses out after feeding, since they’ll have free access to the pasture.

• Best for you if you’re on a budget, have limited time to feed and clean stalls, and don’t need to keep your horses in show condition.


• No space for tack/feed/bedding storage, so you’ll have to provide another storage space for these items, and transport materials to the site each time.

• With no way to shut horses inside during bad weather, you’ll need extra time for grooming. (And you can anticipate thick, furry coats that may take longer to cool down and dry out after riding.)

• In rainy/snowy climates, roof runoff will end up in front of stalls and feed-through openings. (Situating the barn on your property’s high point may help with drainage.)

• If the area does get muddy, manure removal will be difficult, and you will want to clean stalls occasionally.

Derek Bills
Derek Bills



• Small, but charming and attractive.

• Dutch doors allow owners to keep horses dry/draft-free in bad weather.

• Covered entrance and enclosed storage for feed and tack.

• Back-wall windows, reinforced with horse-proof steel mesh, allow natural light into the stalls.

• Storage for infrequently used items is incorporated above the stalls, accessible by a ladder affixed to an interior tack/feed-room wall.

• Exterior doors offer access to tack/feed room from both sides.

• Best for you if you have one or two horses, and are looking for a small, aesthetically-pleasing barn with some storage space and controlled turnout options. This barn may also offer the option of conversion to a guesthouse or private office space.


• This design is fairly labor-intensive (and possibly expensive) for the amount of space offered.

• Because ground-level feed storage space is limited, you’d either be making frequent trips to the feed store for hay and grain, or you’d have to build another storage space on site and make trips to and from the storage space and the barn every few days.

• You’d also need space for storing bedding and time to transport it.

• If you store your tack in the same area as feed, your tack will require more frequent cleaning.

• Access to tack room from both sides could make site more accessible to thieves.

• Because you’d have to schedule turnout time, you’d also need to plan exercise sessions if horses are stalled for periods
of time.

• The stalls aren’t side-by-side, so you wouldn’t have the option of converting two stalls into a stall large enough for a mare and foal.

Derek Bills
Derek Bills



• Tack room is separate from feed storage, which means tack will be easier to keep clean.

• Dedicated, covered grooming area makes it easier to groom regardless of weather or climate.

• The tack room’s lockable entrance is within the building itself, with no windows for a thief to get through.

• The center aisleway is wide enough for a small tractor or pickup—useful for manure removal, or bedding material delivery.

• Gates to turnout pens make it possible to clean the pens periodically with a back-saving front-end loader.

• Best if you have limited horsekeeping acreage and a busy schedule, since free-choice access to exercise space is incorporated into the design.


• Three-sided stalls wouldn’t allow you to control whether your horses are out in the elements, though you could add back walls, fitted with sliding doors, to the stalls. (Something to consider if you want them to stay in show shape.)

• Pens aren’t large enough for horses to get much exercise, so you’d still need to plan turnout with gate access to adjoining pasture.

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