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Barn Design

Expert Bryan Harnish

Questions (For answers, scroll down or click on question)

We are building a new 12 stall barn. What are some alternatives to concrete for our center aisle? It is 14 feet wide and 80 feet long. We have swing out dutch doors on our stalls with about 2-3 inches of clearance. We have been considering rubber mats. Any suggestions?

I am rebuilding stalls with dirt floors. What is the best way to finish the floors in order to have less problems with hooves and tendons and to keep drainage away from the horses.

Where do you get the rubber tile flooring in your hallways of the barn from?

What types of lighting work best and are safest for horse barns? I really dislike the insufficient lighting at many of the places I have boarded. Now, we are building a barn and I'd like to make sure it is bright but safe.

We are building a six-stall sized barn which will have 2 actual horse stalls. What type of flooring construction is best? ...Which would be most beneficial to the horses and is drainage necessary? How is drainage accomplished without shifting of material?

I'm digging out the mud and manure from the stalls of a ranch I just bought and would like to know how is a stall designed from the bottom up. Are rocks or gravel to go on the bottom, then sand or dirt, then shavings? What is the correct way to design a stall for a horse?

I am planning a full size dressage ring at our new farm. Base is red clay. How can I achieve the best footing at a reasonable cost?


Questions and Answers

Q: What types of lighting work best and are safest for horse barns? I really dislike the insufficient lighting at many of the places I have boarded. Now, we are building a barn and I'd like to make sure it is bright but safe.

A: Consulting your electrician would be the best thing to do. He can best determine the spread of light from the layout of your barn. We have 12 stalls, 6 on each side of the aisle and have 6 eight foot fluorescent lights down the aisle and one 115 watt jar light in each stall. We do not tack up in the stalls (you may want more light in the stall if you tack up there). Some things to remember - make sure the lights are high enough that the horses cannot reach them. I recommend about 12' off the ground. All lights should have covers, for example: jar lights, plastic covers over the fluorescent lights. The wires should be run where your horses cannot chew on them or they should be in a metal conduit. You may want to think about having outlets around your stalls for clippers, veterinarian use, vacuums, etc. Ceiling fans are also a nice addition to your stalls.

 

Q: We are building a six-stall sized barn which will have 2 actual horse stalls. What type of flooring construction is best? I do not want dirt, and plan to use good stall mats. Should we concrete the stall floor, asphalt it, or apply a stone base on which to place the mats? Which would be most beneficial to the horses and is drainage necessary? How is drainage accomplished without shifting of material?

A: Inside our stalls, we use compacted stone dust which gets very hard, but allows some drainage and works very well with mats on top. We use French drains in our stalls and once a year we need to to dig out and replace the top layers of stones, 12" to 24". With regular drains you would need to pipe into a septic tank and drain field. The aisle ways in our barn are compacted stone dust with rubber bricks on top. This works out really well because if you get any low spots, you can pull up the bricks and add a little stone dust.

 

Q: I'm digging out the mud and manure from the stalls of a ranch I just bought and would like to know how is a stall designed from the bottom up. Are rocks or gravel to go on the bottom, then sand or dirt, then shavings? What is the correct way to design a stall for a horse?

A: You will need to dig down about 3' to make a French Drain, layering from the bottom up: large stone, small stone, and then stone dust, dirt, or clay.   Grade from the outside towards the center making a 3" slope towards a drain pipe in the center. See the diagram to the right. The center pipe should be filled with small stone. A clay floor is best except on top of the drain where you need to use small stone.

 

Q: I am planning a full size dressage ring at our new farm. Base is red clay. How can I achieve the best footing at a reasonable cost?

A: I do not have any experience with red clay, but highly recommend you find an article done in the August issue of Practical Horseman called "On Sound Footing".

 

Q: Where do you get the rubber tile flooring in your hallways of the barn from?

A: The rubber bricks used at Hilltop Farm come from a manufacturer called Dodge Regupol, 717-295-3400. A sales representative that you might try contacting is Paul Heissenbuttel, 606-268-9199.

 

Q: I am rebuilding stalls with dirt floors. What is the best way to finish the floors in order to have less problems with hooves and tendons and to keep drainage away from the horses.

A: You will need to dig down about 3' to make a French Drain, layering from the bottom up: large stone, small stone, and then stone dust, dirt, or clay.   Grade from the outside towards the center making a 3" slope towards a drain pipe in the center. See the diagram in a previous answer. The center pipe should be filled with small stone. A clay floor is best except on top of the drain where you need to use small stone. You can also get information from a book called "Barns and Backbuildings".  See the review of this book in our Equerry Bookstore.

 

Q: We are building a new 12 stall barn. What are some alternatives to concrete for our center aisle? It is 14 feet wide and 80 feet long. We have swing out dutch doors on our stalls with about 2-3 inches of clearance. We have been considering rubber mats. Any suggestions?

A: Either rubber mats or rubber bricks would be a good choice. The bricks work very well, some mats will curl in time. You can try tractor supply stores for the mats.

 


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