As an owner, you’ve considered building a top-notch pole barn for your horses.  You already have the land set aside. You’ve been consciously saving your money. So, there’s half the battle…

Now that you’ve pulled the trigger, you’re tasked with designing a floor plan for your equine facility. Deciphering between your needs and wants and determining how those will affect your budget can be exhausting. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you start to second guess yourself on building size, features, materials, etc. Grrrr!

Don’t give up just yet. Sometimes you need a push in the right direction. In this article, we detail our eight design tips to consider when building your dream horse barn. From stall sizes to ventilation systems, we’ve got you covered. What once was an idea will become a reality in no time!

1) The More Horse Stalls the Merrier

When designing your equine facility, we recommend planning space for more horses. Sure, you own four horses at the moment. But, what’ll happen when you decide to purchase one or two more on a whim? Now, you’re out of space.

We’d hate for you to run out of horse stalls. Or worse, you have to turn down opportunities to expand your operation because there’s no room to do so.

Even if you don’t plan on acquiring more horses anytime soon, you can always use the extra stalls as storage space. Who could say no to that?

Overall, it’s important to consider future growth and design your horse barn accordingly.


2) The Bigger Horse Stall & Aisles the Better

According to equestrian enthusiasts, an ideal stall size is 12’ x 12’. Of course, if you own miniature horses or ponies, you can get by with a smaller pen. Nevertheless, a horse should always have enough room to get up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

As for aisles, please give thought to your mobility needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have adequate space to move your animals from stall to stall? In and out to another area (an outdoor lot, riding arena, wash bay, etc.)?
  • Is there room for you to saddle up your horse?
  • Can you drive a gator or utility tractor in and out to unload feed or haul bedding?

We suggest 12’ and above for aisle length. Anything less will leave your horse barn feeling and looking constrained.

Altogether, cramped horse stalls and aisles are inefficient and hinder your building flow.

3) Add a Wash Bay for Your Horses

Like humans, horses need a shower too. Instead of tying them to the nearest tree, we recommend installing a well-designed wash bay. The best part is that you can rinse your horses off any time of the year with a designated space inside.

As you map out a wash area, please think about the following:


A wash rack should be convenient to use. Since water is involved, you’ll want to make sure that it’s situated far away from tack and feed areas, as well as riding arenas. Trust us, you don’t want wet leather, feed, or riders.

If possible, we suggest placing wash racks near the laundry and restroom facilities. You’ll save money with water and sewer lines already there.

Flooring Options

Although it’s costly, a concrete slab will provide a durable surface for washing horses. Score the top layer with a broom or rake to eliminate any slips. Gravel may drain well, but most horses don’t like to stand on uneven flooring for long periods.

Drainage & Runoff

Drainage should be at the top of your list if you want to build a useful wash bay. Water runs downhill; therefore, you should locate your wash rack at a high point within your horse barn.

Next, make sure your concrete slab is even. Install a drain for wastewater to exit. Avoid clogs by keeping this area free of hair and manure (as much as possible). Runoff should be water only.

Water & Electricity

Water and electricity are a deadly combination. For you and your horses’ safety, please make sure that a licensed electrician installs all wiring. Avoid electrical outlets near the wash stalls. However, if you install a water heater, you’ll need to store it in a waterproof cupboard.

When in doubt, always check with an experienced contractor or electrician for proper installation techniques. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Stall Size

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: horse stall size matters. Small wash bays are not only inconvenient but dangerous for groomers. Not all horses will cooperate. The last thing you’d want is to be in a tight space with an unruly animal.

As a result, we recommend 8’ x 12’ wash bays with built-in rails. This is enough room for a horse to walk in and turn around, while the groomer easily (and safely) cleans those hard-to-reach areas. It’s a win-win situation.

4) Install an Air Ventilation System

Sufficient airflow is crucial for your animals’ health. Every equine facility should have a ventilation system installed. When the manure produces moisture, how will it exit the structure? Below, we detail four ways to ventilate your horse barn.


Air moves upwards as it warms and rises. Having 1’ or 2’ overhangs with vented soffits on the sides of your building will draw air inside. At the peak of the roof, ridge vents work to release the warm, humid air.

If your building design doesn’t include overhangs, you can always install an eave vent to regulate airflow. An eave vent is a vent mounted under the eave of your pole barn that lets air enter your roof space. Again, the air will exit through the ridge vent.


Often added for aesthetic purposes, cupolas can help with ventilation. If installed to be functional, cupola fans require electric.

Adding a cupola to your building will allow a way for trapped heat to escape through the fan and side vents. For a personalized touch, you can top it off with a weathervane.

Doors & Windows

It seems evident, but doors and windows are standard building features that encourage air movement.

Typically, the wind blows in a west to east direction. Placement of this ventilation system depends on your building’s location and use. Whichever way the wind blows will determine the doors and windows you’ll want to open for the best ventilation.

In addition, we suggest evenly distributed doors and windows for better results.

Mechanical Ventilation

Opposite of natural ventilation, mechanical ventilation controls the air movement by using one or more fans. It isn’t commonly used for post frame buildings because it increases initial, operating, and maintenance costs.

Mechanical ventilation is used when natural ventilation isn’t enough. In this case, you’ll want to consider installing the following interior items:

  • Ceiling fans
  • Portable fans
  • Larger, installed fan units
  • Or a combination of any listed above

Looking for a reliable fan manufacturer? Our customers love their Global Industrial and Big Ass Fans
(yes, that really is their brand name) products.

However, we recommend passive ventilation compared to active from a cost-effective perspective.

Each of these four options will work to improve the indoor air quality for you and your horses.


5) Include a Tack Room

Every great equine facility includes a tack room.

It’s a place to store blankets, bridles, brushes, saddles, and other related equipment.

Usually, tack rooms are closed off from different parts of the horse stable to keep dust out.

6) Utilize Natural Lighting Sources

Energy efficiency is another critical aspect of any building project. To lower your electric bill, we recommend relying on multiple windows for natural light. Install doors (sliding and walk-in) with window panes to provide light.

As stated above, doors and windows are a useful ventilation feature. Not to mention, energy-efficient choices can help lower your building’s heating and cooling costs. We don’t know about you, but we’re all for saving money wherever we can.

7) Store Your Hay Elsewhere

We’ve all heard of a barn catching on fire due to excessive moisture build-up in hay or straw.

How does this happen? Moisture-ridden haystacks and bales can catch on fire because of a chemical reaction that produces heat. Hay acts as an insulator. The larger the stack, the less cooling that occurs to counteract the heat.

No farmer, rancher, or stable owner wants to see his/her building and equipment engulfed in flames. Then, you add livestock to the mix. It’s an unfortunate and devastating occurrence.

With that being said, we suggest having your hay storage away from your horse barn.

8) Never Say Never to Extra Amenities

Perhaps, the best part of post frame construction is its versatile nature. Your floor plan includes the basic necessities: stalls, wash bays, and a tack room. Now, it’s time to splurge on extra amenities that you’ll appreciate. 

Add living quarters equipped with a kitchen, laundry room, and restroom. Don’t forget to include comfy furnishings (e.g., a couch and TV) to enjoy after a long day at work. It’s your home away from home!

Take your equine facility to the next level with a well-sized indoor riding arena – no need to haul your horses somewhere else for a ride.

Just know that there are flexible horse barn designs that you and your animals can both enjoy. Don’t have room in the budget for these upgrades? No worries, you can always add-on in the future.

Are You Ready to Get Started?

Ultimately, how you design your building is up to you. Our goal as one of the top post frame builders in the Midwest is to provide tips that’ll help you build your dream horse barn.

Are you interested in seeing plans? Download our FREE Horse Barn Plan Book. This detailed guide includes 20 different plans, including stables and stall barns, riding arenas, and multi-purpose buildings.

If you see a floor plan that catches your eye, but would like to make a few minor tweaks, just let us know. All of our post frame structures are customizable. No cookie-cutter floor plans here. Our equine facilities are built around your needs.

Also, you can design your own building with our new and improved online 3D design tool. Save, print, or email your final plan to family and friends.

Are you ready for a quote? Submit your design to us, and a member of our sales team will give you a call to begin the estimating process.

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