The Complete Barn Safety Design Guide

Generalization does not lend itself well to barn building because of the tremendous number of variables in any project: purpose, budget, image, climate, available materials and labor, personal preferences, future plans and so on. These variables make good planning critical to the overall success of the project.

Planning is critical to safe horse barn design.
Planning is as important to the person who owns one or two horses as it is to the big breeder. It’s about thinking through what you want in your facility and then figuring out the best way to get it. The idea is to build what is cost-effective, what gives you the best quality for your money, and what avoids doing something that will cost you a lot more later on.

All of the barn problems that plague horse owners can be resolved. Some of the solutions are inexpensive. Many are not. But remember, all of them are much more cost-efficient if they are solved before the barn is built.

Site Considerations
A horse barn’s site position should be given careful consideration. For example, the barn’s orientation to wind and sun should be considered. The ideal is to capture summer breezes for their cooling effect while avoiding the winter wind.

Roofs can be designed to take advantage of the sun’s heat in the winter, with overhangs planned to provide shade, to serve as windbreaks, and to screen private areas. Good water drainage is also essential for maintaining a healthy stable, as standing water and marshy areas are breeding grounds for insects and disease.

Health And Safety
Given the fact that a horse can injure himself in ways his owner never dreamed of, it is basic safe practice to eliminate sharp edges, fire hazards, and the potential for sickness or disease with attention to detail.

Barns with inadequate natural ventilation are a major cause of respiratory problems in horses as dust, odors, and germs cause air to stagnate and become unhealthy. The principle of natural ventilation is not a complex one. Hot air naturally rises (think of a chimney). The problem occurs in making sure that air has a place to escape and that fresh air is continually pulled into the structure.

Fire safety is also important, although it is often overlooked when barns are built. Masonry and steel are not combustible; however, there are many other things within a barn that are, such as paint, equipment, electrical wiring, and more. There is no such thing as a fireproof barn.

These are only a few hints and tips to create a horse barn that will stand the test of time, save labor, and prevent injury. Information on post frame construction is available at the National Frame Builders Association web site This site has been developed to answer questions about post frame construction, help people find a post frame building professional, and promote membership in the NFBA.

Todd Gralla is with Stan Gralla Architects, Lexington, Okla. Stan Gralla Architects has been in the business of planning and designing equestrian dreams since 1973. The firm has completed more than 300 equestrian facilities across North America and Mexico.