Photo by Jon Phillips on Unsplash.……

Making lists is just as much a “craft” as stringing together your own cranberry and popcorn garland. As a crafty cowgirl, I find myself jotting things down and making lists on a daily basis. List-making is a skill that should be used not only for simple everyday tasks, but also for large undertakings as well. Building a horse barn is nothing short of a commitment and definitely requires some pre-build planning. Below are the different aspects of a horse property that are crucial to have, as well as things that are important to consider in each of those areas before breaking ground! 

Pastures and Turnouts

Approximately 1,000 square feet of turnout per horse, especially if using drylots

Adequate shelter in all pastures to get out of sun and storm, whether it’s natural cover or manmade loafing sheds

Heated automatic waterers (unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that doesn’t have winter!)

Gates between pastures that are wide enough for tractors to pass through 


Number of stalls to have 

  • Horses are happier and healthier when living outside, however, it’s key to have a couple of stalls in the case of injury, or even to just use when the farrier and/or vet comes 
  • Will there be runs off of each stall? If so, do you have enough space for this around the prospective building?

Crossties or groom stalls?

MUST have ventilation via windows, vents, and doors

Slip-resistant footing in barn aisleways and stalls

Feed-storage that’s up to fire code

  • Approximately one ton of grass hay requires 250-330 cubic feet of storage space
  • The safest way to eliminate the risk of a fire in your barn is keeping the hay in an entirely separate building.

Aisles should be a minimum of twelve feet wide

Tack room size

  • How many saddles do you own?
  • Are you planning on having boarders that can use the tack room for their own personal items?
  • Heated tack rooms provide refuge on cold winter days when the rest of the barn isn’t heated.
  • Plumbing for a restroom and/or laundry area?

Will there be a wash rack?

  • Indoor or outdoor? 
  • Heated water is nice to have for bathing horses and cleaning other items in barn

Indoor arena? 

  • Attached viewing room?

Be mindful of the positioning of the barn, so that you are utilizing winter sun and avoiding the hottest summer sun.

Storage/Parking/Other Outdoor Areas

Ability to pull in, turn around, and park a horse trailer with enough room to safely load and unload animals

Manure storage? 

  • Not as necessary if horses are living outdoors; could have a small space for dumping manure whenever barn interior is cleaned 
  • Build your own manure composting bin

Outdoor arena area for schooling horses, giving lessons and enjoying the nice weather 

  • Low-dust, good-footing ground material 
  • sand/clay mix with small amount of organic filler  
  • Three-rail fence surround
  • Gates wide enough for tractor (with drag) to come through


This is just a list of the very basics. Every horse barn will vary with the type of operation that it’s going to be used for. Use this list as a starting place to get your brain rolling, especially with any specifics that you will personally need for your equestrian property. And make sure to read up on other Crafty COWGIRL articles for various ways to save money after you splurge on the horse barn of your dreams!