So many considerations go into the proper design of horse stall barns. Having a family expert (my professional horse trainer daughter Bailey) keeps me on my toes when it comes to giving advice.
One crucial component of good horse health is air-flow and circulation. Besides designing stall barns for good ventilation with air intakes (such as vinyl vented soffits) and an outlet (vented ridge), you must make sure you don’t impede air flow.
A simple and cost effective method is to build what is known as a “grid barn”. The grid is formed by placing interior columns in a grid formation, aligning them with the sidewall and endwall columns. Most common is on 12 foot increments. This allows for 12 foot square stalls to be constructed, using the interior and exterior columns as corners for stalls, tack and feed rooms.
The interior columns are extended upward to meet the roof line. Rather than using trusses to support the roof system, rafters are placed to align with the columns. Depending upon snow load, these rafters may be large dimensional lumber (multiple 2×10 or 2×12 members), or Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVLs).
Actual airflow studies have shown that even “open web” prefabricated roof trusses impede the smooth air flow within a building. The use of rafters (which follow the slope of the roof) creates a clean, open interior allowing for unobstructed air flow.
Besides forming strong corners for stalls (with the columns fully tied into the roof system) and minimizing airflow restrictions, other side benefits are gained. The increased height above aisleways allows for taller doors to be placed on gable endwalls, without the truss bottom chords in the way.
The interior columns also allow for loft areas to be constructed, without being impeded by trusses. A horse barn loft can be used for hay storage, a place to put seldom used tack, or (if height allows) space for offices or an apartment.
Most common widths are 36 foot (which allows for stalls on each side of a central aisleway) and 72 foot (stalls, aisleway, back to back stalls, aisleway, stalls). Lengths are only limited by available space and budget.
When planning a new stall barn, ample consideration should always be given to a pole and raftered grid barn. It may prove to be the ideal solution to solve several problems at the same time.