Choosing and Building a Small Horse Barn

Building a small horse barn using post and beam construction is a fun project that even nonskilled builders can undertake. It is made much easier with a little planning and a good set of plans. Understanding the different parts of a small barn will help you better grasp the scope of work ahead of you as you begin your small horse barn building project.

Stall in a horse barn
Photo credit: Jennifer Whittle


The size of your horse barn will be determined by the size of the horse stalls and the number of stalls you need to build. Other factors that increase the size of your shed will be options like adding a tack room and or a covered lean to area to the stall entry area. The size of most horse stalls are either 10×10 or 12×12 and sometimes 10 x 12, with 12×12 being the preferred size because it allows plenty of room for large horses to move around in and also gives you the trainer room to be in the stall with the horse. Most small horse barn finished sizes are a multiple of 10 or 12 feet.


The most important part of a small horse barn plan is of course the horse stall. Other rooms that may be added to the stalls are tack rooms and open walled covered areas in front of the stalls. Tack rooms are typically the depth of the stalls and the width is a minimum of 6′ but can be as large as you like to house your horse care and riding equipment. Adding an outside covered area is a very popular addition to small horse barn plans. An open walled covered area provides a great place for the horse to get out of the sun as well as a comfortable place to brush your horse.

Buckskin mare in stall
Photo credit: D. Coetzee


Horses can be rough on barn walls and other equipment. This is why horse barns are built using thicker lumber than that which is used in typical home construction. Exterior siding materials are usually either 1x lumber of corrugated metal. The interior walls of the horse stalls must be lined with a 1×8 board that extends up the wall a minimum of 4′. This stall lining is called a kick board and its function is to protect the walls of the barn and the horse if the horse gets frisky and kicks. The structure of the most horse barns is done using post and beam construction. This type of construction is made up of structural posts spaced along the walls of the barn and then adding horizontal beams and girt boards between the posts. The siding and interior kick boards are hung on the horizontal beams and girt boards. Roof construction is done using either rafters or roof trusses. The roofing can be either asphalt shingles or corrugated metal.


Doors are a critical part of any horse barn. They are the only moving part of the shed and can provide some different options as to how the shed is used. There are three primary door styles used on barns, sliding, Dutch and regular doors. The benefits of the Dutch door is that the bottom half of the door can be closed, keeping the horse safe inside, and the top can be left open to allow the horse fresh air and an opening to look out of. A sliding door is typically used for larger openings but can also be used for a stall door. The sliding door allows easy door opening and keeps the door totally out of the way when it is open. Regular full size doors are similar to sliding doors but they use hinges to operate the door.

After understanding the basic elements of a horse barn you will be better prepared to purchase a set of small horse barn plans to help you build the perfect barn for your horse. You will also better understand how to build the perfect place for your horse to be protected from the elements and for you to care for your horse.

About the Author

Christopher Kenalu has designed and built many styles and sizes of small horse barns. He continues to improve his designs and understanding of horse owners’ needs.

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