In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about planning, building and buying perfect American Barns for your horses.
American barns have several differences from timber built barns or standard horse stables and therefore are oftentimes more suitable for specific needs. Generally, they are large covered barns built with timber and are arranged around a central alley. They are good all-rounder buildings and are becoming increasingly popular with horse owners due to their sizable indoor area, in-built storage space and cold/windy weather protection during the winter months. Traditional stables differ from these barns in that they have isolated stables rather than an entire barn, meaning each stable has its own access and each horse is able to be easily tended to without disturbing other horses. This article will take you through the American barn in detail, and will help you decide if it is right for your situation. Here’s a link to a great example of an 8-bay American barn.
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What is an American barn?
An American barn consists of timber stables running either side of a central passageway, all of which is sheltered under one impressive timber roof. Oftentimes these buildings will contain large amounts of storage space and are therefore popular amongst riding schools, larger private yards and other working yards due to their capability to conveniently house everything in one central place. These barns have great winter weather protection and are equally agreeable when the weather is warm as they are usually well ventilated, frequently with windows built into the back of the stables to allow for fresh air for the horses. The high quality timber also manages to keep the shaded building cool in the summer.
The layout of these equestrian buildings also makes for great stable management, as the working area and the stables are all under one roof. The horse stable building style also provides the horses with ample opportunity to socialise – due to the stall dividers between each stable rather than a full wall – so you are pretty much guaranteed to have happier horses!
How is an American barn different from traditional barns?
American barns provide a great alternative to traditional barns if you are looking for something more spacious, are working with a larger budget, want a more social housing space for your horses, or maybe all of these options apply to you! There are multiple noticeable differences between these horse housing options, and depending on your needs, you may go for either one. They both provide certain advantages and disadvantages, and ultimately your decision on whether or not to buy an American barn will be massively helped through understanding the use cases for both types of barns so you can competently communicate with builders about exactly what it is you want.
Traditional barns can be more compact and do not have the central walkway that American barns have. Rather they stick with a more isolated approach to horse housing and provide more separation between each horse stable, with solid walls between each stable instead of spacious dividers. This can be great for an anxious horse, or a horse that has allergies that you may be trying to distance from the rest of the herd. However, if your horse is used to being in a herd, it may thrive in the social setting an American barn provides.
Traditional barns also generally tend to have much less protection from the elements as each stable door opens directly to the outside, but this also means you can easily access one horse without creating a disturbance.
Traditional barns also do not come with the in-built storage space that American barns do, and you will have to find separate storage space for your equipment and feed if you go with a more traditional barn/stable setup. If you are looking for exclusively horse stables and already have a solution for storage, then a traditional horse stable may be exactly what you need!
Advantages and Disadvantages of American Barns
- Social setting – The group environment provided by American barns allows horses to feel like part of a herd, and generally leaves you with happier horses given more time to socialise.
- All-weather protection – One great advantage of American barns is the large sheltered space you get with them. Both horse stables and storage space are protected from any bad weather as a result of the timber building everything is kept inside. Timber is also a great way to keep the barn cool in the summer months!
- All-in-one barn – American barns come with ample space. Stable management becomes much easier when horses, equipment and feed are all under one roof. You don’t have to stop there either, you can more or less incorporate any additional requirements – office space, toilets, or a tack room. Speak to a stable builder to get a an idea of what is and isn’t possible!
- Ventilation – The high roof and the windows built into each horse stable means there is plenty of ventilation to keep your horses happy and healthy in the warmer weather.
- Busy layout – The American barn by default has a much busier layout than the traditional barn. Though this is a positive in many ways, it can also stress out socially anxious horses and is something to seriously consider.
- Easily disrupted – Accessing one horse could easily disrupt the entire barn, which can be a pain, especially at night.
- Higher risk of infection – In a barn where there is less separation and is much busier in general, it’s harder to mitigate infection, and the risk is always higher.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Barns/Stables
- Easier maintenance – Traditional barns provide horse stables built in a compact way, with a focus on the isolation of each stable. As a result of this, each stable is easier to maintain and keep clean.
- Lower risk of infections – In traditional barns, each horse is more or less totally isolated from the rest of the herd, with solid walls between each stable. This means if you are worried about the risk of infection as a result of horses socialising, a traditional barn would be a big advantage for you.
- Individual access – gaining access to a specific horse at any time, day or night, becomes much less of a concern when you know you won’t be disturbing the rest of the herd. This is what a traditional stable provides, with no central walkway and easy access to each stable, you can tend to one horse without upsetting any others.
- Easy to add more stables – Traditional barns are built with expansion in mind, and you can add more stables at any time that suits you. Obviously, depending on how they were initially designed. If this is a new set of stables you’re looking to build but might want more in the future, then traditional stables are much more likely to give you that option to add more in the future.
- Separate storage – Due to the layout of the traditional barn, all of your equipment and feed must be kept separately, this can be a bit of a pain if you are looking for an all-in-one barn such as the American barn. There are easy workarounds here but the convenience of an American barn in this situation generally trumps anything else.
- Horses could feel isolated – Traditional barns create a much more separated environment for horses, as we have mentioned this can be a good thing, but it can also make your horse feel isolated.
- Less weather protection – Traditional barns generally do not have the large timber roof that American barns do, and therefore have much less weather protection, this is something to consider if you are concerned about volatile winters. But again, this is very dependent on your specific set of stables. With a good set of windows and doors, this problem can easily be reduced. Again, we recommend speaking to some builders to see what is possible for your requirements.
We hope this has helped give you a better idea of what to look for when searching for American barns, and when is best to build one. Feel free to reach out to us or fill in the quote form at the top of the page to learn more and take the next steps to get your perfect American barn.