Barn Building 101: Tack, Feed and Other Rooms

When you’re designing your barn for your horses, don’t forget to take into account the people that will be using the facilities as well.  A good stable will have an organized and secure tack room and an adequate feed room that allows for customized feeds and prevents against rodents getting into the grain.  Other amenities are also available.

There are many ways to configure your feed and tack room.  If you already have a barn structure, it’s usually wherever there is extra space.  But if you’re lucky enough to be building your barn, look for ways to make the placement of the tack and feed rooms as centrally located as possible to make chores easier.

The feed room is intended to house the feed for daily use and should be located as close to the stalls as possible.   Provide separate bins for each type of feed, a sink with hot and cold water, and a bucket filling tap. Allow for wall racks for storage.

Sometimes there is no additional room or budget to allow for hay storage.  In these cases a hay loft may be required. Storing hay and bedding over the top of the stalls is not recommended.  Although very useful, they can create a fire hazard and have drawbacks such as necessitating lower seasons to serve as the loft’s floor.  This causes a huge decrease in natural light and air circulation. A partial loft can be used, but with any loft there will be an increase in air particulates which can aggravate certain respiratory conditions in horses.

Hay lofts will decrease or modify circulation patterns. Not only are these substances a fire hazard, but they also carry allergens and inhibit air circulation. If a hay loft is required, be sure it can be easily accessed. A stairway in a tack or feed room is preferable to a ladder. If a hay loft is used, it should be directly accessible from the feed room. Exterior and interior loft doors allow easy loading and unloading of hay.

The tack room should be in a centralized location and, in large facilities, more than one room may be necessary. The exact size and arrangement will depend on the number of horses being served by each room and the purposes for which those horses are being used.  The room must be large enough to accommodate saddles, bridles, tack trunks, storage of blankets, sheets, and other accessories.   Sometimes tack and grain rooms co-exist, but spilled grain can easily bring rodents which can then chew on expensive leather.

There are extensive tack and barn tool storage and organization tools available.  Wire bins, blanket hangers and a variety of saddle holders can be purchased.  Or you can make your own from everything from tuna fish cans for bridle holders to sawhorses for saddles.  Using kitchen or office storage containers is a way to “corral” those little pieces like removable leg straps and vet wrap.

Not often thought about, but always appreciated is an inside bathroom.  Any barn owner without one in the barn wishes they had one. Bathrooms can be combined into an office, tack room or even a feed room. They can feature just the basics of a sink and toilet or can include a shower.   Be sure to locate it next to the wash rack for plumbing purposes.  You can also take advantage of the plumbing by using it for saddle pad and polo wrap laundry.

If you have a barn manager or a trainer who wants a place to relax or make appointments, facilities will require an office. The office for a barn manager should be located to provide supervision over the stable and accept delivery of goods.  A lounge is also a much appreciate amenity.  The lounge should include a comfortable seating area and kitchen area (this may be as simple as a microwave and refrigerator or a full blown chef’s kitchen).  These are especially great for barn pot lucks or Pony Club meetings.  With large facilities, the lounge often doubles as an observation area for an attached or adjacent arena.

Control access through doors – feed, tack rooms and other high security areas can have locks on doors installed requiring a key or combination to enter.  Change the lock or combination every so often, especially if you have boarders and one of them leaves. Install security lights at farm entrance and around barn doors. Either leave them on from dusk to dawn or install motion detection lights to alert you to intruders. Keeping your facilities, especially your tack, safe takes a little forethought, but it is well worth the effort.


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