March 21, 2014

What Size Should Your Horse Barn Be?

If you’re building a new horse barn, this question might keep you counting sheep (or horses) at night. But you don’t need to lose sleep if you follow some general guidelines for sizing a barn.

Start by considering the number and breed of your horses, the type of riding you do, storage needs, climate, and, of course, budget. Then call in an expert.

Ron Foust is an experienced Lester dealer based in East Central Minnesota. Over the past three decades, he’s put up many equine buildings – from hobby barns to complex riding arenas with living quarters. In his experience, “no two equestrian projects are alike.” Here’s his advice for how to get the best-sized barn for your horses and you.

Building Size
Obviously, the number of horses – yours, those boarding or both, now and in the future – is one of the biggest sizing factors. It dictates the number of stalls. Thirty-six feet is a common building width (12’ wide alley, flanked by 12’ wide stalls on each side) and 10’ for height. Length will depend on number of stalls, stall length, and additional rooms: tack room, wash bay, bathroom, lounge/office, and storage for feed, hay and equipment.

“I really like a minimum of 12 feet for the center aisle. I’ve done a few 10-foot aisles and it gets too tight for horses passing each other, especially if they’re territorial” Ron adds. Getting too narrow, can also lead to damage around doors. “Two feet makes a big difference.”

Stall Size
The stall size debate seems to have settled on 12’ by 12’ for an average 1,000-pound horse. Ron says 90 percent of his projects have 12’ by 12’ stalls; he rarely get orders for 10’ by 10’ stall, like he did years ago. A horse should be able to turn around, lie down and get up comfortably, and be groomed in place. Movable dividers can be added and are essential for foaling.

Riding Arena
If you’re riding for pleasure, start with a standard indoor arena size of 60’ wide by 120’ long and a minimum height of 14’. If you’re doing dressage, bump up the dimensions to at least 70’ wide by 200’ long and 16’ high, to allow for speed, jumping and turn-around space.

Hay and Equipment Storage
To reduce fire hazards, Ron sees a lot of people storing just enough hay for a week or so. Having a separate wing or room for hay storage works fine for people with a few horses for personal use. Those with larger operations and staff like a separate hay building. Also, don’t forget space for tools and equipment – wheel barrows, brooms, ladders, buckets, lawn tractors, four-wheelers, trailers, etc.

Ron adds, “In my experience, equine folks seem to know what they want. Lester Buildings is here to help them achieve it, and fine tune the details.”

Still not sure what size barn you need? See a complete library of equine projects, including those in your area, at Once there, you can also enter your zip code and locate your nearest Lester representative.

March 11, 2014

Custom Stable-Arena-Home in Illinois Horse Country

It’s not an overstatement to say that a horse can change a person’s life, because that’s exactly what happened to Vicky Campbell. Her healing experience with horses inspired her to become an equine coach, horse owner – and more.

Come spring, Lester Buildings will help Vicky literally begin building her life around horses on a generous piece of land in Oswego, Illinois. That means breaking ground on a private facility for family and friends that includes a combo stall barn and riding arena, and private residence for Vicky and her family. The specs: 84-foot wide by 224-foot long arena that shares an end wall with a 40-foot wide by 120-foot long 14-stall barn, and Vicky’s home (size is being finalized) attached to the arena’s other end wall. When completed, the complex will resemble a “U” shape.

“I want my facility to be a real place of healing and be big enough that it’s comfortable for people,” said Vicky, who purchased her first horse, “Jetty,” last June. Since then, she has added another horse and donkey. Her barn will also house her brother’s two horses and five that belong to her trainer.

Taking Time to Design
Ivan Hovden, Lester’s local rep. who covers central Illinois, has spent the last year leading Vicky through a thorough and collaborative design process. When Vicky contacted Ivan, she had a budget in mind but no set design beyond suggestions from her horse trainer.

Ivan explained that Lester’s design process typically goes much faster, but they never rush a customer when so many decisions are involved. “From the start, Vicky has relied on Lester for design and direction, which I’m happy to provide. My role was, and remains, keeping everyone informed and moving forward.” For Ivan, that has included watching weather reports. The severe Illinois winter has pushed the project’s original start date of January to March, with completion of the barn and arena by early summer. The attached residence will follow shortly thereafter, once its interior design is finalized.

Finalizing the Layout
It’s common for building design to shift, especially with larger projects. Initially, Vicky only knew she wanted an 80-foot by 150-foot arena large enough to turn her horse. She envisioned two barns with 20 to 40 stalls for commercial boarding, and an unattached traditional home. That plan changed when she learned her facility’s size and purpose would require a sprinkler system and be cost prohibitive. The final design gave Vicky want she wanted, including natural ventilation (another cost savings).

“I hate details, and I’ve changed my mind a lot, but Ivan has worked extremely hard to make this work. I can’t say enough good things about him,” Vicky added.

Design Highlights
Ivan’s role has included guiding Vicky through Lester’s nearly endless list of aesthetic and functional options.

These include door, window and roof styles, and some of Vicky’s personal touches -- cupolas, wainscot, dormers, a metal ceiling liner to hide trusses in the arena, and an angled arena guard for horse and rider safety.

In keeping with her vision for “clean and crisp,” the buildings will feature white walls and roof, with black trim and wainscoting.

“She is going to have a very nice complex when we’re done,” Ivan added. “And if she ever decides to move, resale shouldn’t be a problem. She’s in a great horse community. There’s even a polo field across the road.”

Watch for Photos!
You can see photos of Vicky’s completed building later this summer on Lester’s website, Until then, visit Lester’s site to see its library of other equestrian buildings, including those in your area.