Book Review: Horse Housing

If you’re a typical horse owner, you’re always interested in learning more about barn design and construction. Maybe you’re preparing to build your dream barn, or maybe you’re thinking about buying a few acres of your own. Even if you keep your horse at the perfect boarding stable, you’ve surely had thoughts or dreams of keeping your horses at home. Horse Housing: How to Plan, Build and Remodel Barns and Sheds (Trafalgar Square Books), by Richard Klimesh and Cherry Hill, can help you realize those dreams.

?Practical Horseman. All Rights Reserved.

The saddest words heard from any horse owner who’s ever built a barn that wasn’t quite right–or built a good barn in the wrong place–are “Dang! I wish I’d known that before I started–it’s gonna cost a bundle to fix this!” This book can help you avoid barn-building regrets.

Authors Klimesh and Hill–a husband-and-wife team–need no introduction. They’re horsemen’s horsemen, known and respected throughout the country. But not everyone knows that Klimesh, a farrier and the co-author of Maximum Hoof Power, is also a professional carpenter who studied architectural design at Iowa State University. He and Hill–the award-winning author of many good books on horse care and training–have had extensive experience building and rebuilding barns across the country.

They’ve applied their experience to Horse Housing, which can help you whether you’re building a new training facility, remodeling a dairy barn or machine shed, or just improving your own horse barn. It provides descriptions, instructions, practical information, and good advice in a beautifully illustrated, reader-friendly format.

Chapter after chapter, this book teaches things you might never have thought of–and explains why and how to avoid common mistakes. The combination of clear writing, clear thinking, good sense and good horsemanship makes for easy reading. Human convenience is emphasized throughout, but the bottom line is horse health, comfort, and safety. If horses could review books, they’d give this one “two hooves up.”

Packed with clear photos, plans, and drawings, this book is divided into three sections. The first section discusses planning and reminds readers that laws, zoning ordinances, and covenants can limit the size, design, and placement of a barn. Also in the first section: information and advice about hiring a general contractor, dealing directly with subcontractors, doing the work yourself, and why you need to find the best possible location and orientation for your barn.

The book’s second section deals with design elements. Starting with basic barn layout and features–stalls, floor plan, doors and windows–the authors go on to discuss condensation, humidity, ventilation, and insulation. Some barn owners must cope with extreme summer heat, others with extreme winter cold–and some have to deal with both. Whatever your weather conditions, the information you want is here.

Star Trek had it right. If you’ve ever maneuvered a large trunk through a tiny tack room door or turned a large horse around in a narrow aisle, you know that space really is the final frontier. Design elements aren’t “extras,” they’re what we need to consider before we build.

You want stalls? How many, and what size? Should they have swing-out feeders, rubber mats, windows, Dutch doors? Where will the doors be? Should you have a feed room and a hay room? How wide should the center aisle be? Where will you groom your horses? Where will you tie them–and to what? Will you need an outdoor wash rack or an indoor wash stall? Veterinary stocks or a breeding room? How about foaling stalls and a waiting room?

One good tip: When you design your tack room, don’t think small. The authors remind us that nobody ever said, “My tack room is too large.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have a tool room or utility room? How about a lounge? A bathroom? A dressing room? Do you want to attach an indoor arena to your barn?

If you can imagine a space, structure, or appliance, you can probably have it in your barn, but if you’re wise, you’ll imagine it, plan it, and figure the cost before you build.

This section also includes a chapter on barn plans–how to draw, buy, or commission them. You’ll find sample plans for a loafing shed, remodeled pole building, and other barns. As described, they’re designed for anywhere from one to six horses, but according to the authors, each structure can be modified to accommodate more horses.

Then there’s a chapter on choosing materials–everything from flooring and walls to rubber and fasteners–and a chapter on utilities and details. (You’ll need to know about electricity, heaters, coolers, and water.) There’s even a troubleshooting piece called “Preventing Problems,” but that’s really the subject of the whole book–the more you know, the more problems you can avoid.

The third section deals with the actual building of the facility, from site preparation through the final details of construction and cleanup. The authors discuss footings, foundation, framing, sheathing, stairs, wiring, plumbing, siding, roofing, floors, doors and windows, insulation, and paneling.

The book’s final chapter, “Putting it All Together,” is an illustrated personal tour of Hill’s own barn. At the very end, there are three appendices listing helpful building terms, recommended readings, and resources, including architects and builders.

If you buy only one book about barns and barn construction, make it this one. It’s a wonderful reference text you’ll want to consult again and again.

To order Horse Housing: How to Plan, Build and Remodel Barns and Sheds, visit or call 1-800-952-5813.

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