Solving Water Problem in Horse Barn

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barn outside older

Barns that haven't been well-maintained can pose problems when rehabbing them for current use.

Question for Animal Arts

I have recently purchased a horse farm from a foreclosure situation in need of A LOT of work. There are a places in the stalling part of the barn that have me quite puzzled as to what I should do with for repair. They appear to have been used as a run-in shed, expect that they are directly in the barn. They are enclosed with (chewed) wooden fence and are about 12x24 feet, leading out to a small paddock, with a large sliding door to close off access if desired. It seems as though previous owners never bothered to clear out the manure that accumulated, and I know there were several horses housed in these small runs. 

We were able to get a small tractor in from the outside and clear out about a foot deep of manure. But now the ground level of this "in-door run-in" is lower than the surrounding ground and every time it rains, we get a lake in the barn. I intend to use this area as a segregation stall for injured/sick/new horses, but do not necessarily want to level with crushed limestone and mat this area like I did my other stalls because of the cost it would require. 

Are there any suggestions on alternative materials I could use to raise the level of the ground to prevent water coming in and still have it desirable for a horse to live in it? I liked the idea of sand, as it would probably have lots of drainage and be easy to clean out manure, but wasn't sure on how practical that was. Any suggestions are welcome!

Reply from Animal Arts

Congrats on your recent purchase! Maintaining a barn is a lot of work, especially if it hasn’t been maintained previously.

There are endless options for stall flooring, as well as endless opinions on each option. Each option will have its pros and cons. The best solution for you ultimately boils down to what you have available, what is affordable, and how much maintenance you want to do. Ultimately, you will want something that drains well, provides traction yet comfort, and doesn’t cause any additional strain on your horses.

Because you have about a foot difference, you may need to apply more than one material. For instance, a foot of sand will be fatiguing on the horses; however, a few inches of sand over compacted road base might be a great solution.

Here is a great article by Penn State. It addresses the pros and cons of several options you might want to consider.

You might also want to look at the grading around your barn. Ideally, the land slopes away from a building, so water won’t be directed inside.