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Equine Teaching Facility

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Horse Barn
1925. Off Medary Ave. on SDSU campus.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The Horse Barn at South Dakota State College (now South Dakota State University or SDSU) was built in 1925 to house teams of draft horses used to farm the grounds at the college’s Experiment Station. The school was the state’s land grant college, which included higher education agricultural programs. The Experiment Station assisted in the development of new agricultural and livestock practices, and this structure was designed to showcase progressive farm barn design.

Most South Dakota farms stabled horses in a general purpose barn along with other livestock. Horses require a significant amount of exercise and plenty of fresh air and sunlight. Thus, at SDSU, the Horse Barn is larger than most other types to accommodate generous box stalls, and the many windows provide light and air. The brick barn has a gambrel roof with three dormers located on each of the long elevations; several smaller windows are also located at the ground level on each of these sides. The main entrances, located on the short ends, feature double wooden doors flanked by two pairs of ground-level windows on the south facade. A set of double wooden doors located above the entrance serves as the opening to the hay mow. Another unique feature of this barn is the custom ventilating system, which includes metal ventilator monitors along the roof ridge.

The Horse Barn initially accommodated nine teams and eight single drafts. It also included two feed rooms, two tack rooms, and an office. The facility provided opportunities for students to acquire hands-on learning and gain experience in managing and operating the university’s livestock unit. The horses represented SDSU at many functions including livestock exhibitions, parades, and homecoming events. Quarter horses were added in the 1950s (today they are the main focus of many activities) and Morgans and Saddlebreds were raised at the horse unit in the 1970s. Today the horse barn houses approximately fifty head of quarter horses and a team of Belgian draft horses.


“Equine Teaching Facility.” South Dakota State University. Accessed February 11, 2020.

Vogel, Robert, “Common Farm Barns of South Dakota, 1857–1958.” Multiple Property Documentation Form, 2007. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 1925


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Michelle L. Dennis, "Equine Teaching Facility", [Brookings, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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