Health & Care

Ideal Horse Stables: Safety and Design

Many horses don’t like being stabled. Building a great horse stable design may not make a horse happier, but caring for your horse will be easier, and the extra space will provide more comfort for you and the horse. Here are the basics of building an ideal horse stable.

Loose Boxes or Box Stalls

The minimum recommendations of a box stall for average-sized horses should be between 10  by 10 inches and 12 by 12 inches (3 meters by 3 meters and 3.6 meters by 3.6 meters). However, if you have enough resources to build a bigger horse stable, you can go ahead. If you have a large horse, like the draft breed or draft crossbreed, the extra space can allow them to lie down without any cramps and move around freely.

While regular stalls have the same recommended size for foals, most horse owners prefer spacious boxes for their foals and mares. Removing the partitions between two stalls is the simplest way to provide more space for foals and mares. Hence, you don’t necessarily need to build a new foaling stall. Whether you plan on having a foal or not, designing a stall like this can come handy.

Ceilings

The ceilings of most old cattle barns may not be high enough for a horse. Sometimes, raising such barns or digging the floor lower can be an expensive process. The ceiling should be high enough for your horses to raise their head comfortably without hitting the ceiling. Small horses and ponies can be comfortable with room heights of eight feet (2.4 meters), but taller horses need higher space. Also, ensure that there are no unprotected hanging light fixtures, protruding nails from second-story flooring, or any other obstruction that your horse could hit by accident when they raise their head.

A horse in front of a stable

Tie or Standing Stalls

A good tie or standing horse stable should be wide enough so your horse can comfortably lie down in it. Depending on the horse size, the stall needs to be at least eight feet (2.4 meters) long and between four and five feet (1.5 meters) wide. The front of a typical standing stall should have a manger for storing hay. A large draft horse will need a wider and longer-standing stall than a pony.

You’ll also need a sturdy structure for hitching the horse. The structure should be tall enough to prevent your horse from getting its legs over the rope and reach water and feed.

Stall Doors

A horse stall door design can be either sliding or swinging. Consider installing latches that are easy to undo but tough for horses to tamper with.

Design the swinging door to open out towards the alley and close at other times. To prevent horses from escaping, ensure the door is securely shut. Ensure that sliding doors slide smoothly and lock grain room doors. Every stall door should be at least four feet (1.2 meters) wide.

A horse stable

Alleyways or Aisles       

The alleyways between your stalls should measure a minimum of ten feet (three meters) wide. The wider the alleys, the more space there is for horses being led or tied to pass.

Lighting

Remember to be safety conscious when installing the wiring and lighting. The wiring should be moisture and rodent-proof, and every plug-in in the stable should be a GFCI receptacle. Know the recommended outdoor lighting type in your area, and then place light bulbs (with safety cages around them) with switches in positions far from horses’ reach. Fluorescent bulbs aren’t efficient in extreme cold.

Arrange the light fixtures in a way that there are hardly shadowed or dark areas. Feed rooms and work areas should also be well-lit for safety.

Flooring

Concrete is the most popularly used flooring for horse stables. You can roughen the surface to make it non-slip. You may need to create drains in stalls, as stone, pavers, and concrete floors don’t drain naturally. You must clean stalls properly to prevent ammonia build up, as most stables don’t have proper drainage. While hard floors (concrete or pavers) can be hard on horse legs, they’re easier to disinfect and hose down. Some horse owners place stall mats (rubber material) underneath the horse bedding for extra comfort.

If the ground contains sandy soil, you can do without a solid floor. Earth floors are warmer and easier on horses’ legs than un-matted solid floors.

A horse stall

Windows

Windows generally supply natural lighting and ventilation. Your stable should have as plenty as possible. To prevent horses from breaking the glass, cover them with a mesh or grill. Swinging windows may last longer than sliding windows that tend to fill with chaff and dirt easily.

Watering and Feeding Equipment

Consider how you’ll water the horse when it’s stabled. Hanging the bucket on the wall is the most economical method. Your horse can knock down buckets if they’re kept on the floor, causing a mess. During winter, you can heat the bucket to prevent ice in the water. Each bucket should have an electrical socket nearby. While automatic waters (no carrying of sloshing buckets) are important, it’s hard to monitor your horse’s water intake. You can’t tell how little or much the horse drinks. You need to clean them frequently and insulate them against freezing temperatures.

You can use the buckets hanging on the wall to feed with concentrates or buy wall mounted feeding tubs. You can have a manger for serving hay, or serve them on the floor, which may be wasteful if your horse plays with it and soils it. The manger shouldn’t have any gaps and should be deep enough to contain the hay and easy to clean. We don’t recommend hay nets and wall-racks for daily use, as they’ll make your pony or horse eat with their head up, which is an unnatural position. Besides, hay nets can easily get your horse entangled.

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