If you own horses, or are considering acquiring them, horse stalls are an important part of your barn. Stalls protect your horses from predators, bad weather and other potential hazards. They also provide a place for horses to stay when they need a rest, are injured or sick. While stalls are a necessary part of the barn, not all stalls are created equal and it is critical to understand how they should be built to prevent injury to your horses.
While you can build your own stalls, a professional barn designer is often recommended to help avoid many costly “learned-the-hard-way” mistakes that can be made. Many builders will even work with you to create a design that best meets your specific needs. They will also make sure that the stalls are constructed to meet local building codes and to help you select the right materials and accessories for your particular situation.
A stall should be large enough to give your horse room to move and exercise while keeping him contained and safe from other horses. In most situations, a stall that is fourteen feet by twelve feet will work well for the average size horse. Larger horses require larger stalls to accommodate their body size.
It is important to make sure the stall floor drains well. If a stall is set on a poor drainage system, it can lead to foot problems in the long run and the soil will shift, wear and become unstable over time. It is important to lay a well-draining aggregate base before installing the stall mats. Ideally, this will be a mix of coarse and fine aggregates with a top layer of crushed rock to keep the stall pad from wearing out too quickly.
In addition to proper stall layout, padding is an essential component of your horse’s comfort. A properly padded stall can decrease the risk of injuries to your horse, such as kicking and pawing. It can also be beneficial in reducing a horse’s stress and anxiety levels. Padding can be made from wood shavings, straw, hay, plastic or rubber. A good quality stall padding will have a cushioned feel and be designed to prevent slipping.
Lighting is important in a stable, as it can aid in cleaning and observation of the horses. It is recommended that at least four square feet of window space be provided per stall. Glass windows are a popular option, but must be placed high in the wall (5 feet or higher) and be protected on the horse side with bars or mesh. In order to maintain proper light, any hay in the stall should be kept separate from the feed tub.
Stall doors can be sliding or swinging. Swing doors can be dangerous if they swing into the aisle, so most barns choose sliding doors on stall fronts. However, swinging doors may be appropriate for exterior stalls that open to runouts and can be latched closed to provide safety when necessary.