By Greg Nielsen
There are many things to consider when selecting stalls for your horse barn, including animal comfort and safety, functionality and style. Three of the most important factors are stall door styles, the design of the stalls, and what types of waterers and feeders you decide to use.
Sliding versus hinged stall doors
While there is plenty of variety between stall designs, stall doors come in just two basic styles — sliding and hinged.
Sliding stall doors are a popular option for many horse barns. Since these doors do not swing outward into the barn aisle, they provide a major space-saving advantage. This makes sliding stall doors ideal for busy facilities where multiple horses are frequently coming and going, or for facilities with a narrow barn aisle.
Another advantage is that sliding stall doors offer ease of use and provide better control, since handlers only need to use one hand to open the door when guiding a horse into the stall.
Hinged doors are aesthetically pleasing because they make it possible to have an open stall plan while also providing an elegant appearance for your barn. Because hinged doors need room to swing outward, your barn aisle must be fairly wide, especially if you have two rows of stalls directly across from each other. You will also want your barn aisle to be free of items like tack boxes so that you can easily navigate the aisle with a horse.
Carefully evaluate your barn design to select the door style that will best meet your needs. With sliding doors, the placement and direction of the doors are important factors for maximizing the efficiency of cleaning your barn, feeding horses and maneuvering them throughout the barn. For hinged stall doors, also take into consideration door height, floor slope and clearance.
Your horses spend a lot of time in their stalls. Here are some tips to keep your equine companions comfortable and safe.
- Stall size – While smaller horses or ponies can get by with a 10 X 10 ft. stall, most horses need at least 12 X 12 feet. Warmbloods or mares with foals may require larger stalls. As a rule of thumb, stall length should be 1 ½ times the length of the horse so they have room to turn around and lie down.
- Partitioning walls – Provide a stall divider of at least 7 ½ feet between your horses’ stalls. A partitioning wall with an upper half grill at least part of the way across lets your horse see the other horses without annoying them or causing trouble. Open space at the top of the stall dividers helps the air circulate within the stall interior.
- Material strength – A stall is only as good as the material that it is made of, and horses can put those materials to the test. Choosing high-quality materials from the start will ensure that your horses remain safe and comfortable for many years.
- Ceiling – Plan for a ceiling at least 11 feet tall to help your horses avoid hitting their heads if they should rear up in their stalls.
- Light and fresh air – Windows and doors will allow your horses to see out, minimizing boredom. Plenty of fresh air will help reduce respiratory problems.
- Door width – Doors should be wide enough so the horses can comfortably and safely pass through. Doors with yokes or Dutch doors allow your horses to hang their heads outside and watch what’s going on.
- Latches – Install latches on the doors so they are not tempted to try to escape.
- Hinges – Secure hinges and hardware will help ensure nothing in their stalls breaks and becomes a danger.
- Flooring – Provide a floor that is comfortable for your horse to stand and lie on, including stall mats.
Water & Feeders
In addition to the basics for comfortable and safe stalls, there are several options for water and feeding systems to consider. These can include:
- Swing-out feed options are built into stall fronts to make feeding quick and easy. These feeding options are practical for those helping with the daily chores. This provides easy access to feed without having to enter the stalls.
- Corner grain feeders make it convenient and easy for your horse to eat his grain. Look for one with a rolled top lip that is rolled inside to keep grain enclosed. Buy one with rugged, durable construction and no sharp edges.
- Wall mounted hay feeders are a feed option that helps keep hay off the ground. Ones with a large, open design fit well into underused corners. There are also larger-sized floor mount options that let you feed hay and grain from the same feeder and include two inserts for salt and grain.
- Automatic horse waterers often come in either corner or wall mount designs. They keep a constant source of clean water available and are easy to clean, and many come with heated water options.
Greg Nielsen is Director of Sales and Marketing for Classic Equine Equipment, which provides quality stall systems, barn components and accessories to meet the needs of horse owners. For more information, visit classic-equine.com.