Stables, Stalls, and Sheds

Published on Fri, 05/16/2014 - 11:55am

Your barn and pasture are home for your horses 100 percent of the time,so it’s important to keep your animals safe in inclement weather and comfortable the rest of the time. Choosing the right barn layout, stalls, and run-insheds will put your mind at ease no matter where you go or where your horses are at your farm.Here are some practical tips to help you through the decision making process.

Barn layout basics

The purpose of your barn is to shelter your horses and allow you the ability to care for them as easily and efficiently as possible. Your barn layout can be as elaborate or simple as your lifestyle with your horses.When planning your barn, be sure to allow ample room down your aisle or along the side of your stall row.Your aisle should be wide enough to allow large equipment like tractors to pass through without any tight areas.Remember that in time you may have saddles, tack trunks, blanket bars,muck buckets, or stall cleaning tools in your aisle and you will want to have them close at hand. These things can be routinely in an aisle, but not something that you will want to move every time you use a tractor or even wheelbarrow. The extra thought that you put into these areas that are often used will help to save time and energy once your barn is uilt.Ventilation is crucial to your animals’ health in your barn. Large double doors for both entering and exiting your barn will help to let air flow naturally to your horses.Before you even start building, see if you can position your barn door openings or stall windows towards the prevailing winds. They can always be closed, but an unventilated barn can create respiratory problems that could be avoided.

Tack rooms or grooming stalls are not necessary, however, but they provide the room needed to accommodate regularly used tack,brushes and cleaning items. An ample space will be needed to house your hay, bedding and grain. This area should also be well ventilated and dry. Rain, snow, and damp conditions create mold on feed, which potentially can make horses sick.

 Setting up stall spaces

When choosing or designing your stalls consider the amount of socialization, ventilation, natural light,and size you would like to have for your particular horses. Most horse stalls are 10' × 10', 10' × 12', or 12' × 12'. Foaling stalls are larger and often have a partition that can be removed between two stalls to accommodate a mare and foal. Special attention should be given to stallion stalls, which need to be strong and away from stalls with mares. Choose a stall best suited for your horses size,gender, and behavior.Horse stalls can be made out of different number of materials. Most are made out of steel or aluminum.Steel is three times denser than aluminum and can be coated with The strength of steel is indicated by the “gauge” or thickness of the tube. A smaller number indicates stronger steel. For example, 16-gauge 18-gauge steel.zinc to protect it from rusting.Aluminum is another common alloy that is used when manufacturing horse stalls.It is lightweight, but doesn’t possess the strength of steel.Aluminum can buckle, bend,and shift if kicked or repeatedly pushed by a horse. While it isn’t as strong as other metals, it provides superior corrosion resistance.

Horse stall finishes

What finish is best for your horse stall? Most horse owners want a stall for their horses that will be strong as well as good looking over a long period of time. Since all stalls are not made alike, it can be confusing to find a strong stall with a long lasting finish. Understanding the materials used to build stalls will help you decide on what will work best in your barn. Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular materials and finishes:

Hot-dipped galvanization is a process in which a thick coating of zinc is applied to steel, usually more than necessary to make sure that the steel is coated inside and out. It acts as a barrier to oxidation and will last indefinitely.

Electro galvanization is when a thinner layer of zinc is applied through a process called electroplating. This provides excellent rust protection on the outside of the metal, but doesn’t last as long as material that has been hot-dipped galvanized.

Paint dipping and spraying is relatively inexpensive,however, these finishes don’t stand up to horses well and flaking occurs soon after use.

Powder coating is a type of finish that is applied as a freeflowing,dry powder that bonds to metal. It typically creates a hard finish, tougher than conventional paint. This is the preferred process to finish horse stalls.

Details make the difference

Stall fronts and partitions come in many different designs. From kit stalls to custom, your choices are as varied as you can dream. To help narrow things down,here are some ideas to consider:

Grillwork bar spacing is important. Choose spacing that is no more than 3.25˝ on center for top of stall front and no more than 2˝ on center for bottom bars. This helps to insure that your horse’s hoofs cannot get caught between bars. Be sure welded stalls have inside welds to avoid burs and sharp
edges that could cut your horses.

Consider using wall capping to avoid any chewing and protect the money invested in your stall as well as the wood.

Choose a tongue-and-groove board for walls to make stronger stalls. Be sure to use two treated boards at the base of your stall to keep wood from rotting from dampness.

Look at grilled, mesh or combinations of the two for the top and bottom of fronts or partitions. Consider grilled, halfgrilled, or solid wall partitions between stalls.

If you like your horses to socialize, drop down V-doors are available and can be opened or closed. Additionally, V-inserts can be made to be removed from doors if needed.

Round sliding track will automatically keep dust and dirt out of the track allowing smooth motion for years to come.

A barn is still a workspace. Accessories such as feed doors, bucket doors, and window grills allow easy access for feeding and ventilation. One handed top latch systems are more fool proof to horses than traditional slide bolt latches.

Run-in sheds and shelters

If you are not ready to build a barn with stalls or prefer to keep your horses outside, consider using a run-in-shed or shelter. The three-sided sheds provide generous protection for one or many horses. Run-in-sheds or shelters can offer protection from the wind, pelting rain, summer sun, sleet, or snow. They can promote good health and well being for your horses as well as peace of mind—especially when you are away from home.

Studies have shown that 100 square feet of shelter per horse is the optimal size for a run-in shed. A 10' × 20' three-sided shed works well for up to ten horses.Have you watched your horses in pasture when the wind blows? In most cases horses turn their tails to the wind to avoid facing weather head-on. A three-sided shelter can dramatically reduce wind velocity and allow your horses to not have to work as hard to keep warm.

Run-in sheds and shelter kits will help you get started with providing your horse protection from the elements.

Kits can be purchased with just the frame and hardware,giving you the dimensions needed for metal siding, or they can be purchased complete with wood kick boards and sides to match your out buildings or home.

Interiors can be lined with wood half way up or to the shed roof. They can be open-faced or half-faced (depending on your weather) and set up with sliding doors for individual “stall” sheltering. You can give your horse the choice of being in pasture or inside and sheltered away from the elements.

Most run-ins are portable and can be equipped with skis for moving. However, it is highly recommended to use earth anchors with your run-in to prevent strong winds from blowing the structure over. Consideration for placement should include avoiding areas such as flood plain, or where natural occurrences can have adverse effects. However, if this should occur, run-in-sheds are ideal because they are easily moved. Windbreaks, surrounding your shelter—such as arborvitaes—will also help to reduce the effects of chill during cold weather and will further help your horse.