Tips for Selecting Stalls for Your New Horse Barn

One of the major decisions you will face when building or expanding your barn is selecting the style of horse stall you want. Whichever options you choose, the goal is to create a stall that not only provides a safe, functional environment but also an aesthetic look that fits your style. Following are some recommendations for selecting horse stalls to meet your needs and those of your equine companions.

Quality materials
You take pride in your horse barn and want to enjoy it now and well into the future. That requires selecting high-quality, durable building materials, including those for the stalls. Cutting corners never pays off. It’s just like building a brand-new home then wishing you had opted for a higher-quality door or floor. Your stall must be able to withstand the demands of housing a horse, so choose reliable materials built to last — including stall doors, stall fronts and partition walls.

Safety features
Stall design plays an important role in ensuring a safe, comfortable environment for your horses. And when your equine companions are not training or at play, you want to ensure they are secure whether at rest or at feeding time. With safety as a main priority, keep these recommendations in mind:

• One of the most important details is avoiding any sharp corners or hardware protruding from the stall that could cause injury to a horse’s body, mane and tail.

• A standard four-foot-wide door opening provides room for a rider to enter/exit safely while on the horse. This will also help avoid the risk of a horse feeling confined in any rider situation. The most popular equestrian stall sizes are 12-foot by 12-foot, but a 10-foot option is available for housing smaller horse breeds.

• For stall doors, there should be 2-inch spacing between bars on the upper grillwork and 1.5 inches on the lower section to prevent the animals from harming themselves. The number one fear for most horse owners is a horse getting hung up in a stall grill section.

• Solid stall partitions offer more resistance to kicking, absorb shock and can provide more privacy for your horses. However, the solid partitions provide less ventilation than the pipe-grill option, which is optimal for those equine companions that thrive with a little more socialization. And it provides a more open feel throughout the barn.

Sliding vs. hinged stall doors
Stall doors come in two types — hinged and sliding. Sliding doors are a popular option since they do not swing outward into the barn aisle, providing a space-saving advantage. For this reason, sliding stall doors are ideal for busy facilities where multiple horses are frequently coming and going. They are also a preferred choice if you have a narrow barn aisle in your facility.
Hinged stall doors need room to swing outward. This means that 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. One advantage of hinged doors is aesthetic appeal. They make it possible to have a more open stall plan than a sliding stall door will allow and, for many horse owners, offer an elegant appearance.

Other room options
Designating rooms and stalls for specific uses will ensure that your building functions the way you need it to. Adding vet stalls or wash stalls is beneficial for both horse and handler. Tack rooms, offices and restrooms are also popular choices to include whether your barn is for personal use or commercial boarding.

The difference is in the details
When planning a new stall barn, ask your builder about the construction materials and practices that will be used to ensure a high-quality project.

For example,

What type of lumber is used in the construction of the stalls? Morton Buildings’ stalls are built with Southern yellow pine (SYP) and with No. 1 grade, which includes far fewer knots and flaws than the more common No. 2 grade. Likewise, Morton uses a T&G (tongue and groove) design, which is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also adds strength and prevents damage or injury from a broken board when kicked.

How are the boards secured for optimal safety? All Morton stall lumber is secured using 20 penny ring shank nails or 3-inch structural screws. This prevents the fasteners from backing out over time and injuring a horse. The most common stall injury is from a partially backed out fastener.

How durable is the paint to withstand the demands of housing a horse? Paint coating on the hardware is important. Morton’s stalls, co-designed with Classic Equine Equipment, utilize a high-quality powder coating and galvanized substrate to prevent corrosion. Powder coating is a more durable finish than wet-painted material used by some equestrian builders.

Is access to the stall efficient and secure? For instance, Morton’s sliding and hinged doors have a simple, easy to use latch system, one that can be operated one-handed. The latches are located and designed to prevent the horse from being able to open the door and free itself.

These are all standard building practices at Morton Buildings, and things that horse owners should request for safe, long-lasting horse stalls they can enjoy and be proud of.

By Dennis Lee
Equestrian Product Line Manager at Morton Buildings
About the author

Dennis Lee has a passion for horses and is actively involved in equestrian sports. Dennis trains and shows AQHA Versatility Ranch Horses promoting the athletic ability and versatility of the horse. He currently serves as equestrian product line manager at Morton Buildings, which has extensive experience in designing and building high-quality horse barns, riding arenas, pasture shelters and hay storage buildings. To learn more, visit www.mortonbuildings.com/projects/equestrian.