Boarding Your Horse or Building a Barn: Tips for Selecting Stalls

Choose the right stall for your horse's well being

Most equestrians find themselves in the position of choosing or designing horse stalls at some point. Basic horse stall designs are quite similar: In most cases, stalls are square or rectangular areas inside a barn. All stall designs serve as shelter, most take the horse’s safety in mind, and the best also provide comfort for the horse. Safety and convenience for the handler are also some considerations. Whether you are building a barn or choosing a boarding stable, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. Here are our top tips for selecting the right stall for your horse.

Stall Size

When selecting a stall, be sure that you choose one that’s large enough for your horse. If you are housing a pony or a small horse, then a simple ten foot square (10x10) stall might be large enough. For a full-size horse that will be spending time in the stall each day, you’ll need to provide more room.  A 12-foot square stall might not look that much larger, but it provides 40% more space for your horse to do all his daily activities in – eating, drinking, sleeping, and of course, expelling waste. A 10x14 stall also provides that additional space, plus it offers a little bit more length for walking and turning. If your horse is a draft cross or a full draft, then consider 10x14 as the minimum stall size, and do your best to give him a space that’s 12x16 or larger.

Comfort and Cleanliness

Rubber stall mats are a must, and adequate drainage is also vital. Adding lots of bedding, i.e. fluffy pine shavings, is also essential, as this absorbs moisture and helps to prevent your horse from slipping. In addition, keeping your horse’s stall deeply bedded with plenty of dry material will help to keep him clean and comfortable.

Whether you’re the one who cleans your horse’s stall, or if it’s up to someone else, make sure that it is cleaned frequently – even if you’re not terribly worried about manure stains. There are a couple of reasons that this is so important. First, when urine and feces sit at the bottom of a stall, they begin to break down and produce ammonia, which can harm your horse’s respiratory system, especially when he lies down to rest.

Second, your horse is likely to drop some hay on the ground and eat it – and you don’t want him getting sick from eating hay that has been soaked in urine or covered in feces.

Something to Do

Horses are hard-wired for constant nibbling, so providing plenty of grass hay and an unlimited amount of water are vital considerations. Additionally, hanging a few toys in the stall can really help, as can the presence of a friendly stable mate or two!

Availability of Turnout / Arena

No matter how cushy and clean, your horse’s stall should be vacant for a while each day while he is out being a horse! Exercise is vital to his physical and mental wellbeing. Even when inclement weather makes turnout or riding unsafe, you should walk your horse up and down indoors to prevent problems including devastating stall boredom!