Not all of us have the luxury of having a large space, access to pastures or your horse is injured and has to live in a stall. Stalls are not the worst place a horse can be, yes it is better for the horse if they have regular access to pasture or time free outside. In many cities and areas where space is limited stalling your horse is the only options. So what is the right size, features and things to look for? There are a lot of things to conciser when either selecting a stall or building(rebuilding) your own.
Size is a huge part of what you need to remember when keeping a horse in its stall. There should be enough room for the horse to freely turn around, be able to lie down and get up with out hitting any walls. Most stalls are 12 x 12, this will work for horses about 16 hands or smaller. Any thing that is larger or for instance a mare and foal will need more space, up to 12 x 18 ft. You also need to factor in if you are going to have a in stall tack box. Even if the horse has the biggest stall, you will still need have them out for at least 20 minutes every day.
How its Made
How the stall is made is the next thing to look at. Most stalls are made of heavy lumber, and should be knowing that a horses kick can easily knock down or break boards. The stall walls should high enough so that horses can not reach over to one another. Most have either a window or grilles(metal bars) for the horse to see out of. Doors need to be at least 4 ft wide to avoid bangs and get your tack caught on the way out. Some doors have drop down sections or are contoured to allow the horse to be able to see out of its stall better. Along with the door is the latch. Making sure the latch is far enough out of the horses reach is important. Horses are very good escape artists and very skillful with their lips. This goes for in stall tack boxes as well. Some people also put “kick latches” at the bottom of a stall door to prevent the horse from pushing on the door and possibly getting its leg stuck.
Last you need to inspect the flooring. A good floor makes your job of cleaning much easier. There are a few different types of flooring but the most common are soil, gravel, sand, and concrete. Every type of floor has its advantages and disadvantages. A good option is stall mats or rubber mats. They are easy to clean, you wont use or need as much bedding, a down side is that they need to be proper installed to prevent buckles and gaps. A side bonus is if you board at someone else is barn you can take your mats with you if you bought them.
So now you have a stall picked out so whats left? When moving into a new stall check all over for loose nails, staples loose boards. Fix or remove anything that is harmful. Its a good time to dust as well. Barns are notorious cob web producers. Make sure your horses new home has the essentials a water bucket or automatic waterer, a feed bucket. Some people use hay racks or add toys like jolly balls. Your horse also needs to have access to a salt lick. When moving in to a stall that was occupied before take time to sanitize it or give it a fresh coat of non toxic paint or stain. The last thing you need to remember is the stall front. You will need a name plate for the horse, and a information card with your name and phone number , the vets name and phone, farriers name and phone, and a back up contact for emergencies. You will also need hooks for bridles, halters, lead ropes, as well as blanket rack or a saddle rack.. If you are just a boarder make sure you follow the rules set by the barn owner and don't leave anything out that you don't want to walk away. Even in a perfect world items get borrowed and not set back where they originally belong.
So if the stall is where your horse calls home, make is a good home for them. Following these guide lines as well as recommendations from your vet, farrier, or trainer will help you to make sure your horse lives in the best place possible.