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Outfitting Your Horse’s Stall

If you plan on keeping your horse in a stall, there are a few things you should consider in order to help keep your horse comfortable and safe.

General Construction of a Stall

  1. Stall size
  2. Stall walls
  3. Grilles
  4. Doors
  5. Types of Doors
  6. Latches
  7. Flooring
  8. General Accessories

 1. Stall Size

The longer a horse is kept in a stall, the larger the stall should be. A stall should be large enough to allow the horse to move freely, lie down and get up without the possibility of banging into the walls. A general guideline for stall size is:
 
 Size of Horse
 Size of Stall
 Under 14.2 hands
 10 ft x 10 ft stall
 Up to 16 hands
 12 ft x 12 ft stall
 More than 16 hands
 12 ft x 14 ft stall
 More than 16 hands & over 1400 lbs.
 12 ft x 16 ft stall
 Foaling Size
 12 ft x 18 ft stall
 

2. Stall Walls

When a horse is playful, bored, irritated, uncomfortable or possibly under exercised, it can end up kicking at the stall walls. A horse’s kick can easily break or knock boards down. Even worse, their kick can go through a board and potentially cause injury. The walls of the stall should be at least four feet high and made from material strong enough to withstand the kick. Some commonly used materials are 1 ½ -inch-thick tongue and groove, full thickness (two inches) rough sawn lumber, or ¾-inch plywood topped with sheet metal. Additionally, 5/8-inch thick rubber mats make an excellent lining for the stall. They can cushion the blow of a kick and help protect your horse’s feet and legs, and the wall as well.

If you have multiple stalls, the dividing wall between two stalls should be high enough that they cannot reach one another over the wall. The feeders should not go on that dividing wall unless it is a solid wall. This will help prevent horses from seeing each other while eating and will avoid triggering aggressive behavior. 
 

3. Grilles

Metal bars, also known as grilles, can be used on the upper portion of the stall walls to allow maximum containment of the horse with minimal interference with ventilation. The bars should be spaced so that a horse cannot get a hoof through if the horse should rear up in the stall. They can be used throughout the whole stall, but it may be better to have a solid partition between stalls to prevent them from seeing and smelling one another.

4. Doors

When it comes to stall doors, the choice is yours. One thing to keep in mind is that the stall door should be at least four feet wide or wider. This will allow enough room to lead your horse through without rubbing, banging, or possibly getting tack caught on the way in. To help prevent scrapes when your horse enters the stall, you can round off the edges of the stall with a farrier’s rasp, a wood plane or an electric sander. 

 5. Types of Doors

Door Roller and Stop

Sliding doors take up very little room to open and close and are convenient to operate.

Drop Down Window

Since horses are social animals, many will be less bored and more content if they can see what is going on around them outside of their stall. Having a drop down window in the stall door gives your horse access to the aisle, and it also doesn’t have to be fastened open. One concern with allowing your horse to stick his head out of the stall is that it will be able to kick and bang the stall with its knees potentially causing injury. It might also develop bad habits like lunging at or biting anyone who passes by.

Stall Guards

Stall guards such as a rope, chain or a strap door guard, give a horse added ventilation and more freedom than a drop down window. They are great to use for hot days to allow a breeze to go into the stall, or for a horse that is on stall rest as it may help make it feel less confined. However, like the drop down window, they have more of a chance of reaching passerbys with a stall guard. 

6. Latches

Horses are incredibly skillful with their lips and can sometimes enjoy the test of opening latches. Installing a horse-proof latch almost ensures that your horse will not be able to get out, but adding a snap to the latch guarantees it. You may also consider adding a lower latch at the bottom of the stall door. This will help prevent the horse from pushing the door outwards and getting a leg caught between the door and the jamb. It also helps reduce the stress on the hinges from a horse kicking, pawing, or rubbing on the door.

7. Flooring
 
Having a good stall floor can greatly reduce the time and money spent when cleaning stalls. Depending on your budget, there are many types of flooring to choose from and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Here is list of common types of flooring with their average cost per square foot as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
 
 Material  Average Cost per Square Foot
 Benefits  Drawbacks
Soil (clay, dirt)
 $0.08 Low-cost; good footing and padding
Hard to clean; can be dug up
Gravel, sand
 $0.08 Low-cost; good footing and padding Hard to clean; can be dug up; possibility of colic
Concrete  $3.00 Easy to clean; low maintenance
Cold, non-cushioning and rough; uncomfortable on legs and feet; slick if not textured
Wood  $1.50 Romantic sound; insulating
Hard to clean and disinfect; Slippery when wet
Draining flooring
 $2.50 - $3.50
Reduces bedding; moisture drains through instead of pooling
Urine accumulates under flooring, continuous urine smell
Rubber mats
 $1.60 - $2.40
Easy to clean; reduces bedding; provides ample cushioning and traction
Installing may be difficult; if not installed properly the mats can gap and buckle

If you decide to put rubber mats in, you will need to put in a base for the stall mats to perform properly. They should be put down over a firm, level gravel base. You should not use a sand base underneath the mats due to the sand not compacting evenly, which can cause the mats to shift a pull up. Concrete or asphalt will work as well. Your base needs to slope to a drain to help minimize the moisture beneath the mats.

8. General Accessories & Stall Necessities
 
A few items that you need and may want to consider for your horse’s stall.
 
In your horse’s stall:
  • Water bucket or automatic water
  • Feed bucket
  • Hayrack
  • Toys – examples - Jolly Ball or Pas-a-fier
  • Salt lick 
Outside your horse’s stall:
  • Tack hooks
  • Blanket rack
  • Stall plate
  • Saddle rack


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