Friday, 7 November 2014

Stable Construction

This picture is pretty much a dream set up for me ..... and it will always be a dream!

If you are ever lucky enough to build your own stables there are a few things to remember - some of these points might make you think!  Maybe you can make some small changes to your current set up to help improve your horses way of life.
Obviously the picture above is a 'barn' set up, these are becoming more popular in the UK and are generally the chosen set up in the US.  The size of these often cause planning problems for those of us in the UK and of course if you only have a field and a couple of horses you are not going to need anything this size.  Generally this means that if building your own you will be constructing some timber built stables.

This will be something like this;

Or if you are really lucky .....

So what do you need to think about:

  • How many stables do you need? 
  • Would you like a tackroom?
  • Where will you keep your hay and your feed, wheelbarrow and tools? 
  • Do you need somewhere to dry rugs?  
  • Do you need somewhere to wash down or tie up for the farrier which is undercover?

Layout:  What is the best layout for you and your routine?  You could have an L-shaped yard like the one above, a U-shape or just a straight line.  The L and U shapes can help give protection from wind and rain to the stables.  

Direction: Which way is the prevailing wind? You want to make sure that the stables face away from the prevailing wind.  Mine face south west, so the horses are protected from the north wind which whips across the farmers field behind.

Height: The stable ceiling must be high enough that the horse does not hit his head, think about the beams.  You really need between 12 and 15 feet (3.6m - 4.6m) high ceilings - how tall is your horse?  The beams were a challenge for me with Chesney as he is 17.1hh and does have a tendency to put his head high in the air.  He has a corner box which makes this a little easier!

Doorways: Doors must be high enough and wide enough for your horse to enter and exit without banging his head or hips!  1.3m (4 feet) is a minimum and approximately 2.3m ( 7.5 feet) high depending on your horse.  Doors should be split to allow the top half to be left open.  

If you have a small pony try to get a lower bottom door so that he can still see out! If you can it is worth having metal sheets on the inside of the lower door and on the top half of the outside. Metal cladding on the door frames is also a great idea.  Kick bolts are really the best fixing for the bottom of the door with a bolt on the top.

Size: The stable should be large enough to allow the horse or pony to turn around, feed, lie down or roll in comfort.  Traditionally 12ft x 14ft (3.6m x 4.2m) is said to be big enough for the largest horse,  12ft x 12ft (3.6 x 3.6m) for a horse around 16hh, 10ft x 10ft (3m x 3m) for a horse 15hh and 8ft x 8ft (2.4m x 2.4m) for a pony. 
I personally, don't think these are large enough, Basil's stable is 12ft x 14ft and he is 16.1hh, I wouldn't want him in anything smaller as he would not be able to turn around comfortably with the haynet on the wall.  Ches would really struggle in a box that size (which they say would be fine for the largest of horses) and would not be able to turn around, roll or lie down comfortably at all.

Condition & Ventilation: Stables must be waterproof, dry and warm but not stuffy.  Good ventilation is essential with a good supply of fresh air but no draughts.  Having a window on the same side as the door ensures that air does not stream through creating a draught.  Windows should ideally be of the adjustable louvre type with grilles.  Think about how much natural light you want in your stables, is one window enough?

Floor: The floor should allow drainage, horses should never have to stand in a pool of water and urine stagnating at the doorway.  The floor needs to be strong enough to withstand wear and tear from shod hooves and must not be slippery.
Fixtures & Fittings: Keep these to a minimum as horses have a tendency to catch, injure and wound themselves on anything and everything.
  • You will need a ring for securing the haynet and/or tying the horse.  
  • Somewhere for water; either an automatic waterer or a place for a bucket and safe lighting.
  • Hooks for fixing the doors open are really useful and a must if you have top doors as they will need permanently fixing open.
  • Kicking boards should be all around the stables, either half way up or full height.
  • I recommend having an overhang on the roof as this will prevent rain going in the stable but also gives you a dry area to walk about!
  • Do not have light switches in the stable or within reach of the horse, similarly with electrical wiring which should be protected and well away from teeth!  Choose switches and sockets designed for outside use, so they should have covers to prevent them getting wet - this also protects them from teeth!

Extras: Internal grilles, between the stables these allow the horses to see each other but also improve the air flow.

Would you like a feed manger fixed to the wall?  I don't like these as I like my horses to have their feed in a bucket on the floor which is easy to wash but also extra things on the wall reduces the useable space for the horse. However, many people do like having mangers.

Think about taps, yard drains and drainage, down pipes, tie rings, lights, sockets ....

If you are lucky enough to design and build your own stables, have fun, shop around and even though you will have a budget be creative to get what you need and make your life easier.

Visit my vlog, HorseLifeandLove on You Tube for a Product Haul.

You can also follow me on Facebook for updates on Chesney, Basil, Fidget and Daisy.

Until next time!

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