Keeping horses is hard work, and horse people inevitably have a list of things to do every day that is longer than they can possibly accomplish. Thus every little item that makes life less complicated is welcome. Since stalls are the cornerstones of barn life, they are prime candidates for efforts to improve efficiency, convenience and safety. Here are a few ideas that can make barn life easier.
It is easy for a horse to run into a stall latch that sticks out. That’s why the spring-loaded mortise finger latch from Innovative Equine Systems has no protruding parts. In addition, you can access the latch from the inside of the stall. Anyone who has been accidentally locked in a stall knows how useful that can be!
In the event you do get locked in the stall and are strong enough, you could utilize the safety release stall closure from Cut Heal Animal Care. It is designed for the stall door to break under duress and will give way under 200 pounds of pressure. This safety feature could come in very handy in the event of a fire when you aren’t around to get the horses out, or if a horse becomes cast up against the stall door. This latch won’t give if a horse merely leans on it. It was originally designed for a swinging door, but it can be retrofitted to work for a sliding door as well.
The Horse Houdini, also from Cut Heal, is a must-have for anyone with a horse that is an escape artist. This stall latch guard prevents horses from leaving the stall of their own accord. It is quick and easy to install. When closed, it locks the tongue of the door latch into position. Pressing the hidden release button opens the guard and allows the stall latch to function normally.
Feed and water buckets are regular stall fixtures. Fortiflex makes an aluminum bracket specifically for flat-backed buckets that holds them securely against the wall or post and locks the bucket into a tip-free position. This is particularly helpful when you have a horse that likes to play with its buckets.
Bucket Buddy’s bucket hook, made from hard plastic, won’t fall off nor is it obstructive or intrusive, making it a safe choice. It screws directly into the wall, and it’s fairly easy to get the bucket in and out of the hook. Plus, it’s inexpensive and easy to install.
Dry Creek offers a new line of modular tack storage systems. A variety of pieces can be fit together to provide a high level of customization. The main frame secures over a standard stall, and then individual saddle, blanket and bridle hooks fit on it. The open design allows for lots of air movement to dry saddles and blankets. Made in the USA, the pieces are strong and sturdy and deliver maximum flexibility and performance based on your needs.
To decrease the chances of a horse casting itself in the stall, you might want to install anti-cast safety strips from America’s Acres. These strips help the horse get leverage to push away from the wall, thus decreasing the chance of injury to horse or human.
Made from a pliable, durable material, the 3-foot strips can be installed in either temporary or permanent stalls.
Similarly, kick pads from FarmTek offer comfort and protection during illness and recovery. The pads are made of heavy-duty foam, which is covered with white coated vinyl. These are a good solution for horses that frequently kick stall walls.
For a horse that cribs, try an anti-cribbing coating from Woodstar Products, Inc. This liquid can be brushed or sprayed on to deter wood chewing. It comes in clear or brown and also serves as a wood preservative. Yet it contains no toxic chemicals, penta, arsenical or creosote.
Another option for wood-chewers is to cover wood with something less tasty, such as Armour Companies’ all-aluminum Chew Guards. These help prevent chewing and can also be placed over areas that have already been chewed. The strips are sold by the foot and can be cut to any length.
Innovative Equine Systems offers a variety of materials solutions for stalls. One is high-density polyethylene lumber, extruded with a wood grain so that it looks like real wood. But it has some advantages over the real thing: the slippery texture means horses can’t chew on it, and it’s nearly maintenance free, as it resists splintering, cracking, insects, moisture and rot.
Rocking W produces a swinging double-hinged partition, especially useful for creating a foaling stall. These partitions can be removed to create a 12’ x 24’ stall. When that large area is not needed, the partition goes into place, creating two 12’ x 12’ stalls.
Hinged feeder doors offered by both companies make feeding time easier. Innovative Equine Systems’ feeder door opens out instead of down, and can also act as a yoke. To make these doors even more convenient and to increase safety, you can add a door magnet that allows you to keep the feeder door open. You push the door to lock it into place, but a gentle tug releases it. The magnets work well with both shutters and Dutch doors.
A similar product is the rotating feeder door. This is built into the stall wing and made of hard cast aluminum. It rotates a full 360 degrees so it swings out, you drop the feed, then keep turning it until it reaches its original position.
Innovative Equine Systems also offers a low profile stall light. This light is easy to install and is power washable, with no parts to rust. It mimics daylight with just one fixture per stall and, according to the company, lasts up to 13 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.
Barn shutters fixed to the outside windows allow you to close up the barn in the event of inclement or very cold weather. Armour Companies has shutters that come completely assembled with hardware. They are edged with heavy gauge, non-rusting aluminum and have a tongue and groove exterior with a smooth surface interior.
Adding any number of these convenience and safety features can improve the efficiency and aesthetics of your stalls and barn. They will help both you and your horses, and that’s always welcome.