How Tall Do Horse Stalls Need to Be?

The height of a horse stall is important to the safety of the horse.

The height of a horse stall is important to the safety of the horse. Thinkstock

Question for Animal Arts

If you have a barn that has an overhead hay loft, how tall do the stalls need to be to accommodate an average horse (not draft or warmblood)? What kind of “cages” are best for light bulbs in those stalls or what type of lighting would be best for safety reasons? What are the solutions if we think the stall ceilings are too low but we still need to store some hay in the loft.

Response From Animal Arts

If you were building the barn from scratch, stalls should have a minimum 12-foot clear height. In other words, nothing should protrude down below 12 feet. A rearing horse can hit his head on a ceiling that is lower than this. For extra-large horses (warmbloods, etc.), a 14-foot ceiling should provide extra safety. We have worked with ceilings as low as 10 feet but they make us nervous. If the ceiling that you are concerned about is this low, or is between 10 and 12 feet, you could take precautions by having new horses wear head (poll) protection during the first couple of days in their stalls until they have settled in and are less of a risk for rearing up.

As to the second portion of the question, lighting fixtures should be hung tight to the ceiling. Ideally, they also should not protrude down below 12 feet. Whether or not they do, they should be protected with a wire guard, the term for the cage you mention. Most lighting fixture manufacturers make cages for their lighting fixtures so find the manufacturer’s name on the fixture itself (you may have to remove bulbs to find it) and then call the manufacturer to find out who reps the fixture locally. If the fixtures are standard fluorescent strip lights, as many are, you may be able to buy a cage for the lights at Home Depot or another similar store as these are commodity items.

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