- Stall footing. When redoing stalls, often what you need to repair or replace is the footing. “This might not be very expensive, but may be hard work. You will have to do a lot of the stall work manually, digging out the old flooring and tearing out old rubber mats if there are mats,” says Dr. Bob Coleman (State Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky).
“You might be putting down new rock dust and possibly clay, thinking about how it will drain and getting it well packed and level. If you are putting in rubber mats, make sure they are going onto a solid, level surface. I strongly suggest using interlocking mats because they stay in place better. If you have two 6-by-12 pieces and they just meet in the center, what’s to keep them together? With interlocking mats there is a way they are put together and they generally stay in place better. Make sure they are cut precisely and fit to the outside walls of the stall with no wiggle room. You don’t want them to move, but not so tight that you can’t lift them up. I see some that are not quite tight enough and if anything gets under a corner it starts to curl up—and that becomes a safety issue because a horse could get one foot stuck under the mat with the other foot on top and have a hard time getting free.”
- Electricity. If you want electricity available for each stall, make sure it is not within reach of the horses. “Put the outlets a little higher, and that way one outlet could also service two stalls. Some barns have a box with plug-ins for 2 outlets and a light switch all in one place, in a spot that is accessible to a person but not to the horses. It all needs to be in conduit so it not accessible to little critters that might live in the barn,” says Coleman.
- Stall doors. “If you are changing your stall design, where do you want the stall doors? They are generally in the stall front, but do you want them on the left side, the right side or in the center? If they are sliding doors, on adjacent stalls you might have one door slide to the left and the other to the right. In some barns, all doors slide to the left and are on the right side of the stall. But when a door is on one side or the other it leaves you only three corners in the stall to do things with (like place a manger, water bucket, etc.) because the door is in a corner,” he says.
Make sure the doors open easily and have safe latches. “You don’t want anything sticking out when you and your horse are going in and out. Don’t put anything on the wall where the door is. Some people put a hay feeder on that side but this means you have to walk by it to get into the stall or the horse will have to walk by it, and this makes a more constricted area. You want that 4-foot door to be open wide, with nothing to impede easy movement in and out,” he says.
Whether it’s a hinged door or sliding door, make sure it is easy to open all the way. A good farm gate can also work as a stall front, providing a very wide opening if you wish. “Whatever you use as a door or gate, buy the best quality your budget allows. It will last longer. If it’s a hinged door, get really good hinges. If it’s a sliding door, get the best sliders so it will never stick or come off. If you want a door that the horse can put his head out, be careful in buying doors that have a yoke in them that you can take down—to open and let the horse put his head out into the alleyway. Make sure that when it’s shut it stays shut and can’t be easily dislodged by the horse and come crashing down when someone is walking by,” says Coleman.
- Stall walls. “I like stall walls fairly open for good ventilation, but have a 4-foot portion of that wall between two stalls that’s solid. This provides a privacy area where the horse doesn’t have to contend with the horse next door. If that’s where his hay is, he doesn’t have to worry about the neighboring horse bothering him while he’s eating.”