Horse owners: what is home? What would it mean to groom your horse and make them feel at home in their stall? While your equestrian friend might not be able to tell you their answers to this question, you’ll want to make sure your horse has a place they can call home, a home that will leave them energized and rejuvenated — and a home that’s cost-effective and won’t burn a hole in your back pocket. Whether it’s a stable, barn, or a small stall, at Silver Lining Herbs, we’ve provided better care solutions for twenty years — with no plans of slowing down anytime soon! Keep reading if you’re curious to learn more about horse stall building tips, DIY barn design ideas, and horse stall ideas for your equine’s new living quarters.
Difference between a barn, stall, and stable
But before we begin, when we mention a horse’s living quarters, we mean barns, stalls, or DIY horse stables. While open pastures, fields, or large enclosed yards are preferred for their abundant sunlight and space, in a horse barn or stall, you’ll be able to implement a better plan for feeding, cleaning, and helping your horses live great lives.
Whichever way you decide to design your horse’s living area, your living space won’t be the same without key elements for living, sleeping, and eating. Stick around, as we’ll dive into these key elements in the rest of this article.
Key elements when designing a functional horse stable
Decoration: it’s what makes your home pop and shine. Similarly, our horses — and their owners and trainers — thrive when their home is designed to be functional and aesthetically pleasing.
What elements are important to keep in mind when building your horse’s cozy and functional home? If you’re looking for answers and inspiration, you’re about to find out.
Tips for building the exterior of the barn
A visitors’ first impression of a home starts with the outside appearance of the home. Similarly, the exterior of your barn space is one of the first pieces of the barn your eyes will be drawn toward.
You'll want to make the exterior look great. After all, you wouldn’t want your horse to live in a rigid space that looks and feels uncomfortable, right?
Whether you opt to do it yourself (DIY) or hire a contractor, there are plenty of affordable ways to create an exterior bursting with color and designed for functionality. Whether you choose livestock gates, sliding doors, lumber and steel archways, traditional wooden stalls, wire, mesh, or even an unconventional shipping container-based structure, it's easy to craft the exterior of your barn to create an atmosphere where your horse will love living and playing.
But that’s not all: you’ll want to focus on a few other key elements of the exterior to help you and your equine pal make the most of their days.
Build bigger and for the long haul
Naturally, our equine friends tend to multiply. At this moment, you might have only a handful of mares or colts in your barn, so you might think to yourself, “I only need to make a handful of horse stables and stalls for my horses.”
Not necessarily so: horses have a tendency to breed. So, you’ll want to make sure you build bigger — and more — stalls than you might think you necessarily need.
You'll never regret creating more space for future growth.
It’s important to plan for the long haul. Consider the following questions before building your horse stable and barn:
- How many horses do I plan on having in my stalls?
- If I plan for future growth of my trusty steeds, what would my horse’s living quarters look like?
- If I plan for the future, what design materials will I need to gather to best cater to my horses’ needs and activities?
As you answer these questions, consider how your horses will grow over time, as you’ll want to include plenty of walking space for them.
Create wider aisles
Speaking of walking space, more is better. Instead of the usual 10 by 10 feet space provided, try creating an aisle-way layout that is 12 by 12 feet to ensure you and your horse spend as little time as possible navigating cramped corridors together.
The more space you have, the more quickly you’ll be able to move through your horse’s living areas and the barn. If you need to move four horses through in time for a show? No problem!
Consider creating wide aisles from the get-go to allow for room for growth for your horses.
Before you start building aisleways, though, you’ll want to think about what materials to use that will stand the test of time.
Mat-style flooring might just be the trick
Since horses have much larger feet than humans, they’re more likely to be harder on the elements. Nail down a layer of mat-based flooring materials above granular base materials in aisles and in stalls. A true horse will create a great deal of wear and tear on its stall over its lifetime, so you'll want to think long and hard before choosing flooring for your horse stalls.
What's more, using rubber mats in stable areas allows horses to roam free in their living quarters while also protecting their precious hooves. But if you're worried, you can always install a divider between stalls to help control movement in the stalls.
For the humans coming through the aisleways, concrete and brick pavement can be laid in the aisleways to protect our precious feet.
Natural light and fresh air is king
It comes as no surprise that the right conditions — such as optimal nutrition and proper outdoor airflow — can affect a horse’s overall health and total energy, research shows. But did you know that the right amount of light and air ventilation also can affect a horse’s performance in competition, its appetite, mood, respiratory health, and even its ability to heal from injury?
Consider creating a horse stable and barn with plenty of cross ventilation. And while it might be tempting to use moisture sensors to help control ventilation, natural air and light via windows are always preferred.
Silver Lining Herbs’ suggestion:
If you’re worried about your horse being cold during the winter, well-fed horses generate plenty of heat. As long as they are receiving proper nutrition and care, they’ll remain warm even with windows open and a steady stream of airflow coming into the stable.
But if your barn is experiencing poor air quality, if you’re concerned about providing better winter care nutrition for your horses, or if you notice problems in any body parts — liver, kidney, joints, or otherwise — during the winter, consider investing in a good ventilation system.
If you're concerned, don't hesitate to reach out to your local equine practitioner or health specialist for tips on how to help your horse stay healthy.
Create a separate room for fragile horse-care items
Horses can’t be sick and healthy at the same time. One of the best ways to ensure your horse stays healthy year-round is to dedicate a separate room to store key items for their well-being.
Tack rooms are places where saddles, bridles, brushes, and other key horse equipment are kept. Whether it’s riding gear, food, or blankets, keeping a dedicated room for horse gear — a room that includes openable and closeable front wood doors for easy access — will ensure you have space close by to help your horses thrive.
Just make sure you can store valuables and keep precious items safe and dust-free. Doing so will preserve the life of your equipment so you can help care for your horse and help them flourish for whatever life throws at them.
Help keep your horses healthy with spaces for water and food storage
Automatic horse waterers in stalls, a refillable water bowl, and even portable cooking devices will all help ensure your horse has access to better care and nutrition.
As horses drink, having a refillable water bowl in their stall will ensure they stay hydrated — especially during long hot summer nights and after exhausting performances.
Consider creating a separate room for food storage. While it may be tempting to store food in the tack room, spoiled food can stink up the place and leave lasting effects on certain materials (such as leather). Proper food storage should be your first priority.
Even horses need a bath…
After trouncing through mud, dirt, and fields, your horse needs a bath just as much as you. Including a horse wash stall, drainage system with a floor drain, and overhead shower fixture will make staying squeaky clean convenient for your horse after a hard day’s work.
Consider keeping tack and feed rooms a far distance from the wash location, as moisture and water can affect the quality of feed and can prematurely wear out delicate horse-care equipment. Building a wash stall close to your horse’s living areas will allow them to stay clean when walking in and out of their living space.
Consider the interior
Most suggestions thus far have concerned the roof, barn ceiling, building codes, and other exterior-related areas for your newly minted horse living quarters. With that said, you can still create a cozy and warm interior environment by keeping the following design ideas in mind when building a sturdy living space for your horse.
Use durable building materials
Steel gates, mesh wiring, machine-graded lumber, full-hard steel, large overhead fans, and classic hardwood sections, beams, and columns are also design choices that can set the tone of your equine friend’s new home. When choosing the materials for your horse's new home, consider looking for a 40-year warranty on raw materials like steel.
Having a warranty on materials will ensure that if chips or cracks occur due to your highly active colts or mares playing or running inside their new home, you’ll be able to exchange your lumber and steel for goods made with greater durability.
Depending on the room, you’ll want to ensure that each room’s décor and style fits the purpose of that room.
Case in point: riding and training facilities
If you have the budget or are willing to hire a builder, your horse might benefit from a large open space for training and riding. A training and riding space will look and feel very different than your horse’s living area.
Consider the tone of each of your living areas: do you want the walls to be bare in the areas where your horses sleep? Should they be filled with inspirational posters and wall-mounted pictures in the training facility?
Consider how the interior design of the rooms of your horse barn and stable compare to the other living areas — such as riding and training facilities — when designing and building your horse's new home.
Run-in sheds are also an option
Whether your horse is playing inside or outside, consider creating a shed for your horse. A run-in shed is a 3-walled facility that allows horses to rest and seek shelter from outdoor elements.
If you want to separate active and sedentary spaces in your horse’s living areas, consider creating a shed space where you can allow your horse to rest after the day’s work and play. Sheds can also be a great place to store other horse-related items.
But don’t store hay inside the shed (or barn)
We hope you don't react strongly when we say this, but hay stored inside a shed is a huge no-no. Fodder can spontaneously combust during wet conditions (check out the science behind this wild and spooky phenomenon), so it’s advised to keep hay in a dry and cool place.
If you do keep your hay inside your horse's living quarters, make sure you have a hose to douse flames in case of spontaneous combustion.
Hay, you! Bonus pro tip:
Consider creating a separate feed room in the barn or horse stable for your horse's food. You can even install electrical fans to help monitor the humidity in the room to ensure the food stays dry and is suitable for eating.
Better living and better care starts here
You don't need much to create wonderful living areas for your horse. If you’re considering building a horse stall, barn, or more, we couldn’t be more excited for you!
This is the beginning of a thrilling new adventure for both you and your lovable equine friends.
As you consider which equipment and foods to use for and store in your horse's new home, know that Silver Lining Herbs has your back. Whether it's advice or expertise on the best foods to include in your horse’s feed — or which horse tools would be best to include in your tack room — Silver Lining Herbs has helped educate countless horse enthusiasts, rodeo trainers, and barrel racers to provide better care for their equine friends.
You might want to learn more about horses. We're here for you.
Take our horse health quiz or contact us today to learn more about our products and resources. Our goal is to continue to help make providing better care for both your horse, your lovable animal friends, and even you that much easier.