Horizon Structures Presents Series: Horse Friendly Horse Barn Design Tips

by Nikki Alvin-Smith

 One of the best ways to keep your horse barn design horse friendly is by honoring their right to roam. The domesticated horse’s level of freedom is certainly a far cry from its feral state. However, the domestication of these noble beasts doesn’t mean we have to throw our efforts to make our caregiving methods and equine management protocols kinder on the horse, out of the stall window and shut the barn door on trying to make their life better.

Horses suffer mental and physical stress when they are confined to a small space and their access to other horses or animal companions is limited or non-existent. Best horse management practices will hopefully become more horse-friendly as humans become more aware of the relatively simple ways that aspects of horse care can be adjusted to better accommodate their needs. Today, stabling the horse in a standing only space or stall, tied with its head facing a wall where it is unable to even lie down let alone engage with its neighbors or view its surroundings, is considered cruel.

Back in 1965 animal welfare advocates and researchers such as Roger Brambell, reported that all animals deserve 5 freedoms in their housing and care.

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behavior
  • Freedom from fear and distress

Obviously most horse owners are well aware of the sensitive nature of horses and their general requirements. Adaptations and careful consideration given to modern horse barn design together with adoption of some innovative equine management ideas can help minimize the key issues that can haunt the horse and cause unnecessary stress.

Offer A Modified Right To Roam

The great advantage of a horse barn that is constructed with stalls that have exterior Dutch doors, is that these doors can be left open to provide 24/7 access to a secured paddock area and offer the resident equines an important relief to boredom and lack of movement.

This method also offers the equine inhabitants an opportunity to mingle. Either over paddock fences or in a community paddock area. This environment fulfils the horse’s need for both companionship and physical interaction with others in his species. This interaction provides an important aspect of socialization that reaps rewards in stress relief and also in learned behavior that equines require for good mental health.

Shed row barn designs can also provide a horse-friendly environment as horses can enjoy a room with a view and lots of fresh air. While some horse owners worry over working outside to complete chores in the sun, wind and rain, the hardier horse folks embrace the challenge of being outside and follow an age-old tradition of caring for horses in the shed-row set up. The addition of an overhang can significantly diminish the negative effects of inclement weather. The affordability and flexibility in layout of a shed row barn offers a useful horse-friendly barn blueprint.

Large Open Spaces Are Calming Spaces For Horses

 Most horse owners are heavily invested both financially and emotionally in their equines and so understandably reticent about throwing them out into a large group to fend for themselves. Risks of injury to the horse from pecking order arguments within the herd dynamic are real life consequences that can occur during community turnout. The large pastures also offer plenty of room for horses to hit gallop speed which could result in a pulled tendon or fall. Excited horses may throw off a few bucks to showcase their exuberance and an errant kick from one horse that makes direct contact with a vulnerable limb of another, may cause injury and is a well-founded concern.

Notwithstanding, the larger the space the horse has to explore together with his pasture mates with the opportunity to enjoy an environment that is more akin to his natural habitat and social dynamic, the happier the horse is likely to be.

Stable Buddies or Stalwart Foes

Stabling that offers some form of stall separation method is usually preferred by horse owners in order to provide safety and security for the horse and to make grooming and caring for the horse easier to accomplish.

Horses like to be able to smell and see each other, so a grill system set above a solid kickboarded partition wall between each stall generally works well.

However, a solid wall separating stalls offers more solace for those horses lower in the herd pecking order that may become intimidated by bossy equine neighbors. A mix of solid stall walls and partial grilled partition walls in larger barns offers an important opportunity to place horses where they are observed to be happiest.

Barn Designs To Increase The Horse-Human Interaction Factor

A stable that offers the horse a chance to literally stick his neck out, and to interact with passers-by can be a good way to allow him a better view of the aisle or yard that alleviates boredom while also encouraging more interaction between horse and human.

An open top or Dutch door/V-grill option on interior stall doors in a center aisle or shedrow barn design can also facilitate the development of poor behavior in some horses, such as biting or lunging at other horses or people that come within reach.

If the barn is to be operated with a view to children and neophyte horse folks will be attending the facility for lessons and training, or the farm will be operated as a horse breeding entity, open stall door set-ups can open the door to these poor habits becoming a nuisance.

Know Your Horses 

Keen observation of each horse and his reactions with his stablemates should be a high priority to ensure the needs of an individual horse are well understood and properly addressed for his well-being.

Ultimately remember that a happy horse will have less issue adjusting to changes in his lifestyle or environment, such as going to a horse show, than one that feels constantly worried and stressed.

It is up to the horse owner to manage their horse’s stress level effectively. Happy horse, happy owner!

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Feel free to contact Nikki Alvin-Smith for further information and high-res photos.

 About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there’s one thing all horse owners have in common…the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart “horse-friendly” design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses’ stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need –

Horizon Structures also sells chicken coops, equine hay feeders, greenhouses, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures and playsets.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.

For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at https://www.horizonstructures.com

Horizon Structures LLC, Atglen, PA
Media Contact: NAS@NikkiAlvinSmithStudio.com
Tel: 607 434 4470

Photos are available on request.

About Nikki Alvin-Smith:
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Please visit https://www.horseinakiltmedia.com/to learn more about her affordable services.