Whether you’re starting your barn plans from scratch or redesigning an existing barn for your horses, keep these guidelines in mind.
Barn and Aisleway Safety
By Christine Barakat
The stable aisle is a driveway, foyer and living room all in one. Because of the busy traffic and multiple uses, a badly designed or poorly maintained aisle is at least annoying and at worst dangerous in a horse barn. Whether you’re designing new barn plans or improving an existing setup, consider the following aspects of aisleway safety as you plan:
- Dimensions — Aisleways should be eight feet wide or more to allow two horses to pass without crowding each other or to allow a single passerby to make the journey without being nipped by occupants on either side of the horse barn stall doors. This width is also adequate for even large horses to turn around safely. Aisle ceilings are best constructed very high (nine feet or more) or very low (around seven feet) but optimal heights depend upon the horses being stabled. At these heights, a rearing horse either won’t reach the rafters, or he’ll connect before he gets up the momentum to damage his poll or face.
- Floor — Avoid or remove slick asphalt or smooth concrete as aisleway footing. When money is no object, interlocking rubber “paver” bricks are a safe, classy flooring that requires little upkeep. Texturized concrete, which incorporates coarse particles for extra traction, and stall equine mats placed over slicker surfaces are a step down in cost but provide clean durable surfaces. Dirt and stone-dust floors are cheap and safe, but both require maintenance to keep them smooth and dust-free.
- Lighting — Mount light fixtures where they pose no hazard of being contacted by horses but will still illuminate the barn aisle fully and cast light on the sides of cross-tied horses being examined, groomed and tacked up. Cold-proof fluorescent lights are inexpensive to run and cast a more consistent light than incandescent bulbs.
- Clutter — Even the best-designed barn aisle becomes dangerous when feed cans, saddle racks, wheelbarrows and the like form an obstacle course. For safety’s sake, adopt a minimalist policy for maintaining your aisle; cross-ties, stall cards and blanket racks are really all you need. If your tack and feed rooms can’t hold everything else, consider adding an extra shed outside the horse barn to store overflow equipment.