STALL DOOR WIDTH
The opening of a stall door should be 4 feet (1.2 m) or wider and 8 feet (2.4 m) high. This allows you to lead a horse through without rubbing against the sides or the horse bumping his head and to get a cart through the doorway without banging the wheels’ hubs. The edges of door openings should be rounded, such as with a farrier’s rasp, a wood plane, or an electric router, to prevent injury. One or two unpleasant collisions with a doorway can make a horse “door shy”: He’ll either balk at the doorway or tend to rush through.
DOOR ROLLER AND STOP
Sliding doors require very little space to open and close and are convenient to operate. When the door is closed, make sure the bottom of the door is secured at one end with rollers (A) and at the other end with an L-shaped stop (B) to prevent the horse from pushing the door out and getting a leg caught between the door and the frame.
Horses are social animals; many will be less bored and more content if they can see other horses and keep an eye on the barn activities from their stall. A window in the stall that opens to the aisle allows a horse to put its head out and see what’s happening. A drop-down window has an advantage over a swinging window in that it doesn’t need to be fastened open. One drawback to letting a horse put his head out of the stall is that he is then in a perfect position to bang the wall with his front hoof and knee. Also, horses can develop a dangerous habit of lunging and biting at human and equine passersby, especially if the barn aisle is narrow.
A rope, chain, or strap door guard gives a horse more freedom than a window and may make him feel less confined. With an open doorway, however, bedding will find its way into the aisle. Some horses will try to push through a door guard or will lunge at persons or horses passing by. It’s best to unhook the guard to enter a stall because when ducking under, a person is in a vulnerable position to be kicked.
A 2 x 6 door sill with metal anti-chew strips has been added to this stall doorway to help keep bedding from littering the aisle. This simple door guard, consisting of a length of chain covered with rubber tubing, would not be substantial enough to keep some horses in.
“IN AND OUT.”
A pen adjoining the stall provides a convenient means to turn a horse out without having to halter him. Often, however, a horse that’s allowed to move freely between the stall and the outside will develop the irritating habit of entering the stall only to defecate and urinate. To minimize stall cleaning and bedding use, latch the stall door closed when the horse is let into the pen. Protection from the sun and rain can be provided by a roof overhang.
A Dutch door (one that is split into top and bottom sections) is very useful between stalls and adjoining pens. The top can be fixed open to allow a horse to a lookout. The bottom door can be opened while the top remains closed, so a person can duck through for feeding, for example, without the horse following. This arrangement is also useful for making a “creep” area, which allows the foal to enter the stall to eat and rest in the shade without the mare following. (Note: The design of some split doors prevents the bottom portion from being opened separately.)