Caring for large breed animals like horses is no easy undertaking, and it certainly won’t be cheap. But if you have a special affinity for horses, you love to ride, and/or you’re running a business whereby you house other horses or you offer riding lessons, just for example, you’re going to need a setup on your property that is conducive to the care and use of these magnificent animals. And the main thing you need to think about is where they’re going to live. For this reason, the first building you’ll want to add to your horse property is a stable. And there are several things you should consider before you start construction.
- Enclosed vs. open-air. There are two ways to go when it comes to housing your horses: you can either go with a traditional, enclosed stable or open-air stalls, and there are pros and cons associated with each. An enclosed stable provides protection from the elements, which is essential during cold or inclement weather. But open-air stalls are much breezier in hot weather, when a regular stable can get unbearably stuffy. In truth, your best bet is probably to have both options available on your property, but if you have to choose one, the solid structure of a stable is a better choice. When it gets stuffy you can always let your horses out, provided you have some shady spots and plenty of water available outdoors.
- Size of stable. Even if you only have one horse, it’s probably not a bad idea to build a stable that will accommodate more animals. For one thing, you may choose to breed your horse if its lineage is valuable, or you may at some point rescue or purchase other horses. And if you decide to board horses for a fee in order to supplement your income, you’ll be glad you have the extra space.
- Size of stalls. The size of your stalls will depend largely on the usage. In other words, the type of horses you keep will determine the dimensions of your stalls. Whereas you might only need, say, a 6×8-foot stall for a miniature horse, a draft horse might require a stall as large as 14×14. And if you plan on breeding, you’ll need a particularly large stall to house a mother and her foal. However, you can plan for this last situation by putting a removable wall between two stalls to double the space. As a rule of thumb, you want to plan for the largest potential size of horse you might house and make sure your animals have enough room to lie down. And don’t forget that some horses are taller than humans. To be safe, ceilings should be at least 12 feet high.
- Amenities. There are several things to consider when it comes to the practical amenities you’ll want to include in your stable. A tack room is a must unless you plan on building a separate tack house to store brushes, saddles, and so on. And you probably want a place to store food, as well as a separate room for hay that is intended for bedding. As for stalls, you’ll want to include appropriate flooring, such as Treadall Equine Flooring, as well as plenty of hooks for lead ropes. And you’ll need to consider the type of doors you want on stalls. You should also think about adding floor drains for the purposes of bathing your animals and mucking out stalls – they make for much easier clean-up.
- Cost. If you’re planning to build a stable or any other large structure, for that matter, you definitely want to make sure you can afford the major expense that your project entails. So it’s a good idea to collect several bids from contractors before you get started and then sign a contract that will help you to avoid overages.