Whether you have a large barn or a small one, an inexpensive pre-fab building or an elaborate construction, you can equip it to make it more “user-friendly” for you and your horses. At the very least, your barn should provide safe shelter during inclement weather. At best, it can be a showplace designed for human convenience as well as horse health.

When building a new barn or fixing up an old one, it helps to look at other barns and talk with people who have experience with certain features. This is especially important when considering health and safety of the horses. Bob Coleman, PhD, Equine Extension Specialist at the University of Kentucky, says it’s always worth your time and effort to visit other places and go to trade fairs in order to see what the possibilities are. Look at how you might make them work for your situation, and see what will and won’t work with your barn construction, he says.

Doors, Walls, and Latches

J. Clyde Johnson, VMD, a retired equine veterinarian and former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, has seen the problems created by barns or stalls that were not safe or healthy. “I’ve seen cases where a horse got his foot through the horizontal boards of a stall wall,” he says.

If the wall is made of planks that run horizontally, they will need vertical supports to keep them from bending if a horse kicks them.

“If horses get cast or kick hard against the wall, they can push a board out far enough to get a foot through,” says Johnson. “You need vertical strips bolted into the boards so the span is only fou