Providing proper housing is a responsibility that horse owners must take seriously. Unlike wild horses, who run free on hundreds of thousands of acres where they can find adequate shelter in timbered areas and protected draws and canyons, domesticated horses are often corralled in small areas, many of which have no trees or geographical features capable of offering shade and shelter. This makes it necessary to provide them with carefully constructed man-made shelters capable of offering protection against the elements.
If your family is preparing to purchase a horse, taking time to make sure you can provide them with this type of safe, comfortable shelter should be one of your top goals to accomplish before you hitch up the trailer to bring your first horse home.
Due to their sheer size, providing adequate space must always be the first consideration when designing any type of shelter or housing for a horse. The shelter will need to be tall enough to allow plenty of headroom and prevent the horse from being injured if they rear up on their hind legs. In addition, it will need to allow adequate space for the horse to be comfortable, both when lying down or standing. If the horse is a mare, it is also important to provide adequate space for a safe foaling process.
According to the animal science experts with Purdue University, a good box stall size for an average-sized horse is 10 feet square, with a larger one measuring about 10 feet by 14 feet for a very large horse, such as a draft breed, or for the safety and comfort needs of a foaling mare.
If more horses will be added later, it can be a good idea to build more stalls using removable divider walls. This will allow you to quickly customize stall proportions for special size or usage needs.
Like humans and most species of mammals, healthy ventilation and air circulation are critical for health. Horses who spend a great deal of time outdoors, using shelter only during severe weather or for feeding or grooming, generally enjoy good respiratory health because of the fresh air exposure.
Conversely, horses who are stabled for long periods of time in humid or poorly ventilated conditions can quickly develop serious health issues, including respiratory infections and diseases such as heaves. By being careful to incorporate excellent ventilation, including properly spaced and designed windows and vents, into your horse shelter, you can help to make sure that the space will be properly ventilated and healthy for your animal to occupy.
While not an absolute requirement, having adequate storage space for the daily supplies you use to care for your animal will certainly allow you to enjoy more convenience. To do this, consider adding specific storage areas to the design for the following items:
When planning this type of storage, it is important to remember that horses are clever and have been known to open gates and latches, especially when bored. Using locking or horse-proof latches will protect them from getting into excess feed or other things that could harm them.
Another concern that horse owners need to take seriously is keeping their horses and housing areas secure. This can include designing the structure to best make use of motion-activated security cameras, installing a sprinkler system, and hard-wiring fire, smoke, and burglar alarms.
Designing the perfect horse shelter for your property and needs involves many factors. Horse owners who want to make sure they are including all the necessary items, along with features that will make care duties easier, should consider working with a designer or contractor who specializes in equine housing facilities.
Contact a horse shelter provider like Rarin' To Go Corrals for more information.