Stalls and Fixtures
Stalls are your horses’ homes, and should be considered carefully. Stallions have different needs from mares, or warmbloods from thoroughbreds. But all are strong and clever animals that can get into a lot of trouble if they have the opportunity. They can be injured and prone to illness from their stalls, bedding, and other sources. Whether you have one special horse that is a member of the family or an entire stable of horses, you have a large emotional and financial investment in their health and well-being.
Martinolich is a strong believer in installing exterior stall doors whenever possible to “allow horses to see the outdoors to have natural air and light. Outside doors greatly help their well-being.”
As Matt said earlier, “Sometimes the most simple things are overlooked. For example, always build stalls with lower-level ventilation in the doors to let air in. Ammonia is heavier than air and sinks, and solid-wall stalls hold it in. Horses have their noses down to eat hay and they are breathing it in even if you may not smell it.
Lucas Equine is one firm that is building low-ventilation into their doors. For existing barns, remedying this can be as simple as drilling a row of two-inch holes in the bottom of the stall doors.”
Lucas’s Nick Thornton says that some of the other emerging trends in stalls include using galvanized metal.“Galvanized may be maintenance-free,” he says. “but you think ‘cheap’ when you picture it. But nothing lasts longer. It’s become our quest at Lucas to make galvanized look good. For example, including galvanized finials and trim adds a high-end look.”
Many of the architects agreed that an emerging “green” stall-building material is bamboo composite. Thornton noted that bamboo is one of the most sustainable woods. “It only takes a three-year growing cycle from planting to harvesting mature bamboo,” he says, “versus many years for other woods. Plus you aren’t cutting down rain forests to harvest exotic woods.”
Another trend is incorporating automatic feed and water directly in the stalls. There are other luxuries such as manure disposal systems, where the bedding is mucked directly into a hatch in the stall and conveniently taken by a conveyor belt outside to the manure pile.
Thornton enjoys the challenges thrown at him by architects and customers. For example, “Iron Rose Ranch went against everything I was taught,” he laughs. “They actually wanted all the hardware to rust, to become one with the landscape, and still hold up for the long term. It turns out that the rust encapsulates and protects the metal. If the architects can dream it, we can build it. Most of our innovations come from customers’ requests.”
There was also a consensus among the designers on the importance of soft footing surfaces in stalls, aisles, walkways, and riding rings. View article by Laurel Roberts.
“I Wish I knew This”
After reviewing the designers’ interviews and photographs for this article, EQ’s publisher said, “I wish I knew half of this when I built our dark barns. We need the lights on all day. If only I could do them over!”
We’ve learned much in creating this portfolio. So much in fact, that EQ plans to continue this feature in future issues. We will visit exceptionally well-designed equestrian facilities together with the architects who designed them, and they will explain why and how they created their innovative farms.
Whether you are purchasing and modifying a prefab barn, or custom building a barn from the ground up, the ideas presented here should shed new light.