Does your favorite pony spend most of the cold, winter nights snoozing in a stable? If your answer is yes, when is the last time you actually took a look around his stable to make sure it is safe and comfortable? Your pony spends a lot of time in his stable so let's make sure it is a nice place to be. Grab this magazine, and head out to the barn to check out the stable situation.
A horse should have enough room in his stable to be able to lie down comfortably for a nap. He should also be able to move around and be able to stretch his legs. A horse's stable should be no less than 12ft by 12ft, while a pony's can be a bit smaller, measuring no less than 10ft by 12ft.
A horse may stand on his stable floor for hours and hours. This is why it should be a non-slippery surface, and slope slightly so wetness can drain away. Dirt is the cheapest and easiest floor to install, and most horses do well on it. Unfortunately, hooves kick up dirt and make it uneven, so a dirt floor needs to be raked flat frequently. If your horse's stall has a concrete floor, you'll need to use plenty of bedding or rubber mats, because standing on concrete for long periods of time can be stressful to a horse's legs and hooves, and concrete is uncomfortable to lie on.
All stable floors need to be covered with some kind of bedding. Bedding makes it comfortable for the horse to lie down, and it absorbs urine. There are three main types of bedding:
Shavings: You can buy shavings at the feed store. They are hygienic, absorbent and easy to clean out. They make a very comfortable bed, but they can be kind of expensive.
Straw: You can buy straw from the feed store or from a farmer in the summer. Straw makes a thick, comfy bed, but it can be difficult to keep a straw bed clean. Beware: fat ponies will often eat straw and balloon up!
Rubber mats: Mats add a layer of cushioning under your horse's hooves. Most people put a layer of shavings or straw over the mats to encourage their horse to lie down. Mats can be kind of expensive, but they last a long time.
A stable door should be wide enough that your horse or pony can walk in and out without any problem. It should measure at least 4 feet across. It should be at least 8 feet tall so your horse doesn't whack his head every time he walks out of the stable.
The door should have two bolts on it, one at the top and one at the bottom. Why? Because some horses are escape artists and can undo the top one. The bottom one prevents a horse trapping his leg between the door and the doorframe.
The stable door should be in two parts: a top and a bottom. Horses are social animals and like to see what's going on around them. If your horse is quiet and well behaved, he should be able to put his head out of the stall.
A horse is less likely to catch colds or coughs if his stable has lots of ventilation. If possible, the top of the stable door should be open at all times, and if it's possible to have a window in the stable, make sure it has bars over it so your horse can't break it.
It's handy to screw one or two tying-up rings into the stable wall. You can hang a haynet on one, and tie your pony up to the other if you need to groom inside the stable. Make sure the rings are at least 5 feet above the floor, or your horse may be in danger of catching his hooves in anempty haynet.
Manger or Bucket
Ideally a manger or bucket should be in the corner of the stable, and positioned at the same height as your horse's chest. You should be able to remove the manger or the bucket easily so you can clean it regularly. You need a bucket for feed and a bucket or two for water.
Bolt a salt block holder onto the wall at the same height as your horse's head. Salt comes in small bricks that you can put in the holder.
If your horse has an automatic waterer, check it every day to make sure that it is working. Sometimes the pipes get blocked.