Barn Safety | By: American Stalls | Date on: 05/15/2021

Regardless of your location, the summer usually bring uncomfortable amounts of heat and humidity. Temperatures can range from mid-80’s to low 100’s depending on your location.

These rising levels of heat and humidity come with health hazards for our horses. These health hazards can include everything from dehydration to pesky bug problems to heatstrokes. 

Heat-related problems can occur in equine sports such as jumping, driving, eventing, and other strenuous activities. Heat issues can also simply arise when riding an unfit horse at our own barn. Lastly, certain horse breeds are even more susceptible to heat-related problems. For example, heavily muscled horses (i.e. quarter horses, warmblood breeds, friesians) are at greater risk of retaining heat in the working muscles than leaner-breed horses (i.e. Arabians or Thoroughbreds).

That being said, horses are usually able to cope well with heat and humidity, but extra care in management can go a long way. It is crucial to do what we can as horse owners to create the best environments for our horses in their horse trailers, barns, and other spaces.

As warm weather arrives this Spring, here are 4 products that we highly recommend to manage heat in your horse barn.

1 – Dutch Doors
When it comes to a horse barn’s design, we always stress the importance of ventilation and sunlight. Dutch Doors are exterior horse stall doors placed along the side of your barn. These doors can be opened at the top half, bottom half, or both. As heat builds up in your horse barn, Dutch doors allow your horse to hang their head out to get fresh air. These doors also simultaneously allow much needed airflow into your barn and horse stalls.

Dutch Doors with Glass (Top) and Cross Bucks (Bottom). Top half is opened in both photos.

One expert recommendation is to pair a Dutch door with a stall gate (otherwise known as a stall screen). This addition allows you to open both the top and bottom doors of your Dutch doors while keeping your horse safely housed in their horse stall. Lastly, it allows for airflow to also enter from the bottom – simultaneously flushing out heavy gases such as ammonia that build up in a horse stall.

Dutch Doors paired with stall screens – allowing you to open your exterior stall doors completely and welcome more airflow. Full-Sized Stall Gate used (left) for warmbloods barn. Half-Sized Stall Gate used (right) for miniature donkey barn.

2 – Barn Windows
Similar to Dutch Doors, barn windows do wonders for the overall function and health of a horse barn. Barn windows allow for increased sunlight and ventilation. The most traditional design of a barn window is what we call a “Dutch window” which is a wood-filled barn window. That being said, there are so many ways to make a barn window functional and elegant. Options include:

  1. Barn Window Shutter – Glass-filled shutter with a grill guard (7/8″ round bars) behind the shutter for safety
  2. Dutch Window – Lumber-filled window with no grill guard or window yoke behind the window
  3. Dutch Window Paired with Yoke – Lumber-filled window with yoke behind the window
Hinged glass shutters (left). More examples of barn windows and yokes (right).

3 – Adding Mesh to Your Horse Stall Fronts
Aside from barn exterior components, our design team always recommends to add mesh to your horse stall fronts. Although mesh is an expensive addition, this material adds so many priceless benefits to your barn. For this reason, we believe that the additional cost is justified immediately and in the long run.

You can read about the benefits of mesh here, but here is a condensed list of its benefits:

  1. Airflow & Ventilation: Mesh allows for more airflow to flow into the horse stall and out of the horse stall
  2. Visibility: Mesh increases visibility into the stall. This allows you to save time during barn checks, but also have more peace of mind.
  3. Odor Management: Mesh bottoms (on stall doors and stall fronts) help flush out odors that tend to linger in the bottom of a horse stall.

If considering a barn renovation or new barn construction, you can add mesh as an upgrade to your stall fronts. The mesh will add much needed airflow especially in warmer climates.

Mesh included in custom sliding stall fronts (left) and hinged European horse stall fronts (right)

We do understand that mesh upgrades on custom stall fronts can be a considerable upgrade. Another option that many clients choose is to add our stall gates to their existing sliding stall doors or standalone as their primary stall door. This allows clients to add airflow to their barn at a more cost-effective price point without sacrificing on quality.

Adding airflow to your horse barn interior while being mindful about your project’s budget with our stall gates.

4 – Stall Fans
Last but not least, we recommend to add high-quality stall fans to horse stalls. This is a no brainer, but a high-quality stall fan will:

  1. Improve air movement in your barn
  2. Provide superior cooling to your horses
  3. Operate with less noise
  4. Reduce heat stress in your horses
  5. Improve air quality in the barn

When shopping for horse stall fans, we recommend against the traditional box fan. Box fans are inexpensive and versatile, but these fans are not approved for use in horse barns by national electric codes. These traditional box fans utilize an “open” motor construction and design. This particular design presents a serious fire hazard for barns. This is why we recommend to purchase a stall fan with a closed motor design.

When we work with clients, we routinely recommend our PureCOOL 12″ Stall Fans. These fans are quiet, include a “closed” motor design, and include a deep-guard design that is safe and effective.

While this article covered 4 products and some best practices, this is far from a complete list. If you are looking to make improvements to your horse barn, we encourage you to give our team a call or email. One of our design project managers would love to speak with you to see how we can help increase the safety and function of your barn. You can reach our sales and design team at (855) 957-8255 or also send us an email at sales@americanstalls.com

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