by American Stalls July 27, 2020
One of the most important components in your barn are your horse stall’s doors.
If built right and maintained well, your stall doors will last you for at least fifteen years. During its lifespan, you will likely open and close the stall doors thousands of times. That is why it is so important to spend time in making your decision.
Based on our fifteen years of manufacturing experience, we'd like to share some best practices and opinions on stall doors.
There are only two types of stall doors: sliding doors and hinged doors that swing out. Although there are pros and cons to each door (learn more here), we generally recommend sliding stall doors to clients who are either building a new barn or refurbishing an existing barn.
In our experience, well-made sliding stall doors are the way to go for both efficiency and safety. A sliding stall door allows you to save time in opening and closing the door every time the horse is turned out. Whether you have a four stall barn or a twenty-two stall barn, this will save loads of time in handling horses.
In regards to safety, sliding horse stalls are easier to open and close. In the event of a fire or other emergency, a human handler can easily slide open the stall doors, lock them in place, and attend to other stalls. In contrast, hinged stall doors pose a safety hazard when left unlatched in an aisleway. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you consider a sliding horse stall door for your next stalls project.
Steel or Wood?
Many older barns tend to have stall doors that are entirely or primarily constructed from wood. Although there is a certain charm to wooden doors, we always recommend steel frame stall doors. If you would like the look of wood, we can certainly insert U-Channels into the steel frame to accept tongue and groove lumber.
Steel Bars, Mesh, or Full Lumber?
In today’s market, there are so many different design options when it comes to steel bars, steel mesh, and lumber choices. In general, we always recommend prioritizing safety, airflow, and functionality before aesthetics.
For this reason, we almost always prefer stall doors with vertical steel bars and/or steel mesh to enable visibility and ventilation in a barn. Please note that we always recommend vertical steel bars as opposed to horizontal steel bars because horizontal steel bars pose a safety risk for legs to get caught. We also recommend that you choose a manufacturer that uses 1” round bars for their vertical steel bars placed on 3” centers. This ensures that the vertical bars are not placed with a 2” (or less) spacing. This prevents any hooves from getting stuck and injured.
One of our favorite designs has steel bars on top (for visibility) and steel mesh on the bottom (for strength). The vertical steel bars allow for visibility while the mesh bottom provides structural strength.
At the end of the day though, once you take into account all of the safety considerations, the final design is a matter of personal preference. Your stall door’s design can be all mesh, all steel bars, or a combination of both components.
Centered Door or Off-Centered Door?
Throughout the world, we see plenty of barns that have stalls with either centered stall doors and doors placed to the left or right. Based on our experience, we always recommend placing the door in the middle of the horse stall front.
The centered position allows both ends of the horse stall to have a functional use for water and feed. From a handling perspective, we also recommend for the stall door slide to the left. This way, you can have your horse in your right hand while using your left hand to operate the door. Once you are in the stall, you can easily close the stall door with your free hand. When we design our horse stall equipment, these details are important to allow for safe and efficient design. At the end of the day, it is crucial for design to be safe for the horse and the handler.
Yoke Opening or No Opening?
For starters, a “yoke” is the opening in a horse stall’s door that allows a horse to hang their head outside of the stall door.
For many cases, we do recommend stall doors with yoke openings. The yoke allows for an elegant aesthetic, increased socialization, and increased ventilation.. The yoke opening provides a nice, elegant aesthetic to any barn. It also provides horse owners the peace of mind as a horse owner can just look down the aisle to see their happy horse safely in their stall. The yoke will allow the horse to peek its head out to stay attuned to its surroundings and socialize with fellow animals. We especially recommend yokes if the partitions are solid (full wood). Please note that we advise that customers only use a yoke door when their aisleways are at least 14’ in width.
Lastly, the yoke opening is equally functional from a practical perspective. If your horse stall does not have a feed door or opening, the stall’s yoke can be used to place hay in the stall.
That all being said, we do realize that yoke doors are not for everyone. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference in terms of aesthetics, safety, and your horse's behavior and personality.
Do you have more questions regarding your existing stall doors or a new stalls project? Contact us today and our team would be happy to assist with any questions and project planning.