Do Your Barn Plans Include Enough Space for Safety?

Barn and Aisle-way Safety

By Christine Barakat

A stable aisle is a driveway, foyer and living room all in one. Because a stable aisle has busy traffic and multiple uses, a badly designed or poorly maintained aisle can be annoying and even dangerous. Whether you’re designing new barn plans or improving an existing setup, consider the following aspects of aisle-way safety as you plan:

Description: A woman sweeping a barn aisle.
Keep your barn clean and clear of debris
Dimensions — Aisle-ways should be at least eight feet wide to allow two horses to pass without crowding each other as well as enable a person to walk through the barn without being nipped by occupants on either side of the stall doors. This width also allows very large horses to turn around safely. Aisle ceilings should be constructed either very high (nine feet or more) or very low (around seven feet). The optimal height depends upon the horses stabled. If the ceilings are high enough, a rearing horse won’t reach the rafters. If the ceilings are low, he’ll connect before gaining the momentum to damage his poll or face.

  • Floor — Avoid using slick asphalt or smooth concrete as aisle-way footing. If money is no object, consider interlocking rubber “paver” bricks for a safe, classy flooring requiring little upkeep. Texturized concrete, which incorporates coarse particles for extra traction, and stall equine mats placed over slick surfaces are two less expensive options that provide clean, durable surfaces. Dirt and stone-dust floors are cheap and safe, but both require maintenance to keep them smooth and dust-free.

Description: a barn setting
A well-manicured barn is beautiful.

 

  • Lighting — Mount light fixtures where they will pose no hazard of contact by horses. Lights should illuminate the barn aisle fully and cast light on the sides of cross-tied horses being examined, groomed and tacked up. Cold-proof fluorescent lights are inexpensive to run and cast a more consistent light than incandescent bulbs.

 

  • Clutter — Even the best-designed barn aisle becomes dangerous when feed cans, saddle racks, wheelbarrows, and other objects create an obstacle course. For safety’s sake, adopt a minimalist policy for maintaining your aisle. Crossties, stall cards and blanket racks are really all you need in the aisle-way area. If your tack and feed rooms can’t hold everything else, consider adding an extra shed outside the horse barn to store overflow equipment.