Keith Warth, author of “Stables and other Equestrian Buildings”, believes buildings should be constructed around the horse.

“Cost is obviously a priority, but make sure that you’re not compromising on safety or your horse’s comfort.”

Keith advises buyers to visit as many yards as possible to gain an idea of good and bad points of certain constructions.

“Try and look at stables which have been in use for at least five years, as this will give you some idea of wear andtear,” says Keith.

“Ideally, the joins shouldn¨t have gaps and the overall look should be substantial.”

The importance of sympathetic design

“Ideally, you want cross ventilation so that fresh air is available at all times,” says Keith.

“The floor should slope, either forward or back, to encourage drainage. Poor drainage could result in a build up of ammonia which is a serious threat to the horse’s respiratory system.

“High ceilings are important as they reduce the level of moisture in the air.

“Bear in mind that horses love to be within sight of each other. However, if you are going to install bars between stables, don’t have them next to mangers as horses don’t like being disturbed while theyre eating.”

Design for comfort

The stable and its roof should be designed to keep the temperature below 15øC (60øF). Horses tolerate cold, but high temperatures can cause them distress.

Design features for consideration:

  • A pitched roof allows for more head room and also drains well.
  • Ideally, the roof should overhang the front of the boxes by about three feet. This will keep the horse dry and provide shade.
  • Steer clear of roofing felt. Felt is not fire proof, and in summer will trap heat inside the box.
  • Each loose box should have an opening window protected by a grill or mesh.
  • Windows on the wall opposite the door help improve the light and also provide a breeze.

    Choosing a site

    Buildings require proper foundations and planning permission may well be requires from your local authority.

    The site will usually have to be surveyed and you may need to have plans drawn up by anarchitect.

    When choosing a site, consider the following:

  • The site should be level and well drained.
  • Do not position stables at the bottom of a dip as the area may flood.
  • Ideally, the stables need to have their backs to the prevailing wind.
  • Site the stables away from overhanging trees. Trees can damage the foundations and disturb horses in stormy weather.
  • Consider ease of access for vehicles and water and electricity supplies.

    Measuring up

  • A box measuring 12x10ft is suitable for a pony.
  • 12x12ft for horses from 14.2-16.2hh.
  • 12x14ft or 14x14ft for horses over 16.2hh.
  • 16x16ft for very large horses, or for foaling.
  • Doorways should be 4ft wide.
  • Horses of 14.2hh and above will usually have a bottom door 4ft high, with a top door of 3ft (total doorway height of 7ft).
  • Pony boxes will need lower bottom doors and don¨t need as much head room in the doorway.
    Conversions

    Most farm buildings can be converted into looseboxes or stalls, provided that the building is sound, the roof is of sufficient height, and proper ventilation can be installed.

    It as also possible to convert large buildings into an American-style barn, where the building will contain two rows of loose boxes facing each other across a passageway.