Putting up stables can present as many pitfalls as building your own home. Before you start thinking about design and type, check whether you need planning permission; in most cases, even when use is private rather than commercial, you will.

The only exceptions are where stables are built within the curtilage of the house, but a lack of hard definitions means its always best to consult your local planning office. It may also be needed if you convert existing buildings, so don’t take chances.

Explain plans to neighbours in advance to overcome their fears about noise, smell and even the proximity of large, unfamiliar animals!

If your site is in the middle of nowhere, remember that manufacturers need access for large lorries. And if your stables are going next to an existing building, allow enough space between the two for the building crew to manoeuvre.

Once you’ve got the go-ahead, check out manufacturers and conversion specialists. They will help on everything from base construction to design, but points to keep in mind include:

  • The base is as important, and perhaps expensive, as the stables. Stables are made to fit, so it’s worth getting the base laid professionally.
  • Think long term. Buy the best and as much as you can afford: if you eventually plan extra buildings, build your base accordingly.
  • The bigger the box, the better. The standard 12ft sq stable is really too small for anything over 16hh. Dirty horses are cleaner in big boxes.
  • Good ventilation is vital. High level vents, preferably at the ridge, are essential.
  • Go for high pitched ceilings, which will allow a greater volume of air to dilute ammonia from urine.
  • A window in the back as well as the front is a plus point and your horse will appreciate the extra view.
  • Compatible horses will prefer grilles between stables rather than blank walls, but site mangers so there is no jealousy or squabbling.
  • Don’t skimp on kickboards — flying hooves go a long way — or chew strips.
  • American barns are great for the people who work in them, but need extra thought putting into their design to safeguard horses respiratory health.
  • Don’t undo all the good work by storing hay or straw next to or above stables and barns where horses will inspire dust and spores.

Need help? Apart from your local authority planning office, try the agricultural advisory service ADAS, (tel: 0845 766 0085); or visit www.adas.co.uk