How Big Should a Horse Stall Be

04.23.2015
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by Matt
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10 Comments
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How Big Should a Horse Stall Be?

The standard size for a horse stall tends to be twelve feet by twelve feet. But is that the right size for every horse?

The twelve-foot wall standard comes from a simple calculation for the average 1,000-pound horse: the wall is about one and a half times the horse’s length. It accounts for allowing a horse to walk in a circle, to lie down and roll, and to sleep without getting cast constantly (although some horses just cast themselves no matter what you do!). This size is also a modular dimension of lumber and stall equipment, but that is a whole other post.

A natural extension of this is the 12-foot by 24-foot foaling stall. You can easily build a removable wall between two stalls if you see foaling mares in your future. An example of this size can be seen on our Threes Sons Ranch project.

If twelve-by-twelve is the average stall size for a horse of average size, that doesn’t quite make it one size fits all. If you’re purpose building a stall for draft horses, for example, you want to take into consideration that a Percheron larger than seventeen hands and weighing in somewhere north of 1,500 pounds is going to want more space than the average Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse. A nineteen-hand horse will have trouble just turning around in a standard stall.

In this case, bumping stall sizes up to a more generous fourteen-by-fourteen foot will give your extra-large horse some extra breathing, rolling, pacing, and sleeping room. One of our clients desired this size on their stable, as seen at Boyd stable project.

You can also achieve more livable stall space for your horse with a rectangular stall. Some yearling barns get by with a ten-by-eight stall, but unless you’re dealing with ponies, that’s not quite enough room for an adult horse. Twelve-by-fourteen is a nice compromise if you’re limited for space, giving horses a little extra walking and rolling room. For draft horses, a twelve-foot minimum wall length is ideal, so you might consider a twelve-by-sixteen rectangular stall.

On the other hand, if you’re building stalls for miniature horses, you can downsize accordingly! Many miniature horse breeders agree that eight-by-eight foot stalls are workable for these little horses, although some hold out for ten-by-ten. This is also a common show stall size.

Of course, all of these sizes are for a horse that spends the bulk, or at least half, of his time indoors. If you’re looking for a space to bring a horse in to eat breakfast and dinner in peace, before going back outside to live on pasture, the minimum amount of space works for any horse. As long as they can turn around and roll with a reasonable expectation that they won’t hit the wall, even a small stall can work for a big horse — for a limited time!

How big are your horse stalls?

10 responses on “How Big Should a Horse Stall Be

  1. I like this article. From a resale perspective…I recommend 12’X12′ stalls with dividers that can be taken out for foaling stalls. This way you are sure to have more buyers for your property. Smaller 10X10 will loose any warmblood, fresian owners and many thoroughbred people. Just wanted to mention this. I know buyers many times will not buy a farm with small stalls but it does not matter who looks when you have larger size stalls.

  2. Susan Wood-Kotkoski says:

    A long time ago someone said to me, if it looks good to us, it’s not good for the horse and I truly believe this piece of advice. My horse is in a 24’x36′ paddock with an attached 14’x16′ stall. She wears a 7′ blanket so add another third and you have her nose to tail length, and a bit over 17 hands high. So many diseases of the horse are as of a direct result from very long hours of forced inactivity. Because I am an older person, I can tell you for sure that horses used to be turned out to pasture during the day and brought into stalls at night for safety so being locked up on a nice bed of straw – always something to snack on in between snoozing – was an optimum way to keep a horse. Now we have removed the horse’s pasture turnout during the day and if lucky, it has been replaced with maybe 30 minutes in a limited paddock. To me minimum is length of horse plus 4′. By the way, that picture of stabling looks really good to us.

  3. Dale Edwards says:

    I just had my 110 year old wreck of a barn re-built. The roof was falling in and the walls had fallen out so that all that was holding it up was the poles, as it is a pole barn. The floor was just dirt. I had asked the contractor to add on another five feet to the width so I could have two 12×12 stalls, but I guess I should have specified that the five feet was the INSIDE measurement , not from the outside of the concrete footing. and inside concrete stall walls. As a result I have ended up with one stall that is 10 1/2 feet by 11 1/2 feet. The other is 10 1/2 feet by 11 feet. I’m not too worried as the one larger stall is for one of my stallions and he has the freedom to come and go in and out to his large paddock as he likes. The other stall is more of an emergency stall. Also there is an 8×6 foot area that can be used as a standing stall. The other end of the barn is a 13 x 19 chicken coop that has the hay loft over top of it. The concrete floor is so wonderful to have! I’m just waiting for the concrete to cure now and can’t wait to see the horses’ reaction when he gets to go into his brand new barn. I can get the chickens out of my other barn and then start to fix the six stalls up and see if I can add a hay loft. My stallion is an Arabian, not too big, so I think the stall size is fine.

    • Matt Johnson says:

      Congratulations on your updated barn! It’s definitely good practice to match your stall size to your horse’s size and daily needs. As long as they have enough head-room and space to turn around and roll safely, a small stall for a small horse who is going in and out often sounds like a good fit for your farm.

  4. Bud says:

    Very nice projects.
    I am a retired architect-we are building a bridge over a creek for a small quarter horse farm (not ours)-very low budget- and were wondering what would be the narrowest dimension to conciser-
    enclosed sides up to 42″ and length to be 44 feet
    we are concerned about width for horse comfort, but cant waste money on extra space.

  5. Valerie Hennigh says:

    Since you haven’t received any answers about your bridge width question I would submit my opinion. With well trained, calm horses I’ve crossed narrow pedestrian-width bridges without any issues. However, I’ve dealt with high-strung horses within extensive corral system and a 6 foot width alleyway allows enough room to feel comfortable and have enough time to react to unexpected reactions on the horse’s part. 6 feet would IMHO be the narrowest I would be comfortable with over such a long distance.

  6. Keira says:

    What is a hand ? I really want a horse so I’m doing some research and I don’t know what hand means.

    • Matt Johnson says:

      The “hand” (width of a hand) is a unit of measurement equalling 4 inches. It is used to measure the height of horses by placing one hand on the ground, the other above it and then moving the first hand over the second, and so on up until you reach the horse’s wither.

  7. Heidi Williamson says:

    I am trying to figure out a stall size for a miniature horse, who will be no more than 7 hands (28 in). It is suggested that a medium horse, say 15 hands, is about 8 ft long and should have a 12 x 12 stall. So the ratio is 5 ft to 12 ft or. But what about a mini that is 7 hands or about 4 ft long? Applying the same ratio I get roughly 6 ft, or a 6 x 6 stall. Yet some recommendations are over 8 x 8. My “barn” is a beautiful insulated teak shed, elevated almost a foot off the ground with a ramp to enter. It is 8 ft x 12 ft. A 6 x 6 would be perfect because it would leave me 2 ft to the side of the stall. I currently have shelves a bit less than 2 ft deep along 1 wall. The remainder could be used for storage, hay, blankets, etc., a 6 x 8 space with a 3 ft isle, leaving me shelves of 2 ft on each side plus some extra space. The shed also has a big loft on each end. The roof is more than 10 ft to the crest and the lofts are 6’6″ up.

    So, yeah, back to the issue at hand (no pun intended). Can I use the 8 ft to 12 ft or 2 to 3 ratio and apply that to a small?

    • Matt Johnson says:

      The 6×6 foot stall you describe should be fine for your small mini, especially if your mini will be spending limited time in the stall. Just be sure that the stall gives your mini plenty of room to turn around and lie down without being up against a wall. If your mini will be spending the majority of its time in the stall, then you may want to opt for an 8×8 foot stall or larger.

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