When building a barn, safety of both horses and humans should always be a priority. Your barn aisle is one of the most heavily trafficked areas, but it’s also an area with the potential for significant accidents to occur. Many of these dangers can be reduced or prevented by building a barn aisle that’s designed to be as safe as possible. When planning and building a barn, consider the following important safety tips.
Choose an Appropriate Width and Height
An aisle that’s too narrow can increase the chance of accidents occurring and can make those accidents worse, since horses and humans don’t have room to get out of the way. When building a barn, always create an aisle that’s a minimum of 12 feet wide. This width will work for many barns, but consider the type of activity that your barn will see, too. A breeding barn housing mare and foal pairs will benefit from a wider aisle to accommodate leading multiple horses out. If you plan to drive machinery, like tractors or manure trailers into your barn, a wider aisle will be convenient.
Pay attention to the aisle height, too. Low-hanging beams or an overall low ceiling can lead to injury if horses spook or rear. Opt for a minimum 10-foot ceiling height above your aisle. Even better, leave your aisle open all the way to the barn’s ceiling and take advantage of natural light.
Take Steps to Minimize Clutter
Even if your aisle is plenty wide, you’ll still need to design your barn so that you don’t need to clutter that aisle up with equipment. When planning your barn, include separate storage areas for equipment like tack trunks, grooming boxes, wheelbarrows, hay, and pitchforks. While many barn owners store tack trunks in barn aisles, they can quickly make a large aisle much smaller. Instead, create a room specifically for them, build tack lockers into an aisle that’s intended for humans only, or design a larger tack room to accommodate the boxes.
In most cases it’s best to avoid storing blankets in the aisle. If you need to have blanket bars on your stall fronts, invest in drop-down bars that lie flat against the stall door when not in use. It’s even better if you can account for blanket storage in your barn’s design. Install blanket racks and hangers in out-of-the-way areas and rooms that don’t see horse traffic.
If water faucets need to be in the aisle, position them so that they’re as out of the way as possible. Keep hoses coiled up on hose racks or reels. Investing in automatic waterers or a stall-to-stall automatic watering system can eliminate the need for a faucet and hose in the aisle, reducing clutter.
Invest in Safe Footing
Your aisle flooring is the foundation to its safety, and you’ll want to invest in flooring that isn’t only durable, but that also provides ideal traction to humans and horses. A basic dirt floor can offer good traction, but it will be prone to pitting and dust. Concrete is popular for its durability, but it can be slick, especially when wet. Adding rubber mats to the floor can help to maximize traction and safety.
Consider investing in rubber flooring, like rubber aisle pavers. These pavers, which resemble brick, are durable but forgiving underfoot. They also offer great traction both when dry and when wet, and they can create a beautiful appearance in your barn.
Focus on Your Barn Doors
The barn aisle doors can also help to make your aisle safer. Invest in quality, heavy-duty doors that roll easily and fully out of the aisle’s entrance. Consider including windows in the barn doors so that humans always have a clear view of whether horses are in the aisle before opening a door.
Build a Safer Barn
Focusing on your barn aisle’s safety is just one step of building a barn that’s safe for horses and humans. As you plan your barn, Equine Facility Design can help to make your vision into a reality, guiding you through the entire barn building process. Contact us today to learn more – we’d love to hear about your project!