I’ve never seen any really egregious examples of bad practices for barn interiors. I’m talking about sharp corners, toxic materials, non-tempered glass and that sort of thing that could injure a horse when they’re in the barn.
Most of the shortcuts or less-than-ideal things I’ve seen in barn construction result from budgetary concerns and that is something that I understand. However, when you think about it, it’s not very difficult and often not expensive to keep your horse safe in the barn by following a few guidelines.
We don’t use metal siding in barns but we do use durable materials that are safe. We never want any sharp edges because if there’s a place where your horse CAN come in contact with the barn interior, your horse WILL come in contact with it sooner or later. You also want to be mindful of where your horse might get his teeth around something, because again, he will try.
The main concern is the stall and if you have a run outside the stall. The people areas are not as much of a concern but still should be reviewed; your horse is not usually playing in that area unattended.
The stall’s exposed edges should have chew strips or guards. Horses like to chew and will do so especially if they’re bored and have been in the stall for a while.
The average stall is 12×12. Bigger than this and you’re giving your horse more room to bang around when he’s feeling mischievous or bored.
The stall walls should not absorb moisture. This not only could lead to mold, which is not good for your horse, but can wick urine and make the whole barn smell less-than-springtime-fresh, creating an unhealthy interior environment.
Which brings up the issue of cleaning. Ease of cleaning is important for you and your horse. The easier it is to clean a stall, the likelier you are to be able keep it clean. It won’t make it easier to get your teenager to clean the stall but it should promote the health of your equine friends.
When we install openings in the exterior stall wall, we have a few considerations. Usually we provide shuttered openings with a U-shaped yoke. The yoke allows the horse to put its head out without rubbing back and forth along a square opening until it opens a sore on its neck.
If the owner wants windows, we use only tempered safety glass and we put a removable hinged grill on the inside. The grill keeps the horse from inadvertently putting its head through the glass and the grill allows for ease of cleaning. Tempered glass will not shatter when your horse kicks the wall.
You also don’t want any openings in the stall that could catch a leg.
We use only materials that have been tested to be non-toxic. Some horses like to lick and you don’t want them licking something that will make them sick or worse.
These are just a few of the considerations when designing and building interiors for your barn. After all, this is where your horses may spend an awful lot of time.