Aisle Safety For Horse Barns
By Jason T. Atilia
One of the most overlooked parts of horse barns is the barn aisle. Stalls and tack room are designed with function and comfort, which sometimes lead to poor aisle layout. However, Christine Bakarat, horse enthusiast and designer of several horse barns, insists that barn aisles are just as important as stalls and grooming areas. According to Bakarat, barn aisles serve multiple purposes. Makes sense because for horses, the barns are their living space and driveway in one. Needless to say, barn aisles are high-traffic areas with both equine and human activities. I suggest that you follow Bakarat’s simple guidelines in building or redesigning your barns for human and equine safety.
Poorly structured horse barns with improperly maintained aisles are annoying and in most cases, hazardous. The recommended doorway width for barns is eight to twelve feet, depending on the barn area. Ideally, aisles should follow the same width. This enables traffic without overcrowding. Bakarat proposes a simple reference to determine the sufficiency of the width of your barn aisles. First, two horses can pass side by side through it without touching. There should be a comfortable space between the two animals because horses are territorial animals. Second, the aisles are wide enough if a horse can turn around without bumping the stalls. This makes maneuvering horses indoors easier, especially if the feed and tack are inside the barn. Third, a person can pass through the aisle without getting bumped or nipped by the equine occupants of each stall.
Aside from adequate aisle width, ceiling heights should also be considered. Standard heights are pegged at seven and eight feet, but Bakarat insists that ceiling heights depend on the type of horses bred. She offers two options for horse barns which will work for all horses: very high ceilings or ceilings that are very low. Indeed, these are wise options. Why? To give you an idea, suppose that your horse is very active. Low ceilings will discourage it to rear because it lacked space while high ceilings can accommodate its rearing actions without damaging its face.
If you don’t have the budget to redesign your horse barns, there are low-budget solutions to improve aisle safety. Improving stable aisles need not be an overhaul of your whole barn. Bakarat suggests that with a few minor changes, your barn aisles can be turned to a safety haven. First, consider your flooring materials. If you are currently using smooth concrete, you are promoting accidents of slippage. Instead, use paver bricks or add a layer of texturized concrete to add traction. Consider using stall mats or dirt floors depending on your budget. Traction is an important aspect of horse barns. Second, install proper lighting. Install light fixtures at heights that horses can’t reach to avoid fire hazards. However, make sure that the mounted lights can illuminate every part of the barn, especially the work areas. Halogen and flourescent lights are good options. They shine brighter and require minimal maintenance. Third, avoid excessive clutter. Keep the aisles free of equipment by building a small shed or disposing unnecessary items. Consider and apply these guidelines to keep your barns safe for you and your horses.
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