Design of buildings and materials used are a matter of personal preference. The materials and design suggested here are soundly based on principles that would apply universally. Other designs and other materials should be in accordance with the principles of keeping the horse healthy and keeping labour to a minimum. Variations will be determined by the purpose of the stable and its siting.


The sort of stabling horses require depends upon the importance condition will play or whatever else may be required for the end use of the horses. Horses may be kept in the field all year round, if provided with shade from the sun, and some simple form of shelter from the rain and the cold wind. However, they will then grow thick winter coats and get covered in mud making it difficult to keep them in a sufficiently clean condition for use as riding horses. Proper grooming cannot be done unless they can be brought into some sort of enclosed stable, and hand feeding can also only be satisfactorily applied if each horse is separately stabled at meal times.


The normal practice is to have a separate loose box for each horse, except of course that a mare and foal at foot are stabled in the same box. A suitable size is 13 – 16 m and the lesser length should not be less than 3 m. The loose boxes are usually arranged in a block and where a number of horses are kept, design can materially affect the ease with which they can be handled with regard to feeding and looking after them.


A small simple set-up for four horses is shown in Figure 1. The doors are of the usual stable type, the lower half being 110 – 125cm high depending on the size of the horses or ponies to be stabled. Tie roof construction is shown in Figure. 2. Additional rooms for tack and for storing feed could be included in the block, but only for 4 horses, tack is often kept in the dwelling house, and feed may be stored in the garage or garden shed.


Figure 3 shows a larger set up suitable for 20 horses. This design could be expanded  to accommodate 40 horses by simply  building additional  boxes onto  each end. Certain  features  of the design are important to note:

  • Ventilation is provided by a 20cm open gap in the roof ridge. Passage of air over the roof slope, even at very low wind speeds, and combined with the relative warmth within the building, naturally extracts the air which enters through the external loose-box doors. The small amount of rain which enters through this gap is of no consequence. The  top  half of the door may be closed or opened to adjust the ventilation to the  required  degree, and both halves would normally be left open in the day when the horses are out  in  the paddocks. This allows the whole building to dry out including the bedding.
  • All hay and bedding is brought into the loose boxes and the muck is removed through the external loose box doors. Whilst feeding, normal access to the boxes is through the internal half doors.

A model site plan for a 20 horse establishment and suitable paddock lay-out is shown in Figure. 6.