Friday 5th December, 2014
Winter is well on its way and as the nights draw in it is time to think about your stabling routine during the colder months. In the wild horses would seek shelter beneath the boughs of trees, behind hedges and of course behind one another, however thankfully domestic horses can enjoy the comforts of a warm rug and a sturdy stable to keep them cosy. Not all horses require stabling through the winter and some of the hardier breeds such as cobs and draught horses will be quite happy to see the winter out in the field, providing they are well rugged up and have good quality field shelters to protect them from the elements. However many horse owners, and especially those who own finer breeds such as Arabs, Thoroughbreds, and Warmbloods will ensure that their equine companion spends the frosty winter nights snuggled up in the warmth of a stable.
So how much room does a horse require in a stable? Well the official guidelines from the British Horse Society is that a pony requires a minimum of The British Horse Society recommends a minimum stable size of 3.6m x 3.6m for horses, and preferably 4.2m x 3.6m for larger breeds. If you are stabling a pony then you can reduce the dimensions down to 3.0m x 3.0m, and when considering height you should look at 2.7-3.3m.
A horse or pony will need to be able to move around freely within the stable, to include being able to lie down, roll and walk around so that they do not feel too restricted. When considering the size of your stable you may also wish to think about the accessories that you will be featuring within your stable, such as a self-watering trough, a feeding manger and so on as these will impact on the available space that your horse has to move in.
Whether you opt for brick built stables or wooden panelling, the material that your horse’s stable is built from is also incredibly important as its needs to be durable enough to withstand the elements year on year and strong enough to withstand daily wear and tear from its occupants. This is especially important when stabling spritely horses that have the odd vice or two as they can quickly damage cheaper materials, so it is worth investing in quality designs that will stand the test of time whilst being animal friendly.
Field shelters are another important source of accommodation for horses, and the guidelines for these depend on the number of horses turned out in a field at any one time. A shelter for a small pony need only be 3.0 x 3.6m in size, whereas a larger horse will need at least 4.5m x 3.6m. If you have more than one horse in a field at a time then aim to have as shelter of at least 7.2m x 3.6m, ideally with two openings to allow timid horses to come in and out without conflict if there are some strong characters within the herd. The design of your field shelter can make all the difference to your equine too, especially in harsh weather conditions, so it worth considering a shelter with a slight overhang on the front to offer additional protection against the elements for the horses inside.