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horses in their stalls

What Is the Right Stall Size for Your Horse?

Whether you've just bought a horse or you're building a new stable for your equine herd, you'll need to know the ideal size stall for your animal. That answer will depend on a variety of factors. When you're seeking or designing proper housing for your steed, ensure you know the ideal horse stall size for its comfort.

Understand Why Your Stall's Size Matters

The truth is that horses feel most at home in open spaces, such as those provided by horse pens. However, that may not be a viable option for you. When you need to provide indoor housing, you should find or build a stall that allows your horse to turn around easily, lie down, and get back up without getting cast. The ideal horse stall size can vary depending on your equine size. 

As a starting point, a 12-foot by 12-foot box stall is recommended for a 1,000-pound horse. Generally speaking, a horse weighing approximately a half-ton will measure around 15 hands from the withers. Stalls can be smaller for miniature horses and ponies and larger for draft horses.

Consider Your Horse's Activity Level

The horse stall size required for your equine to feel at ease may vary based on its activity level and time spent in the stall. The more time your horse spends indoors, the more space it should have.

If you bring your animal in for feeding but turn it out to pasture the rest of the time, it won't need as much square footage. You should still provide enough room for it to turn around and roll on the ground without running into the walls. In addition, if your horse is more active, it may need additional space to move around freely.

Plan Extra For Stallions And Broodmares

If you have plans for breeding horses or housing pregnant mares, you'll need more spacious stalls for your stock. Stallions need extra room to move around indoors, so a 12-foot by 12-foot stall is likely too restrictive.

Similarly, when a mare is in labor, she'll need room to walk around and get up and down freely. Constructing some stalls with removable walls can provide extra space fairly easily. That way, a standard square box stall can become a rectangular space twice the size.

Make Sure The Ceiling Has Enough Clearance

Horse in a big stable

In addition to floor space, you'll want to consider the ceiling height where you house your horse. Adequate overhead space allows for good air circulation in the building.

If your horse becomes spooked and rears up in the stall, higher ceilings will help protect your animal from banging its head on overhead structures. With this in mind, the minimum height for a ceiling should be 10 feet, with a 12-14 foot clearance being ideal.

Don't Forget About Doors And Partitions

When evaluating your horse stall size, ensure you don't forget the door width and partition height. Doors need an opening wide enough for you and your animal to pass through safely. The door opening width should be at least 4 feet for an average horse. If you use a swing door, make sure the door opens into the aisle and not into the stall. This will ensure access if your animal becomes cast against the stall right by the door.

In most stables, stall partitions do not reach the ceiling. Providing an opening above the line of stalls helps encourage good airflow and ventilation. However, partitions should be high enough to prevent your horse from getting hung up on the wall if they kick or rear. For the average horse, 8 feet is a good height.

How Big Should A Horse Stall Be?

The ideal horse stall size can vary because horses come in different sizes and have different needs. Below are some guidelines to follow when considering the right dimensions for your animal's housing:

  • Average-sized horse (approximately 1,000 pounds): 12 feet by 12 feet of floor space will provide adequate room for your horse to turn around, lie down, and get up comfortably.

  • Pony, a miniature horse, or some smaller breeds (such as Morgans and Arabians): 10 feet by 10 feet is enough room to move freely and not become cast against a wall.

  • Draft breeds and large-sized horses (1,500+ pounds): You will need at least 14 feet by 14 feet. These horses are often 17 hands or higher and need more space to turn and move freely.

  • Breeding stock: Whether you're thinking about a stallion or a broodmare, you'll want to plan for a larger stall. A 16-foot by 16-foot or a 12-foot by 24-foot stall will allow your animal room to move around. Stallions need space to pace around and release some of their energy. Pregnant mares preparing for labor must move around and get up and down easily during delivery.

Brown horse in a stall

These are recommendations for horses housed in a stall most of the day. Sometimes, your building's structure will require adjustments in the stall's layout. If your architecture doesn't allow for a 12-foot depth, you may be able to make up for it in length. A rectangular stall 10 feet deep and 14 feet long is viable. Avoid making your stall narrower than 10 feet, or your horse may have difficulty turning and moving around.

When you take the time to ensure that your steed has a comfortable box stall, it shows everyone around you that you're a horse lover as much as the clothes you wear to display your enthusiasm for everything equine.


Do I have to have a barn for my horse?

No, you do not need a barn for your horse! Many people keep their horses in paddocks or pastures, but a horse barn is the way to go if you are looking for an enclosed shelter area in which your horse can stay 24/7. 

Some people also choose to build custom stalls that suit their needs and preferences – this is perfectly fine, but ensure consider factors such as insulation and ventilation when doing so.

Should you opt for solid instead of barred stall partitions?

Yes! Solid stall walls provide more protection from the elements - including the sun - while allowing enough airflow into the stall. They are less likely to injure your horse's legs than barred partitions. However, make sure you ensure there's enough ventilation within the stall.

What about the stall flooring?

Concrete, mats, shavings, dirt? It depends on your and your horse's preferences. Concrete is easy to clean but hard on the hooves. Shavings and mats provide cushioning but require frequent mucking. Dirt or sand is natural but can get muddy. There's no perfect option, so you may need to experiment to find what works for your situation.

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