Planning Your Perfect Stable
Planning your new stable or yard is exciting, but do take some time to carefully think about your options and priorities according to your budget. Horses are very rewarding, but every horse owner knows just how much hard work is involved. Battling with an overloaded wheelbarrow, contending with horizontal rain in the middle of winter, mud and frozen water can make the most dedicated horse owner reconsider their choice of hobby. However, a well-planned stable yard can make all the difference. Choosing the right stable for you and your horse It’s important to choose good quality timber and have the stables designed and built well; you don’t want to have to replace them a few years down the line. The yard and stables should suit your lifestyle, as well as your horse. Are you one of the many horse owners who work full-time and so have to muck out in the dark? Make sure the yard is designed to make this as easy as possible. As well as practical considerations, stables should also look great and enhance your property, not detract from it or make it look untidy. Choose materials that blend in and suit your property. Keep it smart and professional. Think Household Cavalry, not Steptoe’s Yard. Remember, this needs to be a great place to spend time, but you also want to feel reassured that when you leave the yard, your horse is warm, dry, and secure. Planning Permission for your stable This is the boring bit, but you will need to check this out with your local council. It will depend upon where the stables are situated and whether it’s within the confines of a domestic property, or on agricultural land. Each local authority is different and it is very much down to the actual property and its location. If you have existing buildings and are using the same “footprint” it can be a little easier. Don’t worry – we can help you with this and point you in the right direction. Check out our Guide to Planning Where to site your stable or yard. Right, stop looking though the property section of Horse and Hound, let’s be realistic. Most of us have limited space and options. The main things to consider are access, services (such as water and electricity) and the prevailing wind and weather. With the UK's prevailing wind coming from the South-West and the coldest coming from the North-East, a southerly-facing stable is often considered the best option. However, these can get particularly hot in the summer, so if you need to stable your horse during the day at this time of year, consider an East or South-East facing one instead. It will get the morning sun, avoid the midday heat of the summer and remain sheltered from the worst of the weather. Take some time to stand in your proposed site in all weathers to see what your particular location throws at you - literally. Think winter. Think mud, driving rain and stuck wheelbarrows. Now think about the location of your muck-heap. Ideally, keep it close enough so that you can run a concrete path up to it directly from the stables. However, don’t place it too close as it can attract more flies and create a potential fire hazard. The same goes for the fields and grazing. Ideally, you will want easy and quick access to the fields for turning out horses. Vehicular Access Vehicular access is important if at all possible. Your farrier and vet will thank you for it, but it’s also easier for loading horses into horseboxes and lorries. Size of stables The minimum recommended size of stable for a horse, according to the British Horse Society is 12ft x 12ft, (smaller for ponies), but where possible, a 12ft x 14ft is more ideal. In a larger stable, your horse will be more comfortable and most likely a lot cleaner too. Electricity and Water The closer you locate your stables to existing water and electricity supplies, the better, as it can be costly to run new pipe and cabling. Take care to get accurate quotes from your electricity and water supplier as well as contractors to connect it all up. Generally, you will want a tap for filling buckets and washing horses and potentially a water supply to each stable for automatic drinkers. All pipework should be well-insulated to avoid freezing in winter. Lighting should be fitted to each stable, as well as external lighting to the yard. Don't go overboard with the wattage as 500W floodlights can be quite blinding. It's better to get more low-powered lights than fewer high-powered lights. Ensure that any external switches are suitably rated for external use and all wiring and fittings are out of reach of horses; they love nothing more than to chew wiring and switches. An external plug socket will be very handy for clipping horses and for the farrier. If the budget is tight or there is no nearby electricity supply, many horse owners manage without. There are some great solar lighting options available these days. Do still plan for electricity though – you might be able to add this later when your budget allows. Stable Security There are lots of options on the market now but this should be a serious part of your planning. Alarms can be fitted on doors and gates and you could even consider CCTV. Stable Layouts L-Shape Stables As well as a conventional straight line, we can build your stable block as an L-shape. This is a practical layout and perfect for a smaller number of stables as you can position it to keep out the wind. It also works well if you want to include a tack room, feed room or hay barn. You can add to it later too if needs be. U-Shape Stables Perfect for those needing a larger number of stables as you can maximise protection from the elements and having stables opposite each other creates a nice social atmosphere for horses and humans. Perfect for including tack rooms, feed rooms, a wash bay and hay barn. If budget permits, we can even enclose your U-shaped stable block with an arched entrance with a clock and include a stable office. Don’t forget, we build to order and customise our designs to make the perfect stables for you and your horse. The little details Once the basic structure is agreed upon, you can think about the fixtures and fittings you would like. Take some time to think about places to wash down, shoe and tack up. Storage space for all the paraphernalia that goes with horse ownership is important too. In the tack room or feed room how about putting in a sink and work-surface, perhaps with a cupboard and fridge underneath? If you are going to spend time there, it’s more civilised having refreshments on hand. A garden table and bench will finish the yard off nicely. Oh, and a mirror to check for hay in the hair before going to work! Check out our Timber Stables for some more ideas and inspiration Or start designing yours now! Hate mucking-out in the rain? How about an American barn? These are the ultimate in equestrian buildings for your horse. Staying warm and dry in the winter and cool and sheltered in the summer. Check out our American Barns here.