Due to drainage issues with our barn, we raised my mare's stall this weekend and created a gentle slope outside away from the barn. The entrance to the stall inside the barn is now 8" tall. Absolutely no issues with her going in and stepping up, but she is a bit hesitant to step down. She did it, but she's going to be 30 this year and I worry about the future. Does anyone have any ideas as to what kind of step we could build? I would like something I could move out of the way if need be. We don't normally drive through the barn but certainly did A LOT of that this weekend pulling the dump cart full of dirt in and out. Making a step out of something like concrete could create difficulties in the future with being able to drive things through.
I've toyed with buying a stall mat and cutting 3 sections out of it, each one a bit larger than the other. Stacking those and somehow bolting them together to make a step. The idea being that the smallest piece would be on the bottom, the next largest one on top of that, then the largest one on top to fabricate a ramp of sorts. I'd like to avoid having to cut the bottom of the sliding door off if I can. Or...should I just leave well enough alone for now and see how she does with age? If worse came to worse, there is a back door that I could take her in and out of that has a ramp of dirt and is covered with a stall mat.
It's hard to tell what your aisle is made out of. Is she shod? Is it possible she might slip stepping down onto the aisle when her weight is displaced? If yes, I would recommend at least getting a rubber mat to place flat on the ground outside the stall.
Your ramp idea sounds like it could work. You probably would need more than 3 pieces to get it to be 8" tall, but stall mats certainly come large enough, and you probably wouldn't need to make the ramp very long. Someone wiser than me would probably be able to suggest a good slope for the ramp and then you just need Ye Olde Pythagorean Theorem to find out how long the longest piece should be
Aisle is concrete. Horse is barefoot. And yes...the potential slipping when stepping out worries me too. I hadn't planned on having the ramp exactly 8" tall. Maybe 6" to lessen the distance stepping down. So...there may have to be around 6 levels then! I have also thought about just the mat laying flat. But if I'm buying that extra mat...I don't know that I can just leave it flat and not start chopping it up to create a ramp! LOL Hubby and I 'conversed' quite a bit about this project as to the best solution and I was adamant about not having this big of a step down. But I'm also quite tired of a flooded stall and bedding (even though she is only inside in bad weather) - so it is what it is....
I posted this same thread on another board just to cover my bases. Someone on there suggested attaching a metal ramp that is hinged so I can lift it up and out of the way when necessary. Good thought as well.... She came right on out this morning but I just don't like the way she has to 'drop' a couple of inches past what seems most comfortable for her (it was like she was able to gracefully control the descent until her foot was about 2" from the ground and then she had to 'plop'). Maybe I should just make her back out like the trailer for the time being until I get something built...LOL She's not even using the stall since we've had no rain...it's just easy access to her lot where I am putting her at night so she can eat her special hay cubes w/o the other horse diving into them too.
I have an old-timer with a significant chronic injury to a hind limb that had to step over a 6-8" metal lip to get out of his stall (aisle and stall were level). He had enough problems with it that I am glad I have moved him to a place without that step. For him, it was mostly proprioception since he has trouble lifting his gimp leg up enough to clear it. It took him about 30 seconds to decide where all his feet were and would inch up bit by bit until he was close enough to lift his good leg up and over first.
I don't have any suggestions for how to fix it, but just to consider multiple steps and how the horse can manage them later on.
I would add some well tamped down gravel/dirt to the aisle in front of her stall and let it be at that, so she can get down and back like a dirt ramp.
Sure, it won't look neat, but her comfort comes first.
Keep sweeping the gravel/dirt up to the edge of the stall as it tries to wander off.
Once she doesn't need that any more, you can scoop that dirt ramp right out.
To add to this...you could use the gravel or dirt or sand, tightly tamped and sloped down from the stall as a base and add regular rubber mat(s) over the top. If you are worried about the gravel leaking out from under the mat you can use boards on the side to keep it all in check. This would keep the solution temporary and easily removable and cleaner looking...
Good suggestion except I won't be able to slide the stall door closed with the dirt/rocks ramp there. I think I took the pic too close and you can't tell it's a sliding door. The door comes all the way down to the concrete floor. That's another reason I was thinking of building something that I could slide up flush with the threshold when we need it...otherwise it can move out of the way. I'd like to avoid chopping the door off - for now. I'm trying not the hack the barn up too much...I really wish better grading had been done prior to building such a nice structure. Maybe they thought they did enough and things have just settled...who knows. I still have a shred of hope that someday we can figure out (and afford) a way to grade the outside with a better slope away from the barn. Then we could return the stall to a lower state. The location is tough.
You could frame a wood box with tapered sides for the gravel/dirt ramp and set it into the aisle with enough room for the sliding door to still work.
I agree with maybe changing her stall, or like we did, make the end of the alley her stall, or don't stall her.
Just keep thinking, there may be other ways to manage her than getting her to step down into that deep step.
If the problem is that she is stiff, a too solid ramp may not be best, if she has to walk on it at an angle.
Be sure she has some cushion so her feet can find her own best balance without crunching the joint around to fit the angle of the ramp.
Ooh! A 4" tall box of gravel/dirt/sand! That might work! Leave enough room to top it off with a mat?! OK..I have some more thinking to do.
I don't have any extra stalls. I WISH all of the stalls opened out into a lot. If I switched her with my MIL's horse I'd still have the issue of a horse stepping down and he's a tad bit shorter than her to boot (although half her age).
So I bought another stall mat at husband's request to just try that alone first. Led her in and out a several times and she's stepping down easier now (took a few tries for her to learn the mat was there) with just the single thickness of the mat. Will see how it goes. Thanks to everyone for the feedback/ideas.
It seems to me that building a compacted dirt/gravel/clay ramp would be a quick and easy solution, and also make it easier to get the wheelbarrow in there for mucking out, if that was a concern. If the door won't shut, maybe just get her one of those fabric stall guards to keep her in, instead of the door. Better for ventilation anyway, right?
I was thinking, with really old, stiff horses, I don't feel right with them in a standard stall or the 14' x 14' we have.
When I have a horse with problems getting around or up and down, I find a way to keep them where they have more room.
My old horse with the bad stifle, when I had to start keeping him by himself to keep him from being bumped around by others, I took one stall apart and he then had 28' x 28' space under the shed, plus all the outside pens, to move around and a bed of hay in the middle, making a bit of a slope, easier for him to get back up, he liked to use for his naps.
With any horse, we just try to keep changing as their needs change and how they handle themselves where we put them is one consideration.
Glad that your mare is comfortable stepping down now that she is not feeling like she may slip on the hard concrete aisle.
As for something across the door and leaving the sliding door open, you can also use stall screens, that come in all sizes, from 2' to 6' and just swing easily out of the way and can be added to any stall door.
Good points for other to consider. I don't see stall size as being an issue in my situation. She is NEVER locked IN the stall unless the weather is really terrible (which here in NC is very rare). The back door is always open for her to come and go (same with the other horse as well). Her food is always in a tub outside as well unless it is bad weather (at which point I'll pull it inside the stall but she's still free to come and go out the back). This stall has the largest lot off of it so she has something like 30 x 30 to move around and that can and very often is opened to another dirt lot that is probably 30 x 170.
Husband doesn't want a dirt or cement or gravel ramp built inside the barn - and I agree. I'm ok with NOT being able to get the wheelbarrow inside the stall from the aisle...as rarely do I have to clean it. Wheeling it up to the outside is fine with me. And if I do have to clean it, I have to clean outside too so I'll just change my routine to clean outside first and if I need to pull the wheelbarrow in the stall I'll just use the outside ramp. (And really, I could do the same with her and just walk further to the gate to the lot and put her in that way - and from there she can go in and out of the stall at will. I'm just a little LAZY in having to unlock the back door, walk to the gate and open it as well! )
If she starts having trouble with stepping out even with the stall mat there, I'll be revisiting our options with the hubby.