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Stall doors - "social" openings or curved cutouts - Y? N? safety issue?

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  • Stall doors - "social" openings or curved cutouts - Y? N? safety issue?

    The barn I board at has swinging stall doors - heavy iron open at top and bottom. I am looking at building a small barn and trying to decide between traditional sliding doors with full bars at top, or the curved door cut out - barns but a place horse can hang his head out to look down aisle. I will only have 2-3 horses. Their stalls will also have dutch doors and barred window and the dutch doors will almost always be open.

    Opinions on horses hanging their heads out socially in aisle? I like it from the standpoint of visiting, etc. but I have heard the fold down openings many do not like due to safety issue (horse getting leg caught). Thoughts?

  • #2
    I would not let horses hang heads out, makes walking by and especially going by with another horse at times unpleasant, when horses have to do more than visiting and make faces or try to fight.

    Not ok if a novice or kid is leading horses thru there, or walking along without paying attention.

    I know, as humans, we absolutely love to see those heads looking around, makes US feel sooo good.

    Your choice, I don't think horses care.

    If you have a very wide aisle, maybe ok, on principle, not really a good idea.

    You may want to consider going to the new, safest style of stall construction that is based on small square metal grids.
    Those come with head openings also, if that is what you prefer:
    Attached Files


    • #3
      I dont like heads out. Horses can be so destructive, and wood is YUMMY!
      I have two stalls with the full mesh doors and like those alot better than the ones with a traditional door.
      Tracy Geller
      Find me on Facebook!


      • #4
        If your aisle is wide enough, being able to hang there head out should be fine. And I do think it makes them very happy to be able to watch the comings and goings. My horse greatly misses his door with a yolk. The last barn I managed, when we did a remodel and addition on the barn, we took out all the full doors and replaced them with sliding doors with yolks. They were beautiful, and you no long felt like you were walking down a prison block.

        Also, strategic planning of where grumpy horses live can help avoid nips. Another barn I worked out of was old and a little oddly designed. The aisles weren't wide, but the trainer and I both hated having the horses behind bars, so we used stall guards while we were in the barn. We tucked our grumpy and/or naughty horses in the less high traffic areas. We also had lots of kids at the time, and never had a major issue. They learned quickly that if someone was being naughty to slide their door shut as they walked by. With the nice yolk doors, they have to be HUGE horses to really do more than use a little body language. I don't think anyone ever was able to make contact over those doors unless the horse in the aisle was in a really stupid position!


        • #5
          My doors have "shutter" style window openings, so I can keep them open or closed. I have 4 stalls. I have one horse who is definitely much happier having his open, so I leave it open all the time. He is not the destructive or nippy type so this has worked out fine. I keep them closed usually for my other 2 horses. One will pull all his belongings off his blanket bar and fling them around, and the other will grab the water hose next to his door, and we definitely don't want that!


          • #6
            We have Dutch doors which are almost always open, and the cut out on the stall doors. If I had it to do over again, I would get the stall doors without the cut out. As someone else commented - the horses can be very destructive. Neatly folded blankets wind up in a heap on the floor regularly! They love to look out the Dutch doors, and I think that's enough. You can also put stall guards on and keep the doors open when you are in the barn.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bluey View Post

              You may want to consider going to the new, safest style of stall construction that is based on small square metal grids.
              Those come with head openings also, if that is what you prefer:
              Does anyone have this type of stall/door? I love the look but seems the horses would always be kicking shavings etc into the aisle; along with it blowing into the aisle if there was wind and paddock doors were open. Just curious for those that have them if the clean up issue is worse?
              "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


              • #8
                Originally posted by js View Post
                Does anyone have this type of stall/door? I love the look but seems the horses would always be kicking shavings etc into the aisle; along with it blowing into the aisle if there was wind and paddock doors were open. Just curious for those that have them if the clean up issue is worse?
                Some of those stalls have shavings guards, some larger than others, to avoid just that.

                I know that the ones that run this barn absolutely love these stalls.
                They handle many very young colts, futurity ones and they say they have some of the happier colts there, where they can see all that goes around them.
                You can leave the door open for them to stick their heads out, or make them a bit different if you want yokes or any other opening.
                I would suggest you make any openings so you can also close the stall, in case you need it some time for a horse that may try to jump out or for any other reason needs to be kept from sticking it's head out.
                Other trainers that have worked there also say the next barn they build will have these kinds of stalls:
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  I have three stalls (5 doors as two stalls have two doors) and they are simple stained homemade half doors but they look decent. They are so high that my 10.3 pony can't see out so on one of her doors I keep it open and use a stall guard. My morgan mare spends the majority of her time in her stall with her head out. She worries when she can't see her pony. So if she had a closed front she would spend most of the time pacing...instead of half of the time pacing.

                  Pony looks out some but when she's resting she goes to the door where she can't see and park herself there. Having three solid sides makes her feel safe I guess.

                  So I guess it depends on your horses. Are you planning on boarding?


                  • #10
                    I decided not to have openings in the door. I have blanket bars on the doors, and for the same reasons others have mentioned (blankets in a heap on the floor). I do have swing out feed doors that I have the option of leaving open, or closing. Most are closed for various reasons (cribbing, chewing the wood on the outside of the stall , hanging there heads out while pawing the inside of the wall while waiting to be fed ).


                    • #11
                      In my home barn, I have stall fronts with drop down tops on the doors, so I can have them open or closed as I see fit. Mostly I leave them open as the horses do enjoy being able to see out and around more. We planned things so there are no outlets or other things like that within reach of the horse with open top door. I have been in a barn where the electrical outlets were right there within reach and the people thought it sufficient to have the little doors over the outlets -- ha! Horses just ripped those covers off and then had these nice exposed outlets to play with. But that place was a fire trap even without that little oversight... (that was kind of the last straw barn for me that made me move all home and refuse to board ever again!).

                      If I had a barn with others coming and going, I might not be so inclined to have the open tops as it does present an issue when you lead a horse by or have an aggressive horse that might bite a passer by. Especially if the aisle is narrow. But for my own barn, it works fine. I also wouldn't have it so that side by side horses could get nose to nose through the open tops as that tends to lead to face fighting and someone invariably whacks their head on the door frame.

                      Since my doors have the drop down tops, you can choose to put them up, so if I ever have a horse that can't handle the opening for whatever reason, it can be a regular barred top door. I like the flexibility.


                      • #12
                        I would say, if you have smallish stalls, that a horse can stick it's head out for more room makes sense.
                        If the stalls are large enough, that is maybe not as necessary.
                        If you build new, why not do both, so you have that option, to keep each stall top open or closed?

                        If we ever get our big barn built, since we will have stalls with access to runs outside, I doubt that we will also have open doors into the aisle, one less worry if there is some traffic thru there.


                        • #13
                          I guess I'm in the minority, at least from what's been posted here. I want my horses to be able to hang their heads in the aisle even if they have Dutch doors in the back. All of our horses have webbings and crossbars like you see at the racetrack. They always have hay in their stalls when they are in, and only one feels the need to chew on the wood now and then, which is easily thwarted with red pepper. I feel they are happier with their heads out and don't mind hanging blankets and such out of reach. Imho.



                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks everyone. There would be no boarders. Just my 2 ...both older. Neither chew wood (as of now they don't). Our barn placement will have breeze going through aisle. Outlets would be placed out of reach of their heads but close enough to tie fans...so I guess I can put the outlets up high to be safe. I will price both and may just go with whatever is cheaper The pony is an escape artist and quite clever so will have to think more about him, but he is known for going under things (chest/butt bars, etc)


                            • #15
                              I don't like doors that allow horses to hang their heads out into the aisle. Invariably horses end up using this tiny bit of extra freedom to damage whatever they can reach, trashing their stall fronts etc. I also like being able to hang blankets and halters on racks outside of the doors, which you can't do if the horses can reach them. Some horses have very rubbery necks. Other horses really enjoy sniffing or snapping at other horses going by which is both an annoyance and a safety issue. Still other horses are thrilled to have access to an extra edge to crib on. Another issue that may not be pertinent to you is that I have found that having openings encourages boarders and guests to feed and/or play with other peoples' horses (despite having rules against this).

                              I have had barns with both types of doors and although I have many times over heard comments from people calling fully enclosed doors making stalls into "prisons" etc, I think that is a human perception issue only. Having kept horses in both types of stalls, it is obvious to me that the horses are calmer and more relaxed and develop/express fewer vices in fully enclosed stalls.


                              • #16
                                As an alternate you can have the opening in the grill that is the front of the stall and not the door, I've seen it done that way. I would prefer it only because if you have swing out doors (I do) horses can lean on the doors and eventually cause the door to sag a bit.
                                "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


                                • #17
                                  I remember most race track barns having dutch doors.
                                  Most horses would stick their heads out at meal time.
                                  Some ended up banging their knees on the doors at meal time, anxiously waiting to be fed.
                                  Grooms had to go around closing some doors before feeding, so the horses would not end up with swollen knees from that.

                                  That may not happen with two horses that are well set in their habits, but may later if you get a new horse.


                                  • #18
                                    Interesting answers. My horses are rarely in (for very inclement weather, while waiting on vet/farrier or stall rest). I have just the lower half of Dutch doors. I leave multiple blankets over the stall doors in the winter. None of my horses in the last 10+ years they've been here have ever chewed the wood or touched the blankets. (Knock on wood!!) I like as much ventaliation as possible. My horses also have two large windows off each stall, plus the top of the stall is open as well (above about 8 feet). My horses love looking out of their stalls!
                                    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                                    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                                    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                                    • #19
                                      my sister had both of the barns she equipped with half walls (about 5 foot) and dutch doors.

                                      Given that her mare was a supreme B....especially at meal times, there was some consideration: her feeder was in the far corner and she had the first stall and only one neighbor.

                                      generally horses behave (but as soon as you assume, the road apple is aimed at the fan....
                                      but the space in front of the stalls was generous to allow a horse to be tied up without being in each of the others.
                                      I think it also helps when the horses go out together in turnout anyhow, barn or outside, not so much difference.


                                      • #20
                                        Not to derail the OP, just a slight tangent.

                                        Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                        I remember most race track barns having dutch doors.
                                        Most horses would stick their heads out at meal time.
                                        Some ended up banging their knees on the doors at meal time, anxiously waiting to be fed.
                                        Grooms had to go around closing some doors before feeding, so the horses would not end up with swollen knees from that.

                                        That may not happen with two horses that are well set in their habits, but may later if you get a new horse.
                                        You are right--most racetrack barns have dutch doors leading into the shedrow. BUT most (not all, by any means) trainers for the past 20 years or so, which is when I started at the track, use webbings and crossbars within the dutch doors. I, personally, don't like dutch door for exactly the reason you said--horses banging their knees particularly at feed time.

                                        Here's a link to what I mean. Just did a google search to pull up images. The first image on the article show the webbings I'm talking about.