The "Humble" Stall Door
Think about it… a stall door is not such a simple thing.
In fact, it is probably the most used piece of barn equipment
you have! Therefore, it’s definitely worth spending some
time making your choices to ensure your stall doors will be
functional, safe, and something you’ll be happy to use
for many years to come.
A simple and often overlooked component of any barn, the stall
door is an integral part of its construction and functionality.
The door, in conjunction with the stall front, greatly contributes
to a barn’s safety and ease of use. We’ll begin
this examination with some definitions concerning size and type,
followed by a few comments on style, and finally a couple options
you might want to consider.
There are two main types of doors: the hinged door and the sliding
door. However, the size and durability requirements are the
same for both. Stall doors should be at least 4’ wide
and 7’ high. This is a comfortable size for practically
For a chronic pawer cut a rubber stall mat to the size
of the lower half of the door and screw it onto the
inside of the door.
It will help save the door and your horse’s feet
Stall doors get pawed and kicked, they are thrown open several
times a day, and wheelbarrows or pitchforks frequently knock
their frames. In short, stall doors take a lot of abuse, and
construction is an important issue for safety and longevity.
All metal pieces (hinges, latches, tracks, etc.) should ideally
be powder-coated or galvanized steel. Wood should be thick and
reinforced with an "X" or other type of bracing. Make
sure the door and all of its components are built for the intended
purpose and will be sturdy enough to provide years of service.
The most common type of hinged door on horse
barns is the"Dutch" style door. This door is split in half
horizontally to allow the top half
to be opened independently of the bottom. This feature increases
ventilation in the stall and barn, and allows the horses hang
their heads over the door for greater socialization. However,
it also may pose a hazard if a horse decides to try to jump
through it. This is rare, but you should be aware it can happen.
The split in a Dutch door (where the top and bottom pieces come
together) is frequently cut on an angle , slanting down towards
the outside. The reason for this is when the bottom half is
opened, it pulls the top half along with it eliminating the
need to pull both sections independently when opening or closing
the door. A latch, to secure the two pieces together,
is also a good idea to prevent the top half swinging closed
and hitting a horse (or a human!) in the head.
There are two features to consider if a Dutch door is to be
practical. The first is a chew guard. This is a piece of heavy
metal that fits over the top edge of the bottom door. The chew
guard discourages horses from chewing or cribbing on the convenient
ledge created when the top of the door is open. Such behavior
damages the wood and your horse’s teeth.
A second important feature, for a Dutch door, is a hook on
the barn wall and a screw eye on the outside of the door to
enable the door to be secured in the "open" position.
There should be a hook and eye for each half of the door.
The Dutch door is usually an exterior stall door, and it is
common to put them out the back of stalls in an aisle barn.
This gives an another way out of the stall, in the case of
fire, and also allows the horses to have free access to the
stall from an attached fenced-in area.
A Sliding door is another
stall door option. They usually have a wood bottom and metal
bars (grill) in the top half. Due to their openness, these
are most frequently used inside the barn to enter the stall
from the aisle. They may be used as exterior doors in very
warm climates, or they may be made as a solid wood door for
exterior use in cooler climates. The sliding door is easy
to operate and doesn’t require as much clearance as
a hinged door when opening. It consists of the door, a sliding
track at the top, a latch, and stops or guides at the bottom.
There should be at least two guides (located outside and at
the bottom of the stall front wall) for the door. The first
is an "L" shaped bracket at the lower outer corner
to stop the door as it closes and keep the bottom of the door
from coming away from the wall thus preventing a hoof getting
caught between the door and the wall. The second is a "U"
shaped bracket that is set open end up at the other bottom
corner of the door. This guides the door in the track and
also prevents it from being pushed too far away from the wall.
There may be a ball on this bracket to enhance sliding. A
third bracket may be present, at the end of the track, to
stop the door when it slides open.
The sliding door is available a variety of styles. As previously
mentioned, the most common is a wood bottom and grill top.
You may choose to put a "V" yoke in the grill part
of the door. This allows the horses to hang their heads out
and socialize. Bear in mind, a horse could get a leg through
these yokes if it wanted to.
Some sliding door grills may incorporate a hinged section
of bars. This section can be opened to hang down flat against
the door so horses can stick their heads out. This type gives
you the option of keeping the opening closed if you have an
ornery or mouthy horse in your barn.
Yet another choice is to have the door made completely of
steel mesh, with or without a yoke. This increases ventilation
even more and allows you a greater view of the stall. These,
normally exterior, doors allow extra light into the barn even
when they are closed. However, one drawback would be that
pawing or rolling horses might kick shavings through the door
and into a freshly swept aisle.
On a solid wood sliding door or on a Dutch door, you may wish
to have a window put in the top. It is wise to make sure there
is a heavy duty grill over the inside of the window to prevent
a horse from kicking it out. A grill on the outside may be
necessary as well if horses have free access right outside
Lastly, beyond the stall door, there are some options that
you may wish to consider adding to the stall front. One of
these is a feed-through cutout, which is a cut-out in the
stall front grill just large enough for a grain scoop or can
to fit through. This saves you time by ending the need to
open the door and push back your eager horse to give him his
feed. If you want a cutout on a shed row barn where the stall
front is actually the exterior wall of the building, it can
be made as a little door.
Hayracks may also be put in the grill stall front to facilitate
the feeding of hay. A bridle hook and/or a blanket rack is
a last addition that might increase convenience, and these
may even serve as sliding door stops as well.
As you can see, there's much more to a stall door then first
meets the eye. Horizon Structures offers all the choices and
variation you need to make the right choice for your stall