Warwick Shiller is a self-professed “lifelong equestrian of varying disciplines,” and is well-known as an expert trainer of horses. For lack of a better term, Schiller is a modern-day horse whisperer. He’s worked with and lived around horses his entire life, and he’s learned many valuable lessons about horse behavior in the process. Are you someone who’s planning for a new horse barn installation or horse barn replacement? If so, it would be wise for you to keep some key principles of horse behavior in mind as you make your horse barn plans.
Know Your Horse (or Horses)
Schiller has come to believe that relationship-building with your horses is incredibly important. In his earlier days of horse training, he spent most of his time trying to tell horses what to do. Now, he spends a lot more time starting by listening to the horses with which he works. Granted, a horse can’t speak, but horses can – and do – display plenty of signs to let you know what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. For example, a horse that’s mouthy or likes to nip is often an indication that the horse is experiencing some anxiety. If you’re able to pinpoint the anxiety trigger for a horse and neutralize it, you’ll find that the horse will be in a much better state of mind when it comes to riding, training, etc.
How Should an Understanding of Horse Behavior Shape Your Horse Barn Design?
Schiller has come to believe that relationship-building with your horses is incredibly important. In his earlier days of horse training, he spent most of his time trying to tell horses what to do. Now, he spends a lot more time starting by listening to horses, to begin with. Here are three suggestions Shiller makes when it comes to setting up your horse barn:
Design Stalls Such That Horses Can See Other Horses
Horses are essentially social creatures, and horses that live in the wild tend to stay in close proximity with other horses their entire lives. Left to themselves, horses rarely venture out of the sight of other horses. Because this is how horses are wired, if you own more than one horse it’s best to design stalls such that horses can still see one another. Your horses will feel more secure and less stressed, and you’ll find that they’re much easier to work with as a result.
Put in a Slow Feeder
Horses in the wild prefer to be able to graze almost continuously and will do so for up to 18 hours a day. Horses’ stomachs naturally produce a lot of acids, and the best way to prevent them from getting ulcers is to allow them to graze naturally, rather than simply feeding them twice a day. By installing a slow feeder in each stall, you’ll be able to sync with a horse’s natural instincts, and your horses will be happier and healthier.
Watch for Signs of Concern in Your Horse
While horses all possess some similar traits, no two horses are exactly alike. Each is unique, and each has its own personality and preferences. If you start to notice some unusual behavior in a horse, that often means something is agitating the horse or triggering some anxiety. If the horse seems more agitated when stabled, you may need to take some proactive modifications to the horse’s immediate surroundings, or to the horse barn itself.
What Should a Well-Designed Horse Barn Be Equipped to Do?
A properly-designed horse barn will not only shelter horses from harsh elements, but will also help to promote the general health and safety of your horses. A healthy barn will also pay dividends over time by requiring fewer veterinarian visits for your horses, and a barn constructed of the right materials will need less in terms of maintenance and repairs, too. What should the right horse barn provide? Here are just a few considerations:
Provides Space That is Truly Functional
A barn is a barn, right? Not always. A better barn will be designed to make life easier for both you and your horse. It will include a truly usable space that is laid out to be convenient, safe, and time-saving for daily tasks. Your horse barn should allow for proper stall size, passageway space, work areas, tack room, feed storage, water distribution, etc.
Proper Ventilation & Lighting
The ventilation and lighting which are (or aren’t) present can really make or break a healthy horse barn. You really need more of both than you might realize. Proper ventilation provides healthy breathing air for your horse and also helps to remove harmful ammonia, pathogens, and foul smells. Horses require good ventilation in the winter months, too, so don’t shut your barn uptight just because there’s a little chill in the air. And a good lighting plan makes maximum use of natural light whenever possible. Sunlight helps to kill bacteria and viruses, and horses really prefer it to artificial lighting.
Safe Shelter from Weather Elements & Pests
One essential for any barn is its ability to protect both you and your animals from harsh sun, wind, rain, snow, etc. Your barn should also be built with materials that aren’t easy for horses to escape, or for critters and pests to chew through. For this reason, steel is really a better building material for a horse barn than is wood. With proper engineering and installation, a steel horse barn is much stronger, more durable, and is essentially pest-proof!
Adequate Entry Points & Effective Interior Access
Just as it’s better to design and position horse stalls such that your horses have the ability to face and see each other, it’s also smart to plan for safe, easy passage into your barn and throughout its interior. Many times, horse owners are tempted to settle for a barn of minimum dimensions in an effort to save a little money on upfront barn construction and material costs. This really isn’t the best long-term solution for your horses – or for you, for that matter.
At Metal Barn Central, we can’t tell you how many customers have come back to us a few months after their new barn installation, and tell us that they wish they had just gone with a bigger barn, to begin with! If in doubt, you should always plan for a little more wiggle-room inside your barn – remember that horses are BIG animals! You should also make plans to include at least a couple larger points of barn entry for your horses, as well as some convenient walk-in doors for you. And one nice feature of choosing a steel horse barn from Metal Barn Central is that you can essentially place doors, frame-outs, and/or windows anywhere you’d like around your made-to-order barn.
Design for Easy & Efficient Waste Disposal
Defecation isn’t the most pleasant topic to talk about, but it’s something you really need to bear in mind when working with large animals. The average adult horse produces 50 pounds of raw waste (urine and feces combined) or more, every single day! Used bedding, ammonia-soaked waster, and accumulated manure can become a real problem in a hurry if you don’t have a good plan and the right engineering to manage it. Designing your stalls, feeding centers, and other areas of your barn to accommodate easy waste removal is important, both for the sake of your horse’s health and for the sake of your personal labor efficiency. Plan for good drainage in both the stalls and the aisles; a concrete floor covered with drainable rubber matting is a good choice. You can also opt for a bare earth floor, but it will be harder to keep clean.
Get the Horse Barn You Need from Metal Barn Central!
It’s exciting to be a horse owner, and we hope you’re able to follow in Warwick Shiller’s steps and become a real horse-whisperer in your own right! And no matter what you have in mind when it comes to how to live with and make the best use of your horses, we know that taking excellent care of your horses is important to you.
When it comes to providing quality metal barns and farm buildings, Metal Barn Central has you covered! We offer everything from custom-manufactured stables to horse barns, to hay barns, to full-sized riding arenas! In fact, we can help you to come up with your own custom barn or other metal building design that will best suit your needs. Oh, and did we mention? We deliver and install across most of the continental U.S.. at no additional charge to you!
Ready to get the conversation started? You can reach out on this simple online form, or you can also just pick up the phone and give our friendly building experts a call at (980) 321-9898. We’d love to have the opportunity to show you the Metal Barn Central difference!