Stable Plans

Stable Plans and Repairs

Install a Stall Light
Wet Spot Control
Hay Feeder
Build a Round Pen

Install a Stall Light

Installing a timed light in your horse's stall will allow you to artifically increase the hours of light per day, or photoperiod. Autumn's shortening photoperiod tells your horse's pituitary gland to signal the growth of his winter coat. By artificially lengthening the photoperiod, you can keep your horse's haircoat summer-short and sleek year-round. Creating an "artificial summer" can also bring mares into heat as early as February, and boost a stallion's sperm count for early-year breeding.

What You'll Need

*4-inch RD vapor electrical box
*200-watt clear bulb
*Heavy-duty extension cord
*Saddle clamps (number depends on length of extension cord)
*Automatic timer
*Non-rust, 1/2 inch screws (number depends on amount of clamps)
*Tape measure


Remove your horse before you begin, clean up thoroughly before you put him back in his stall.
The electrical box provides an electrical outlet for the bulb. Buy one with a glass bulb cover and metal cage to protect the light bulb from your horse and vice versa.
Buy an electrical box with a cord that plugs into an extension cord, rather than a box that's wired directly into a wall or ceiling outlet.
You need a clear bulb to approximate natural sunlight. Get a few extra ones so when a bulb burns out, you can immediately replace it.
To determine extension cord length, measure the distance from your installation site to the nearest electrical outlet.
Saddle clamps sit astride the extension cord, holding it in place. Figure one clamp and two screws for every 18 to 24 inches of extension cord, with two clamps at every corner.
Buy screws that fit through the clamps' holes. Buy extra, in case you misplace one or two.
Buy a timer that's wired for 120 volts and has a single on/off cycle per day.

Do's & Dont's

Don't string the extension cord where your horse could reach it with his mouth. The shock could kill him.
Do start your light program now, while your horse's coat is still sleek.
Do keep light on your horse 16 hours per day, even during the summer months. Otherwise, he could grow in his winter coat when you remove the light.
Don't keep a light on your horse 24 hours a day; he needs 8 hours of darkness for this light program to work.


Step 1: Select a site on a stall rafter to install the electrical box. Above your horse's feed bin is especially good, because he spends a lot of time there. Clear any dust and cobwebs from the area.

Step 2: Affix the electrical box to the rafter wood with the screws that come with the box. Using a screwdriver, start each of the screws to hold the box in place, then tighten them. If the wood is old or hard, a bit of vaseline or liquid soap will help the screws go in. Screw in the light bulb. Affix the glass cover and cage.

Step 3: Plug electrical box's cord into the extension cord. Use saddle clamps to affix the cord well out of your horse's reach. Run the cord to the nearest electrical outlet. Screw in a clamp every 18 to 24 inches, and two at every corner. Coil any remaining cord, and hang it out of your horse's reach.

Step 4: Plug the extenions cord's free end into the automatic timer, then plug the timer into the electrical outlet. Set the timer's trippers to provide 16 hours of light per day to your horse. Finally, set the time of day, so the timer knows when to go on and off.

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Wet Spot Control

You can prevent a boggy wet spot from developing in your dirt-floored stall even without stall mats, if you start with the correct flooring base then maintain it.

Any urine that passes through the bedding will percolate through the floor material, rather than pool on top of it. By regularly exposing and drying any damp surfaces, you'll further prevent floor erosion.

It is recommended that you use absorbent, sawdust-type shavings atop the new floor base, and that you bed deeply. Finely processed shavings that contain a degree of sawdust are highly absorbent. By bedding deeply with such shavings, you'll prevent much of your horse's urine from every reaching the floor. To control the dust problem associated with this type of bedding, mist the bedded stall floor with water.

You will ultimately waste less bedding because urine will be absorbed as it falls, and will be contained in a smaller area than it would be with a less absorbent bedding.


Step 1: Excavate your existing dirt floors to a point 12" below floor level. Refill, starting with a 6" layer of sand aggregate, followed by 6" of clay. Both types of soil should be available at your local top-soil supplier. Tell the supplier the depth and dimensions you need, and they will help you determine the amount of each type you'll need delivered.

Tamp down the floor surface until it's packed and level. Finish with a layer of shavings, at a rate of eight 4-cubic foot bags for each 12' x 12' stall.

Step 2: Prevent wet spot erosion with this weekly maintenance routine, in which you'll strip away soiled bedding and allow the wet spot to dry. Depending on your horse's "bathroom habits", more or less frequent stripping may be necessary. If you smell ammonia in the stall, it's time to strip and dry.

Using an apple picker, remove manure and soiled shavings. Reversing the picker, rake away shavings to expose the wet spot, banking the bedding around the spot's dry margin. Like the banks of a river or pond.

Step 3: Remove any remaining clumps of wet shavings. You'll have some hard-to-get remnants left in the spot; simply rake these atop the banked shavings. Once they dry, you can reuse them by mixing them with clean bedding.

Step 4: Grab your lime or other such agent, and a spreader. A one pound coffee can works well. Sprinkle a 1 1/2" layer over the entire wet spot. Let dry for 12 hours or longer, keeping your horse out of the stall during that time. Re-bed with shavings.

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No-Waste Hay Feeder

Your horse can waste up to 30% of his hay eating from a standard rack or off the ground. With this feeder, your horse will stand and eat over the feeder. He'll be less likely to drop hay on the stall floor, cutting back on waste. Break open the flake before you put it in the feeder so your horse won't have to toss it around. Also with this feeder, your horse will be eating in his natural grazing position, which will not only help satify his grazing urges, but will also help prevent him from getting hay dust up his nose.

What You'll Need

*8'x4' sheet of 3/4" CDX plywood (makes 4 feeders)
*14' length of 2"x4" lumber
*2" drywall screws
*Electric drill/screwdriver
*Two sawhorses
*Skill saw
*Safety goggles/glasses
*Tape measure
*Chalk line
*A helper


Step 1: Heft the plywood sheet atop your two sawhorses. Divide the board equally into four 4'x2' quadrants by measuring and marking the halfway points on each side. Use your chalk line to "connect the dots", leaving two perfectly straight, intersecting chalk trails through which you'll saw.

Step 2: Put on your protective eyewear. Set your saw's blade at a 45-degree angle, and carefully cut along the width-wise chalk mark. An angle cut will allow those edges to set flush against the wall. Reset the blade to normal, then cut each half in two. Finish the straight-cut short side of each board with a 45-degree angle cut. Check the stall baseboards. Measure, mark and cut any needed baseboard cutouts on the feeder front.

Step 3: Hold the board lengthwise against your chosen stall corner, with its angled edges against the wall. Choose a corner oppoosite, or at least 5 feet away from your horse's water source to prevent water leaks from ruining the hay. Mark a point on each wall that's approximately 33 1/2" from the corner. This will center the board on the corner.

Step 4: Align the plywood's edges with these marks, using the level to be sure the board is sitting flush on the floor. If it's not, you may need to fine-tune your baseboard cuts. Secure to each wall with drywall screws.

Step 5: Now mount a 2"x4" brace, which will strengthen the feeder front and further secure it to each wall. Measure the plywood's length along the top edge, from wall to wall. Be sure to take into account the 45-degree cuts you'll need to nest the brace against each wall. Saw a length of 2"x4" board to fit. Align the board's top edge with that of the plywood and secure to the wall with screws.

Step 6: Further secure the brace by driving additional screws about every 8" or so along the feeder's inside lip.

Step 7: Fill it up with hay. If your horse is a wood chewer, cap the top edge with angle iron.

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Build a Round Pen

Select a site that's flat, and higher than the surrounding area to prevent rain and snow melt from running into the pen. If you're unable to find a flat area, and dont' have the necessary tools to level your site, find an excavating contractor in the yellow pages who can do it for you. Dig a ditch along the uphill side of a sloped site to divert runoff.

What You'll Need

*4' builder's level
*Post hole digger
*Tamping bar
*Carpenter's hammer
*Router with 45-degree bevel bit
*Electric circular saw
*Chain saw
*33'length of rope or cord
*Duct tape
*60 bags of Sacrete
*60 gallons of water
*(30) 8" diameter, 10' pressure-treated wooden posts
*(112) 2'x8' rough-sawn (full dimension) boards
*(675) 6" galvanized screw-shank nails
*29 railroad ties
*35 tons of sand
*6' gate
*Wood preservative or stain to cover 1,350 square ft. of rough lumber
*Paint brush, paint roller or paint spray gun


Step 1: Determine perimeter. Affix a 33' rope or cord to what will be the pen's center with a 6" nail. Secure the nail to the line's other end, then pull it taut. Walk in a circle, outlining the pen's perimeter in the dirt with the nail. If the nail mark doesn't show up, use spray paint to mark the perimeter.

Step 2: Stake out post holes. Mark your gate posts first. Your gate should be at least 6' wide to accommodate a saddled horse. You may opt to install a wider gate to allow truck/tractor into the pen to maintain the pen's footing. Next, mark the remaining post holes at 7' intervals.

Step 3: Install posts. Dig post holes at least 3 1/2' deep or below the frost line, whichever is deeper. Leave 6 1/2' of post exposed for the wall. if the holes are deeper than this, you'll need longer posts. If you're not installing a gate wide enough for truck/tractor access, delay setting one post until your sand has been delivered and placed in the ring. Set each post into the ground at a 10-degree angle, tipped away from the pen's center. This will help prevent you from catching your foot on a post or rail when riding. Determine and maintain this angle by taping a wooden stick perpendicular to the level's end, so it forms an L-shape. The stick should extend 4" beyond the level's edge. Next, abut the level's top and the stick against the post. Then tip the post until the level reads plumb. The post will be angled 10-degrees. Have a helper hold the post, or prop it in place. Empty a bag of Sacrete into the hole, followed by a gallon of water. Add two shovelfulls of dirt, recheck the post angle, then tamp the dirt to stabilize the post. Repeat for remaining posts. Allow the concrete to set overnight. When the concrete has set, fill and tamp post holes with 3" layers of dirt to a point 12" below the hole's tops. Empty another bag of Sacrete into each hole, followed by a gallon of water. Allow the concrete to set overnight, then fill the holes with tamped dirt.

Step 4: Install rails. Measured 8" off the ground, and mark that spot on each post. Drive a nail partway into each post at the mark. Set one board on the nails, and use one nail to tack one end of the board to the post's center. Hold a builder's level on the board's top, and adjust the board's free end until the instrument reads level. Here, tack the board in place at the other end. Repeat for the remaining rails. When all rails are tacked in place, nail them securely with three nails in each end. Nail four rows of 2'x8' boards to the inside of the posts, spacing the bottom row 8" above the ground, and allowing 13" between rows. Because the tilted posts prevent the rail ends from meeting squarely you will need to cut the left end of each board square. As you fit each board in place, cut the right end at an angle to fit the square end. To minimize splinters, use a router and 45-degree bevel bit to take off the top and bottom edges of the boards on the pen's inside. For safety, cut the post tops flush with the top rail. Treat the rails with wood preservative or stain, or paint them to match your facilities.

Step 5: Set railroad ties around the pen to hold in sand. Place the ties' tops a maximum of 2" below the bottom rails. Use a chain saw to angle the ties' ends, so they're flush with the posts' insides. Wedge ties between the posts to keep the sand from pushing out the ties.

Step 6: Add sand. Thirty-five tons of sand will cover this pen's floor 2 to 3 inches deep. Dump sand after the pen is completed. Sand is hard on power tools and easy to lose nails in, which could later end up in your horse's feet.

Step 7: Install gate.

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