Whether you’re building a stable yard for the first time, or upgrading from one you already have, we here at Equestrian Lifestyles are here to help guide you through the process, to get the best stable for you.
To start, check if planning permission will be required to erect your stable. It largely depends around if your stable will be built ‘within the confines of a domestic dwelling’ (this includes your garden) or if it will be based on agricultural land. Nevertheless it’s always worth checking with a solicitor who specialises in planning permission about the processes and permissions required.
Consider the size your stable will need to be in relation to your horses. The BHS (British Horse Society) recommends ‘that the animal should be able to stand up and turn around without difficulty, and lie down and roll easily and without risk of injury’.
Depending of the size of the horse the block should be at least between 12x12ft and 12x14ft, with the height of the roof being between 9 and 11ft, with a minimum 3ft clearance of the roof from your horse’s head. (the higher the roof the better the circulation).
Shape of Stable
If your building a completely new stable, rather than a conversion, think about the shape you want it to be:
L shaped stables are wonderful for when space is a premium or when based in a corner location of an area like a paddock or a field. The layout is practical and can provide added protection from the elements, as well as being easy to access and view form all areas of the yard. Adding extra components over time such as an extra block or tack room can be an easy undertaking, as they can be added onto each wing without compromising on the practicality of the yard.
U shaped blocks generally suit larger working yards, where efficiency is key, as they allow for easier management of horses by you and your staff. You will need plenty of land space in order to lay the foundations properly; they do however offer excellent protection from the elements and a pleasant social area for the horses
E shaped blocks are brilliant for commercial yards who need to have separate areas, but still require shared facilities in a central location. For example you can create partitions for tack rooms, stables and hay stores, as well as being able to build offices and workshops within another part of the structure. If you have multiple horses and want to house them on your own land with other facilities such as an office or garage, then an E-shaped box may be perfect for you.
All in a line
This is a pretty simple design useful if you need to house multiple horses and have a large amount of land for the project. This layout is great for small private yards and can be extremely cost-effective.
These are just a few options for you to consider but if you have other specific ideas about the design of your stable, most good stable builders will happily discuss your specifications with you.
Placement of the stable
If you have a choice of the direction in which your stables will face, the main priority is the prevailing wind. The doors should be facing away from this to prevent snow, rain and sleet from being blown into the stable.
Whilst it’s a popular belief that the most ideal direction to face a stable is south, in most circumstances this may not be the case. During the summer, the strong sun can make the stable unbearably hot, especially if they are of wooden construction.
East-facing stables are a popular compromise as Britain’s strongest winds mainly come from the west and east facing stables offer the morning sun in winter
North-facing stables should be avoided as they be very cold in winter and get very little sun, making the floors almost impossible to dry.
Bear in mind the supply of electricity and water to your chosen location. This can be rather expensive to set up to your yard so it’s worth getting a quote from your local Electricity and water companies.
Consider road access to your yard. If large lorries are going to pass in and out of your yard, building decent access to your stable may prove fruitful in the long-term, especially if you are taking the horses out of the yard to events on a frequent basis.
Place your muck heap relatively close to the stable to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to dispose of waste. It needs to be close enough for the winter when you have to push a barrow through snow, and enough of a distance to stop the flies attacking your horses in the summer.
It’s preferable to place your stable near to where your horses graze, especially if you are a working owner and need to get your horses back to the stable in the dark. Having your entrance/exit leading straight onto the grazing area would be the ideal scenario.
Constructing stables out of wood can be the most economically viable option. Wood offers a very stylish classic look but can suffer from shrinkage and distortion over time. Wooden stables can also become too hot for horses during the summer and too cold in the winter. Whilst the weather can be harmful to your stable, your horses can be even worse. They can chew their stable and kick through the wood, however rubber boards can be placed to prevent this.
Building from concrete blocks can prove a wonderful option for a long-term investment. This material is extremely durable and can withstand hard punishment from a horse. Blocks keep the stable cool during the summer months then nice and cozy during the winter. The walls are easy to clean, as they can be jet washed without causing any major to the structure. It is however a rather expensive option but a worthy investment in keeping maintenance costs down in the long run.
If you’re really looking to spend money on your yard bespoke furnishing may be worth looking into. This obviously will be expensive but offers a really personal and lavish look.
Flooring & Foundations
Laying the foundations and first level of brickwork will need to complete well before construction on the actual stable begins, so allow yourself plenty of time before this. Its recommended you get a professional to advise you on this element of construction and to lay the footings and foundations for you.
When you are planning the foundations with your contractor, ensure that they are aware of drainage requirements (i.e. having the foundations sloping gently down towards the drains) , so that those elements can be factored into their plans.
The majority of stables floors are made up of poured concrete. This to be fair is a great option so long as you bank the sides and have provided rubber mats on top to give the horse’s comfort. It’s fairly easy to clean and drains well given the right circumstances. Do not forget that horses will still require large amounts of bedding even with the mats to be truly comfortable
You will need to provide good access for all the vehicles required to build your stable, so be prepared to dismantle fences or any other obstructions that will hinder access to site.
Building the stables
Always make sure you use a reputable company, which can happily offer examples of previous customers who can support their claims of good workmanship. The best stable builders may not be the cheapest and always check what is included in the initial price. Guttering and roofing should always be included but pay attention for hidden charges firms might add on. It’s worth discussing with the firm about electricity during the build so that a generator can be brought in if you cannot provide adequate power.
Also ensure that your contractor is fully insured and discuss the insurance of materials as well as all machinery left on sight.
When building commences, regardless of how much you would love to help you will in all likelihood be a hindrance. The best thing you can do is to stay out of the way and supply plenty of refreshments.
We hope you have found this useful in giving you a basic idea on how to build stable block. Remember to check in next month when we will be talking about manège construction.