Choosing Barn Doors: A Horse’s View
When working with an equine barn builder, it’s important to look at your structure from your horse’s perspective. What is snug, cozy and inviting for people is often the very opposite of what your horses need in their homes. Choosing barn doors is no exception. Start with horse-pleasing functionality, then you can have a bit of fun with the people-pleasing design elements.
Entry doors are for people, and can be located wherever you need access to the barn. End Doors are the large doors, usually located on either end of the barn, that open onto the barn’s center aisle. The standard opening for end doors is twelve to fourteen feet wide, usually split between two doors. This offers plenty of room for two horses and handlers to pass by one another safely. Paddock Doors open from individual stalls to the outdoors, often directly onto a paddock. They make turnout easy and may be left open to allow horses to enter and exit the stall at will.
Adding windows to your barn doors is an increasingly popular choice among horse owners for several reasons beyond their good looks. Windows allow light to enter the barn, which offers many environmental benefits. One, sunlight is warming, which can be a major asset in cold climates, particularly for doors with southern exposure. Two, sunlight kills bacteria and mold spores, so adding light can significantly improve air quality. Three, inviting light into your barn reduces electric light use and makes it easier to monitor your horse’s health. Some people also believe sunlight in the barn discourages flies. Windows should be made with tempered glass designed for barn use and located above kicking height (around six feet). In hot climates, they should be oriented to avoid direct sun during summer months.
Adding screened windows promotes air circulation, which is crucial to good air quality in the barn. The average horse generates eight to ten gallons of moisture each day, and all that humidity promotes mold and bacterial growth. Your barn design should encourage a steady flow of fresh air, drawing all that heat and humidity up to vent out through the eaves and roof. Even in winter, a flow of fresh air through the barn is important for your horse’s health. Position windows so they introduce air without creating a draft directly over your horse.
Many horse owners favor a split or Dutch style door for paddock doors. Dutch doors offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to close them completely when desired or open just the top to admit air and light into the stall. Many horses enjoy looking out over the half door while confined to their stalls.
Sliding or Hinged?
One more option you’ll need to consider when choosing end and paddock doors (as well as stall doors) for your barn is how they’ll open. Sliding tracks are the more popular choice today, but hinged doors have certain advantages worth considering. Sliding doors slide completely out of the way without requiring door clearance, but slider tracks can become blocked by debris and will require maintenance. Also, barn doors on sliders may freeze up in bad weather. Hinged doors are a bit more unwieldy but they’re probably easier to maintain over the long haul. Whichever you choose, you want to be sure that all hardware is horse-friendly, with no edges or protrusions that could cause injuries.
A Healthy Barn
A healthy barn is cool, light and airy year-round, with a good flow of fresh air at all times. Choose your end doors and paddock doors with light and air flow in mind. Ideally, they’ll bring sunlight and fresh air into your barn year-round while shielding your horses from cold drafts in winter and hot, direct sun in summer.
Once you’ve figured out all that, you can choose the styles and colors that make you happy. For that part, your horses are sure to like whatever you pick.
Our designers are experienced in creating barns that will suit your horses’ needs as well as your own. Talk to us to schedule a free consultation today.