There are all kinds of horse barns from a very simple run-in shed to luxurious stables with beautiful barn paint. No matter what kind of horse barn you have, it’s important to understand that safety is of the utmost importance to both the inhabitants of the barn and the people who visit and work in it. In this article, we share smart advice to help you keep your horse barn safe. Read on to learn more about these 23 horse barn safety rules.
What You'll Learn Today
- 1 1. Provide plenty of space
- 2 2. Avoid tripping hazards
- 3 3. Make it easy to keep things clean
- 4 4. Provide plenty of headroom
- 5 5. Keep electricity safe
- 6 6. Provide safe footing
- 7 7. Install unbreakable windows
- 8 8. Keep doors safe
- 9 9. Keep doors and gates safely and securely latched
- 10 10. Lock equipment rooms
- 11 11. Protect your grain supplies
- 12 12. Set up a good security system
- 13 13. Avoid falls
- 14 14. Prevent fire
- 15 15. Be ready to fight fire
- 16 16. Clear a fire break
- 17 17. Be prepared for injuries and emergencies
- 18 18. Keep emergency contact numbers handy
- 19 19. Be easy to locate and access
- 20 20. Be prepared
- 21 21. Know where you will go
- 22 22. Get your horse used to emergency equipment
- 23 23. Be sure your horse will load up in a trailer quickly and easily
- 24 Frequently Asked Questions
1. Provide plenty of space
A horse barn should not be cramped. Always make certain that there’s plenty of room for your horses and you to move about safely without being cornered or crowded.
Aisles in your barn should be at least 8 feet wide so that your horse can turn around and two horses can pass each other without touching.
2. Avoid tripping hazards
Keep the aisles clear of clutter in your horse barn. Place hooks for halters high enough that ropes and halters cannot trail onto the floor and create a tripping hazard. Don’t allow any clutter or trash to be left in the aisles to get in the way.
3. Make it easy to keep things clean
Be sure that there are plenty of proper trash receptacles in and around your barn so that people will not be tempted to drop garbage on the floor. Empty your trash cans frequently to prevent the buildup of clutter and infestation by pests such as rats.
4. Provide plenty of headroom
Horse barn ceilings should be high enough to prevent your horse from ever bumping his head on the rafters. Even if he rears up, his head should not come in contact with the ceiling.
5. Keep electricity safe
If your barn is wired for electricity, it’s extremely important that all plugs, switches and wiring are out of the reach of horses and are properly covered with conduit or weatherproof metal boxes.
Barn light fixtures must also be high enough that horses cannot access them, and it’s a good idea to cover bulbs with protective metal cages. Unplug any electrical appliances (e.g. barn heaters) when not in use.
6. Provide safe footing
Your floor should be well draining and provide good traction. If you’re going to have a solid floor made of concrete, it must be texturized to provide good footing.
If you use a rubber stall mat, it should also be texturized. Gravel also makes good flooring for a barn as it provides good traction and also allows moisture to run off.
7. Install unbreakable windows
Windows in a barn should be made of unbreakable material such as safety glass or Plexiglas. Furthermore, metal screen or steel bars should be installed over this material to prevent breakage.
8. Keep doors safe
Stall door should be wide and easy to open. They should always be set up in such a way as to open out rather than in. Doors on rollers that slide open sideways are the very safest.
9. Keep doors and gates safely and securely latched
Use sturdy latches that horses cannot unlock on their own. Don’t use padlocks or any other type of lock to secure stall doors or stall guards. In the event of emergency, a locked stall can lead to a horse’s death.
10. Lock equipment rooms
You can keep your horse’s halter and lead rope securely hung on a sturdy hook outside of his stall so that you can access them quickly in the event of emergency.
11. Protect your grain supplies
Inside your feed room keep grain in metal bins or trashcans with lids to keep your feed safe from rats and mice and other pests. Keep your feed room floor swept up to avoid attracting vermin and bugs. Keep supplements, medicines and ointments in a locked cabinet or on a very high shelf to prevent access by children.
12. Set up a good security system
Keep your horse safe from abuse and theft by installing motion detector lights outside. Set up video monitoring inside the barn and outside to keep track of who comes and goes.
13. Avoid falls
If your horse barn is equipped with a hay loft, be sure that the stairs or ladder that provide access to it are safe and secure. Ladders should be securely attached and immovable. Stairs should have sturdy railings and nonskid treads. Your loft should also have railings to prevent falls.
14. Prevent fire
Be vigilant about preventing fire. Keep any flammable substances such as gasoline, pesticide, paint or other chemicals stored far away from your barn.
Never allow anyone to smoke in or around the barn under any circumstances (use barn signs to make the rules clear). A barn full of hay is a veritable tinderbox and will go up very quickly with even the slightest spark.
15. Be ready to fight fire
Install smoke detectors throughout your barn, and if possible install a sprinkler system. At the very least, have an ample number of fire extinguishers in easy-to-see and easy-to-reach locations. Keep water hoses attached, neatly rolled up and ready to be utilized in case of fire.
16. Clear a fire break
Keep the area around your barn free of unruly vegetation. It’s a good idea to cut back trees and bushes immediately around the barn and keep a wide swath of land all the way around the barn mowed and free of dry grass that could cause a fire hazard.
This bare zone will also act as a fire break in case a wildfire occurs in your area.
17. Be prepared for injuries and emergencies
Create a first-aid kit for people and another one for horses and keep them both well-stocked at all times. Learn CPR yourself and obtain a CPR instruction poster to post in a prominent place in your barn.
18. Keep emergency contact numbers handy
Post an emergency services list in your barn. This list should include phone numbers for your veterinarian, the local police department and others whom you may need to contact in case of emergency.
It’s also a good idea to put the address of your property on this list along with directions that can be given to emergency personnel if needed.
19. Be easy to locate and access
Obtain a sign that clearly displays the address of your property and place it by the road so that emergency personnel can find you in the event of emergency. Be sure that your driveway is wide enough (25 feet) for emergency vehicle access and keep it free of debris that might get in the way.
20. Be prepared
Practice an emergency evacuation drill on a regular basis. Determine how and in what order you will evacuate your horses and where you will take them in the case of a fire, earthquake or other disaster.
21. Know where you will go
Set up a designated area for horse evacuation and be sure that it is equipped with either very secure fences or secure, stable posts for tying. Understand that in the event of an emergency a frightened horse may try to run back to its stall even if that is the most dangerous place to be.
22. Get your horse used to emergency equipment
Practice evacuating your horses blindfolded because blind folding is a good idea during scary events. A blindfold can prevent a horse from seeing frightening things around it that may cause even the most manageable horse to become unmanageable.
23. Be sure your horse will load up in a trailer quickly and easily
Practice this often, at different times of the day and night so that you can count on your horse to step in and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
Although this is a lengthy list of recommendations, it is really just enough to get you started. Put these ideas in place as appropriate for your horse barn, and examine your situation carefully to identify specific safety tweaks you can make in your setting.
The University of Connecticut provides a handy and complete set of horse barn safety rules in PDF format.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! In fact, studies have shown that as many as 45 children are hurt in farming accidents daily in the United States. Among these, one child under the age of seventeen dies from injuries sustained in farm related accidents every three days.
It is as safe to have children in a barn as it is to have them in any other potentially dangerous situation. The degree of safety children experience in a barn is directly linked to the degree of education and supervision they receive. A child who wears correct safety gear and is taught how to behave in a calm and sensible manner around livestock can be quite safe in a barn when provided with proper supervision.
Very small children who are not able to remember and follow directions and exercise safe, sound judgment in a barn setting must be supervised constantly. Their visits to the barn should be short and focused on specific activities. This is how young children learn correct behavior in a barn and around farm animals.
Sturdy shoes are the first consideration. Children (and adults) should never be in the barn or around animals in cloth shoes, sandals or, worst of all, barefoot. It is very easy to lose toes, experience serious puncture wounds and/or pick up parasites if you enter a barn setting with unprotected feet. Aside from shoes, standard protective clothing, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirt are always recommended. Protective headwear is advisable, and gloves could certainly be added as needed.
The best and easiest way to teach kids to practice good safety habits in the barn and around animals is to practice them yourself. Set a good example, and your kids will follow it.