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Wrangling on the Range #179

Hazard-free Barn




To prevent injuries, make sure these dangers aren't lurking in or
near your barn.

How are horses like small children? With both, you must be on
guard constantly against things that might hurt them. To help you
keep your horses safe in their home, here's a handy list of
hazards to banish from your barn and the surrounding area.


Tight spaces invite trouble. Aisles and doorways should be at
least eight feet wide to avoid crowding/bumping. Ceilings should
be high enough to avoid contact with a rearing horse's
head-ideally nine feet or more. Stalls should be at least 12 feet
x 12 feet to minimize the risk of a horse's becoming cast.


Your barn's floor must provide satisfactory traction, especially
if your horses wear shoes. Texturized concrete is a safe,
inexpensive nonslip option for a barn aisle. Replace or repair
loose or torn stall mats.

Loose or splintered boards, protruding nails or wire, damaged
hinges/latches, torn buckets or feed tubs, or anything
else that can lacerate or puncture flesh presents a serious
danger. Make repairs or replacements in a timely fashion.
Your barn should be your horses' safe, happy home, so rid it of
any health hazards.


Any wall or divider that separates two horses must be strong and
smooth, with no place for Railing hooves to become caught or hung


Barn aisles, doorways, and commonly traveled pathways around the
barn should be clear of tripping hazards and obstructions. These
include feed cans, trunks, saddle racks, wheelbarrows, chairs,
shovels, brooms, and manure forks. Garbage should be neatly
stowed in containers with lids. Detritus such as bits of plastic,
wire, baling twine, and the like can cause colic or serve as the
nidus for an enterolith; keep your stalls, aisles, and paddocks
free of it.


Hooves can get caught in or trip over misplaced cross-ties, lead
ropes, longe lines, wash hoses, electrical or extension cords,
etc. Keep such items neatly contained/stored.


Grain, concentrates, and treats that aren't secured behind
latched or locked doors invite raids that can lead to colic or
laminitis. (Rodent-proof containers should be used to protect
feedstuffs from contamination.)


Toxic chemicals or other substances should never be stored where
horses (or children) might be able to get to them. Plants toxic
to horses should never be used as ornamental shrubbery around the
barn or anywhere horses might contact them. (Check with your
cooperative extension for local varieties to avoid.)


Light fixtures should be out of horses' reach or encased in
strong, metal mesh cages or, in the case of long fluorescent
fixtures, plastic tubes. Electrical wiring and switches should be
encased in metal, weatherproof boxes. Electrical outlets in
wash-stall areas should be equipped with a ground fault circuit
interrupter, and all water sources should be grounded.

Baby on the way? For tips on how to create a safe foaling stall
search that term at


Fire safety falls into its own hazard category. To make your barn
as fire-safe as it can be:

* Allow no smoking in your barn, ever. Post signs and enforce
* Stock your barn with appropriate fire extinguishers, and know
how to use them. (If you're not sure, check with a local fire
* If finances allow, consider installing a commercial sprinkling
system or heat/ smoke detectors, and treating your barn with a
fire-retardant product.
* Avoid clutter, especially of flammable materials like paper,
straw, shavings, and oily rags. Keep your barn neat.
* If possible, avoid storing hay in the same barn where horses
are housed. If you must do so, make sure the hay is properly
cured and not stacked too tightly; overly moist and/or crowded
hay can cause spontaneous combustion.
* Don't overuse extension cords; hire a licensed electrician if
need be to add more wiring and electrical outlets.
* Keep your barn roof in good repair; water leaks into light
fixtures or electrical outlets can cause shorts.
* Don't store gasoline or diesel fuel in your barn. Store any
other combustible liquids (such as oil-based cleaning supplies,
alcohol, clipper grease, etc.) in a metal container with a lid.
* Develop and post a fire-escape plan, along with all relevant
emergency numbers.

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