Q2) Is it safe to use converted farm buildings to house horses?
There are probably some folks out there who
think that horses should only be kept in a building that was expressly built to
house horses. Others think that if you use common sense, understand and deal
with safety issues, using an existing farm building is a good alternative to
building from scratch. Here are a few examples:
Tobacco barns are actually an ideal type of building for
horse-keeping. Their design function is to ventilate air around the hanging
tobacco leaves. Because the ceiling is high and the walls are straight there is
not a lot of adjustment that you would have to make in this barn besides
building the actual stalls. However, unless you live in the deep south this type
of building is not very common.
Cow barns can be tricky and a lot of work to convert but can
provide a good housing situation for a small horse operation. One of the main
issues is the height of the ceiling. Often cow barns have low ceilings. Even if
you only have 14hh ponies the major concerns are a lack of proper air flow and
the possibility of rearing. Any horse has the potential to rear up and hit its
head on a low ceiling. Therefore, you might have to have the ceiling raised a
few feet. If this is more trouble than it is worth, you might want to start from
scratch. If you are lucky, the ceiling might be a good 8 to 12 feet high.
Sliding doors at both ends of the barn create an ideal ventilation
The next order of business is removing any and all machinery,
i.e. stanchions, manure removers in the gutter, or milking machines. Once
all of these "monsters" are removed it is important to fill in any and
all gutters with cement. Imagine trying to lead excitable or young horses over
these foot deep danger zones with out breaking any bones. You must inspect the
barn carefully for anything that would constitute a dangerous situation for
horses - stanchion pipes that aren't removed completely, protruding nails or
other objects. After you have made your cow barn safe it's time to start
building the stalls.
Lack of ventilation, low ceilings, small size and banked walls
make pig barns not suitable for housing horses. It is best to use these
buildings for storage.
Depending on the size and condition of these out buildings they can work well
for single or small horse operations. Remember that safety must be your
first priority. Use common sense in choosing any building to house your