Living Spaces for Horses

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What Horses Need Every Day


1. Clean, Well Maintained Shelters

Horses need shelter that is clean and dry. In the wild, horses have the freedom to move away from places where they deposit manure. If horses are kept in barns or stables, they don’t have that choice.

Horses rely on people to clean their stalls frequently, provide clean bedding material, and build facilities so that the air and water are not contaminated.

Bedding material used for horses should include straw, wood shavings or other absorbent materials that are safe for horses.

Horse stalls are confined spaces. The gases given off by urine and feces build up to produce a foul odour. The smell of ammonia gases in a stable is a sign that urine and manure are not being cleaned out frequently enough or that the stable is poorly ventilated.

A horse needs clean bedding, a clean stable and access to clean water.

2. Safe Facilities

Safe facilities are constructed so that horses are comfortable and not at any risk. Horses need to be able to see, smell and socialize with other horses. Stalls should allow horses to safely move and interact with each other. There should not be any openings or cracks in which horses can get caught or injured.


Smoke and fire will trigger a fear response in horses, as they have a survival instinct to escape perceived threats. Since a stable is a confined space, there may not be any obvious place for a horse to escape. To ensure horse and human safety, handlers should move horses in a calm manner and follow an emergency preparedness plan. People should eliminate any fire hazards and develop an emergency preparedness plan. In the event of a fire, horses should be secured in a safe location to prevent them from returning to the barn or encountering other dangers.

Horses need people who consider the risks of housing horses in buildings with materials that could catch fire, or are constructed in such a way that horses may get injured or trapped.

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What does the Code of Practice say,…


… about Stable Maintenance.

“Stalls should be cleaned frequently and thoroughly to keep the stable clean, dry and free from noxious odours such as ammonia. Adequate amounts of suitable bedding material should be provided.

Manure should be handled and stored with a minimal negative impact on the environment.

Equipment and services, including feeding utensils, waterers, ventilating fans, heating and lighting units, fire extinguishers and alarm systems, should be cleaned and inspected regularly to ensure that they are working properly.

Proper storage facilities should be provided for all equipment so as not to obstruct or endanger horses.”

… about Safety.

“All stables/housing should have emergency evacuation capabilities, including more than one available exit. Stalls should be equipped with quick release fasteners or some other means of easily releasing horses. A halter and lead rope for each horse should be available.

Emergency procedures should be posted and updated regularly and should include:

  • evacuation procedures for people and horses;
  • a list of emergency telephone numbers; and
  • emergency transportation and housing arrangements.

Emergency equipment should be installed and should include:

  • an effective smoke and fire detection system;
  • fire extinguishers rated at least s1 by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada; and
  • emergency lighting systems.

Stable owners should consult with their local fire departments and request a site visit to review their emergency preparedness.

Electrical equipment (e.g., heated water bowls) should be regularly checked for stray or trickle voltage.

Hay and bedding should be stored in a separate building, away from horses. When haylofts are built above horse stalls, the loft floor should be constructed with a fire rating of not less than 45 minutes.

Horse owners / handlers should be aware that horses may ingest materials other than normal feed stuffs. Horses must not be allowed access to potentially toxic materials such as agricultural chemicals, lead batteries, petroleum products and paints.”

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