Horse Care

Stay Put, Pony! Horse Stall Guards for Beginners

Stall guard
Written by Laura V

What to know about stalls—and keeping horses in them!

Stable management is an essential component of horse ownership. For horses that spend at least part of their time stalled, you’ll need to know how to keep your horse’s stall clean to prevent illness. One stall accessory you can purchase (or make!) is a stall guard.

The purpose of a stall guard is to keep your horse inside the stall while keeping the door open. This can help with ventilation, or to alleviate boredom. It’s also handy when you’re going in and out to muck stalls. Stall guards can be useful for a variety of purposes and come in a range of colors and materials.

Horse Stall Basics

A clean and dry stall is crucial to keep your horse happy and healthy! You’ll want to provide your horse with a nice space to relax when they are not working. We’re going to take a look at stall bedding basics, cleaning, and some additional products you may want to consider.

What is a horse stall?

A horse stall is an individual section in a stable where a horse is kept when they are not working or turned out.

The standard size for a stall is 12 x 12 but some may be larger depending on the size of the stable and the horses.

What should be in a horse stall?

Horse stalls should have a stall mat over the stall floor. Shavings or straw is then placed on top to provide comfort and protection for the horse. Bedding is important as it will absorb urine and provide some cushion from the ground.

Stalls should have a water source—generally water would be in a bucket or provided by an automatic waterer.

Some barns may feed hay and grain in a manger, others may use feed pans, or additional buckets.

Automatic waterer in a horse stall

Photo Cred: Canva

Hanging toys and treats can be added to the stall for active horses that may need some stimulation or distraction when in the stall.

Salt block in a stall

Photo Cred: Canva

How long can you leave a horse in a stall?

Horses can be left in their stall 24/7 if necessary, provided they receive adequate exercise. Many horse owners choose to turn their horse out either overnight or for a few hours during the day.

How long your horse stays in their stall or outside is generally based on owner preference and the horse’s activity level.

Stall Guards

A stall guard is a great accessory to add to your stable. While it’s not a crucial part of the stall, it can add a level of comfort for your horse when they’re in the stable.

What is a stall guard?

A stall guard is a temporary solution to keep your horse safely contained in their stall. These tend to be made of durable fabric, rubber, or metal and are hung on the stall with heavy-duty hooks and hardware.

A stall guard is a way to keep your horse in the stall without the door.

horse stall guard

Click to see stall guards on Amazon

When might you use a stall guard?

Stall guards can be used to allow your horse a bit more freedom in their stall. They are able to have their head outside the stall and have more visibility into what is going on in the stable aisle.

The stall door is open when using a guard, which can help with air flow.

A guard also may be used for convenience if the stall door is difficult to open and close.

How do you make a stall guard?

You can make a stall guard by using two canvas belts and a heavy material. Simply sew the belts onto the heavy material then add d-rings and snap rings to the sides. That said, it is probably a little easier just to buy one!

What is the best stall guard?

Highly rated stall guards are usually made from textilene fabric. Two best-selling stall guards to check out are the Kensington Stall Door Guard and the Rubber Covered Stall Chain.

stall guard

Click to see the Kensington stall guard at Amazon

Stall Cleaning 101

It is crucial to keep your horse’s stall clean and dry to prevent health problems. A dirty and wet stall can lead to thrush, cellulitis, breathing problems, and skin problems.

How often should horse stalls be cleaned?

Horse stalls should be cleaned one to two times a day. It is important to keep the stall dry and clean to prevent bacteria from growing. Frequent cleaning can also help minimize pesky insects like flies.

Other than mucking out a stall, what else needs to be cleaned?

The stall floor or mats should also be cleaned periodically. Along with the floor, you should also clean water buckets and feeders weekly (or more frequently if needed). These are places bacteria can grow and potentially make your horse sick.

What is the best bedding for a horse stall?

Wood-based beddings tend to perform the best. They have good water-holding capacity making it very absorbent and will keep the stall floor dry. Options for wood-based bedding include shavings, pellets, and chips.

Paper shavings are a great option for horses with allergies as they are dust-free and highly absorbent.

Straw can also be used as bedding and is especially popular with mares ready to foal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best bedding for a horse stall?

Wood based bedding tends to perform best and has high absorbency.

Q: What is a tie stall?

A tie stall is a stall that is smaller than a standard 12 x 12 stall providing just enough room for your horse to lie down, but not turn around.

Tie stall

Photo Cred: Canva

Q: Can you use a stall guard in a horse trailer?

Stall guards are generally not used in trailers as the trailer doors will always need to be shut when there are horses in it.

Parting Thoughts

Providing your horse with a clean and comfortable living space will help keep them happy and healthy. Fresh bedding, and stall mats as a base, are a great start to a comfortable stall. Adding a stall guard and some toys or treats to keep your horse occupied also may be a great addition.

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About the author


Laura has showed competitively on the A/AA circuit in hunters, jumpers, and equitation, including in major equitation finals like WIHS, ASPCA Maclay Finals, and USEF Hunt Seat Medal Finals. She was also recruited to ride on the Division 1 Equestrian team at the University of South Carolina. While she does not ride anymore, horses are still a big part of her life. She is involved with the NCEA and college riding, and she has worked professionally as a marketer for an online horse care retailer.