The Equine Expert

Barn hazards to avoid – How to provide a safe home for your horse.
By Tanja Schnuderl

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As barn manager or horse owner, we constantly try to keep our horses from accidently injuring themselves. Barns can provide plenty of opportunities for your horses to get hurt. Starting with big animals in confined spaces, add some splintered wood and sharp metal edges and there is a good chance for your horse to get a painful cut or puncture wound. Keeping an eye out for the following potential barn hazards will help you to provide a safe home for your horse.


  • A lot of horses chew on the wood boards in their stalls or kick them regularly at feed time. Splintered wood planks can cause injuries to the eye or muzzle when they come in contact with those sensitive parts of you horse. Check your stalls and replace/smooth out splintered boards.
  • Protruding nails, screws or latches should be fixed immediately. They can be particularly hazardous and cause deep cuts, lacerate flesh or cause serious puncture wounds. Same goes for buckets or feed troughs if the plastic is torn apart into sharp edges.
  • Ideally your stalls are 12x12 to give your horse enough room and reduce the risk of horses rolling and getting cast.
  • Check your stalls for loose or torn stall mats and replace them.


  • Avoid cluttering the aisle with blankets, tack, brooms, manure forks, etc., especially doorways and commonly traveled paths, to eliminate tripping hazards.
  • Halters, lead ropes, lunge lines, hoses - or anything that a horse foot could get tangled up in while walking down the aisle - should be hung neatly without any loose end on the ground.
  • Make sure the footing of your aisle provides enough traction for shoed horses to avoid slipping and falling.
  • Any electrical wiring, for fans, lighting, etc. should be out of reach for horses to chew on to avoid an electrical shock. Switches should be encased in waterproof material.
  • Electrical outlets in your the wash stall should be equipped with a ground fault circuit interrupter and all water source should be grounded.
  • Toxic chemicals like mouse poison should never be set out in the aisle or anyplace where horses would be able to reach and accidently ingest them.

Keeping these tips in mind will help making your barn safer and avoid accidents and injuries.

Tanja Schnuderl is a team member with The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases and legal matters. Tanja is an expert on Barn Management and Horse Behavior. She is the Barn Manager for Moon Rising Farm just outside Washington DC and Principal of Sigma Equine LLC, an equine appraisal business. Tanja grew up in Germany and was a paralegal for many years. For more information on Tanja Schnuderl email,


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