How important are stall windows, anyway? Aren't they just an added perk?
Turns out they're pretty much a necessity!
It might seem like overkill for every stall to have its own big, airy window. You might be thinking they are a nice perk but not really that important. Based on how many barns are built with only about half the stalls having windows it’s obvious that most people don’t realize just how beneficial they are to your horse.
I go to barns all the time that have very little natural light and very poorly designed stall windows if any at all. Often times the windows that are in the stalls are placed too high up for the horses to see out. They are also often very small and have limited ability to open. It’s no surprise that these same barns have horses that suffer from skin issues, breathing troubles, hormone imbalances, and behavior concerns. Horses just like all of us thrive on fresh air and sunshine.
When designing barns and stalls adding windows that allow for airflow and natural light are an absolute must-have. Mentally and physically horses are going to be much healthier and happier in a stall that has a window. It should be one that opens to let in fresh air and that is the right height so they can see out. Being prey animals it is much more comforting to be able to see on all sides so big well placed windows are great for easing their minds.
Three reasons every stall must have a window
1. Natural light
A horse’s system depends a great deal on daylight. Natural light effects everything from shedding to hormones. They also require vitamin D just like us.
Between ammonia from urine, dusty shavings, hair, dander, and hay particles floating around air quality in stalls can go downhill fast. Horses can easily develop allergies, COPD/heaves, or other breathing issues so having access to fresh air while inside is a must.
3. Peace of mind
For horses being able to see on all sides gives them a sense of security. As prey animals, it’s important for them to scan their surroundings. Horses that can see where a noise or scent is coming from can confidently think through the new stimulus without feeling the need to become alarmed by the unknown.
I know of some barns that opt for dutch doors instead of windows in their stalls. The problem with Dutch doors is that they are all or nothing. When they are open they’re great. Lots of air, light, and visibility. Unfortunately, when they are closed all these benefits go out the window. At many barns, they usually end up getting closed much of the time, especially in the winter. This makes for a long dark season.
I recommend having big windows that swing open. If you’ve been told that they are too hard to make or too expensive to buy then you can check out the do-it-yourself tutorial that I put together. Even if you aren’t up for making them yourself you could show your builder this tutorial to give them an idea of what you are looking for in an optimal stall window. It could also be used to make the top of a Dutch door that has a window on top. Check it out here.