Considering the importance of the stable department, it would seem proper to give it a fair amount of architectural embellishment, always bearing in mind, however, the sound maxim that utility is the cardinal principle in all building, and that the truest architecture is the artistic treatment of the useful. Whatever style is adopted in the dwelling-house should be applied in a plainer degree to the stables. The material, so far as it affects the internal fitting up, will be more suitably dealt with at a later stage; but as regards general construction, the local materials will usually be found most suitable. Brick, stone, or even wood may be applied; but the last in this climate is seldom durable, except at a considerable expense in the way of periodical painting or coating with other preservatives.
In the general arrangement of a stable there are many points to be considered. The modern horse is, like the modern man - his master, - an artificial product, and, like him, is easily affected by healthy surroundings or the reverse. There are few of the principles of modern sanitation which are not applicable to the stabling department. A dry and well-drained site, air, light, and ventilation without draught are all indispensable for a healthy suite of stables. Cess-pools under or close to a stable, and any large or long-standing collection of manure in close proximity, should also be avoided.
The principal accommodation required in a complete stable range will consist of stalls, loose-boxes, one or more sick- or isolation-boxes, a washing-box or shed, coach-house, harness-room, cleaning- and saddle-rooms, a provender-room, tool-house (which may possibly also be made available for a heating apparatus for hot-water pipes to the coach-house), and lofts for hay and corn. The last-named may be partly over the stable, as tending to keep the latter at an even temperature; but the ceiling of the stable should as far as possible be air-tight, as the less communication there is between the air of the stable and the loft the better. For this reason it is desirable that the ladders or stairs to the loft, and the shoots for hay and corn, should not open directly into the stable, but, if possible, be in the provender-room or in a separate passage. It is also of advantage that a portion at least of the yard should be covered over for the more comfortable washing of carriages, etc, in wet weather. If this be done, a special washing-box for horses may perhaps be dispensed with, though it has its advantage on the score of privacy in the case of restive horses. It is better not to have the manure-pit inside the stable-yard, but at some distance, a portable iron box being provided for the removal to it daily, or more often, of all manure from the stable. Latrines for the stablemen should form a part of every well-ordered stable.
A typical plan is shown in fig. 570, with two stables of four stalls in each, a range of four loose-boxes, a sick-box, washing-box, harness-room, coach-house, fodder- or provender-room, and a tool-house. As the washing-box serves also for a passage, there is a direct communication throughout the range, except in the case of the sick-box, the isolation of which is rendered as complete as possible. Perhaps four ordinary loose-boxes, especially with the addition of a sick-box, may be in a larger proportion to eight stalls than is usually the case. Where hunters are kept, however, this number will not be too numerous, as the boxes will be used mainly for the hunters, and the stalls for carriage-horses. If this is not the case, the end box can be cut off as a separate house for a root store or for dogs. Some persons also might prefer the loose-boxes to be entirely separate, with access only to the yard; but the horse is a sociable animal, and is more comfortable within sight and hearing of his companions. The advantages also in the matter of attendance, and the increased facilities for ventilation, outweigh those of increased isolation. The covered part of the yard is shown with only three supports, the facilities for the manufacture of light-iron roofing rendering a multiplicity of columns quite unnecessary. It is not desirable that anything of the nature of a residence, especially where there are children about, should form any part of a stable range, although in some cases this is insisted upon; but apartments for at least one attendant should be provided, care being taken that, while accessible from the stables, they are not immediately over any part occupied by the horses.
Fig. 570. - Plan of Stable-buildings for Twelve Horses.
The room over the harness-room is often found suitable for this purpose. It is not well to have too many stalls for horses in a single stable; ranges of four, or at the most five, with walls and doors between, are much better both for isolation and quietness.