Stalls with grooves in floors inclining backwards and outwards to side grooves.
The passage behind the stalls, if smooth on the surface, should be cut or grooved, to prevent slipping.
Some draught-horse stables are arranged with stalls nine or ten feet wide, to contain a pair of horses, by which a saving of ten feet in a ten-stall stable is effected; but this may be questionable economy.
Loose boxes in stables should have the woodwork as low as possible, the necessary height being obtained by an iron rail around the top. They should be drained in the same manner as the stalls, and it is needless to remark that they ought to be as spacious as possible.
The grooves, or channels, in the floor of the stalls and loose boxes lead to the channel behind (heel channel), and this should, having a proper fall, carry the urine out of the stable. This constitutes surface drainage, the only kind which should be tolerated inside stables; underground pipes, drains, and traps are an abomination, from their becoming foul-smelling and filthy. These surface drains can be swept clean and washed with water, and they dry quickly. The urine, carried outside the stable by the surface drains, may run into other drains of the same kind, and so be carried out of the way into the sewer or manure pit.
At intervals of time, the floors, as well as the walls, windows, mangers, and woodwork, should be thoroughly cleaned by washing; indeed, the drains should frequently be flushed with water.
After such cleaning, and especially if the weather be damp, and even when there is no cleaning, but a prevalence of wet and cold, fires of coke or gas may be burned in the stables when the horses are out, in order to dry the air and get rid of the moisture.
Mangers and hay-racks should be of metal - cast-iron galvanised - or the manger of iron, enamelled inside. White enamelled mangers are easily kept clean, and it is easily seen when they are dirty. Wooden racks and mangers are always foul, and very dangerous when broken, or when contagious diseases are about. The hay-rack should be on the same level as the manger; when placed high above the horse's head, the dust and seeds from the hay fall into the eyes, while feeding from such a height is fatiguing; the horse is not a giraffe or a camel-leopard, but is adapted to grazing on the ground. The manger ought to be straight in front, and the upper surface should project around the cavity for two or three inches, to prevent the food being turned out by the horse; the interior should not be large, but of sufficient capacity to hold rather more than a good feed. The width of a stall affords ample space for rack, manger, and water-basin, on the same level.
These fittings should be strong, and securely attached to the wall at a height of from 3 1/2 to 4 feet from the ground. On each side should be a strong ring, through which the head-collar rope (if it be a stall) passes, as all horses ought to be fastened by a rope on each side of the head-collar.
The entrance to stables should be wide and high. Low and narrow doorways are very dangerous, because of the injuries they cause to the head and haunches. They ought to be at least eight feet high and five feet wide, the angles being well rounded, and there being no projections. The doors should open outwards, if possible, and have an appliance for fastening them against the wall when necessary; or they may be made to slide to the side, which is, perhaps, the best arrangement.
The same remarks apply to loose box doors.
They should not allow draughts of air to fall upon the legs.
Locks, bolts, handles of doors, hooks and pegs, etc., should be strong, and so made and placed as not to be likely to cause accidents to the horses. Harness should, if possible, be kept in a harness-room, and such implements as forks, shovels, etc., ought not to be left in the stable.
Though loose boxes inside stables may be advantageously adopted for healthy horses; yet for those which are sick, or convalescent, they are not so well adapted, as the animals do not receive such pure air, nor can they be kept so quiet. The best boxes for this purpose are those which are detached, and have a favourable aspect - southerly or south-westerly. They need not measure more than twelve or fourteen feet square, and about the same in height. The floors may be the same as those of stables, and likewise the doors. It is usual to have the latter in two portions, divided across, the lower half being about three and a half feet in height, both portions opening outwards. To prevent accidents by the horse jumping over the lower half while the upper is fastened back, a movable bar, placed at least eighteen inches above the lower part, should be used when it is desired to allow the animal fresh air and sunlight.
No fixed temperature can be maintained in stables; but, if possible, it should be kept at as near a medium degree as possible, not descending below 50°, nor exceeding 65 or 70°. Horses can endure a tolerably high range of temperature without injury in the open air, but in stables this nearly always implies a foul, sickly atmosphere, with a tendency to lung congestion, coughs, digestive derangement, feverishness, and other unfavourable conditions. Better a cold stable than one too hot. Food and clothing will keep the body warm; the lungs should have cool air.