Windows are chiefly intended for light, but they also assist in ventilation. For the latter purpose, unless reliance can be placed upon the stable men, they are not so valuable; though in hot weather, and when it is required to freely air stables, it is very advantageous to have them thrown open. They may either move on a pivot at the middle of each side or be e 2 hinged at the bottom, so as to fall inwards at the top. However they may be arranged, they should not allow draughts of air, nor rain or snow to fall on the horses. All stables should be thoroughly lighted.
The floor of a stable should be higher than the ground outside, so as to keep it dry, and secure good drainage. The height should not be many inches, but if possible there should only be one step at the door - better if it can be dispensed with altogether.
Floors may be made of several materials, but a good paving should possess the properties of durability, impermeability, secure foothold, and be easily cleaned.
Clay, rammed hard, has been recommended; but it is slippery and dirty when wet, and constantly requires holes to be filled up. Some stables are paved with square-cut granite stones, but these, though very durable, become slippery, and should be laid in concrete, with cement or asphalte between, to prevent soakage. Common red bricks are sometimes employed, but they also should be laid in concrete and cemented, and though they are not slippery, yet they soften, soak with urine to some extent, and soon wear in holes. Other floors are made of asphalte, but they are dangerously slippery. Floors composed of lime and ashes have been favourably mentioned, if time is allowed for them to harden. Furrowed blue Staffordshire bricks are very generally used, and when set in cement make an excellent floor, providing the bricks are good and the furrows deep.
Of late years, concrete has come largely into use for paving stables, and the best is, perhaps, that known as Wilkes', which is a mixture of cement and crushed iron-slag. This makes a beautiful floor, very durable, impermeable to urine and wet, and possessing the great advantage of wearing rough, instead of smooth, while it can also be easily cleaned.
When it is possible to do so, horses should be kept in loose boxes, even if these be no more than ten or twelve feet square. Horses can rest better in them, select the easiest position, move about, and be more contented and comfortable. They are also much less likely to acquire the bad habits of kicking, "crib biting," and "weaving."
But space and other considerations prevent the adoption of loose boxes, and the great majority of horses are kept in stalls. The dimensions of these should be proportionate to the size of the horses, but in all cases they should be roomy. An allowance of five feet and a half to six feet in width should be made, and from eight to ten feet in length should be given, for each stall; for large draught and carriage horses, seven to eight feet in width may be required. For stalls separated by partitions, more width is required than for those divided by a swung bale. For sanitary and economical reasons, bales are preferable to partitions, inasmuch as they are considerably less expensive, allow the horses more liberty to move about and get up and lie down, facilitate the circulation of air through the stable, and permit cleansing and disinfection to be more easily carried out; in case of fire, there is also much less danger, while at all times the horse will be much more easily seen. The bale consists of a thick plank the length of the stall, slung from the manger in front, and from a joist or beam behind; it usually has a shorter plank suspended from its lower border, towards its posterior end, and this receives the kicks which the horse may feel inclined to give it. The bale is suspended about two and a half to three feet from the ground.
The partition of stalls is usually from seven to eight feet high in front in order to prevent the horses biting each other, but only from five to six feet at the posterior part; a space of a few inches is usually left between the wall and the partition in front, and two or three inches between it and the floor, to allow the air to circulate. The planks forming the partition should be strong and tough, and placed horizontally, instead of perpendicularly, as this will tend to lessen the risk of accidents from their being broken by kicking.
Stalls with concrete floors, the grooves of which incline backwards and inwards to the middle groove. A B C D, different ways of furrowing the pavement behind the stalls.
The floors of stalls and boxes should be paved with the best material, and to facilitate drainage, as well as to ensure foothold, grooves should be made in the surface. When the floor is of concrete, these grooves are made during the process of laying; they should not be deep nor yet wide, but just sufficient to convey away the urine, and afford a catch for the feet when there is no litter on the floor.
The direction of the grooves is a matter of some importance with regard to their usefulness. We may here state that the floor of the stall should be as nearly level as possible; as nothing is so injurious to limbs and feet, and fatiguing to the horse, than standing for a long time on a sloping surface, like that seen in many stables, where the unfortunate animals are condemned to stand, as it were, on the back tendons of their legs, as if on a hillside. A very trifling slope may be necessary - say one in eighty, as it is now in troop stables - from the front wall to the heel drain; though it would be better if the front half were quite horizontal, as the urine does not fall beyond the middle of the stall. A very slight inclination may be allowed from each side towards the centre, and the grooves, commencing somewhat shallow, should pass in a diagonal manner in the same direction, entering a middle longitudinal groove, into which they convey the urine, which is carried into the heel drain, or channel. A different plan, which gives greater strength where most required, and two channels instead of one for drainage, is the reverse of the last. In this the floor, instead of inclining towards the middle, is very slightly higher there, and the grooves, commencing very shallow at this part, gradually deepen as they pass outwards and backwards to a longitudinal channel on each side of the stall, these entering the heel channel.