How can I make stall guards and stall chains safer?


Stall guards and stall chains are a staple in most horse barns.  They are also very common at shows so that your horse can catch some of the action and be “entertained” in his stall.  Typically, stall guards come in a few varieties - the rubber coated chain and the rubbery mat, or the nylon or webbed mat style.  


For stalls that have sliding doors without windows, guards are great for allowing your horse to see out during the day.  You can also use them as a barrier between a stall and the attached paddock, to restrict movement but allow ventilation and sightseeing.  At shows, they are a great way to allow some sightseeing and also provide extra security for nervous horses that may try to escape as you enter the stall.  


This stall chain is being used as a blanket holder outside of a show stall.  Also great for hanging saddle pads and sport boots when you are on the road!


To be safe with stall guards, you can follow these guidelines:


  • Only use them when your horse is supervised.  For most barns, this is during working hours.  Overnight, I would trust a regular stall door.


  • I prefer the larger and taller mat style, these typically have 3 attachments on each side and cover more of the doorway opening and dont' have the openings as pictured below.  I often think of chains as being "wimpy", even though I have no scientific basis for this.  For the webbed kind, I like the type without holes, just so a stray hoof doesn't get stuck.  The one pictured is sort-of OK - it's tall, so covers more area than a chain, but the sides still have holes.  You decide what works for you!


These are my fave - no holes for legs to get stuck in, and more like a little door than a simple chain. 


I look at this stall guard and all I can see is a leg coming through it. 


  • Keep your barn aisle free of hay bits so your horse is not tempted to reach under the stall guard or chain to grab a snack.  You may need to adjust the attachments to accommodate different sized horses.  Or more houdini like horses.


  • Don’t allow cribbing or chewing on the stall guard or stall chain.  Same goes for the snaps on the ends - lips can get caught! 


  • The attachments for the stall chain or stall guard should not protrude into the doorway opening if at all possible.  Would not want your horse’s hip or shoulder to jam into the screw eye sticking out.  


So many choices!  But no pink.


  • If you use one during the day but not at night, completely remove it from the doorway.  No dangling parts inside the stall!!  


  • Make sure it’s not so low that a horse with a houdini habit will try and jump over.  


How often do you use stall guards and stall chains?