Stall Doors And Latches

There are so many varieties, but I might be able to categorize stall doors into groups: swinging in, swinging out and sliding.  All have advantages and disadvantages.  Latches are too numerous but fall into two camps for me: safe and unsafe.  I guess there are two other types: effective and not effective.  I have seen all kinds of combinations, and many are in this gallery.

Stall doors that swing in are seen in barns with a narrow aisle down the middle.  There isn’t enough space to allow the gate to swing out into the aisle. When a gate swings in, it covers the buckets hanging on the inside wall, forcing the person to open, enter, and close to get to any bucket. It also forces the horse to move back to gain access to their head, and it becomes difficult for someone to escape if needed.  The main obstacle to escaping is that the gate stops at the door entrance, blocking from continuing further to the outside (assuming the gate cannot continue to the outside position). You become trapped.  However, this makes the horse escaping more difficult or impossible if a latch is left open.

Stall doors that swing to the outside of the stall and into the aisle offer better access to the horse and the buckets inside the stall.  The door will swing out for a wider opening if a quick escape is needed.  The aisle is blocked unless the stall door is closed and this requires maneuvering the horse a bit after exiting the stall to return to the door and swing it shut.  If the door is left open and there is a strong wind, the door can slam open or closed, damaging the door and possibly injuring someone.

Sliding doors are the best solution, but they also have drawbacks.  First, they are expensive.  They require maintenance, including lubricating the rollers and adjusting them to align the latch.  Nothing can be placed in the path of the rolling door limiting the placement of tack trunks, hanging hooks and other things.  If lightning rod protection is added, every roller rail must be tied to the grounding rod.  And lastly, you can hurt someone if they are standing in the glide path, especially if their hands are placed in the path of the sliding door.  I accidentally injured a groom’s hand this way, so always look before moving the door.

Tip – If a sliding door has dropped over time and the latch no longer aligns, or the door gets stuck, there is an easy 1-person way to adjust it.  The door is too heavy to lift, and the nuts on the hanger are too tight to adjust under the door’s weight.  Place the tip of a shovel under the bottom of the door.  Place one foot on the shovel handle and put your weight on it.  The lever fulcrum at the back of the shovel head will pivot as the handle moves towards the ground, and the tip of the shovelhead will easily lift the door.  With your fingers, reach up and turn the nut now loose from the pressure released from the weight.  2 or 3 turns and then take your foot off the handle and check your work.  Simple!  If you don’t have a shovel, find a similar thing, such as a pitchfork.  Be careful and don’t fall.  Have a friend turn the nuts while you raise the door if you are short.

A simple and automatic stall door latch system.

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