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Designing a Functional Horse Wash Stall

Any horse owner knows that horses are not the cleanest animals. They sweat and get muddy, which leads to them needing a bath. There is no better way to wash your horse and keep them clean, than with a functional wash stall. A well-designed area for bathing horses and treating injuries can do wonders for a busy farm’s work flow.

Your horse-washing area sees lots of use year-round. It is best to decide if you want something as simple as a bucket, sponge and tree to tie the horse to, or if you have the money and space to design a fully enclosed wash stall with a boom arm hose with warm water and heaters.

Take the time to design a wash area that fits the needs of your barn and your budget, and you will have a low-maintenance amenity that is the envy of your horse loving friends. From large considerations, such as actual placement of the wash stall, to small, fun choices such as the color of buckets and the arrangement of organizing hooks and shelves, there are many decisions to be made regarding your wash stall’s design.

Your Plan Should Consider the Following:


A wash rack should be convenient to use, but not so close to other activities that spray or runoff interferes with riding or other grooming. An outdoor wash rack is best located in the sun for visibility and air-drying potential; indoor wash stalls will be wet and noisy, so they should be far from tack and feed areas, and away from arenas where lessons are given, if possible. Locating indoor wash stalls near laundry and restroom facilities will save you money since water and sewer hookups are nearby.


When deciding on the size of your wash stall, keep in mind that small wash racks are both inconvenient to use and dangerous for grooms. Be sure that the space provided allows you access to all of the horse you wish to wash as small areas presents a safety hazard for handlers whose arms can be smashed against the bars. Some horses also do not stand still within these confining restraints. Commercial stables with wash areas that are at least 8 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet deep and that are built with a solid wall or a pipe rail behind the horse will be safer and the residents happier. This allows space for the horse to walk in and comfortably turn around, and for the groom to easily reach all parts of the horse.


Horses require flooring that is even and sturdy, especially while being washed and groomed. A nonslip, easy-draining floor is obviously an essential element of wash-stall design. Concrete can get slippery when it is wet. Stall mats get moisture under them, and some of the organics [such as manure and mud] can get under there, encouraging mold and mildew.

It is best to opt for a seamless, poured-rubber flooring with a nonslip coating that keeps all the water on top and does not trap dirt, hair and manure or install high-quality stall mats overtop of a cement floor with proper drainage. Mats can provide your horses with more supportive flooring, giving their muscles and joints some relief. It can also help to keep them from slipping on wet surfaces. This will not only create a safer environment for your horse, but it is also easier to clean and maintain. The easier it is to clean, the less risk of bacteria and mold, which can also help to keep your wash stalls smelling fresh and clean.

Water, Electricity and Safety

Electricity and water do not mix, so be sure all wiring is properly installed by a licensed electrician who can help keep you and your horses safe. To reduce the risk of problems, do not include electrical outlets in the wash stall area. Horses and handlers are much safer clipping and vacuuming on dry ground far from wash areas. 

Hot Water

If you opt for heated water, you will need a protected, enclosed cupboard with electricity for a hot water heater as close as is safe to the wash area. Consider a modern tankless heater if your budget allows; it will require a gas line for heating efficiency, but you will save money over the years and have the luxury of hot water that never runs out.


The wash stall’s slope dictates whether it drains properly or floods your barn aisle. A one inch of slope per 6 feet will be enough to get water moving but not so much that it stresses horses’ tendons. If you have a slab of concrete, install a grate of some sort where wash water leaves the slab to keep manure and horse hair out of all septic lines, or they will clog and quickly become useless. Runoff water should be just that: water only.


Wash-stall walls should be waterproof and easy to clean. A couple good options include a concrete block that is painted with a waterproof sealant or fiberglass-reinforced panels. Unlike wood, both resist water, mold and mildew and can be easily cleaned with a sanitizing agent. We do not recommend using metal panels since they will rust, they stay cold and they are noisy when water is sprayed on them.


Sealed, waterproof enclosures for wash-stall lighting are the safest way to go to keep you and your horse’s safe in the event that the units get wet or bumped into. Place lighting on the walls, rather than directly overhead, to reduce shadows. Placing a set on each side of the wash stall: one at the top and one at about three feet high will allow you to see the whole horse better.


An essential piece of equipment for any horse wash stall area, high-quality heaters can help to keep your horses warm and comfortable while they are being washed and groomed. Many heaters are also provided with the ability to cool, heat and dry, making them multi-functional and a great asset for just about any barn.

Water and Hoses

You will need a frost-free hydrant in cold climates, and water should be run adjacent to the wash area in a pipe size that will deliver strong water pressure. Heavy-duty hoses are more expensive but are worth the added expense. Just keep in mind that they must be kept away from hooves if you want them to last. Consider an overhead hose boom to keep hoses out of the way or at least install a good storage hook or hose reel. Pressure nozzles that cannot be easily removed from hoses will save water. Though more expensive, brass nozzles are typically worth their higher cost.


Do not forget storage for your wash area. Horses and handlers will be safer without a clutter of shampoo bottles, sweat scrapers, and hoses underfoot, so consider something as simple as a plastic laundry basket or a plastic cart with drawers located near the wash stall to keep soaps and washing tools handy, but corralled. The installation of bars and shelving can provide your wash stalls with additional function, safety and organization.

The right shelving can undoubtedly help you to keep items organized and safely stored within the wash stall area. From cleaning supplies to brushes and more, store them properly with a wash stall shelf that is durable, resistant to water and properly secured to the wall. 

The Castlebrook Difference

Castlebrook’s barns have a warm, inviting look which adds to the beauty and value of your property. All Castlebrook round pens and round pen covers and designed and manufactured on site at Castlebrook’s facility. That is why we can provide you almost limitless choice of sizes and styles. Castlebrook can manufacture a round pen and cover to suit your exact needs.

Castlebrook never misses a ship date. We are so confident in our on-time guarantee that we are willing to guarantee it — in writing! Castlebrook understands how important it is for your project to go as smoothly as possible. This begins with your structure shipping on the date we’ve promised. Castlebrook knows of absolutely no other barn company offering this guarantee. Where other companies disappoint, Castlebrook guarantees to be on time, every time!

Please contact our professional team today at 1-800-52-BARNS. We gladly accommodate Saturday appointments!