As the days start to get shorter with corresponding longer nights, now is a good time to start thinking of adding some additional lighting to your barn to chase away the gloom for both you and your horse. Horse's eyes are sensitive to weak light. They can see fairly well at dusk, but they don't have the ability to adjust their eyes to darkness quickly, which is why they will often refuse to enter a dark building from bright sunshine. In addition, shadows and poorly lit areas make stall cleaning cumbersome and inhibit observation and care. A combination of individual stall and general aisle way lighting is preferred. Place fixtures where they won't create shadows for the horse when he enters his stall.
For natural lighting, provide a minimum of 4 square feet of window space in each stall. There are a variety of window styles from which you can select. Many come with grills or yokes to help keep your horse's nose out of where it shouldn't be. Glass windows should be either out of reach (generally above 7 feet) or protected by sturdy bars or mesh.
Big barn exteriors require big lights - standard residential type lights are typically too small and do not provide enough light. Dusk-to-Dawn Halogens are often installed over entryways for general lighting purposes and for safety. Select fixtures as to where they will be used as barns are dusty and in some areas (wash bays) very moist. Vapor tight fixtures are required in wet areas for safety and durability. When selecting lighting bulbs, there are several options.
Using lights in strategic places can also help with barn security. Install security lights at farm entrance and around barn doors. Either leave them on from dusk to dawn or install motion detection lights to alert you to intruders. Remember, however, that motion sensors can also be tripped by your barn cat or other animals.
In order for the lights (and other equipment) to work in the barn, you need adequate electricity. All electrical wiring in the barn should be housed in metal or hard plastic conduit since rodents may chew unprotected wires, creating a fire hazard. Metal conduit can be used, but has the tendency to rust. Plan enough circuits, outlets and fixtures so switches are within easy reach. Locate switches so lights can be turned on and off at two convenience locations, usually at either end of the barn. Install outlets every 15 feet or so on both sides of the aisle. Light switches should be four feet up from the floor and outlets should be 13-15 inches off the floor (or as required by code).
Consider lighting in other areas of your barn as well. Common places are the wash/grooming areas, feed room and tack room. For wash bay lighting and other ideas from Classic Equine Equipment, click HERE
Classic Equine Equipment has a variety of lights for both indoor and outdoor use. For a full listing of what is offered, check out Classic Equine Equipment's catalog - click HERE.
Look to lighting to help keep you and your horse safe and happy during the dark winter months.