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Advantages and Disadvantages of Stables and Run-in Sheds

Should You Keep Your Horse Stabled or in a Loafing Shed?


If you are keeping your horse at home you will need to provide some sort of shelter. This could be in the form of a stable or a run-in shed. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of housing.

Loose Housing, Loafing or Run-In Sheds - Advantages

  • Less work for the owner. Sheds may only need periodic cleaning that may be done with a tractor.
  • Horses choose when they are in the shed.
  • Better ventilation therefore healthier for lungs.
  • Less risk of fire.
  • Some designs are portable and can be moved according to weather, drainage or to another pasture to allow the grass to recover in one area.
  • Relatively low building costs.

    Run-in Shelters - Disadvantages

  • No way to contain a horse that needs stall rest due to injury or sickness.
  • Not able to monitor how much horse eats and manure production as accurately. (Horses should produce approximately eight piles of manure a day, less can be a sign of a problem.)
  • Horses may have to be separated if concentrates are fed.
  • Handling such as grooming and saddling not as convenient.
  • Horse may not choose to come out of bad weather when they should.
  • Depending on wind direction, horses can still be exposed to drafts.
  • Dominant horses may not allow lower status herd members into the shelter.

    Stables and Barns - Advantages

  • Horses requiring stall rest easily accommodated.
  • Grooming, saddling, training may be easier.
  • Complete shelter from wind and weather.
  • Lower status horses not threatened by dominant herd members, and horses can be moved if threatened.
  • Horses may stay cleaner i.e.: Stabling before a show the horse can't roll in the dirt.
  • Feed consumption and manure production easier to monitor.

    Stables and Barns - Disadvantages

  • Higher costsfor building and maintenance.
  • Stalls need daily mucking out.
  • Greater risk of fire.
  • Higher dust levels, ammonia, and poorer ventilation.
  • Horses can become bored and develop vices more readily in stalls.
  • Horses must be exercised daily.

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