Run In Horse Sheds vs Barn Stalls

One of the biggest questions for horse owners and livestock owners is the difference between simple style run in horse sheds versus barn stalls. Although each has its advantages and disadvantages, if we would let it up to the horses, I’m sure they would choose one over the other in a heartbeat. If you decide that horse sheds are what your horses will choose, you can check out our options here.

Advantages of Horse Sheds

Health Benefits of a Horse Shed

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies. And of course, exercise is essential for horses as well. The benefits of being able to roam outside versus being in a barn stall are endless. A study done by a University of Nottingham showed that lack of movements makes a stabled horse more prone to colic and might also contribute to equine gastric ulcer syndrome – a painful gut condition.

Of course, just like in humans, we all know that running is good for a horse’s respiratory system. A horse that is given the opportunity to run free will have healthier lungs and better feet from all the exercise.

With horse sheds, you no longer have to worry about making sure your horse gets enough exercise because they spend all their time roaming the outdoors already!

Less Work Involved in a Horse Shed

horse shed that is easier to clean than a barn stall
Photo Credits: Horse Properties

One of the nicest things for horse owners is that horse sheds are significantly less work than a stable. With a horse shed, the majority of the horse manure is outside and does not need to be cleaned out every day like a horse stable does. Imagine how nice it would be to just have to feed your horse each day, and not have to worry about cleaning out your horse’s stall every day.

Allow Your Horses to Roam Freely

free roaming horse in front of horse shed
Photo Credit: Sheds Unlimited

Horses are intelligent animals. By nature, horses are some of the most free ranging animals. We’ve all heard stories of how horses use to run wild in the Old West frontier. Yet for some reason, we try to get contain these beautiful animals inside a tiny barn stall. Horses are born with instincts to avoid parasitic piles of manure and search for better water and grass. Giving your horses the option to go in and out of their horse shed is closer to their natural instincts than being cooped up in a barn stall 24 hours a day.

Less Risk of Fire with A Horse Shed

barn fire that killed 19 horses locked in the barn stalls
Photo credit: CBS 46 News

Of course, if your horses are free to roam in and out of your horse shed, there is no danger of having to release all your animals in case of a barn fire. If horses are locked in a barn stall, they will not be able to escape in an emergency. Horse sheds provide you with peace of mind knowing that your horses will be ok as they roam in and out of the shelter.

Horse Sheds: The More Affordable and Portable Option

portable horse shed that can be moved to different pastures
Photo Credit: Horse and Rider

As a horse owner, one of the nicest things about horse sheds is how affordable they are. Unlike a large expensive barn, run in horse sheds can be purchased for a fraction of the price while providing the shelter for your 4 legged friends. Now you can place a horse shed in all your pastures providing ample protection for your precious animals.

Sometimes things in life happen that make us change our plans. A horse shed is perfectly flexible. They can be placed wherever you want them to be. And if you change your plans, you can easily move your horse shed to another location.

Your Horse Will Thank You

horse rolling in grass happy to be outside
Photo Credit: Horse and Hound

But the most important factor is that your horse will really honestly thank you for allowing it to roam outside. How many times have you let your horses out in the pasture and the first thing they do is roll in the dirt? Remember those hooves sticking up in the air? That is their way of giving you a thumbs up and thanking you for letting them simply be horses.


Less Protection From Weather

horses out in a snowstorm
Photo Credit: Equisearch

But like all things, horse sheds have a few disadvantages in regard to horse stalls. For instance, if you have a serious storm coming up, a horse stall will provide better protection for your horse from the wind, rain, and the snow. As long as your horses will able to roam free again, they will appreciate the protection a barn has to offer.

Harder to Sort Through Horses

Horses have personalities, and sometimes they do not always agree. A disadvantage of some horse sheds is the lack of ability to separate disagreeable horses in different stalls. Of course, you can always separate them in different pastures, but if there are not any better ways, a horse stall does the trick.

Advantages Of Horse Barn

Horse Barns Allow You to Regulate Horse Feed

horses in barn stall waiting for their food
Photo Credit: Horse and Rider

A big advantage in having your horses in a horse stall is the ability you have to monitor their eating habits. Sometimes for health reasons, horses have to be monitored on their feed intake. Although a horse gets bored fast in a stall, it is a great short-term solution if you want to put your horse on a certain diet.

A Horse Barn Is Better for Sick Horses

horse gettting checked by a vet
Photo Credit: Horse Health

Like everything else, sometimes horses get sick. This is when a horse stall is very beneficial. With a horse stall, you will be able separate your sick horses from the rest. That way they can be checked by the vet, protected from other horses, and get the rest they need to feel better.

Disadvantages Of Horse Barn

Horse Barns Are Stinky and Messy

lady cleaning out a barn stall
Photo Credit: the Horse

If your horse is going to be cooped up all day in a small stall, you know the area is going to become stinky and messy. Horses have natural instincts to avoid their own urine and manure piles; but sadly, in a horse stall, they are not able to avoid it and often end up stomping through their own waste piles. This creates a stinky mess, and of course your horse will not be impressed. Putting your horses outside gives them an opportunity to get fresh air and avoid their manure piles, which improves their mental and physical health

Horses Need Daily Exercise

horses getting their daily excercise in a pasture
Photo Credit: Country Living

Horses were born to run. We have all seen this majestic animal racing across a field. In order to maintain their health, horses need to be exercised daily. If horses are locked up in a stall, they do not get their required leg movements or fresh air. These large animals need that freedom to run and get their exercise. Boredom is very common in pent-up horses and creates a troublesome horse. Let them run in the field. They will be happier if they get to exercise in the fresh air.

Horse Barns Are a Fire Hazard

horse barn fire
Photo Credit: EquiMed

Of course, if animals are locked up in a barn stall, they can not get out by themselves. There are many sad stories of pent-up animals that could not escape an accidental barn fire simply because they were locked up. With your horses roaming outside, you will not have to fear about a barn fire because you will know that your animals are free to escape.

The Floor Needs To Be Cleaned Daily

cleaning supplies required to clean out barn stalls every day
Photo Credit: EquiMed

Anyone who has any experience cleaning out horse stalls knows that it is not an ideal job at all. A horse kept in a barn stall needs to have a clean stall in order to prevent certain diseases such as thrush and white line disease. In order to prevent these diseases, someone is required to clean out each stall daily and put new bedding in place. If your horses are out in a pasture with a simple run in horse shed, they do not need to have their bedding replaced, and the chance of getting a disease is minimal.

Lack Of Ventilation in a Horse Barn

horses locked in barn stalls that does not have fresh air
Photo Credit: EquiMed

Nowadays, many doctors are prescribing “green health prescriptions” to many patients. This simply includes going outside and getting some good fresh air. Horses need fresh air as well. If your horses are cooped up in a barn stall, they breath in a lot of dust from hay, dust from their bedding, and ammonia fumes from their manure. All of these factors contribute heavily to your horses overall respiratory health. Sicknesses such as pneumonia and recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) are definitely more common in stabled horses. Give your horses a chance at better health by letting them roam in a pasture with a horse shed rather than a barn stall.

Bad For Overall Health

horse confined to a barn stall
Photo credit: Practical Horsemen

Letting your horses be outdoors in their natural habitat greatly improves physical health. From their legs, digestive systems, and respiratory systems, studies show that horses kept inside a barn stall have a much greater chance of disease. Check out this article on to see the consequences of confinement.

Bad For Behavior

cooped up horse cribbing on the side of his barn stall to release stress
Photo credit: Practical Horsemen

Horses love to have companions. They love to be with other horses outside. Horses that are cooped up can easily develop cases such as cribbing, pawing, and weaving. When horses are not feeling well or have too much pent up energy, they are hard to groom, saddle, and even ride. Horses that are free to roam outside with other horses are more relaxed and stress-free making them easier to handle and more fun to ride.

Our Conclusion

We know that a barn is very essential to owning any kind of livestock. However, we know how much animals love to be outside, and so we recommend giving your animals a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Even though you might have a barn, several small affordable horse sheds in your pastures are the ticket to healthier, happier, and overall better horses!

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