To properly care for your horses, you’ll need to provide them with some kind of shelter. Instead of a horse stall in a barn, consider getting a horse shed. Unlike a barn, which is completely enclosed, a horse shed is open on one side. A horse shed is placed adjacent to a pasture, allowing your horses to take shelter or run around outdoors as they wish.
Horses roamed wild on the grasslands long before they were ever domesticated. As highly social creatures, they spent all their time with their herd. Their bodies are designed to graze all day, while constantly running around and getting exercise.
Today, horses are commonly kept penned up alone in their barn stalls. While this may be more convenient for their owners, it is so unlike a horse’s natural environment that it can have some negative health effects.
A horse shed, on the other hand, can be quite beneficial for your horse’s overall health. Here are seven health benefits of a horse shed.
1. Give your equine shelter from the elements.
A horse shed provides your horses with shelter from the cold winter winds, snow, and rain. In the summer, your horses can find shade from the sun. Since horses tolerate heat and cold much better than humans do, a horse shed will provide adequate shelter even if it isn’t fully enclosed.
2. Let your horses breathe!
Barns and horse stalls can get stuffy, but the open wall of a horse shed provides superior ventilation. This ventilation is necessary, not just to relieve stuffiness, but also for important health reasons. Inadequate ventilation leads to bacteria buildup, as well as mold growth and dust accumulation. All of these can be very harmful to your horse’s health.
3. Protect from those pesky bugs.
In the summer, flies and other insects can plague horses while they are out to pasture. However, these insects prefer to be out of doors in the hot sun, rather than in the horse shed. By setting up a horse shed that your horses can enter and exit at will, you are creating a space for them to retreat to whenever the insects become too much for them.
4. Allow for plenty of exercise.
As I mentioned earlier, horses are designed to live an active life. Wild horses on the grasslands kept fit and healthy by constantly moving. Today’s horses, cooped up in a stall all day, can develop numerous health issues related to a lack of physical exercise. These include obesity, porous bones, and digestive issues.
On the other hand, a horse shed mimics the wild grassland environment by allowing your horses to choose to roam the pasture at will. They can enter or exit the horse shed whenever they want to, galloping around the pasture or resting as they like. This results in better overall fitness for your horses.
5. Improve your horse’s mental health.
Like humans, horses can develop mental health problems such as anxiety and destructive behaviors if they are cooped up too much and improperly exercised. The highly social nature of horses makes them even more susceptible to poor mental health if they are kept alone. Stalled horses are more likely to develop repetitive, destructive behavior, such as cribbing.
6. Keep your horse on the healthiest diet.
In order to provide a healthy diet for your horses, you need to think about both how you feed and what you feed. Horses need to consume proper nutrition, but they’re also happiest if they have a feeding system that allows them to be constantly nibbling or grazing. This is because of their small stomachs that only allow them to digest a small amount of food at a time.
Horses are designed as grass eaters. Because of this, pasture grass will provide the overall best nutrition for your horses, though you may have to sometimes supplement their diet depending on your horse’s individual needs. A horse shed allows your horse to graze in the pasture whenever they wish, so they can not only be constantly grazing, but also be getting the best food for their systems.
7. Move your Horse Shed. When, where, and as needed.
Finally, a horse shed is much more mobile than a traditional outdoor storage barn, and can be moved to more adequately provide for your horse’s needs.
For instance, in the winter you may place your horse shed in a location where there is less wind. This will help your horses stay warm. However, in the summer months, you may notice that your horses are avoiding their horse shed, instead choosing to stay outside in the harsh sun where they’re plagued by flies. Why? Well, perhaps a location out of the wind isn’t such a great idea in the summer months when wind is useful for cooling and proper ventilation.
Time to move that storage shed!
Or perhaps your pasture is in danger of being overgrazed, and you’d like to move your horses to a different pasture. No problem. Your horse shed can be moved to the new pasture too.
Here at Kauffman Structures, we offer two types of horse sheds, both of which can be moved as needed.
Our loafing shed is a basic, 3 sided horse shed that can provide all the health benefits to your horses that I mentioned in this article.
Our horse shelter shed is also moveable, and can also provide these health benefits. However, it’s a bit nicer, and includes a side room for storing food, tools, and supplies.
Whatever your choice, your horses will be on track to live their healthiest lives, taking shelter when they need it but also having the freedom to roam the pasture, graze, and interact with their fellow horses whenever they wish.