Keeping Horses – That’s How It Works

Horses are herd animals and should not be kept alone but in groups. Since individual horse breeds have different needs in their environment, it is important that you as a horse owner take them into account. Only if you take care of the horses properly can they stay healthy and feel good. This article looks at herding and boxing and the pros and cons of each.

The boxing stance

Keeping horses in boxes, i.e. keeping them in a stable, is about creating a place for the animals outside of their natural environment where they feel comfortable. This not only includes the fact that the boxes are always kept clean but also the correct feeding and sufficient exercise and care.

The movement

It is particularly important when keeping the horse in a box that the horse gets enough exercise every day and of course that in addition to the actual work. This can be the paddock during the grazing season or several hours in the paddock. For example, it is not uncommon for horses to be let out on the pasture in the morning or after work, such as training, and come back to the stable in the evening. This should also be made dependent on the breed of horse. Horses that are kept exclusively in the stable get sick more quickly and become lethargic and unhappy over time.

Light and air

In the box, the horses often get too little air and light, so it is very important that the affected animals get fresh air for several hours every day. The climate also plays a very important role inside the barn. So it is important that you make sure that the stable is sufficiently ventilated but not too much. It should also be dry and light-colored so that the horses can feel comfortable. However, the animals can adapt to warm or cold temperatures according to the season. For this reason, it is advisable that the barn can follow the outdoor climate. A bright stable also promotes the metabolism of the animals, which increases their performance. In addition, horses need light because it is one of their basic needs.


You should also adapt the feeding of the animals to the needs and performance of the animals. In contrast to their body size, horses only have a very small stomach, which has a capacity of 10 to 20 liters. For this reason, it is important to feed the horses several times a day with smaller rations and to adapt the feed to the performance requirements. Fiber, vitamins, minerals, and proteins are fed.

The herding

Keeping herds is considered to be particularly species-appropriate and the animals feel much more comfortable in larger groups than alone. This means that there are only a few quarrels since there is a certain hierarchy among each other. When it comes to keeping herds, a distinction is made between an open stall and a loose stall.

There are several different areas in a playpen. For example, there are large, roofed resting halls, which are strewn with sawdust or sand and are intended to serve as a resting places for the horses. But there are also covered feeding stands or round racks. In addition, there are fixed run-out areas on some models, which are located on the outside around the stable and enclose it as a so-called round run. In the playpen, the animals must have access to the paddock both in summer and in winter, and a dry winter run should also be available. It is important that the horses have enough space to avoid each other.

The open barn is on a pasture. This serves as a simple shelter, which offers the horses protection from snow, rain, and cold. This is also the place where the animals are fed. So that lower-ranking members of the herd also have the opportunity to eat in peace, it is important to set up separate feeding stands. This is the slimmed-down form of the freestall housing just described. With this attitude, the pasture is divided so that the horses do not trample on much of the meadow unnecessarily.

Advantages and disadvantages of herd and box husbandry

pit stance herding
advantages advantages
low risk of injury (especially important for performance horses)

better appearance

can be better adapted to the training of the horses

always in the fresh air

particularly species-appropriate

Horses are herd animals and need their own kind

nice space to run

the constant feed intake keeps the stomach and intestines busy for several hours a day, which is particularly important

many social contacts

easier for the holder

Disadvantages Disadvantages
Owners have to pay attention to many things

less space

more strenuous because you always have to make sure you have enough exercise

often lower-ranking animals have problems
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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