Do you prefer to stall your horse or turn him out?

“Hi Stacy, I am enjoying your blog. I am currently using many of your ideas with my two year old filly. I want to know if you prefer to stall your two year olds or leave them turned out ?” Thanks, Laurie

I love turning my horses out as much as possible. With my own personal two year olds sometimes I have gone out to the pasture, caught them, brought them in, rode them and then turn them back out. At other times I have kept them in stalls, especially if it was muddy or icy. For client owned horses I have almost always kept them in stalls.

At some point I do like the horses to learn how to be comfortable in a stall, which may or may not be during the saddle training process. Most horses that are sent to trainers learn both at the same time because most trainers don’t turn groups of horses out together due to the increased risk of injury. Many owners prefer their horses to be stalled when they are at the trainers especially if it is only for a short time.

For some horses learning to enjoy the stall is easier when they are escaping some kind of weather; bugs, snow, etc. In the past I did this training during the winter when the snow and ice was also a motivating factor in keeping the horses in. It worked well for me to bring the horses in and they seemed to appreciate it. In the summer some horses are thankful to escape the bitting flies.

Stalling may be necessary in the future even if it is not right now. Injury, travel, training or change of ownership are some of the reasons why a horse may eventually be stalled. Often the stall training is another form of weaning as many horses are more unsure of themselves when they are alone, especially if they are insecure.

At the barn we stayed at in Texas they had a wonderful option of a stall with an attached run. This way the horse had the option of being in the stall or going outside to hang out with friends or taking a nap in the sun. The human also had the option of swinging the back wall of the stall shut and keeping the horse in the stall only.

horse stall with attached run, option to shut the wall and turn into a stall

Photographer is standing inside the stall area of this stall with run combo.


  1. Patti Young on June 28, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Can someone tell me how to change the picture associated with our name? Thanks!

  2. Rhonda Naylor on June 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I stall my 2 up and they are always waiting for me at the gate

  3. hwhitney69 on June 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I prefer my horses turned out during the day and stalled at night.

  4. Kat Moser on June 24, 2014 at 12:11 am

    As long as the horse had access to shade, and the horses he was turned out with weren’t aggressive, I’d want him turned out as much as possible.

    Our stalls all open directly into an acre or so of turnout area. We bring the horses into their respective stalls to feed a few pellets so they don’t gang up on us as we distribute their hay in the turnout area. They’re usually only in stalls about 10 minutes morning and evening. The only time they’re in longer is when it gets below 35 degrees in the winter. We blanket them and leave them in their stalls overnight so they don’t rip each others’ blankets up. We don’t have any walls, just roofed pipe corrals to which they always have access, and the one large turnout with a 20′ x 80′ shade structure within it. We’re in the high desert, where freezing temperatures are fairly rare.

    When we had some horses that didn’t get along we put them out in split shifts, but our current five horses and donkey get along well. A couple of horses always have their butts covered with little bites from not moving when asked by higher ranking horses. Nobody messes with the donkey since the first time four horses cornered him and he turned tail and kicked a bit of hide off of each of the four. They learned not to mess with him and he’s just as sweet as he can be around them and us. In fact, he prefers to share a stall with another horse rather than be in his own alone at pellet time.

  5. Carol Copeland on June 23, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Turned out.

  6. Martina Braden on June 23, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Majority of the time our horses are outside. However in the summer time when it is very hot and the flies are bad we bring them in around noon, put on their fans and they love it. You can see them relax and most of the time they take a nap. After a few hours we put them back outside in the late afternoon.

  7. Kevin on June 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Interesting comments I am lucky in that I have both I often leave the gates to the run open and the horses can walk through the yard and out into whichever paddock I decide I want them in,originally I was worried they would mess up the yard but they know there is nothing for them there so they just walk through interestingly enough they only go into the stables at night or when the weather is severe otherwise they are happy under a tree.

  8. Cindy Loader on June 23, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I watched my horses during a hail storm expecting them to run to the shed. Only the goat took cover, the horses acted like nothing was happening except to turn their butt to it. I believe that a healthy horse is a pasture horse. Keeping them in a stall is like being locked in your own bedroom with food and water brought in and maybe a visitor or two. Some don’t even get regular exercise. I feel their sadness when I visit a facility with expensive stabled horses. I have visited stables to do Equine Touch on horses with physical or emotional issues. Equine Touch is incredible but sometimes all they need is freedom and sunshine!

    • Patti Young on June 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Totally agree…. 1,0000%!

  9. Annie Gass on June 23, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Remember that the horse is a VERY social animal! To stall a horse where he can’t see other horses – and preferably have one right next door – will make him anxious. I personally believe it’s cruel to keep a horse always alone. AT LEAST get him a companion animal, a miniature horse or donkey or a goat or something that will be there for him. A dog that hangs around the back door except when you come out is not the answer.

    The frog is a pump that really aids circulation in the horse’s legs and feet. It only works when he’s moving, and it works LOTS better if he’s barefoot! So lots of turnout time is good, and free access to at least a pen big enough to strike a trot is better. And lots cheaper than treating navicular, dropped soles, and other foot conditions that develop as a horse who is shod all the time ages! OLD horsemen’s adage: “No foot, no horse.”

    Horses are naturally VERY will equipped to maintain their body temperature in all kinds of weather, so long as they are not clipped or blanketed so they can’t grow a Winter coat. Many, given the choice of in or out, won’t come in at all! Wet AND windy AND cold is the only thing they need shelter from. If his coat is long and thick and you ride him ’til he’s wet you’ll have to walk him dry if it’s cold, or throw a light blanket over him just ’til he’s dry. Of course, if you need to keep him slick for showing he’ll need your help to keep warm. A blanket on his back but a cold belly and legs just confuses his system; think about that! Think about wild horses, or retired horses, or a broodmare band, or unbroke yearlings and two-year-olds that are turned out all year. They do just fine!

    • Patti Young on June 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Annie, I feel exactly as you do! Right now my mare has no pasture mate, so I’ve asked the barn owner to let her have 24/7 outside access with her stall door open so she can feel part of the herd next door when they are out in addition to the option of hanging out in her stall, which she loves (she’s actually house-broken now and never messes in her stall). I just can’t see stalling a horse for half the day (either at night or during the day) just because it’s what has always been done with horses in our care. I know, given the choice, my mare (and I’m sure all, or at least most others) prefer to have their “flee instinct” readily available as that is #1 of importance to them…even if they really don’t need to use it, in addition to choosing to be out in the elements or inside (Annie, that is so true…a horse can tolerate wet or cold fine, as long as they are not mixed together). I strongly believe horse owners need to start thinking more of what their horse wants, rather than what we feel they want, even if our intentions are for the good of their care. The more natural a setting for them, the better, and more in tune with what made their ancestors survive for so many years… without any of our well-meaning assistance. Anyone else agree with this theory?

  10. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel on June 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    24/7 with run-in shed for shade and cover from flies and rain kept my Arabs level headed and happy June-November in Ohio. In winter and spring they got turned out on a sacrifice lot with hay and heated water tub during the day as long as weather permitted and stalled at night. Inclement weather they got turned out in an indoor at least while stalls were cleaned. I understand that trainers can’t turn out a client’s horse with others due to injury risks but the stall and run combo that allows for horses to socialize across the fences seems like a pretty good alternative.

    • Jo Anne Ekhoff on June 23, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      I agree well stated!

    • Stacy on June 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

      This sounds like what we did in Ohio also. Some clients also did allow us to turn their horses out with ours. As usual we took all the horses temperaments into account before making the groups and we watched them. They all loved the indoor in the winter…the good footing let them run and buck, roll and play without mud or ice. Thanks for remembering the original question:)

  11. mrsjohnnyboy on June 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I prefer as much turnout as possible even in a training situation. I’m with you Stacy. Just today I went to the boarding facility, pulled my horse out of the pasture, rode him and then turned him back out.

  12. Katrina on June 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I believe young horses need as much turn out as possible for there growing joints ,bones etc to get the exercise they need to grow properly

  13. Julia on June 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    It depends on the horse. I have an older AQHA who was a very hot gaming horse in her day and is anxious and unhappy in a stall at any time. So, I’d want her in pasture or a run w/some sort of cover. But my OTTB was horribly anxious if she wasn’t in a stall at night and couldn’t bear to be in the pasture without her herd friends, so I would want her stalled at least at night. Like everything else I’ve found with horses, it depends on the individual horse. But then I’ve never had success with “sending a horse out for training” because then the horse gets trained and I don’t. I prefer to be working hand in hand with the trainer so I can know how to handle/ride my horse – which is half the equation of a well trained horse!

  14. Andrea M on June 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    When I have my own barn, that’s how I am going to do!! (The picture). I will have a large, airy barn, with stalls, for feeding ease, but the stalls will be large, and the sides low. No metal bars for me! And each stall, if possible, will open into a run like described above! That way my horses can be outside and I can still brush, feed, and tack them up inside a barn!

  15. susan talmge and chloe on June 23, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I think this would be a dream come true to have a barn set up this way!

  16. Jessica Talbot on June 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I like my Mare to be turned out as much as possible in the summer. It helps her a lot mentally and she does better that way, but during the winter I would rather have her stalled since she is a very hard keeper (but only during the winter) and tends to loose a lot of weight. If she didnt loose weight I would rather have her turned out at all times

  17. coolstorymoose on June 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I’ve always liked being at barns with stalls with turnouts. That way the horse could choose whether it wanted to be inside or outside, and if the weather was bad or something we could always lock the door, or if we were cleaning the stall and didn’t want the horse in there, we could lock them out in their turnout. I really like that option in the picture though, I wish our stalls had been like that instead of just a single wide doorway for the horse to go through.

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