An inn was a recognized tying up point, where horses could be led to the stables and all the family could find refreshment – with the men and women sitting separately, as was the custom.
Waterside pubs often served a specific purpose in the age of the canals. Pubs located near tunnels tended to refresh the professional leggers (workers who legged boats through tunnels); where as other pubs built on the paths above the tunnels were geared more towards horsemen. Canalside inns were used as the exchange points for horses when long distance journeys were undertaken.
Every canalside inn would have had its own set of stables where horses would be stabled over night and even for shorter two or three hour waits. Stables were also provided at public wharves by the canal company. You can explore the old stables at Ellesmere Port in The National Waterways Museum.