3 Tips For Building Run-In Horse Shelters

Posted on: 2 September 2020

Run-in horse shelters offer protection on three sides and are open on the fourth, which allows horses to go in and out of the shelters as they please. These shelters are highly useful in pastures, but where and how they're built in a pasture should be carefully considered. If you're building a new run-in horse shelter, these tips will help you design a great place for your horses.

1. Locate Your Shelter on Dry Ground

First, locate your shelter in a place that's dry year-round. The ground shouldn't be near a stream or pond that could flood during seasons of heavy rain. If your pasture is on a lake, the shelter should be sufficiently far from shore that waves can't reach the building.

Building on dry ground also means that your shelter shouldn't be in a low spot that's usually dry but becomes soggy during rainstorms. A slightly elevated place where water doesn't collect is ideal.

By building on dry ground, you'll avoid a couple of potential future problems. First, wet ground can cause wood near the bottom of your shelter to rot, which leads to replacing the wood sooner than you'd otherwise need to. 

Second, wet ground can also cause your shelter to shift. Wet ground isn't as sturdy or stable as dry ground, and shelters placed on top of wet ground can shift as a result. Shifting can be especially noticeable if water gets into the ground during winter and then freezes -- the ice that forms can cause a structure to heave dramatically.

Any shift in your run-in horse shelter can cause the structure to become less stable. You may have to reinforce the structure or rebuild it as a result.

2. Make Sure the Walls Are Flush With the Ground

Second, make sure each of the three walls in your horse shelter is flush with the ground. If there's a crack between the ground and one of the walls, a horse could potentially get their hoof or leg caught in the open space. They can become injured if their leg is caught in a crack and they can't get it free.

Rather than trying to make a wall flush with an uneven parcel of ground, make sure the ground you're building on is even before you construct the shelter. You can dig out a channel for each wall so that little bumps in the ground, stones and tufts of grass don't cause gaps. If the structure will be on a hill, dig slightly into the side of the hill so the shelter will be on level ground.

3. Ensure You Have Vehicle Access to the Shelter

Third, choose a location for the run-in horse shelter that's vehicle accessible. The location should at least be accessible by all-terrain vehicles, and a location that you're able to get to via truck or sport utility vehicle is preferable. 

You'll need to bring supplies in to build the shelter, and you don't want to ferry everything by hand. Some boards might require two people to carry, and a trailer makes this much easier.

Unless the horses have a different place where they eat, you'll also need to regularly bring food to the shelter. Since they're hanging out there a lot, straw will likewise need to be brought in -- and you'll probably want to shovel out their droppings.

Getting to and from the shelter via a vehicle is much easier than walking out to it and back every time you need to. Such a trek can be especially tiresome if you have many horses or the shelter is on the far side of a pasture.

To learn more, contact a horse shelter supplier.