The Pros and Cons of a Run-in Shed

Learn how to give your horse the shelter he deserves with these tips from Junior Master Horseman Level 3.

From Junior Master Horseman Level 3

Knowing how to provide your horse(s) with a safe, protective and useable shelter is so “JMH!” But before deciding whether or not a run-in shed is the best shelter for your horse, let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages.


    • Less work for the horseman if area is large enough that periodic cleaning can be done with a tractor
    • Horse(s) come and go and freely exercise
    • Less risk of entrapment during fire
    • Portable and moveable according to weather or drainage
    • Lower construction costs compared to permanent stable or barn facility

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    • Gate or fencing may need to be added to keep horse(s) contained for rest, illness or injury
    • Feeding multiple horses different rations/feed may require modifying the shed
    • Horse(s) may not choose to seek shelter during inclement weather
    • Dominant horse(s) may not allow other horse access

Roll It!

Ready to take the step into horse ownership? Watch for tips on how to prepare and what to look for, before and after the purchase of an American Quarter Horse.

Things to consider:

    • Run your shed design plan and ideas before an experienced horseman and building expert to make sure whatever you are constructing or remodeling meets any local building codes or restrictions.
    • Place your shed away from gates and fences in an area that will not flood, making sure the back wall protects your horse from the prevailing wind.
    • The design for any horse shelter should be large enough so your horse(s) can stand and lie comfortably, and so there is ample room for movement. A recommended size is about 100 square feet (9 sq m) per average-size riding horse – about the same size as a box stall.
    • Consider making the shed portable so it can be moved to another location if flooding occurs or keeping it clean becomes a challenge.
    • Be sure the roof is high enough to prevent a horse from bumping his head, even if snow, dirt and debris elevate the ground near the entrance.
    • While an earth floor is easier on the horse’s legs, quicker to muck and warmer, if the structure is going to be permanent, consider adding concrete, brick or paving-stone flooring for easier cleaning.
    • Check the building code in your area for specific requirements and whether or not your structure requires a building permit.
    • If your design doesn’t already include it, consider installing gutters to deflect run-off water from dripping onto your horse at the shed’s entrance.
    • Clean up the site of all building materials and obstacles that could be harmful to your horse or that could tempt him to be nosy.
    • Construct your shelter securely. Keep in mind that a loose tarp or metal roof can scare a horse from entering the shed. It can also be a safety hazard.

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