Shelter Options for Horses

Are you looking for a shelter option for your horses to protect them from the elements? Here are some ideas you can use.

Tool Storage

Whether you’re building a big barn or a simple shelter, map things out to simplify chores. Keep tools and equipment in a central, easy-to-access area.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Room for Equipment

Larger facilities might require equipment for chores, such as cleaning and materials delivery. Consider the size of aisleways, doors, gates, and interior posts for things like hay delivery and manure cleanup.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Natural Light

Skylights can help let in natural light and cut down on or eliminate energy requirements.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Flooring

Flooring in stalls or shelters should be dry and level. Rubber stall mats on top of 3 to 6 inches of compacted gravel (crushed rock) provide an excellent surface. Mats offer an even surface for the horse to stand on with an amount of cushioning. They also reduce the need for bedding and are easy to clean.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Avoid Sharp Edges

Avoid sharp edges or corners, as well as square posts that can result in lacerations. Be wary of metal siding, too, because sharp edges and corners can cause serious injury to a horse (or human!). Horses can also kick through metal siding easily.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Eliminate Places Where Horses Can Catch Their Legs

Walls should extend to the ground so that a horse cannot get his legs caught underneath when lying down.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Three-Sided Shelters

A three-sided roofed run-in (or loafing) shed can provide satisfactory shelter. With this kind of structure, horses have protection from inclement weather and benefit from excellent ventilation.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Simple Shelters

However, a simple shelter might satisfy and your horse’s (and your own!) needs.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Safe Wall Heights

Shelter walls should be strong, smooth, free of projections, and at least 8 feet high.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Group Shelters

When housing more than one horse in the same shelter, a 12-by-16-foot run-in shed can work, depending on the horses’ temperament and compatibility. Provide enough space to minimize the chance of injury. A dominant horse in a small, enclosed area can easily trap a timid or less aggressive horse.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Run-In Shelter Sizes

Run-in sheds can differ in size, depending on the number of horses using them. One horse usually requires a minimum size of 8-by-12 feet.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Proper Stall Sizes

Stall size in a barn is usually a minimum of 12-by-12 feet for a large horse or 10-by-10 feet for a small horse or pony.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Fans

During summer, fans placed in an indoor barn can increase evaporation to keep horses cool. Fans can keep biting insects out of barns.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Ventilation

Indoor stalls should have a foot of space between the top of the wall and the ceiling to allow for air movement and good ventilation and to prevent condensation. Closed barns can accumulate dust, ammonia, and moisture--conditions in which mold and germs proliferate and harm your horse’s fragile respiratory system.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Drainage

When building a shelter, look for a high, well-drained location. Don't build in a low spot, wet area, or at the bottom of a hill. Stay well away from creeks, wetlands, ponds, and ditches.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Space Planning

When designing your horse facility you will need, at a minimum, a place for your horse (or horses) with storage for hay and cleaning equipment.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Big Barns

You might also consider a larger design such as a barn with a tack room, shavings storage, wash rack, and the works.

Photo: Alayne Blickle

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners