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Horse Shelters Benefit Horse Health

A run-in shed can give your horse a place to escape rain, heat and even flies, but still allow him the freedom to come and go as he pleases while out in pasture.

For the best farm and ranch management and horse health care, horse owners should consider building a horse shelter. Keeping horses from the elements such as snow, rain, extreme heat and hail will benefit not only your horse's health, but ultimately your ability to train, ride, compete on and enjoy your horse. Learn how to build your very own run-in shed for your horse to protect him while he's in the pasture.

That shelter doesn't have to be the equine version of a four-star hotel. In fact, some experts suggest that a nice, snug box stall, with its potential to trap dust, mold and ammonia fumes, might not be the best option. A better choice may be to turn your horse out, providing him with a run-in shed where he can catch a little shade, escape flies and get out of harsh wind or pounding rain.

The beauty of the run-in shed is its simplicity. Sure, you can go all-out and build a fancy structure that would be at home in the pages of Architectural Digest. But you can also install a basic, attractive shed that serves your horse's needs, streamlines your horsekeeping chores and doesn't cost a fortune to build.

You could purchase a pre-engineered structure or a kit that just requires assembly. We've included a few sources for those types of products, along with places to find building plans, if you're interested. However, building a shed from scratch - either doing the work yourself or hiring someone to handle the job - is a pretty simple proposition and may be more cost-effective. If you opt for a basic design and forgo the bells and whistles, you can put up a sturdy, affordable structure in no time at all.

Budget Run-in Sheds

• Consider wind patterns, drainage, and accessibility in choosing the site for a run-in shed.
• A 12' x 16' shed will allow room for two horses to come and go, and an 8' roof will leave space for them to rear and play.
• A pole design with sheet-metal siding and roofing will make an inexpensive, yet durable and safe, shed.
• Holes should allow the support posts to sit at least 6 inches below the frost line.

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Building from Scratch
You have plenty of options when it comes to building a run-in shed, from construction style and size to materials. But we're going to keep things simple and shoot for the thriftiest design and building strategies possible without skimping on durability and safety.

We'll also assume that this shelter is for just a couple of horses, and that they get along reasonably well. It's not uncommon for a highly dominant horse to lay claim to a shed and deny access to the number two horse altogether. If the dynamics between your horses prevent them from sharing space, a shed of this sort may not be feasible.

The design we're going to look at will be a simple, three-sided, pole-barn construction, with a shed-style roof.

Checking the Regulations
Before you jump too far into your run-in shed project, make sure you investigate possible zoning regulations and building permit requirements. Because this is an agricultural structure, you may not need a permit at all. But restrictions vary from one community to another, and some have building codes you'll need to follow. Your regional building department will be able to help you ensure that you're in compliance with any local regulations.

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