Simple Horse Shelter Guide: How to Build an Affordable Run-In Shed

Horses need shelter just like humans, and one option is a run-in shelter. Here's how to build a budget-friendly run-in shelter for your equestrian property.

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Simple Horse Shelter Guide: How to Build an Affordable Run-In Shed

Posted by Gary Ashton on Tuesday, June 28th, 2022 at 8:36am.

How to Build a Budget-Friendly Shelter

Building a run-in shelter on a property can be inexpensive to keep horses out of inclement weather, making them especially popular among equestrian real estate owners. Unlike a stable, which is a larger structure that requires a lot of building materials, a run-in shelter can be built with as little as a single trip to a home improvement store. Keeping horses out of the elements helps the animals to remain healthy and is one of the most important home improvements to make before buying a horse property. Saddle up and keep reading to find useful tips on building a budget-friendly run-in shelter for an equestrian property.

Choose and Measure Your Location

Choosing the perfect site on the property is the first step in building a shelter. To reduce costs, select a place with firm and level ground. Building on a flat piece of ground is easier and cheaper since no excavation will be required. The site should have good natural drainage and be away from an area where periodic flooding can happen.

Horses will love having a shelter to run into to get out of the rain, so it won't matter where the shelter is sited in a pasture. However, owners should remember that the shelter is also for occasionally feeding their horses. Owners shouldn't site the shelter too far away from where the hay will be stored unless they don't mind transporting it.

The shelter should also be situated at a 45-degree angle to the normal prevailing winds. This will keep it cooler in the summer and warm in the winter.

The owner should consider their needs and the needs of their animals now and in the future when building a run-in shelter. A 12' by 24' shelter provides plenty of room for two horses to stand in (or even more horses, so long as they get along with each other).

One last thing to remember is that a shelter won't be as sturdy as a stable or barn. Try not to situate a run-in shelter close to trees where a falling limb could destroy the roof!

Decide on a Style

Rounded Roof and Three-Sided Shelters are the Most Common

Purchasing a pre-built run-in shelter from a manufacturer can quickly drive the cost to around $10,000. And that's before the shelter has even been hauled to the owner's property. To save money, it makes sense to choose an easy style of run-in shelter to build and then purchase materials based on that plan.

People use only two main styles of run-in shelters for their horses, and accessories such as gates can be added later. There's a rounded roof shelter and a three-sided shed that the horses can run in and out of.

A rounded roof shelter is the least expensive style, with the materials costing less than $1,000 on average. One DIY-savvy person can construct this style in about one day.

A three-sided shed requires at least two people to build and will take several days to construct. Materials for a three-sided shed will be more expensive than for a rounded roof shelter.

Collect Your Materials

A rounded roof shelter is pretty straightforward, and materials are easy to source at home improvement shops and agriculture supply stores. Eight rounded posts or 4" by 4" pressure-treated posts, some 3/4" plywood panels for siding, a couple of 16' metal wire cattle panels, one can of water-resistant paint, and a tarp are the only materials needed.

Once the posts are sunk into the ground and the plywood sides are attached, attach the cattle panels to both sides in a rounded shape. Attach the tarp to keep out the rain and paint the siding. This is the cheapest and easiest form of run-in shed to build, although it is a temporary structure.

A three-sided shed is the way to go for a more permanent structure. At least six pressure-treated posts will be needed for the frame. A sufficient number of 2" by 4", 2" by 6", and 2" by 10" boards are needed to complete the exterior. Corrugated metal roofing panels can be cheaply sourced at a home improvement store to complete the basic structure. It's also a good idea to sand the boards and posts because horses occasionally want to rub and scratch themselves on the siding.

Lumber prices can fluctuate dramatically and are likely to be the most expensive materials needed for a three-sided run-in shelter. If the owner lives near a lumber mill, they occasionally find affordable wood. This eliminates the mark-up that home improvement stores charge.

Focus on the Essentials

Remember that a run-in horse shelter does not have to be a deluxe structure—that's what a stable is for. It's a place for the horses to run inside to get out of the rain without someone needing to bring them inside manually. The great thing about horses is that they're incredibly intelligent and don't require much training to use a run-in shelter. Throw some dry feed in it and lead them inside one time when it's raining, and they'll basically figure it out!

Corral gates can add to the expense of a three-sided shelter but might be worth it to some owners. The gates can lock the horses in for a time if necessary, much like a stable.

Other than that, be sure to site the shelter in a great place where the horses can access water, feed, an outdoor wash station, or any other necessities.

Keep Your Horses Happy With a Budget-Friendly Run-In Shelter

A run-in shelter will provide daily value for your horses, and they're always nice to look for when looking at farms for sale. More than anything, the goal of a run-in shelter is to keep the horses happy and dry during inclement weather. It's a part of the equestrian lifestyle and doesn't have to be expensive.


Gary Ashton

The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage

The #1 RE/MAX team in the World!

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