DIY Horse Run-In Shelters

Last Updated on February 9, 2022

Do your horses live outside 24/7, or have long periods of turnout? Do you have to keep your horses inside for the whole day, because it’s only going to rain for a half-hour? Diy horse shelter otherwise known as “run-in sheds” or simply, “run-in’s” can help! 

The concept of a run-in is to give a horse shelter from the weather while still being able to live outside, whether they are outside all the time or only a portion of the time.  Run-ins are cost-efficient, and can even be built by hand, instead of hiring a contractor and building crew.

That is what I will be discussing in this article; different types of run-in shelters for horses and what it takes to build them.  I will be discussing basics, as I am not a builder; but, I will be sharing links to websites of people who have built these run-ins at their home farms.

The Importance of DIY Horse Shelter

When horses are outside for turn out, they need shelter.  Every horse’s turn out schedules are different.  Some horses live outside 24/7, others have half-day turnout, and others get turned out for a couple of hours a day.  Regardless, they must have access to some kind of shelter.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a run-in or even a man-made shelter.  Sometimes, nature provides enough of a shelter to be sufficient. For example, my horse’s pasture is lined with tall trees on one side.  So, when the weather comes in, the horses take shelter and stay dry under the trees.

The Importance of DIY Horse Shelter

The consequence of not having a shelter in a pasture is that horses must stay inside, even if the weather is only predicted to be bad for a small part of the day.  The general idea is that you don’t want your horse standing outside in the rain, or sleet, or hail.

But, if horses have an area where they can shield themselves from the weather (i.e.- a natural shelter, or a run-in), then they can go outside almost every day.

Different Types of DIY Horse Shelter

There are many different types of run-ins that horses can use for shelter.  The most traditional run-in has three sides and is open on the inside. Horses can come and go as they please, depending on when they need shelter.

There are also more abnormal run-ins that have two sides, and the horses can take shelter in the middle. 

Farm owners use run-in for different things, outside of sheltering horses.  Sometimes they are used for storage of hay, bedding, tractors, and other things.  Sometimes run-ins can be moved and modified from different parts of the property to be used for horse shelter. 

Run-ins are not uncommonly found on a pre-owned property, so look around to see what your farm has that you could use!


Building Plans for DIY Horse Shelter

Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, there are generally used when building a run-in; different lengths of lumber, plywood or sheet metal, screws and an electric drill. The website “My Outdoor Plans,” lists some exact specifications for different sizes of run-ins. 

This website cleverly divides up the plan’s supplies into actual “materials”, tools, and necessary time. It gives specific directions for building a 10×14 foot run-in horse shed.  According to the website, this project should take about a day.

The list of materials is as follows:

  • A – 2 pieces of 4×4 lumber – 168″ long SKIDS
  • B – 2 pieces of 2×4 lumber – 120″ long, 9 pieces – 80 1/2″ long 2x SIDEWALL
  • C – 2 pieces of 2×4 lumber – 161″ long, 8 pieces – 80 1/2 long BACK WALL
  • D – 2 pieces of 2×4 lumber – 111 3/4″ long, 2 pieces – 116 3/4″ long, 1 piece – 3 1/2″ long, 1 piece – 11″ long, 1 piece – 18 1/4″ long, 1 piece – 25 3/4″ long, 1 piece – 33″ long 2x TOP WALLS
  • E – 3 pieces of T1-11 siding – 48″x84″ long, 1 piece – 24″x84″ long SIDING
  • F – 1 piece of 2×10 lumber – 168″ long, 2 pieces of 2×6 lumber – 110 1/2″ long TRIMS

The list of tools is as follows:

Hammer, Tape measure, Framing square, Level

Miter saw, Drill machinery, Screwdriver, Sander

Safety Gloves, Safety Glasses

So, if you own a farm, and do farm-work regularly, you may not need to do any tool-shopping before starting this project! But, most people will have to make a run to the hardware store for the lumber, if nothing less.

Following the exact instructions on “My Outdoor Plans” link in order to build their planned run-in!


Your horse’s comfort is important, but so is your pocketbook! Building your own run-in shelter for your horses can be a solution with both of those things in mind.  Building a run-in should only take about a day, and if you’re accustomed to normal farm work, it really shouldn’t be too hard!

Horses having shelter can allow them to be turned out on a day when the weather might not be perfect.  But, it is so important for your horses to get regular turnout, and if you go through a nasty weather spell, this might only be possible with the help of a run-in shelter.

Horses may not have the same cognitive abilities as people, but they’re smart! They’ll know when they need to take shelter if the shelter is available to them.  And, with the help of this article and its sources, you may be able to provide that for them at a reasonable cost.

I hope this article helped you understand the importance of shelter for your horses, what shelter options exist, and how you can build a run-in shelter on your own! If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences building run-in shelters and other equine-related shelters!


How big should a run-in shelter be for 1 horse?

Here are some tips on how much space should be allocated per horse in a DIY shed:
1) Stall size varies from one region to another, but a minimum of 10' x 12' or 144 square feet is recommended.
2) Some horse owners require at least 12' x 12', or 192 square feet for their horse to be comfortable. Other horse owners have managed to accommodate two horses in a run-in shelter with dimensions of 10' x 20'.
3) A DIY run-in shelter should be larger than the minimum size if you want to store additional items such as a lawn mower, tools and bikes. It is therefore advisable for horse owners to choose a shed size of 12' x 20'. This will give them an extra 120 square feet or 10% more floor space to use for other purposes.

What direction should a horse run-in shelter face?

The ideal orientation for a DIY run-in shelter is the North to protect it from direct sunlight and heat in summer. The enclosed southern end of the shed should be kept cool by blocking out the sun with trees or other structures.
During winter, the run-in shelter should face the South so that it gets as much sunlight as possible. This will help to keep your shed warm and dry during cold spells.

What materials should I use for DIY horse shelter?

Wood is the most popular material choice for horse owners who are setting up DIY run-in sheds. However, the materials used have to be strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Wood shelters should be insulated with high density materials such as polystyrene or polyurethane. Insulation will help to keep your horse warm during winter and cool during summer.
A solid foundation is another important factor to consider. Concrete or gravel is recommended for this purpose.
You can use brick, wooden posts and cement blocks to make your run-in shelter more stable. An open floor plan on the other hand would not be recommended as it will let cold air in during winter and hot air out during summer.
A DIY run in shed will need to be well-ventilated to let out warm and humid air and keep it nice and cool. To achieve this, make sure the materials used allow for adequate cross ventilation.
Sheds made of wood should also maximize openings such as doors and windows. This will help to regulate the temperature inside the shed during hot and cold seasons.
Doors should be of even size and materials with tight seams to help keep out insects, rodents and other pests. Doors also need better weatherproofing especially on corners so that it does not let in any elements when closed.

How much does it cost to build a run-in shelter?

The cost of run-in sheds varies depending on the size of the run in shed, materials used and labour. However, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2500 and $3000 for materials alone. Additional costs will be incurred if you hire professionals to help with installation. These costs may include building permits, professional labour fees and materials (if needed).