Last Updated on February 17, 2023
A run-in shed is a useful addition to your equestrian facility, extending the time your horse can spend turned out. But what makes a good run in the shed for horses? And how much does a horse run-in shed cost, and are they worth the financial outlay?
The term “horse run-in shed” is commonly exchanged between barn owners and managers, and you’ve probably seen run-in sheds out in pastures without even knowing it! But what purpose do these sheds serve, especially if your horse lives in a stall half of the time?
Run-in sheds are tremendously useful, and horses that are on all different kinds of turnout schedules and routines can benefit from a run-in shed.
Today we’ll be analyzing the importance of shelter for horses, different types of turnout routines, and how run-in sheds can help improve your horse’s quality of life. We will also be discussing the design of run-in sheds, the purpose of run-in sheds, and how you can purchase or build your own run-in shed. So, to find out the total horse run-in shed cost and benefits, keep reading!
Horse Run in Shed: Why Do Horses Need Shelter?
Horses are hardy animals that have lived for many centuries in the wild, without the help of humans. But, in the wild, there are no fences! When we domesticated horses, we put them in pastures, where they are not free to roam and find what they need to survive and thrive.
In the wild, when horses need shelter, they simply stay on the move until they find a suitable place. Horses in enclosed paddocks and fields no longer have this freedom. Many horse paddocks do not provide natural shelter of any kind, meaning the horse is left to be exposed to the elements in ways he would not be naturally.
Horses need shelter for several reasons, depending on the climate where they live.
The first issue in some countries is extreme heat. Horses, especially dark horses, can overheat in extremely hot environments when exposed to direct sunlight. In the wild, you will see horses sheltering under large, leafy trees to stay cool on a hot day.
The second reason horses need shelter is from precipitation. Horses can get wet when they’re outside and be okay, however constant dampness and the inability to dry off can be a far worse problem than cold, dry weather. A horse that is wet and has no shelter can lose so much body heat that it can become chilled and hypothermic.
The wet, muddy ground can also lead to problems with the legs and hooves of a horse. Constant moisture in a horse’s feet can cause thrush of the hooves, and wet, muddy legs can develop mud fever. Persistent dampness on a horse’s coat can also cause rain rot and other conditions.
The final problem is the wind, and more specifically, wind in conjunction with moisture. When horses get wet and are exposed to cold wind, they can become extremely chilled – think of how you feel when you go outside with wet hair. This can cause horses to become sick or lose weight.
So, the existence of some kind of shelter is essential for the horse’s well-being and comfort when spending time outside. It’s something they could come by naturally before they were domesticated, and it’s something we need to provide for them now that they are under our care.
The advantage to having a shelter in the field is that your horse can spend longer periods turned out, reducing the risk of behavioral problems such as crib biting. Keeping a horse’s lifestyle as natural as possible is vital to maintain their health and well-being, and will avoid issues such as gastric ulcers in the future.
Horse Run in Shed: Different Types of Turnout Routines
Every barn or horse owner will have a different turnout routine. Sometimes horses live outside 24-7, sometimes horses spend the daytime outside and nights inside, sometimes horses spend the daytime and nights outside, sometimes horses stay inside all of the time and receive turnout in indoor arenas, and so on and so on.
Frequently, turnout situations depend on the number of horses, the size of the barn, and each horse individually. For example, horses in intense training or rehabilitation from injury may only get a few hours of turnout each day. Many horses go out on full-day group turnout with other horses, coming back to their stalls for the night to sleep and eat.
Regardless of what kind of turnout your horse is on, you must provide some kind of shelter. There are different ways of providing shelter for different turnout situations. Sometimes, natural shelter is enough, but often a man-made shelter is necessary.
Run-In Sheds for Horse
One of the most popular forms of man-made shelter is a run-in shed. Run-in sheds are perfect for horses on group turnout that either live outside 24-7 or that live outside for full days and come in for the nights.
Run-in sheds are rectangular ones with one or more of the walls missing. They provide a stall-like area for multiple horses to stand under. Sometimes, run-in sheds also have areas for hay and water, so that they can also be protected from the elements.
Run-in sheds are typically the length of at least a few horse stalls and are at least one horse-length deep. They need to be tall enough for your tallest horse to be able to use them without the worry of him hitting his head. Run-in sheds typically looked like a smaller version of your barn.
The purpose of run-in sheds is to shelter horses from inclement weather situations. It can provide shade from intense sunlight, shelter from precipitation, and protection from wind. A run-in or loafing shed for horses creates a dry and protected area for horses to go into whenever they want or need it.
Types of Run-In Sheds for Horses
If you are looking into installing run-in sheds at your barn, you have several options. Many people choose to build their run-in sheds. They’re relatively easy to assemble, and only require basic materials; wooden planks, sheet metal, and the tools necessary to put them together. Although the main structure is commonly built from wood, metal run-in sheds can be a great alternative.
When putting together a run-in shed for horses, it is important to carefully consider the design, particularly if it is intended to house more than one horse. At least one side should be left open to ensure that a dominant horse cannot trap a weaker horse inside. Alternatively, place at least two wide doors at opposite ends of the shed.
Installing a roof that overhangs the sides of the shed can also be beneficial, as long as it is high enough that the horse cannot knock its head on it. This gives horses the choice of where to shelter depending on the direction of the sun, wind, or rain.
How Much Does a Horse Run-In Shed Cost?
Some companies sell run-in shed kits that you can build yourself. Some companies provide installation and building services. Or, you can start from scratch and build them yourselves.
For a purpose-made run-in shed installed by the supplier, expect to pay $3,500 – $8,000 depending on the size of the shelter. You can keep the horse run-in shed cost down by buying a kit and installing it yourself.
The cheapest horse run-in shed cost is the DIY option – building a shed yourself from scratch. If you can lay your hands on cheaper reclaimed materials, you may be able to build a decent structure for just a few hundred dollars. However, as with all structures intended for horses, it must be well-made and sturdy, without any sharp or protruding edges that can injure your horse.
How Tall Should a Horse Shelter Be?
The height of a horse shelter will depend on the size of the horses – a group of small ponies can be housed in a smaller shelter than a herd of draft horses. For an average-sized horse, aim for the roof to be at least 10 feet high, preferably 12. This reduces the risk of injury if the horse rears or flings its head up into the air.
Ceiling height is also essential for adequate circulation – a low ceiling reduces airflow and results in poor-quality air. Consider installing air vents at either end of the roof to reduce the build-up of dust and humidity inside the shelter.
Providing shelter is essential for horses that spend any time outside. In the wild, horses were not limited to the pasture space they are today and could seek out natural shelter whenever necessary.
Since this is not an option for our domesticated horses, we must provide them with the shelter that they need. A great way of doing this for horses that spend lots of time outside is to provide your horses with run-in sheds. Run-in sheds allow horses to come and go from their shelter as they choose, depending on the weather conditions. Run-in sheds keep horses dry and protected from whatever inclement weather may come their way.
We hope that this article helped you learn more about the importance of shelter and the use of run-in sheds! If so, please share this article, and comment below with your experiences of using run-in sheds!
What is a run-in shed for a horse?
A run in shed is a shelter or shed with 3 sides, usually made of wood, used to protect a horse from the elements, particularly rain. They are small and simple and because of that less expensive and easier to build.
A horse has the ability to use the run-in shed whenever he likes. It can be used for year-round protection from rain, wind, snow, and sun.
How tall should a horse run-in shed be?
The height of a horse run-in shed depends on the horse’s size. A large horse will require a taller run-in shed than a small horse. Horses with longer backs require a longer run-in shed to accommodate them comfortably.
A horse run-in shed should be at least eight feet high at the back end and ten to twelve feet high at the front to accommodate a horse of an average size.
Do horses need a run-in shelter?
Horses need shelter from wind, rain, snow, sun, and heat, and a safe place to rest if they are injured or sick. A simple three-sided shed is usually enough to protect them from the weather if you orientate it in a way that the open side is the least exposed.
A run-in shelter is an area where a horse can go for a brief rest and get a chance to cool off or hide from the storm. It should be shaded from the hot afternoon sun, have a clean, dry bedding area and a water supply.
How big should a run-in shed be for 4 horses?
The size of a run-in shed should be proportionate to the size of the horses it protects. There are many different opinions about this topic, some people recommend providing a minimum space of 12'x12′ for each horse while others claim that 10'x10′ is sufficient. Another technique is calculating space needed as 60-80 square feet per 1000 pounds horse.
A run-in shed for four average sized horses should therefore be at least 12 feet wide and 40 feet long. This should allow enough space for horses access the shed comfortable, without the risk of a dominant horse bullying the others out of the way.
A good way to estimate roof height is by measuring the distance from the ground to the top of the highest point of horse's head, then add about two feet for a safe head clearance. The roof can be made of wood, metal, fiberglass, or composite materials.
How much does a horse run-in shed cost?
The cost of a run-in shed will vary depending on the size, location and materials used. The typical costs for run-in sheds are around $3,500 for a single horse.
Larger run-in sheds that are equipped with feed rooms, cupolas, cabinets, and other exciting add-on features can cost up to $8,000.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.