3 Common Types of Horse Shelters

Horses can take shelter in a variety of buildings, and wild horses do just fine without any manmade structure to protect them. For domesticated horses, however, there are three main kinds of shelters that are used: barns, stalls and run-in sheds.

Barns Are Good for Farming

As the largest type of horse shelter, barns require the largest investment but also are the most capable. A barn can be built specifically for horses, or it can house other farm items. Smaller farms can house all their animals in one or two barns, while larger farms can keep tack and farm equipment alongside horses in a barn. A basic horse barn will likely at least have:

  • Stalls
  • Feed rooms
  • Tack rooms
  • Haylofts

For a full-fledged farm, a barn is often a wise horse shelter to build. Farms have the resources to build larger buildings, and they need the multi-purpose space that barns offer.

Stalls Keep Horses Separate

Stalls can be built inside of barns, or they can be used in other, usually smaller buildings. The primary distinction of a stall is that one horse goes in each stall. Of course, you’ll need at least the same number of stalls as you have horses if you plan to house them this way. Building a couple of extra stalls is always helpful in case someone visits with a horse or two.

Because stalls keep horses separate, you don’t have to worry about horses kicking or biting each other. They confine horses to a relatively small space, though, and horses may become downtrodden if they aren’t taken out for exercise and free run often enough.

To ensure that horses are happy when kept in stalls, give your horses plenty of regular exercise if you keep them this way. Also, ensure their stalls measure at least 12 feet by 12 feet so that they can easily move around inside their stalls.

Run-In Sheds Shelter Horses in Pastures

For pastured horses, run-in sheds are a suitable form of shelter. These sheds are essentially lean-tos for horses, although the windward side is taller than a traditional lean-to. 

A run-in shed can house one or more horses. Most designs are divided into two sections. One is open for horses to go in an out of as they please. The other has a gate that can be closed when you need a horse to remain in the shelter for a short time, although this isn’t meant to be a full-fledged stable. 

When designing a run-in shed, the shed should be at least as large as a stable would be for the same number of horses. In other words, there should be a 12-foot by 12-foot space that’s sheltered for each horse you have.

You should also inspect a run-in shed periodically to make sure it’s still in good condition, especially near the ground. If the shed degrades near the ground, a crack can grow. Should a horse get their leg caught in a crack between a shelter’s wall and the ground, the horse can be seriously injured.

Choose the Type of Shelter That’s Right for You

Barns, stables and run-in sheds all have their own advantages, and each can be useful in certain situations. When you’re ready for a new shelter, carefully consider which of these best meets your needs.