DIY Horse Run-In Shelters

Jessica McDaniel
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The Importance of DIY Horse Shelter

A DIY Horse Run-In Shelter is an excellent way of introducing your horse to the rough world outside. Horse run-in shelters are very simple to build and inexpensive to have done. The benefits of a run in shelter are many, but they should never be built without first seeking the advice of a professional – especially if child-access or safety is a concern.

Putting up a run-in shelter is no rocket science even if you're doing it on your own, and if you're thinking about giving it a try, you should know that putting one together yourself will not only save lots of money but will also make you appreciate the effort that goes into building a good horse shelter more.

Different Types of DIY Horse Shelter

There are a few different ways to make a basic run-in shelter and I've detailed the common building methods below. They all include an opening at the top for the shelter to vent out hot air and an opening at the bottom for the horse to enter and exit and be able to eat hay without having to step out of the shelter.

One of the most cost effective and simple methods to build a horse shelter is to use an existing shed. You can design and build a custom run-in shelter using the shed as the basic framework. The corners of the shed can be folded down and secured with a rope or latch to create a custom horse shelter.

Once you are ready to construct your own custom run-in shelter, a simple, easy, and cost effective way to do it is to use pipe. Explaining how to use pipe for a run in shelter is challenging and basically by using two 4' sections of PVC pipe with an 8' length at the top, bent at a 90-degree angle, creating an inverted "T" as the framework for your run in shelter. You can then secure a plywood roof (shingles or tarpaulin or a few sheets of new exterior plywood if you don't mind the look) by using pipe or conduit straps.

Building Plans for DIY Horse Shelter

Horse owners, if you are planning to build an equine run in shelter yourself, a DIY design may be your best solution.

The basic principle when building a run in shelter is that horses are able to lie down inside. You can utilize tires to accomplish this. Dig a trench into a hillside and pile tires in it. You can encourage the horses to lie in this pile of tires by shoving some hay under it.

However, in the event that you are building this as a free-standing structure, you will need to provide access to fresh air/oxygen. You can do so by leaving some of the tires off the ground.

It’s a good idea to leave a door as well to the shelter so that you can enter it and calm the horses down. Baling wire and other sturdy wire can be used to secure the tire walls.

Additionally, you’re going to need to erect a roof for this structure. It is possible to use wood for this purpose but it is not going to be very efficient. You’ll probably have to re-roof this structure every year. Rather, metal rafters will do a much better job. Furthermore, these will also be able to withstand the weight of winter snow and are going to last for decades.


They are simple in color and design. However, the run-in shelters require regular maintenance to function properly and keep the horses healthy and injuries at bay. These are extremely important expenses that also add up quicker than you may think.

Even if you plan on building your own homemade shelters, you will still have to use some durable materials to ensure you get the best value for your investment. While they may take more time to build, you will spend a fraction of what the pre-fabricated shelters cost and have more room for customizations.

You will need the right tools and equipment to get these done. It is important to read the designs carefully and familiarize yourself with the cost and execution of the design.

Before you get started, you will also need to buy the right materials from outdoors home stores around your area. If you need help, you can get assistance from the salesperson. You may want to have your design drawn out professionally before you go to the store. There is nothing worse than getting home and realizing you are missing materials!

You will need to know how to use outdoor power tools like chain saws, grinder, wood chipper, posthole digger, and other heavy equipment so you get the job done the safe way. If you have never used one of these tools, you will have to spend time on practice runs before you attempt any project.