Everything About Run-In Sheds for Horses

Jessica McDaniel
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Horse Run in Shed: Importance of Shelter

For the health of small animal properties in particular, winter is a time of year when property owners need to think about shelter. The average temperature can be the same or higher than average during winter. However, that doesn’t mean that it will be free of any extreme cold weather.

If your small animals’ shelter is maintained, they will be safe during cold weather, and they will thrive during the warmer temperatures. It is also important to keep smaller animals like chickens and pet rabbits safe during the winter.

A good example of a small animal shed is the run-in shed for horses. This gives horses somewhere to sleep and shelter from the weather if the warmer barns are unavailable. It also provides an area to keep the hay and feed.

In the summer of 2007, many owners of small animal properties and the people who ran them were at fault for the deaths of many animals. The extreme conditions were, in part, the cause of the deaths of so many animals. Fortunately, since then, better animal care practices are now widespread.

For safety and warmth, you can provide a run-in shelter as a place for small animals to live.

Horse Run in Shed: Different Types of Turnout

Run-In Sheds for Horse

A run-in shed is an enclosed space used for housing and feeding your horses. Typically, these buildings are constructed against a stable or barn. They can be used for winter storage; give protection from the sun and inclement weather; and provide your horses with somewhere to stay cool on hot days.

The main benefit to having a run-in shed is that it gives you the opportunity to safely and securely confine your horses so that you can easily keep an eye on them at all times. If you are skeptical about this, keep in mind that keeping horses in small pastures for extended periods of time is a common practice in the industry.

But a run-in isn’t just for confining. They can be used for commercial purposes to house your horses at night, and to pasture them during the day. If you have multiple horses that need to stay in one stable, they can help by giving your horses a little breathing room.


The design of a run-in shed below ground is very important because it’s built specifically for helping your horse get ready for the upcoming season. Like the hood of a race car, the run-in shed provides a place where your horse can prepare for riding, without the danger of being injured or getting sick from an injury.

And since it’s very difficult to ride your horse for more than a few minutes in the cold winter weather, a run-in shed can help keep your horse tuned up for riding and can help increase blood flow and stamina. So, it’s important to invest in the right equipment so the run-in shed will provide the exact amount of winter weather protection your horse needs.

Here are the important considerations for designing your horse run-in below ground:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Location


Run-in sheds are mostly used to give horses a place to run out in, as opposed to being in their stall 24/7. By putting your horse in a run-in for a few hours each day, it gives them the mental and physical stimulation they need. Horses thrive on routine, so it is easy to set up routine in a daily schedule.

Horses that are cooped up in a stall all the time will become bored, and their turnout time will become a chore for the horse owner. You want them to eagerly anticipate their time outside, rather than dreading it.

Dull stall time is also a risk factor for potentially dangerous behavior, such as cribbing and weaving. These are both destructive habits that horses create to relieve boredom and stress.

Just like humans need to make an escape from the office for a little while, so do horses. Run-in sheds are a perfect place for horses to be outside while still getting some needed attention and care from their owner.

There is an added benefit, if you need to give your horse a medical treatment or administer medication, you can do so without worrying about the horse running off in another direction.


When you’re traveling with horses during the cold months, it is not ideal to have to break a stall down every time a move is necessary.

This is when run-in sheds, also known as horse barns, come in handy. Run-in sheds permanently separate your horse from other harnessed horses while allowing him to have access to a large pasture with indigenous vegetation, shelter, and fresh water.

In run-in sheds, stallions do not have to share space with other male horses, their waste does not have to be removed from the floor, and no bedding is needed as the horses run in a covered area.

But just like anything else in your horse's life, run-in sheds should be cleaned regularly to keep him healthy. Before you know it, your horse is back in a stall and you are wondering why he is perfectly located and positioned in you sanctuary, but is not growing.

With the right equine run-in shed supplies and regular cleaning, you can keep your horses healthy all season long.


A last bit of advice for horse owners prepping for winter: don’t get complacent. Even if you’ve saved your run-in shed properly and done everything right, your horse can still be affected by winter weather if they get a heavy snowfall. Even if you have a run-in shed shelter, know what to do if you get a heavy snowfall.

So, what happens if you get a heavy snowfall? First, evaluate your horse. Check their temperature and keep an eye out for any abnormal behavior. If possible, give them a warm environment inside.

Have extra feed and clean water on hand.

If the snowfall is severe enough, prepare to bring your horse inside your house.