The Humble Run-in Shed Adds True Value
By Nikki Alvin-Smith

The Humble Run-in Shed Adds True Value By Nikki Alvin-Smith

You may think that as you blanket your horses or because your horses (whether you blanket them or not), have the cover of a hedge-line or trees, that you have no need to worry about providing shelter with a run-in shed. If you turn your horse out for just a few hours at a time and are present to bring him in at the turn of a weather forecast then perhaps this is true. For many of us however, we like to turn our horses out for several hours a day if not most of the time. For these horses the shelter provided by the inexpensive humble run-in shed is very important.

As I am sure you already know horses will seek the shelter of a run-in shed more in summer than in winter. A run-in shed provides a valuable retreat from pesky flies and the heat of the blazing sun. In winter they will use the shelter to avoid strong winds, hail and ice storms. Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision when purchasing a run-in shed.

Size Does Matter

Unless you have a lone equine, the run-in shed needs to be able to accommodate a variety of personalities. The dominant equine can quickly bully a horse lower in the pecking order and block it from entering or exiting the structure. Not a good scenario. At worst the secondary character will be left, literally, out in the cold. So when considering size always design wider rather than deeper. It is also a good idea to contemplate using several smaller structures rather than one large one if you have a good size herd sharing a pasture.

The Humble Run-in Shed Adds True Value By Nikki Alvin-Smith

Incidentally to minimize bullying overall don’t feed horses in the run-in shed as this can lead to excessive upset.

The interior of the shed should be at least ten feet high and should include a four foot high kickboard. The entrance should be seven foot high, which will accommodate even the largest warmblood.

The ideal size for a single horse is 12 x 12. However, 12 x 18 feet will usually accommodate three horses that average 15h.h. Consider the type of horses you have and how they get along and use common sense in the design. Experienced companies in this space will be a font of knowledge in design and helpful advice. Don’t be shy to ask.

It’s All About The Base

Placement of your run-in shed is very important e.g. placement at the bottom of a hill will delight you with a mud filled structure that is hopeless for providing comfort for your horse. For best results place your run-in shed on a level, elevated pad with a stone dust apron that extends outside of the front of the structure and around it if you are placing the structure inside the fenced perimeter of the field.

When designing and building our farm we had a pad elevated with gravel, placed French drains in the front to divert water to each side of the structure and added stone dust on top. There was a generous skirt/apron to the front of the structure so horses could run in and out without causing a muddy mess in the high traffic area. We had the whole thing compacted. It is regularly cleaned out with a tractor and bedded with clean shavings to encourage the horses to use it.

Placement Options

Where you place your run-in shed will depend on how you wish to use it and the design of your paddocks/pastures. Whenever possible ensure the open front faces away from prevailing winds. If you place the structure in the middle of the field, horses will be able to utilize all sides for shelter. However, the disadvantage is they may also enjoy ‘chowing down’ on the siding material.

You can place the run-in structure outside the field with fencing that runs to each side and leaves just the front entrance available. This is very useful if you plan to have access to the structure without entering the pasture.

You can also add a gate or wood partitions to section off the interior space. This is especially useful if you wish to exclude certain horses from lush pasture or control the amount of interaction between horses.

Pole Versus Prefabricated Run-in Sheds

The biggest advantage of a prefabricated run-in shed is that you can move it. This might be to another spot in the field, to another field altogether or even to another property if you move. A prefabricated structure comes with welded on tow hooks for this purpose. However, the tow hooks can also be used with an anchor kit to tie down the structure and prevent it from tipping over in strong winds.

The Humble Run-in Shed Adds True Value By Nikki Alvin-Smith

Both pole and prefabricated run-ins offer customizations such as windows, doors, overhangs etc. The advantage of a prefabricated structure is that it magically arrives and is ready for immediate use as construction is done in a controlled factory environment. However, a pole structure may be cheaper. Always compare apples to apples when pricing.

Additionally, many experienced prefab building companies will offer on-site construction if you need a structure larger than can be transported over-the-road or brought through your gate. It pays to ask.

Think Outside The Box

If you have a limited budget it is a great idea to consider a structure that is multi-purpose. For example, half the building may be a generous run-in area with the other half set up as enclosed stalls with Dutch doors, a feed/tack room or storage for hay, vehicles or equipment. The run-in is simply separated from the rest of the structure by a fence line.

What Professionals Say: Visit with Olympic Event Rider Boyd Martin

Silva and Boyd Martin’s property in Pennsylvania, Windurra, is a haven for the serious eventer. Their property sports Horizon Structures Amish built run-in sheds and Boyd has keen opinions on the use and value of a run-in structure. Click here to visit with him and learn more.

The Humble Run-in Shed Adds True Value By Nikki Alvin-Smith

In conclusion, when you think about it your horse will be happier with the shelter a run-in shed provides and as a result so will you. Always plan for future as well as your present needs.

This article is brought to you courtesy of Horizon Structures Inc., Atglen PA – Modular horse barn and indoor riding arena specialists. Please visit to learn more.

About Horizon Structures:  One horse or twenty, there's one thing all horse owners have in common...the need to provide safe and secure shelter for their equine partners.  At Horizon Structures, we combine expert craftsmanship, top-of-the-line materials and smart "horse-friendly" design to create a full line of sheds and barns that any horse owner can feel confident is the right choice for their horses' stabling needs.

All wood. Amish Made. Most of our buildings are shipped 100% pre-built and ready for same-day use. Larger barns are a modular construction and can be ready for your horses in less than a week. All our barn packages include everything you need -
Horizon Structures also sells indoor riding arenas, chicken coops, dog kennels, 1 and 2 car garages, storage sheds and outdoor living structures.

Headquartered in South-Central Pennsylvania, Horizon Structures, LLC is owned by Dave Zook.  Dave was raised in the Amish tradition and grew up working in the family-owned shed business.  He started Horizon Structures in 2001 in response to an ever-increasing customer demand for high quality, affordable horse barns.
For additional information about the company or their product line, please visit their website at