horse shelter - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 05-17-2017, 11:32 AM
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For mine that would be an accident waiting to happen. You'd spend more time and effort getting the pallets safe than it would take money to build something simple and sturdy. Don't use any shelter here but when in Tx we had them in the pastures without trees. They had to be anchored well to keep them from being moved around. They were on skids so we could move them if necessary.
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post #12 of 16 Old 05-17-2017, 01:06 PM
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How many acres do you have? You should have more than one horse, or a companion animal, as they do not do well alone. My gelding goes into panic mode.

So, according to most recommendations, two horses, grazing as much as your climate will allow, should have 2.5 acres, provided you are able to rotate and ALL of that 2.5 acres is grass. However, I can tell you from experience, that you should have more than that, or the horses will destroy your pasture. I currently have about 2 acres for two small horses and they could only graze from about June to August last summer. I had to pull them off because they were down to the dirt. I am adding an additional 2-3 acres this summer so they can be out longer. I think 5 acres will be about right. We own 13, but a lot of it is wooded, we have our house and garage, barn, dry paddock, an apple orchard, and a bunch of other things on the land. There's a big difference between owning 13 acres and having 13 acres for grazing.

Ideally, you should also have an area for dry lotting, or to contain them during certain parts of the year while your pasture grows. Where will you ride? I use my dry paddock as a riding ring so I built it big enough that I could do that.

Some people use a three-sided shelter, but I don't recommend it as a replacement for a barn. My neighbors built a really nice one, quite large and sturdy. We had a very strong wind come through, and it fell right over. Good thing the horses weren't in it! So make sure it's built to withstand the most violent weather your area can get. We are not in a hurricane or tornado area, but the weather is getting less predictable. When a sudden hailstorm came through last summer, I was grateful to have a good, solid barn to shut my horses in during the storm. When I came out, our gazebo had been crushed to the ground.

If you only have a three-sided shelter, where will you get water? What will you do in the winter when pipes/hoses freeze? How will you keep their water buckets from freezing? Will you have light out there? Electricity to plug in water buckets? A flashlight is not really adequate on those dark winter nights when you have to go feed after dark. Or if the vet has to come out for an emergency. Where will the farrier trim the horses or put shoes on them?

Other than grass and hay, a lot of people who don't feed grain will give ration balancers. Those are like vitamins. Salt blocks are not enough to provide everything they need.

Since you live in climate where the temperature drops below freezing, you will need hay. Where will you store it? It can't get wet.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about!
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-17-2017, 01:20 PM
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Agree with QtrBell - by the time you find a way to secure the heavy pallets upright and fill in the open slats so hooves can't get stuck, you may as well have built something from scratch! Plus, pallets come in various shapes and sizes which means you're potentially fitting together a puzzle - only 2 of my 8 hay pallets are identically sized.


For any shelter, make sure it's big enough that a dominant horse won't prevent a more timid one from entering, nor be able to corner a timid horse inside.


My 2 horses share a 15'x33' three-sided shelter (metal roof, metal siding, inside walls lined in 1" wood planks from ground to 48" high so a leg can't go through the metal wall) that comes off of an existing storage building with water & electricity. It works well in mild-weathered Texas, and I can keep tack, feed & yard equipment in the building. The shelter could safely hold a 3rd horse, but 4 would be a bit crowded. Dirt footing occasionally blows around or gets tracked out, so I add dirt every few years to keep it level. If it's really windy while raining, there sometimes isn't much dry ground left under the shelter roof, but at least it's not thick mud. The shelter is built on high enough ground so puddles in the pasture won't drain into the shelter, and rain that does find it's way inside usually drains out pretty quickly. We rarely have harsh winters, but I keep waterproof sheets & blankets on hand - one horse is a huge wimp in the tiniest bit cold or rain, the other is perfectly happy outside in any weather.


On years we get enough rain in TX, my 4 acres of carefully managed pasture (plus an 2 more acres of yard I allow limited grazing on) is enough for my 2 horses to survive on from about April to October. I feed hay in winter, and I feed hay during really rainy times when horses are blocked off the pasture - hooves tear up wet ground & kill the grass. I want my pasture to support horses long term so I mow often, pull weeds, seed and fertilize. My senior mare does need supplemental grain year round, so I have to tie up my easy keeper gelding while she eats - but feeding in the shelter is super easy because I don't waste my time moving horses to and from stalls. I can also easily pick up poop off the shelter's dirt floor, and don't have to worry about buying shavings/bedding.


Water tubs are in the pastures, because I'd rather not dump them inside the horses' shelter when they need cleaning!

~Reserved Cash, 2011 AQHA gelding~
~Lark, 20-something Arabian mare~
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post #14 of 16 Old 05-17-2017, 04:49 PM
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I'll tell you the saga so far of my "simple run in shelter" for two horses.

We started with a prefab steel pipe 12 x 24 shelter with one long side open, facing the half-acre turn-out. We had no choice on the direction it faced, which is south. The walls are meant to have something solid on the bottom half (it's not a fence it's a frame); we used 2x6 boards, and glad we did.


First year set of challenges:
1. Horse injured and put on stall rest. No stall! So we enclosed one half and stupidly made the gate panel part of the interior divider. Don't do this! Make all gates open to the outside.
2. Rained hard, it's flat there, turned into mud soup inside. So we put down FORTY TONS of rock (some of this was to make truck-passable paths around the shelter), then fine base rock, then used a pneumatic tamper to flatten and level the stalls, then put in rubber matting.
3. Winter storms come up from the south, wetting the stalls to about 5' inside. Temporary and partial solution was a bunch of hillbilly looking tarps.
4. Dominant horse won't let submissive horse come in out of the rain, so horses have to be closed in every night. Pain in the butt.
5. Storing hay and feed under weighted tarps gets very, very old. Built a hay shed on the no-horse-access side of the shelter.
6. Winter afternoons are short. Then it is perfectly dark. Headlamps are useful, but lights are even more so. We put in solar-powered lighting in the hay shed and shelter.

Survived that winter . . .

The next winter was the wettest in history. But all our work the previous winter paid off and the shelter footing stayed good and dry. The southern exposure was really a challenge however. We built a big awning running the length of that side, roofed with corrugated clear fiberglass, huge improvement. And we finally put in a fixed divider wall and gates on the outside. So we essentially have a two-stall barn, something I never imagined I would need, but come to find out, I do. Now the submissive horse can eat in peace, and get out of the rain, we can close the horses in if we need to, and the stalls stay dry. We still tarp the open top halves of the south and west sides in winter to give a windbreak and keep blown rain out.

In my dreams? I'd have a barn with an aisle. And concrete floors with drains. Before next winter I will need to pull the mats and re-level the gravel floors. Not really looking forward to it that much.
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post #15 of 16 Old 05-18-2017, 11:54 AM
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Nice that you are planning for a horse at 13! I spent much of my teen years designing barns, lol. Had to keep changing them as my needs/desires changed.

Just some general guidelines to help you out that I have learned over 40+ years of horse ownership:

1) figure on two acres per horse depending on how much grass there is and the quality of the grass.

2) Never have only two horses as they can become too attached and make it nearly impossible to ride/enjoy them unless you always have a second person to ride the other horse.

One or three horses minimum. Contrary to popular opinion, a horse can be quite happy living solo, depending on their temperament. My current mare enjoys her free time when the two geldings go off to ride.

3) Put your shelter on a slight raised area to make it easier to keep the floor dry. Their feet need a dry place too.

4) design your shelter with a way to close the horse(s) up if you need to. Might have an injury, want to keep them clean for a show, or the most common...to be able to control each horse's food intake. Rare to find horses that eat at the same pace and keep their noses in their own bucket!

5) Best to have blockage from storms, strong winds & rain instead of just a three sided shelter.

6) make sure less dominant horses have a way out. Worst mistake is to have a stall in a pasture with only one doorway.

7) Horses will come to the shelter more if it is in a good spot. It is very hot most of the year here in the south, so I located mine in a shady spot with trees nearby. It is nice an cool in there during the day, and my horses spend most afternoons inside.

8) A barn/shelter can be built in stages. The most inexpensive option I have discovered is a metal carport with 8-10 foot legs. Buy the largest one you can afford, then as time goes on you can build in stalls/tack room/feed room/equipment storage/wash racks...whatever you discover works for you.

9) Always plan for more space than you think you will need! Very easy to acquire horse stuff

Have fun dreaming and designing your perfect place!!
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-22-2017, 05:04 PM
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I have 2 horses in a 1 acre dry lot and a 1 acre pasture. They have a 15x8' run in, that faces away from the prevailing winds, rains and direct sun, and spend most of their time on the dry lot, where the run in is. Built onto the outside of the run in is a 6x4' tack shed that holds my two saddles and various other tack I need for everyday riding.


I do need to feed hay daily, and have a 10x20' carport with very attractive tarps strung on it to keep the hay dry.


Maybe I am fortunate, but I don't have trouble w taking one or the other out to ride in a field up the road or trail riding. It all depends on the temperament of the horse and I was very selective in this respect.


You are young, it took me to my mid-thirties to have horses at home. I started riding at 9yo. Hardest 24 years of my life, but worth the wait!
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