Dallas Goble, DVM, thinks quite highly of run-in sheds. “They offer better quality health for the horse than enclosed barns,” says the associate professor of surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee. “Run-in sheds have better ventilation and less accumulation of dust mold and spores than what accumulate in a normal barn. They’re relatively safe–very few injuries are associated with sheds that are maintained in good condition. Individual horses have the opportunity to regulate where they want to be, and that’s good for the horse’s health and psychological well-being. Run-in sheds allow horses to act more like real horses. They’re very horse friendly.”

As most horse owners know, a run-in shed is a roofed, three-sided, free-access structure that offers protection to pastured horses from adverse weather. “In the winter, the run-in shed protects the horse from the elements of extreme wind or rain or snow,” explains Susan Raymond, BSc (Zoology), Respiratory Health and Air Quality Researcher, Equine Research Centre, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. “In the summer, it protects the horse by providing shade and also protects the horse from flies by being in the shade, as flies don’t go into the shade as much.” Many sheds contain a feedbox and water trough, and some are extended to house hay, grain, and tack.

But for run-in sheds to provide maximum safety and protection, it’s critical they be constructed and sited properly.

Siting The Shed

Probably the first consideration for your run-in shed is to identify the best place for it to be built. It should be located in an area that offers good drainage so horses aren’t standing in muck and dirty water. Says Raymond, “Often there is a lot of activity at the shed, especially if you have hay there, so it can become quite m