My horses live outside year round. They have an open run in shelter where we provide bedding and feeding spaces but they are free to come and go as they please. They have a 3 acre paddock divided into 2 sections, upper and lower. There are trees and lots of irregular terrain. There is a watering station about 200 feet away from the shelter.
When we got our horses, we had very little idea of what was required. We did have some observations however. We found that most run-in shelters for horses were made too small, so we made ours bigger 24 ft. long by 14 ft. front to back(for 2 horses). The shelter is 10 ft high at the front and 8 ft high at the back. The front faces to the south and is open.
This is to take advantage of the sun in the colder months. Our horses are large and the size of the shelter gives them plenty of room to move around and to stretch out when they sleep. They have no problem sharing the space. I believe that this is important to maintaining low stress levels and a healthier environment. All of the trees that are shown at the front of the shelter are now gone as a result of a single ice storm.
The most difficult problem occurs in the winter months when there is a build up ice. This is the most dangerous situation for horses and humans. To help with the problem the horses are fitted with special shoes that have ice grippers and pads that prevent the build up of packed snow in the horses hooves. During icy conditions we also spread waste bedding on the pathway from the shelter to the watering station . Over the past 12 years we have only had 6 really serious icing events.
The next requirement was a hay storage building and tack room. For the first few years we made do with just a temporary metal and plastic garage. After it was destroyed by wind for the second time we decided to build a permanent structure. The following pictures show the project beginning, middle and end. It has been worth the effort.
For anyone thinking about having horses you really need to consider what you will need, I didn’t so I hope this will help to prepare you.