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What size horse shelters?

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  • What size horse shelters?

    I need opinions.

    First a little background to visualize my set up. My 2 horses and 1 boarder are kept in 24x24 (each) pipe corrals with 8x12 shelters.

    During the day they have a very large (for Southern CA) turnout, about an acre. I don’t have to deal with really cold temps but we do get rain.

    They are in the corrals overnight, turned out during the day. Unless it’s really muddy from the rain and if so they stay in. But when it rains and are in, they are standing in mud up to their fetlocks. It’s clay mud which is just so awful and I can’t deal with it another winter. I’ve tried sand and that helps but doesn’t really solve the problem.

    My horses are big – 17.1 TB and 16.3 TB, both about 1400 lbs. They are large horses.

    The 8x12 shelters are just not big enough. I’d like to have their “in” area completely covered.

    Here are my options. Build 3 18x18 shelter with a 16x16 corral/stall. OR completely cover 2 of the 24x24 corrals and use the 3 8x12’s that I have now for the future boarder. The border corral would be a 12x24 completely covered corral. The price to do three 18x18 shelters is about the same as it is to do 2 24x24’s. Since I already have the 8x12’s no expense there.

    One more thing to throw into the mix. The 24x24 shelters would not provide any overhang to keep the rain from coming in at the edges. I can’t afford to buy all new pipe corral to do so. I will have to buy some to fix the 18x18 shelters.

    I guess my questions come down to – what would you do for your horses? Will 16x16 be big enough for the 17.1 horse? What would you do for the boarder corral? Build all three the same size? Or two large and one half it’s size?

    My boarder is leaving in two weeks but I plan on having another boarder in the future. I don’t have anyone lined up and am holding off until I know what I’m doing with my corrals/shelters.

    GACK! Why is this so hard for me to decide? I know I'm over thinking it.

  • #2
    Improve the footing with geotextile/cow-carpet under stonedust, first thing. It will get them out of the mud. Wonderful stuff. Look into gutter, sculpting the ground to improve drainage, or adding French drains.
    Hindsight bad, foresight good.


    • #3
      We have big horses. We have run in sheds in all our fields. We have more than one horse per field usually.

      Our SMALLEST run in area is 16 x 24. This allows more than one horse to be in it. (Unless the alpha horse stands sidesways in the opening!!)

      Here are lessons we have learned:
      Be sure you have some sort of kick boards on the inside if they are metal sheds. Horses can kick right thru sheet metal, even if just kicking at a fly. So line walls up about 4-5' with wood. We use 2x6, 8, 10s and run them VERTICALLY for more strength and easier to replace if one does get broken.
      Try fun fence in such a way as to keep the horses away from the sides/back of the shed. Again, kicking issues.... Ours only have access to the open side.


      • #4
        Our stall shelters are nearly 13 x 13 and fit our Belgian Draft fine...

        Well, our big boy tops yours at 17.2+ hands and north of 1800lbs easily. He fits in our stall shelters just fine. They are supposed to be 12 x 12, but measure at 13 x 13.

        Our horses live together 24 x 7 in pasture. The stall shelters are part of our sacrifice paddock which has large gates that open directly the front and rear pastures.

        The shelters are perfect for our mild CA weather




        Close up of inside:
        (my dappled chocolate hippo mare inside, modeling
        Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
        **Morgans Do It All**


        • Original Poster

          Thanks everyone!!! I really appreciate the input.

          I know my post was long and rambling but thank you for taking the time to read through it. Yes, what I’m planning on doing is basically a stick roof with open air sides.

          I’m not doing metal siding but since the sides will be pipe corral I hope to put wood up. FT – I like how you’ve done the wood sides, thank you for the pictures.

          I’ve decided to go with the three 18x18. The post height is 12 feet with 2 and ½ feet going into the ground so I think the head clearance will be good.

          As much as I’d love to do geotextile/cow-carpet under stonedust (and may someday) right now, its not in the budget. But I will look into crushed pea shale. Rain gutters for sure!

          Thanks again all.


          • #6
            Actually, the cow carpet in not that expensive. You can get a huge roll for a few hundred dollars, and you will only need a partial roll to do what you are talking about. If you are putting down crushed pea shale or any kind of footing stuff, the cow carpet underneath is a very small expense and it will keep the footing you are adding separated from the mud and not swallowed by it. Huge money saver over putting down footing every year because it has disappeared into the mud. I can't believe the difference it made around our barn and run-ins. Good luck with your project.
            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


            • #7
              Or....use old carpet/remnant carpet for free.

              Free old carpet or remnant carpet works really well and is easy on the budget. Just make sure you put enough footing down so that the edges/corners aren't peeking out.

              The rain drains through, but keeps your expensive footing from being sucked into the earth

              We use tons of it around our ranch.

              Originally posted by Badger View Post
              Actually, the cow carpet in not that expensive. You can get a huge roll for a few hundred dollars, and you will only need a partial roll to do what you are talking about. If you are putting down crushed pea shale or any kind of footing stuff, the cow carpet underneath is a very small expense and it will keep the footing you are adding separated from the mud and not swallowed by it. Huge money saver over putting down footing every year because it has disappeared into the mud. I can't believe the difference it made around our barn and run-ins. Good luck with your project.
              Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
              **Morgans Do It All**


              • #8
                Are you getting the EQ-wine covers? I have one of those and I like it.

                Just building up the height of the ground in your corrals will help ensure that the rain drains OUT. The exact material you use to fill is not so important, other than it not hurt the horses' feet.

                And yes, rain gutters and then send the result out somewhere that can be wet. You will be surprised how much it helps.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                • Original Poster

                  EQ-Wine covers

                  YES! Actually, I am!

                  Super excited to hear you like it. I'll be putting three 18x18 in a shedrow style. Shirley at EQ-Wine mentioned I could upgrade the posts for the middle shelter so the middle posts also support the end shelters as well. (Results, four less posts/post holes to deal with.)

                  How was it building it? I'm handy with an electric drill but that's about it. I'll hire out to do the most of it but wondering how easy/complicated it was.

                  I am going to look into the cow carpet after all. I mine as well do this once and get it right the first time.


                  • #10
                    My next door neighbor has EQ-Wine shelters too, and really liked them. Only thing is that at the time they wouldn't deliver up here, so I had to arrange with a neighbor with an errand down there to pick them up for me.

                    I had help from my FIL who is a contractor, so I cheated. Digging the posts was the hardest part, of course. 4 was enough to be work but not enough to be worth bringing in the heavy equipment.

                    IIRC it came with nice self-tapping screws. If the screws don't go right in where you want, don't be afraid to drill pilot holes.

                    Ask them about strategies for putting on a gutter. I don't have one on mine.

                    If your area is fully covered, you probably don't need geotextile. Also compare to rubber mats. Still, the two most important things are:

                    1. gutters.
                    2. having the 'stalls' up on a pad so that water runs off/away and not in.
                    Last edited by poltroon; May. 30, 2011, 07:23 PM.
                    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by poltroon View Post
                      2. having the 'stalls' up on a pad so that water runs off/away and not in.
                      Yes this- the covered area must be raised somehow. One barn I was at in CA had half the 24x24 covered and that portion was raised by just dirt inside railroad ties. It worked great, and it was a very muddy area in winter.

                      The mud in CA is the worst I have encountered with horses, it takes some inovation, good luck!
                      "Bold Words was classier than all his competition. Straighter knees and a slim, elegant neck." -Nan Mooney My Racing Heart


                      • #12
                        The raised ground underneath is really important. I was remembering that my 18x18, which is just a freestanding shelter, originally did get muddy underneath for a couple of reasons.

                        When I installed it I did no ground prep because I didn't have time or money to do so, but that was something I was OK with going in.

                        The act of installing it, plus the fact that the horses stomp around underneath, naturally lowers the ground by a half inch or so. That's all that's needed to have water run into it from outside.

                        Worse, all the water that does fall on the shelter then streamed off the low side, to a spot that eroded from the water falling off, which then streamed under the shelter, further eroding and mudifying the area.

                        Finally I did get some material in there. It was wet and rainy at the time, and I didn't have the right material, so I only put in 3" of a mix of gravel and some fill dirt.

                        After that first 3", water no longer flowed in from the sides, and it's been dry ever since, even though it's been an epically wet winter.

                        I'll put in more this summer. (Because it's just open, it's easy to add additional dirt/fill/stone at any time.)

                        My permanent pipe corrals have only minimal overhang and sides. They are elevated 1' above the surrounding ground, and they have never had a problem with mud inside.
                        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket