Planning Your First Medium-Sized DIY Horse Shelter

Horse Standing in a DIY Horse Shelter
Photo by Sadia Afreen on Unsplash
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Horses are affable creatures who perform laborious tasks on the farm, do wonders on the track, and carry us through precarious routes. It is our job to offer sufficient care and attention in return. Providing a sturdy run-in is a wonderful way to care for their needs after a good run. However, with the heavy costs involved, building a sturdy DIY horse shelter is the only economically viable option.

If you are good with tools, comfortable using professional saws, and know your way around lumber, this project might be for you. In this article, you will learn about the things you need to consider before executing the project at a given location and a detailed plan to build a medium-sized horse shelter.

Considerations for Making Your DIY Horse Shelter

1. Site Selection

Give thought to the location where you wish to build your horse shelter. Some of the important issues that need consideration before you finalize the spot to build your horse shelter are shared below.

Building Regulations

Building a horse shed may not require procuring a permit, but you may still need to look into the zoning regulations and the building codes that you may have to follow. Consult the regional building department to get the most updated information regarding compliance requirements.


Decide on the shelter’s location, depending on both your and the horse’s convenience. It has to be easily accessible to the equine in case the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse and equally easy for you to bring food to, inspect, clean, and run routine maintenance. 


The type of soil and terrain play a key role in the maintenance and upkeep of a shed. Opt for the ground level to avoid running into pits, holes, or mud puddles in the future. The type of soil can affect its drainage, so if it is too gravely, you may have to add a little mud, and if it is too loamy, you may need some gravel supplement. Also, choose a higher ground level to promote drainage.


The purpose of building a horse shelter is to offer temporary protection from the elements since they are outside the barn and out for a run. An excellent way to do so would be to build it at an angle to face away from the predominant directions of wind, rain, and snow (if applicable). Consult your local extension agent to make the best use of the local terrain, the weather, and wind patterns.

2. Material Quality

The quality of material employed is the prime reason why a horse shelter may succeed or fail in achieving its purpose. Repurposing old telephone poles or used lumber can seem a good idea, but being a picky person can be the best strategy when it comes to choosing the materials for the shed.

Not only does the shelter brace itself against the external elements but the horses’ movements and kicks as well. Pre-used material may be worn out internally, and a little pressure on the structures built from such materials may cause them to give in.

The best way to go about it would be to use good-quality hardwood for the main structure. If you do repurpose some old lumber or other resources, pick the ones of the highest quality and thoroughly inspect them for any rough edges, splinters, or nails poking out.

3. Design


This is a medium-sized horse shelter design, spacious enough for the horses to stand and move around a bit with ease. It is a three-sided 10’ x 14’ shelter and employs structures that includes:

  • Skids
  • 2 x Side Walls
  • Back Wall
  • 2 x Top Walls
  • Siding, and
  • Trims


The plan shared is the one devised by My Outdoor Plans and therefore uses similar tools and materials. 

The plan shared is the one devised by My Outdoor Plans and therefore uses similar tools and materials. 

The Shelter
Skids4 x 4 lumber sheet (168” long)2
Side Walls2 x 4 lumber sheet (120” long)
 2 x 4 lumber sheet (80 ½” long)
Back Wall2 x 4 lumber sheet (161” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (80 ½” long)
2 x Lean-to Side Walls2 x 4 lumber sheet (111 ¾” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (116 ¾” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (3 ½” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (11” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (18 ¼ ” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (25 ¾” long)
2 x 4 lumber sheet (33” long)

SidingT1-11 siding (48” x 84”)
T1-11 siding (24” x 84”)
Trims2 x 10 lumber sheet (168” long)
2 x 6 lumber sheets (110 ½ “)
Securing the Structures2 ½“ screw
1 5/8“ screws/brad nails
The Shelter Roof
SidingT1-11 siding (48” x 84” long)
T1-11 siding (24” x 84” long)
T1-11 siding (39 ¾” x 24” long)
T1-11 siding (32 ¼” x 48” long)
T1-11 siding (17 ½” x 48” long)
Rafters2 x 4 lumber (141” long)
2 x 4 lumber (168” long)
Roof Sheets¾” plywood (48” x 96” long)
¾” plywood (48” x 72” long)
RoofingTar paper 180 sq. ft.
Asphalt shingles 180 sq. ft.
Securing the Structures1 ¼” screws, 1 5/8” brad nails, 2 ½” screws
Roofing Staples, Filler, Stain, Glue


  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Spirit Level
  • Framing Square
  • Drill
  • Sander + Sand Paper
  • Screwdriver
  • Safety Goggles
  • Safety Glasses

The Method

  • A. Building the Shelter
    1. Building the Side Walls:
      • As a first step to the DIY horse shelter, start building the side walls by splitting the 2 x 4 lumber sheet into two 120” long and 9 smaller 80 ½“ logs.
      • Next, mark the 120” long logs for drilling holes and building your initial frame. You will need to join three of the 80 ½” pieces at the rear end (5” wide) and two of them at the front (3 ½” wide).
      • Affix each of these logs 22 ½” apart, except the first (19 ¾” apart) and last (18 ¼” apart), using 2 ½” screws.
      • Repeat the process for the second sidewall while ensuring both the frames have level edges and square corners.
    2. The Back Wall Frame:
      • For the back wall, split the 2 x4 sheets into two 161” long and eight 80 ½” long logs.
      • Similarly, assemble them as sidewalls, only this time around, you don’t need to nail additional pieces to the sides.
      • Except for the first and last logs (18 ½” apart), all the other pieces would be fixed together with 2 ½” screws at a distance of 22 ½”.
    3. Putting The Frame Together
      • For the skids, use the 4 x 4 lumber to cut out 168” long logs and lay them over a level surface to fix the side walls with them.
      • Fit them over the skids in place, using the 2 x 4 braces. Ensure all the sides fit on the level with the help of a spirit level.
      • Next, attach the back wall to the rear end over the skids. You can do so by drilling pilot holes into the end studs and fixing them by inserting 2 ½” screws into sidewalls.
      • Take great care while aligning all the sides, ensuring all the corners are coming together perfectly.
    4. The Lean-to Side Walls
      • For the lean-to sidewall, split the 2 x 4 lumber according to the dimensions provided in the materials section.
      • The top log needs to be cut at an angle of 72.8° at the top and 17.2° at the bottom.
      • Mark both the top and bottom logs for drilling the holes.
      • The holes in the middle would be 22 ½” apart, whereas the one at the front would be drilled at 21 ¾” from the second, and the last needs to be placed at 9 ¾” from the end of the log.
      • Put them together with the help of 2 ½” screws.
      • Similarly, repeat the process for the second structure as well.
      • Now fix both the lean-to walls on top of the sidewalls, drill holes at their base, and use the 2 ½” screws to secure them over the walls.
    5. Front Beam & Trims
      • For the front beam, cut a 168” log from the 2 x 10 lumber sheet. Fix it to the top front of the frame using 3” lag screws.
      • Cut the trims (110 ½”) out of the 2 x 6 lumber sheet and fix them to the sides of the shelter with the help of 2 ½” screws.
      • Take great care while aligning the components to ensure there are no gaps in-between.
    6. The T1-11 Siding
      • To cover the back wall, you will need three 48” x 84” sheets and one 24” x 84” sheet.
      • Place them at level with the edge of the top plate of the frame and fix them one by one using 1 5/8” galvanized nails.

To add the final touches, cover the holes with wood putty and smooth out the rough edges with sandpaper.

  • B. Building the Roof
    1. The Rafters
      • Build the rafters using wood from the 2 x 4 lumber sheet by cutting eight 141” long pieces.
      • To make notches at the edge of the rafter;
        • Lay it down horizontally, mark a point A, 5 ½” away from the bottom edge, and another point B at 6 ½” from the top.
        • Join the two points with a line.
        • Mark another point C, 4 ½” away from A, at the lower edge.
        • On line AB, mark a point D at the height of 1 ¼”.
        • Now draw a triangle by joining points A, D, and C.
        • Carefully cut out the triangle with the help of a saw and smoothen the edges.
        • Repeat it for the rest of the rafters.
      • Now fix the rafters on top of the shelter, each separated by a distance of 22 ½”, with only the first and last of them separated by 21 ¾” from the ones next to them.
    2. The Siding & Trims
      • Use two 48” x 84” and one 24” x 84” T1-11 sheets to cover each of the side walls. Bring them at level with the top of the sidewalls and secure each with 1 5/8” brad nails in place.
      • For the lean-to sidewalls, cut 39 ¾” x 24”, 32 ¼” x 48”, and 17 ½” x 48” pieces and cut their top edges matching the slant of the rafters on top of the roof. Secure each using the 1 5/8” brad nails.
      • Cut 168” long logs from 2 x 4 lumber sheets to build the rafter trims at the front and back.
      • Place the trims at the front and back ends of the rafters, drill holes through them, and secure by inserting 2 ½” screws into the rafters.
    3. The roof sheets
      • For the first layer of roof sheets, use the ¾” plywood sheets. Let us call the sheets cut into the dimensions 48” x 96” as F, and the ones cut into 48” x 72” as G.
      • Now fix them in an alternating pattern of F + G and G +F until you cover the rafters.
      • Drill holes in the sheets every 8” along the rafters to secure them using 1 5/8” screws.
      • Next, cover the entire roof surface with tar paper and use roofing staples to hold it in place. Make sure to use an additional 2” sheet wherever it needs to overlap. Top it with the asphalt shingles; install the side drip edge on top of the roofing felt and the bottom one underneath the layers.

Final Word

Building a DIY horse shelter can be a wise decision to save some extra bucks while you provide for your equine friend. We share a simple yet detailed plan originally designed by My Outdoor Plans. However, it is only meant for the people who already have some expertise with woodwork and are used to managing big projects like these. However, if you are a novice, then asking someone with the right expertise to do the job is the best option to go for.


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