Horse shelters provide protection from weather elements and harsh sun. Providing protection via a horse shelter is particularly important when there is no natural shelter available, such as trees and hills, or when the horses are not acclimatized to using natural shelters. Horse shelters are typically three-sided, which allows the horses to run into and out of the shelter.
While horse shelters are essential on some horse properties, there are several important issues that could arise from having them. Here's what you need to know if you have decided to build horse shelters for your equine friends.
Layout of the Shelter
How glorious would it be to face the opening of the shelter towards windows in your home so you can peek at your horses through any window throughout the day? While this may be what you want, it may not provide the protection your horses need. The best placement for the opening of the horse shelter is for the back to be against the prevailing winds for your location.
However, you also want to consider the location of the front or opening of the shelter and how much sun will enter the shelter throughout the day. This will largely depend on the climate where you live. For example, if you live in the north where winters are long, facing the opening so that it gets the most sun throughout the day would be more beneficial to your horse whereas in the south where the summer sun is harsh, facing the opening away from the sun is highly recommended. Due to so many variables based on your particular geographical location, ask a professional horse shelter builder.
Cribbing on the Shelter
Many horse owners have seen the results of cribbing on fences, but horses can also crib on shelters. Cribbing is a behavior problem in horses. Contrary to what some believe, cribbing isn't the act of gnawing on wood just for the sake of being bad or ornery. When a horse is cribbing, it is biting down on a piece of wood or other hard object and then sucking air into their stomach. Doing this causes a head rush which can actually be quite addictive to the horse.
Obviously, a horse addicted to the feeling of this head rush will want to continue the cribbing behavior and quickly destroy a new shelter and cause wood chips and splinters to get into the horse's digestive system. To prevent cribbing from starting, coat the shelter with a specialized paint that is specifically formulated to prevent this annoying and dangerous behavior. Alternatively, metal edging can be installed around the opening of the shelter to prevent cribbing.
Pests In the Shelter
The shelter will provide a place for your horses to go to when they want to get out of the harsh sun, wind, rain, or snow, but it can also be a place for pests to call their home. Some pests are good to have in and near the shelter while others can be annoying to your horses. Barn swallows are small birds that may want to build nests in the shelter. Allow them to, as long as they don't completely take over. Barn swallows eat an enormous amount of bugs, particularly mosquitoes.
Mice, on the other hand, are pests that you do not want to nest in the shelter. One female mouse can produce 5-10 litters of 5-6 babies every year. Imagine how quickly a colony can grow when each female mouse is able to birth 25-60 babies every year. To prevent mice from nesting in the shelter, adopt a cat or two to deter the mice. Otherwise, periodically check the shelter for mice and droppings and treat with poison or traps when mice are discovered.
To learn more about building and maintaining your horse shelter, reach out to companies like Rarin' To Go Corrals.