Thinking of buying a field shelter? Find out everything you need to know before buying.
If you’re like most horse owners, you want the very best for your horse. The environment in which a horse is homed can impact their health and well-being.
Horses need a dry and clean place to live, where they can get out of the elements to feel safe and comfortable.
Whether it’s chucking it down with rain, blowing a hooly or the sun is beating down, a horse field shelter is designed to provide a safe, secure and comfortable place for your horse to rest and protect himself.
Horse shelters provide a good middle ground for horses who are turned out all year round, and offer peace of mind that your horses have somewhere to shelter when the weather changes.
Before buying a field shelter, there are a few things you need to consider.
Choosing the right size for your horses and ponies is really important. You need to take into account how big your horses or ponies, are and how many horses you need to shelter.
Choose something too small, it’s going to be a tight squeeze, and some of the herd could be left out in the rain. But, choose something too big and you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary additional cost and maintenance.
Thankfully, the British Horse Society have some helpful guidelines for equestrians.
They say that to accommodate one average-sized horse, the minimum dimensions recommended is a shelter of 3.0m – 3.6m (10′-12′) wide. However, if you plan on housing more than one horse or pony per shelter, you should expect to add an extra 1.5m (5′) onto the width of the structure.
This is the British Horse Societies stabling size guidelines:
If you have more than one horse, it’s also worth considering whether they are happy sharing.
In an ideal situation, your horses and ponies would be content sharing the space, feeding from the same hay net and watching the world go by.
But we all know that horses and ponies all have their own little personalities, and there’s always one Victor Meldrew who just likes their own space.
If this is the case, you may want to consider separate shelters, to allow the lesser sociable mares and geldings to have their own peace and quiet.
You may or may not have established exactly where your horse shelter is going to be positioned. Here are a few things to consider:
The whole point of getting a field shelter is to protect your horses and ponies from the elements. Placing your field shelter directly in the wind will completely defeat the object of buying a shelter.
Of course, the wind changes direction, but the majority of the prevailing wind in the UK are from the west or the southwest.
If you aim to face your field shelter north or north-south, the back and sides of the field shelter will block winds coming from these directions as well as the east.
Place against a hedge
Positioning a field shelter next to a hedge will help to protect the shelter from the wind. However, avoid placing a shelter under a tree. Falling debris and branches could cause damage to the structure or your shelter, or worse, injure your horse whilst they are sheltering during a storm.
Avoid wet spots
Two undesirable things could happen if you place your field shelter in a particularly wet or boggy patch of land…
Firstly, the ground may be too soft to support the structure, which could then become damaged or unsafe.
Secondly, the frequent hoof traffic of the horses coming in and out of the stable will mean that grass becomes really churned, muddy and unsafe.
You may even open a can of worms in the form of mud fever and lost shoes on shod horses.
Choose a spot that is well-drained.
Find a position that’s easy to access
Don’t forget that it will be you that’s going to have to muck out, change the bedding and maintain the field shelter.
Putting your field shelter right at the bottom of the field is going to make for long wheelbarrow runs with fresh bedding and water.
So choose a spot that is both convenient for you, but accessible and suitable for your horses.
If you’re building a static or a permanent shelter structure or stable in a field, it’s most likely that yes, you will need planning permission.
As mobile field shelters are non-permanent structures, typically you don’t require permission, but it’s always worth checking with your local planning authority (LPA) before you install any field shelter.
For a field shelter to be classed as ‘mobile’ it should be moved regularly and have appropriate means for moving it (for example skids fixed to the bottom of the structure).
If you don’t check, and your local authority finds out that your field shelter does not meet the requirements, they may make you take it down.
You also need to check that your land has the appropriate intended use.
If you’re only using the land for horses to graze, the land can be deemed as ‘agricultural land’.
However, if you start rugging and feeding hay on the land, the land use changes from agricultural to equestrian.
Once again, it’s always worth doing your research and contacting the necessary authorities to avoid landing yourself in a sticky situation.
The great thing about field shelters is that they can be adapted and fitted out to meet the needs of your horses or ponies.
Gates and doors
There is an option to add a gate or top and bottom stable door to a mobile field shelter. This is ideal if you need to put a horse on box rest, restrict their grazing hours or if you want to close the shelter for a period of time.
Choose between a galvanised steel or wooden gate, barn doors or stable doors. Don’t forget to choose the right gate furniture, such as a throw lock.
Treat them to a room with a view when adding windows. This is a great way to ensure that there’s extra ventilation, which is of course key in any stable.
For cribbers and cheeky ponies that love to chew or wind suck on their stable door, add aperture chewing protection.
For added durability, a fully lined plywood interior will help to protect against dampness, knocks and clumpy hooves.
For when you need to separate your horses, choose a full-height or half-height partition. This is also a handy way to break up the field for field grazing rotations.
Not only is this a great way to manage drainage, but you can also collect water for water buckets, hay soaking and cleaning.
Save on bedding and protect your horse’s hooves from the mud when choosing rubber matting.
Whilst a mobile field shelter is designed to be moved, that by no means says it is a short-term solution.
Any mobile field shelter you buy should be designed with robustness in mind. After all, it will be protecting your horses and ponies from the elements, and therefore needs to be able to withstand wind, rain, sunshine, snow and ice.
When choosing a mobile field shelter, pick something that has been skillfully made using quality materials.
Here at Equestrian Fencing, all of our mobile field shelters are handmade, bespoke to order, using high-quality timbers.
We’ll only ever use premium tanalised pressure-treated C16 and C24 to construct the framework. We also add diagonal wind bracing and cross members to keep the frame strong and stable, even when being moved around the field.
The interior features 18mm lined plyboard kick boarding, whilst the outside is beautiful and finished with robust shiplap cladding.
All of our mobile field shelters feature box-section steel skids to enable you to move the shelter easily.