Temporary shelter

I’m moving to southern MO from northern IL.

I’ve lived in northern Illinois so long I can’t imagine a place without snow drifts up to the top of four board fences and we just got done with two days of 40-50 MPH winds. I can’t imagine keeping horses without an excellent run-in and a place for the vet/farrier to get out of the weather. I’m looking for advise.

The farm we purchased in Missouri has no barn or run-in. It does have a little car-port that is barely tall enough and open on all sides. The car-port area is shaded and has safe fencing for horses (previous owner had two).

I will eventually put up a smallish barn with large run-in attached. Prices for materials have gone through the roof. I’m hoping to wait out the COVID price hikes (assuming prices will come down) before trying to build.

Until then, I don’t know what to do about shelter for my two horses and two standard donkeys. Currently they all live out, with good shelter, 24/7. I have four stalls so I can get them in if necessary and the vet and farrier can work out of the weather.

I’ve searched for a portable run-in that could be delivered to the farm but we seem too far away.

My questions:

Do you think my horses and donkeys can live without real shelter (except tiny carport and trees)?
If I keep them with just the carport would a vet and farrier be able to work on them in crummy weather?
Is it too much of a risk not having a proper area to put up an injured horse?
Will the horses kill the shade trees by compacting the ground (I can fence them off the trunks)?

The sad part: I have a beautiful large run-in on my current farm that I put up just a few years ago. I’m contemplating taking it apart and moving it to Missouri. Has anyone every moved a large run-in?

I’m not familiar with MO weather, but from what you’ve posted it seems like it would be worth-while to at least get quotes for moving your existing run-in. If it can be moved for less than the cost of materials for a new one than I would say go for it. Even if you decide the carport is adequate shelter, the run-in could probably be configured into one or two temporary stalls if needed and could serve as a space for vet/farrier appointments. You could add cross-ties or a tie ring in there and use it as a grooming /tacking stall as well. From someone who has been making-do with bare-bones horse facilities at home, I would do whatever you can to make it as functional as possible from the get-go.


Not having a dry (and shaded for those of us in despicably hot climates) place for the vet and farrier and you to work sucks. Seriously. BTDT.

Building materials are crazy spendy though so I feel your concerns. IME healthy horses were never worse for wear living rough outside. It’s the people that suffer lol. It can get sticky if you get into any kind of special needs horses.

Tree root destruction by compaction will depend on how much time the horses spend standing under the tree. A barrier fence is ideal.

Best of luck

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I think with a wind break the horses will be fine. My donkeys are MISERABLE as soon as the first flake falls.

I’d look at moving the run-in. Or at least a bay or two of it.
But, for the horses, trees (although root compaction will eventually kill the trees…do you like the trees?) is probably all they need. My horses have lived out for over a decade a now, ever since using the barn just stopped making sense. They do have a beautiful big run in. They do not use it. Except perhaps in the worst of the summer bugs. I’m in New England, so ice, snow, rain we have it. Their approach? Let’s all stand in the middle of the field with our backs hunched up during the ice storm…The run in sounds ‘funny’ to them I guess.
Now for people! Or a serious injury. Different matter, but the carport might work? Though low headroom makes me queasy.

You can move a run in? I think I would better to just get local quotes for building a new one. It might be easier and you can get help in deciding the best location and design for the area.

Beaudacious22 and B_and_B Thanks for the suggestions for moving the run-in. My SO and friends look at me like I’m crazy but they haven’t priced quality building materials.

I think I can get the materials into my horse trailer, when they built the run in all the materials came on a flat trailer a little bigger than those they use to haul cars. So I think my costs would be paying someone to take it down, then put it back up plus odd costs like a bit of land leveling, there is already a very flat spot, and hardware. Then I’d have shelter for the vet and farrier and a safe place in case of injury. Yup, humans would suffer without shelter.

lenapesadie and B_and_B Thanks for the experienced advise that horses can actually live well “rough outside”. I just have no experience with that and needed to hear it from someone who has experience. Also thanks for the input on the soil compaction.

The low headroom bothers me too. The inside center is fine, but two sides are only about 7’ at the lowest point so I’d need to keep them from going through those sides. You’re right, one good head flick from my 16.1 h guy and I’ll have a special needs horse. I don’t think he’d appreciate wearing a head bumper all summer.

moonlitoaksranch I could, in theory, move this run-in. It’s actually built like a moveable run-in. It’s just too big depth and length wise to be put on a trailer. It’s anchored to the ground with giant earth anchors. You make a good point about local design.

fourfillies Thank you for another vote for healthy horses with shade and a wind break. My donkeys seem to think I can control the weather. They give me the stink eye feeling neglected when we have snow, rain, wind, heat, mud…

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These are not too far from you:


You can buy one or two, then resell if you later build a barn.

My horses must be wimps. Here in Florida we had a lot of rain today. Everyone came in the barn or is hiding under the over hang. My old mare was shivering yesterday in 65 degrees because she got wet. She loves water typically and usually stands in the downpour. I locked her in today because I knew otherwise she would be out in it. Everyone else comes in of their own accord.

It is really nice having a barn. I don’t think you will be very happy without one. And any shelter- even if it’s a tarp or carport, is better than none. We have really bad lightning storms so I definitely prefer to have a barn available. Even if most of the time, it sits empty.

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Baybrio, I live in southern Missouri so I’ll offer my 2 cents worth.

Yes, horses and donkeys can live without shelter, but I think it’s much better if they have shelter they can use. I want my horses to have a place to get out of hail, sleet, and flying debris from severe thunderstorms. I also want mine stalled at night just to get them off the lush grass, but this may not be an issue for you. From my own experience, I think it’s a good idea to have a place you can confine a horse or donkey in case of a medical emergency. You don’t want to be scrambling to prepare a place when you’re in the middle of a crisis. A vet and farrier should be able to work in the carport, assuming it’s roomy enough. I don’t have any particular place where the vet or farrier always work. I just go where it’s most comfortable–under a shade tree in the breeze in the summer or under shelter in the rain or under our garage if the vet needs electricity.

As for whether the horses and donkeys will compact the ground around the trees… This has never been a problem for me. My horses like to stand out in the sun even on the hottest days, but I used to have a donkey that liked the shade. They all like to scratch on the tree trunks, and that’s fine with me. None of my trees have ever been damaged.

I think summers here are worse than winters. Last winter we had 2 weeks of brutal cold and snow and then it was over. Summers, on the other hand, are hot, humid, and full of bugs. Even with shelter it’s miserable to be outside. And we can get some nasty thunderstorms in the spring.

Oh, and welcome to Missouri!

I don’t think I’ll be happy either. I’ll worry all the time, but then I always find something to worry about. :sweat_smile: That’s why I’m asking how others do it. I’m much wimpier than my horses.

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Shelter or not my air ferns will have to have a place without lush pasture. I know I’ll need a dry lot asap. As soon as I can source geotextile I’ll be working on that. I can include the slightly to low carport in that design.

I was afraid to even mention the garage as an emergency option, but it was on my mind. Good to know I’m not way out there. SO and friends think I’ve gone off the deep end already but with a a few mats I think it would work.

Also good to know your trees have been OK. I wasn’t sure how much traffic they could take. I really like my trees. I’ve seen treed areas killed by soil compaction but I now believe there was a lot more traffic than two horses and donkeys for a relatively short time.

I just checked out their site and couldn’t find where they are located. Are they close to southern MO? I also just watched a video on the site explaining how sky high steel prices and lumber are :expressionless:

I’m ready to trade months of bitter weather for months of humidity and bugs, I think… I know my horses might not agree. They spend the hot mid days in their shelter with fans. I installed the fans for the then 39 year old horse, who just passed a few weeks ago at 42. It’s been great for keeping the biting flies down. Much less fly spray and better hoof quality is the trade off for electricity $$$$. Oh my gosh, now I’m thinking I could install a fan on a tree or tall post if I covered it with a little roof. I really need to get a grip on reality.

If your carport is metal, you should be able to get extensions for the legs, to make it taller.

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Incantation, thank you, I never considered getting leg extensions to make it taller. That makes perfect sense. I could use jacks to raise it, then add the extensions. Wow, that would simplify things until prices on materials come down or I bite the bullet and build something less than I wanted but within my budget.


Go Bob Pipe’s North warehouse is straight up from Tulsa, OK, on 75 in North OK, right across from St Louis, MO.

If you could raise the roof safely, that is a great cheap idea.

I’m not a fan of barns unless someone else is paying to build & maintain them. My horses’ only building is technically a carport that I had built for them & it has been through both winter & tropical storm systems, so yes, that can function perfectly well. I built half-walls for windbreaks b/c in NC, you just don’t need a fully enclosed barn & airflow is key. My walls started as simple as pallets sandwiched between plywood - I just replaced the pallets this year with treated lumber, but they were a nice free solution that lasted 6 years until they began to really rot. I also don’t like to stall horses (& don’t miss cleaning stalls), so I had no incentive to build stalls.

That said, keep in mind not all carports are created equal, so check it out. For example, I opted for the heaviest gauge steel available (for horse butt-scratching which is inevitable) and mine is also wind-engineered for 120 mph. I like the leg-extension idea, that could be an easy fix & could also let you add some heavier duty metal where the horses are most likely to encounter it.

In my shelter, a little over a half belongs to the horses, the rest is dedicated to my cross-ties, as a covered area for me/vet/farrier to work is important. Again, it’s not fully enclosed, but keeps the rain & sun off your back.

I’ve not had problems with trees in my pastures. Sure, the horses eat the tops off the sweet gum seedlings, but no issues with mature trees. But I only have two horses & they are not on dry lots with nothing to chew on. My one beaver vastly prefers lumber that I actually paid for, instead of the free trees I beg him to opt for, naturally.

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Another Carport user here, 20"x20" 12g certified vertical roof with a 10’ side wall. It is separated in the center with panels. This is so the pony can have a 10x20 space all to his precious self and the other two can share the other side. I agree with @Incantation on extending the legs or you can use the smaller Carport for feed and hay storage and have another taller heavy gauge one put up for 2K in short order.

After my charming boys literally ate and then kicked my wood run in into smithereens. We ordered the carport and the plan was to put up a wood wind wall. Right after it was installed (4 hours for installation) we had a tropical storm forecast and I put up a heavy canvas tarp up. 5 years later the same tarp is still up. We backed it with heavy shade cloth and roll the canvas up like a tent flap in summer, leaving the shade cloth down. Once or twice a year somebody breaks a tie and we have to resecure the canvas but the tarp has survived without a hole.

The horses love it, use it all seasons. Farrier loves it because it is breezy in summer and blocks wind and rain in winter. Rubber mats on the floor, pelletized bedding for really wet days. If I need a stall I just use a couple wood covered panels and viola. The Carport was supposed to be a temporary measure but for this climate it works perfectly. We built the big barn with proper stalls but my 3 prefer being together even if one if them is in a “stall” in the “horse house”. So the new horse resides alone in the barn with a stall for a run in.

The best parts are that it is easy to clean, it is easy to convert to many configurations and it is insect resistant. Borer Bees eat wood structures here, as well as fire ants. The other benefit is that carports are easily resold or made into permanent structures. Here is ours being installed:

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I had a prebuilt run-in shed delivered from this company a few years back; they’re in Indiana so perhaps that would be an option. It was a long hike from there to my place, so it may just be a matter of shipping cost to get it done.


Thank you for the suggestion. I checked out that site. I can see why you liked them. Unfortunately I’m about 350 miles as the crow flies, and it’s $7.00 a mile to ship.