A loafing shed can be a valuable asset for any horse trainer, especially those that may train their horses in harsh weather conditions. A loafing shed is great to have on hand as it can provide horses with valuable cover from the elements to keep them safe, and secure.
Is it worth investing in a loafing shed? In this blog we’ve covered what a loafing shed is, and essential considerations for adding one to your property.
What’s a loafing shed?
A loafing shed (sometimes referred to as a ‘run-in shed’) is a small three-sided shed built inside a paddock or dressage training area. A loafing shed enables horses to get out of the elements such as the hot sun or cold wind and rain and retreat to a secure, covered space. A loafing shed is usually built in an area with less foot traffic to allow a space for horses to unwind and relax in.
The free access of a loafing shed means that horses can be left outside for longer than those that may only have a horse stable for shelter. Horses can access a loafing shed when they please making it both incredibly convenient for them and their trainer.
How to build the right loafing shed
So you’re considering a loafing shed? Nice work! To build a loafing shed that works with not only your property but your horses, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider before you get started.
The size of your loafing shed
While a loafing shed may be smaller than your average horse stable or barn, it’s still essential that there’s enough space for all of your horses to take shelter, should they need to. You wouldn’t want to be in a cramped and confined space, squished in with other people and neither do your horses!
Equine research suggests that a loafing shed should be built so that it’s wider than it is deep; it should also have a large opening at the front. The lowest parts of the door opening and roof should be at least three to four metres high. Research also recommends that the interior space should allow each horse at least 30 square metres or more; for a property that holds several horses, multiple smaller loafing sheds may be more practical than a single larger loafing shed.
Some horses are naturally more dominant than others which may cause more submissive horses to stay outside in harsh weather conditions, rather than seek shelter. This can be avoided by having more than one loafing shed for horses to choose from.
Prepare your base
Building a loafing shed isn’t simple, not only do you need to plan how big the shed will be and how many you may need, but depending on the location of your shed, some work may need to be done on the ground you plan to build your loafing shed on.
It’s not simply enough to erect your shed on any old surface, you must ensure the ground is dry and will provide solid footing for your horses. Building a loafing shed straight onto an existing soil surface or on gravel may not cut it – if the ground is uneven and rough, work will need to be done to smooth this out which may require the use of contractors to come and remove unwanted soil, and then smooth the surface out.
Once you have a nice even surface considerations will need to be made around the type of materials you will then need to cover the surface with. Research recommends adding fine stone dust or using a concrete pad covered with a rubber mat for optimum comfort.
Use the right materials for your loafing shed
Building a loafing shed yourself may seem like a great idea – you can cut down on costs and utilise building materials that you may already have on hand however we would advise carefully considering how a DIY shed may stand the test of time, and if the materials you’re using will last for years to come.
If you live in an area that’s prone to extreme weather conditions like harsh heat and bushfires then it’s not going to be suitable to build a loafing shed out of some spare timber you have lying around the property – this material will not withstand a potential fire. It’s because of this that we always recommend the shed structures are built out of something strong and robust, like structural steel. Structural steel is less likely to be impacted by harsh weather conditions and will last a lot longer than something like timber.
Even with a large opening at the front of the shed, loafing sheds still require adequate ventilation. This is so that enough fresh air can enter the shed during summer and keep horses cool, and also to avoid unwanted moisture and condensation from taking hold during the colder winter months.
Ventilation can be added to a loafing shed with something as simple as windows, shutters or vents near the roof. Shutters are often more appropriate as there’s no glass and so no way for horses to hurt themselves if they start kicking.
Before you get started on a loafing shed for your horses it’s always best to talk to the experts to make sure the shed you’re building will work for not only your horses, but your property.
For information on the ABC Sheds range of structural steel equestrian buildings, and to view projects we’ve completed like horse stables, you can download our free brochure here. Interested in getting started with an equestrian building for your property? You can request a quote from our team of shed specialists.