Building a Horse Shed on a Hillside

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fun-in shed snow horses

There are several considerations if you must build run-in sheds in hilly terrain.

Question for Animal Arts

We have just purchased a small place in the hills in Northern California. It has a barn and small arena, but I'd like to build a couple of run-in sheds in a couple of the paddocks. They are pretty hilly. Do you have any suggestions of what I need to do when looking for a builder to put these up on a hill? Erosion is one of my first concerns.

Answer from Animal Arts

With a hilly property, we can see why erosion would be a concern for you. Erosion can be exacerbated by extreme rains which we know you can get in Northern California.

On a flat site, you would orient a run in shed according to how it will most effectively block the wind and sun. Normally you would orient the shed with closed ends facing north and west to block incoming bad weather, and it would open to the south, and possibly the east. If the shed is three-sided, then it would generally be open to the south.

So the trick will be to find places on your property where you can achieve this orientation without also producing a grading and/or erosion problem. 

The shed itself should be set so that it is level across its length, which means that it would be parallel to a particular grade line. It can then be sloping somewhat from front to back. Set the opening facing the downhill side. The horse will walk up to the shed, which will create less erosion than walking down to it from above.

It goes almost without saying, but you would also want to select the flattest spots for your sheds to minimize the effects of the sloping grades.