a Horse in a Pen or Run
When you want
your horse to have some room to move around but you dont have access to
a pasture, a good set up can be a group pen or individual run. These are usually
located adjacent to a barn or other covered shelter and can vary in size from
a bare minimum of 16 x 60 individual run off a stall to a 60
x 100 or larger pen off the end of a barn or loafing shed for a group of
A good pen has safe, durable fencing and comfortable,
well-draining footing. The pen should be located on high ground and be situated
such that the horses can take shelter from cold wind, wet weather, hot sun and
insects as needed. There should be a clean place to feed and a comfortable place
for horses to lie down. To prevent feed from blowing away, windscreens can be
attached to the outside of the panels.
The land in pens and
runs is considered sacrifice because no vegetation is expected to
survive the constant traffic. If the natural lay of the land doesnt slope
away from the barn or shed, then excavation should remedy this so that the shelter
under the building is high and dry and the pen or run gradually slopes, about
2 degrees, away from the building.
Depending on the native
soil, footing can be added to provide cushion and minimize mud. Some choices are
decomposed granite, road base, and pea gravel.
feeding area with rubber mats allows a horse to eat off ground level without ingesting
sand or wasting feed.
In the loafing area of the pen, bedding
can be used to encourage a horse to lie down but it usually invites a horse to
defecate and urinate there also. This behavior can be minimized or eliminated
by locking a horse out of the loafing or eating areas except during specific times.
fencing can be made from metal panels or continuous fencing. Panels dont
require setting posts so are more adaptable to changing pen size or shape. Whatever
pen fencing is used, it needs to be tall enough (5 is OK, 6 is better)
and strong enough to withstand roughhousing, rubbing, and playing across the fence.
Panel connections should be tight and safe.
Pros and cons
of pen life. See the book Horsekeeping
on a Small Acreage.