Meet Piper. She’s a 2-3 year old, 36″ tall miniature horse that I just rescued from a slaughter yard. She came to me with marks all over her body and a severe fear of humans. We’re working through it and making friends, but it’s a slow process.

I have four other horses that get along incredibly well. They are split into two’s – mares and geldings – and share a 24’x36′ glorified run-in shed. Because space is tight and she’s the new kid, Piper doesn’t want to go in the barn with the others. Not a huge deal, but it does get hot in the sun and cold in the rain. She’s a little underweight, so I decided to build her a small shelter that will keep her out of the rain and sun if she so chooses. Because she won’t be the new kid forever, I wanted to make something inexpensive but functional. This is the concept that I came up with:


Essentially it’s just a canopy held four feet in the air by steel drive-in posts. It won’t protect against wind, obviously, but it’ll do just fine for rain and sun.

To build, I needed the following:


  • 16ft x 50in cattle panel

cattle panel.JPG

You can get these at pretty much any farm store. The uses for these panels are endless! Go check out Pinterest! I had an extra on hand from when Roxie was the new kid, so this cost me exactly $0.

  • 8 steel T or U posts – I used 5ft posts to hold the canopy 4ft off the ground in this case (because Piper is a little shit)
  • Zip ties (oh god, so many zip ties)
  • Angle grinder with cutoff disk and grinding disk (or a hack saw and sandpaper, but oh man I would not want to go that route)
  • Extension cord
  • 8 J hooks to fit through the holes in the posts (or wire if the posts don’t have holes)
  • Post driver (or block and sledgehammer)
  • 8’x10′ Heavy duty tarp
  • Baling twine (or paracord if you don’t hoard baling twine like I do)
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Sidecuts
  • 3 ratchet straps

Build instructions:

  • Cut the cattle panel in half short-ways. You want the two sections to be equal length, so cut out the two sections in the middle. Grind off sharp edges now – it’s easier than trying to do it later
  • Zip tie the two panels together like so:


  • Clip off tie tails
  • Measure the side perpendicular to the zip-tied joint
  • Find a good place for the shelter, preferably close to a fence line to anchor one or more legs to.
  • Drive four posts at least a foot into the ground, equally spaced, the length of the side you measured
  • Use J hooks to secure the panel to the tops of the posts. If the posts don’t have holes, secure the panel with wire (CAREFULLY and SECURELY so that no little nosies can snag on sharp edges)
  • Use the ratchet straps to create a bend in the panel. Remember that the bend should be perpendicular to the zip-tied joint. We want a bend, not a triangular top. Bend it more than you will want the end result to be. It will spring back some.


  • Lift the bent panel to find where to drive the next four posts. Mark the location, set the panel back down, and drive the posts.
  • Secure the panel to the other four posts as before. Secure them loosely at this point, as they will move a bit after the next step.
  • Tie baling twine or paracord between the two sides of the bent panel to maintain the bend after the ratchet straps are released. I put two pieces on each individual panel, but use your best judgment.
  • When the twine is tight and secure, CAREFULLY release the ratchet straps.


(The posts look bent here because they are. The posts aren’t exactly heavy-duty, and the only post driver I have is a 100lb monster from my dad’s high school shop days… My biceps got a nice workout, let’s just say that.)

  • Go around and tighten bolts and otherwise solidify the structure. Clip zip tie tails, cut extra twine, check for sharp edges, etc. Secure the structure to a fence post if possible. I secured this to the fence post closest to it in the photo. Even doing one post solidifies the structure considerably.
  • Once the frame is ready, carefully spread the tarp over the top. Secure it in every possible place to prevent flapping.


And there you go! This particular structure is 4ft off the ground, 8ft long, and approximately 6.5ft wide. Plenty of room for a tiny pony like Piper. Even the strands of twine across the top are nowhere close to her head.

This idea can be scaled up and altered for almost any purpose. Cattle panels are handy as hell. Seriously, go look up “cattle panel shelter.”

Because I had the cattle panel and the tarp already, this project cost me about $30. Pretty cool.

Questions? Let me know!