The Perfect Indoor Riding Arena

Pole Barn Guru Blog

I’ve designed probably a thousand indoor riding arenas in the past three decades. One thing I have never heard from a client is – my riding arena is just too big! As I have heard my lovely bride tell hundreds of people – the cost of building is having four corners, once you have them, you might as well place them as far apart as you can afford and have space.

If uncertain on what size riding arena is needed, do the “test before building” exercise. Mark off the dimensions of the arena – use cones, poles, round pen panels, bales, PVC pipe or even rope or a garden hose. Basically, just something to delineate the perimeter. Ride in the area for a week, which should give you a feel for if it is the right size. Always keep in mind the age and health of the horses that will be using the arena. Small circles are hard work on a horse’s legs and can lead to unsoundness.

I’ve seen people order 40’ x 60’ buildings for  their“riding arena”. In reality a building this size, is hardly enough to cover a hot walker. Keep in mind, a standard riding round pen has a 66 foot diameter.

In most cases, the length of the arena should be at least twice the width. This makes sizes such as 60’ x 120’, 70’ x 140’, 80’ x 160’ and 100’ x 200’ very popular. This ratio allows a horse to “get up to speed” on the straight, and yet still be able to make the turn at the end of the arena.

For formal dressage and practice riding dressage tests, one needs to know exactly where to do  transitions and cueing. For this level of precision, a standard sized dressage arena is needed. A small dressage arena is 66’ x 132’, so this gives an idea of where to start for flatwork riding. If planning on setting up jumps or doing speed events then an expansion of those measures is needed, perhaps to a large dressage riding arena size which is 66’ x 197’.

Arena sizes vary widely between disciplines. Working cows and reining typically requires the most room, an arena of 100’ x 200’ or longer. For calf roping 70’ x 240’ works, with a return chute. Most people who jump want a space at least 80 feet wide and 120 feet long, and prefer more space if possible.

For giving riding lessons or a professional doing a lot of showing, plan on 200 to 250 feet of length. Whatever the discipline, a horse requires about 60’ diameter to do balanced circles, so it really takes a minimum width of 70 to 75 feet to have some wall leeway on either side of a 60 foot circle.

When planning, consider most roof truss manufacturers prefer standard span dimensions, usually in increments of 10 feet. A standard small covered arena truss is 60’ wide. In most cases (other than higher snow loads), sets of trusses are usually and most affordably spaced 12 feet apart, creating standard covered arena lengths in 12 foot increments.

A commercial riding arena is best constructed bigger than you think you need. You may need to accommodate multiple disciplines or riding lessons simultaneously. A large arena also increases the number of potential buyers should you choose to sell sometime in the future. A large arena can always be partitioned off to create smaller spaces inside of it for lunging areas or dressage tests.

Once again, no matter how big you make it, sometime down the line I can pretty much guarantee you will come back to tell me…”I wish I had built it bigger”.

36 thoughts on “The Perfect Indoor Riding Arena

    1. Martha ~

      According to our records, your quote was emailed to you early on the morning of September 23. As you use yahoo for your email, you might want to check in your SPAM box, as yahoo can be very picky about emails with attachments. If you have not yet received it – please email your personal Building Designer (Ray) at Ray@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

      Reply
  1. i am looking to build a covered rope arena. i’m ok with a 150′ x 250′ pen but how high should the roof be?
    also, should i consider a fabric roof or is it wiser to go metal?
    i’m also wanting to build a 20 stall barn usinf icf construction. again what roof material is best ?

    Reply
    1. Unless you are a serious professional roper you are probably going to find putting up a 150′ x 250′ clearspan building is going to be economically impractical. When I was a builder, we did a roping arena for Justin Skaar near Twin Falls (now 70, he was a very serious roper at the time) and he had us construct a 70′ x 160′ post frame building specifically for roping. He placed all of the chutes and returns outside of the main clearspan to minimize his investment. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/pole-building-11/

      Fabric is only temporary at best, if you must go 150′ clearspan, an all steel building is truly the only choice.

      I’ve used ICFs on two of my own buildings and consider them to be a distinct improvement over forming up foundation walls. Not so sure the benefits will outweigh the investment for a stall barn. I would certainly recommend a well ventilated steel roof.

      Reply
  2. I am looking to build a covered rope arena. i’m thinking of 150′ x 250′ but don’t know what height.
    I like the idea of a pole barn but am also considering a fabric cover. any thoughts on the pros and cons of this?

    Reply
      1. This would be an incorrect statement. A properly engineered tension fabric building is permanent, they are required to be designed to the same principals as a pre-engineered steel structure. This said, not all fabric buildings are created equal.

        Post frame buildings in the generic sense are not permanent, the posts if not addresses properly will rot out within 15-20 years requiring a completely overhaul of the structure.

        Reply
    1. Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. One of our Building Designers will be in contact with you shortly.

      Reply
  3. I’m in the preliminary stages of thinking about putting up an indoor riding arena. I was thinking 60 feet by 100 feet. I have an existing 24 by 26 foot barn with an overhang that I would like to incorporate into the riding arena also so that I could go right from the barn into the arena. The ground is predominantly clay and there’s a bit of a hill behind me, so there will probably have to be extensive drainage work done first. I live in Boston New York, in ski country, so we do get a lot of snow here too. Would it be possible for you to give me an estimate on the building and drainage work? Thank you very kindly, Lisa

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. One of our Building Designers will be in contact with you shortly.

      Reply
    1. While this all sounds good in theory, you will not be able to purchase the materials for the building independently for less than we can provide them to you. There will also be items specified on them of which we are the only provider. Give us a try – we guarantee there is no better post frame value.

      Reply
      1. Can I get a kit with everything except the lumber? We are logging and milling the lumber off the property.

        Reply
        1. It could be possible, however in order to meet the requirements of the Engineer of Record all of the lumber would need to be dried to a 19% moisture content or less and grade stamped. Your best bet is to use the lumber you are producing for the liner inside of the arena, or to sell it off yourself.

          Reply
  4. Starting to research price options etc for a 60’x80′ and 60’x100′ indoor riding arena buildings for me and my horses. Also anyone have suggestions in regard to the size? Any thoughts or experiences on the materials, round type, etc.? I currently have a leveled 100′ round pen that could be the area designated for this. Thanks! We are location in southeast Nebraska.

    Reply
    1. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly for further discussions. If your available space allows, the ideal aspect ratio of length to width is 2:1 – meaning for a 60′ width, 120′ of length.

      Reply
  5. We are looking into building a 70×140 riding barn. Would like to have open sides. Would need to do a little dirt work to get the ground level. What would that run us?

    Reply
    1. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly to discuss your building needs.

      Reply
  6. That’s good to know that if you plan to do riding lessons that you need 200 to 240 feet of length. My sister wants to build a horse arena so she can start teaching her son to ride, so I’m looking into it. We’ll have to see if there are already some built that have that much length so she can start using it soon.

    Reply
    1. Thank you for your interest. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you shortly.

      Reply
    1. Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. A Building Designer will be reaching out to you shortly.

      Reply
  7. Hi. I currently have a 60’×120′ indoor arena. We purchased the farm with the arena already built but I’ve always been curious if there was a way to increase the size of my preexisting arena to 80’×160′? I have the room around the barn to do so but not sure if it’s even possible or worth it? Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Increasing length is quite probably very doable – width is not going to be other than to attach a shed alongside for stalls.

      Reply
    1. Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. A Building Designer will be reaching out to you shortly.

      Reply
  8. I’m thinking about an all in one indoor aren with stalls on both sides. The indoor would be around 120×240, with additional stalls on both sides. I would like around 40 to 60 stalls in total. Do you have a design or a few pics that would help me to decide ?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thank you for your interest in a new Hansen Pole Building. A Building Designer will be reaching out to you shortly. Clearspans beyond 80′ are only available in limited markets.

      Reply
  9. What would the exterior height at the ridge line be for a 16 ft eve height arena? My CCR’s have a height restriction on buildings heights.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      It would depend upon how wide your arena is. What is your building height restriction limit?

      Reply

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