Magnetic Riding Arenas

Pole Barn Guru Blog

When I lived in “the Hood” in Salem, Oregon in the early 1980’s, my neighbors and I all had Yamaha street motorcycles. For some reason, we got into riding through the multiple story city parking structure, very fast. Part of the “rush” was the building was designed for vehicles no greater in height than 6’8” tall. As speeds increased, it gave the illusion the ceiling was crashing down upon us!

Now, one may ask, what does this have to do with pole buildings?

Elementary, my dear Watson…..

Today I received an inquiry for a quote on a proposed horse riding arena.  Great footprint for riding, 80 feet wide by 160 feet long.

To read more about why this is a great arena size:

Horse ArenaThe one thing I took issue with was with the requested building height – 14 foot eave. After deducting the thickness of the roof system, and hoping the riding surface is always flat, level and at grade, it leaves right about 13’ of interior clear height. No one mounted on a horse while riding is ever going to have their head anywhere near the bottom of those trusses –BUT –  as speed increases, the trusses are going to feel like they are getting closer and closer to the rider’s head!

I wanted to be able to refer this client to an article I had written about riding arena heights, and discovered in over 600 articles, I had never addressed this issue. As my youngest daughter would say, “face/palm Dad”!

For general riding purposes, I always recommend going with a 16 foot eave, and this has probably been the final design eave height for at least 90% of the riding arenas I’ve designed over the past three plus decades.  It’s amazing what an additional 2’ will do to dispel the illusion you are going to crash into the trusses!

Besides the comfort of riding in the taller arena, riding arenas also tend to become magnets!


Yes – hay hauler magnets – as they love to pull into arenas to unload, especially if weather is inclement. Hay haulers load to 14 feet of height, which will not fit into a 14’ eave height arena.

What about jumpers? The world record for an indoor jump is 7’ 7-1/2”, set in 1978. In Grand Prix (the highest level of show jumping) the highest obstacle is 5’3”.

I’ve had people who jump request riding arenas of 20 and even 22 feet tall, so they or their horses will not hit their heads on the trusses.  Assuming a horse could jump 6’ above the ground, with a 16’ eave height, there is still 9’ of height left – no horse or rider is going to hit the trusses.

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