Tag Archives: indoor riding arena

Choosing a Horse Riding Arena Structural System

Having a horse (or horses) in many parts of America means you will spend a great deal of time riding in inclement weather, or enjoying your horse tucked away safely in a stall. First one isn’t much fun for riders, second doesn’t get any riding done at all.

Reader (and new blog subscriber) DEBBIE in FERNDALE writes:

“Hello, I’ve just started receiving your blog and am enjoying it.  Would like to ask you a question about building a 70×150′ indoor riding arena which we plan to do this year.

It will be adjacent to our current outdoor arena, the space inside should accommodate two 20m circles and have enough at the short end to tie half a dozen horses.

We’d like two 14×14′ overhang doors centered in both short ends, allowing a hay trailer to drive thru during summer months when necessary.

The site is prepped with pit run.

Would appreciate your input on the benefits or cons of building a pole barn, steel, or solid sides with fabric roof.  Concerns include solid sides for wind shelter in the winter months when we will be using it, vs. ample light inside without too much provided electrical light – i.e. translucent upper side panels, light which fabric allows, etc.

Thank you for your thoughts!  Installation is upper NW Washington state.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

Thank you for becoming a subscriber to my blog articles. My goal is to be both entertaining and informative – hopefully your expectations will continue to be met.

Our oldest daughter, Bailey, is a professional horse trainer in Tennessee, so I have a distinct advantage in receiving continued feedback from her when it comes to indoor riding arenas and stall barns. Your proposed 70′ x 150′ arena would be fairly close in proportion to what Bailey claims as perfect riding arena dimensions (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/the-perfect-indoor-riding-arena/). She will also give you kudos for putting overhead doors on each end, rather than sliding doors – she wants to be able to ride up to a door, hit a remote, and open the door without having to get off her horse.

A fully engineered post frame (pole barn) arena allows you to utilize every foot of space, wall-to-wall. Natural lighting can easily be incorporated by using opaque white polycarbonate panels at one or both eave sidewall tops. While all steel (PEMB – pre-engineered metal buildings) are great for allowing wide clearspans, they have a downside when used for structures without concrete floors. Their structural steel frames require significantly sized concrete piers to be poured – at times requiring underground cables to be run from wall-to-wall in order to keep bases of steel frames from ‘kicking out’.  Of course the scope of the foundation will not be known until after you have acquired a PEMB and have to hire another Registered Professional Engineer to do a foundation design. Concrete piers and horse’s hooves do not mix well – I have seen steel arenas where interior wood kick walls had to be built several feet inside of steel frames, in order to protect hooves from piers. Fabric buildings are really not permanent structures, as fabric does deteriorate and eventually fail over time due to UV light.

Fabric buildings also have had a history of challenges supporting wind loads (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/fabric-covered-building/) and snow loads (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/fabric-buildings/).

Please reach out to me any time with questions – always glad to be of service in assisting people to get buildings they will love forever!

Planning Your Equestrian Riding Arena

Planning Your Equestrian Facility


Those of you loyal readers who actually read links in this article are going to see our daughter Bailey Momb’s name frequently. 2018 Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration made for me being a proud dad with Bailey riding to a World Grand Championship (link has results): https://twhnc.com/content/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/RESULTS-TUESDAY-EVENING-8-28-18.pdf.


Moving forward, reader JACLYN in FREDERICK writes:

“Hi There!

We are starting to investigate options to build a barn and indoor riding arena on a property we are purchasing.  We are looking to build 10 stalls.  Where do we start when discussing options?

If possible we would like to mimic the 1800’s log cabin house on the property.  But we also don’t have a huge budget. 

Do you do indoor arenas as well?  I have traveled in Spain and Portugal and wondered about the cement, stucco, and concrete block barns there.  How does that change the cost and longevity of the structure?

Thank you very much for your time.  Yes, I have visited your website. The barns are gorgeous.  So you manufacture off site any pieces or everything on site?

Thank you!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

To avoid placing a cart before a horse, best place to begin this process – contact your jurisdiction’s Planning Department to ascertain if you will be allowed to build your desired facility where you want it located. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/planning-department-3/

Once you are satisfied with Step Number One, now confirm design criteria with your local Building Department: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/11/design-criteria-3/

Once you have these two projects completed, shift to giving serious consideration to your stall barn needs. Some important reading about stall barns:


My encouragement, always start your building planning from inside out. Determine spaces your facility will need – stalls, tack rooms, feed storage, washrooms, etc., and how much space should be allotted for each. Arrange spaces so they will have a most convenient flow. Footsteps become important over course of a day – if you are having to constantly traipse from one end of barn to other due to a poorly thought out layout, you will regret your choices forever. Visit other similar facilities and do lots of asking questions about what does and does not work for others.

With all of this information in hand, dial (866)200-9657 and speak with a Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer.

Your new building(s) can look like anything you want them to look. Only limiting factors are imagination, available space and budget. Trying to mimic your 1800’s log cabin house could easily end up doubling your investment into your stall barn. There do exist some “log look” options: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/05/log-sided-pole-barns/. Keep in mind, most cost effective and durable siding and roofing will be roll-formed steel.

Most certainly we provide horse riding arenas. Some reading about arenas: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/06/horse-riding-arena/.

Post frame buildings are designed to be the most cost effective permanent structure one can have constructed. In countries similar to those you have visited, masonry becomes a construction material of choice for virtually everything building. Any form of masonry construction will prove to be exponentially more expensive, without adding significantly to arena lifespan (and potentially involving greater amounts of upkeep).

Your kind words about our buildings are most appreciated, we hope to add your new building(s) to our portfolio of photos.

All components for your new building will be manufactured off site and shipped into your location for assembly either by you (most cost effective and usually best end result) or a building contractor of your choosing.



Keep Arena Riding Fun & Safe

I will confess….I have never ridden a horse. My daughter Bailey has more than averaged out the hours for me, as she has probably logged at least an entire year of 24 hour days in the saddle over the past decade.

I’ve been in countless riding arenas and have yet to see posted riding rules (unlike every swimming pool). Many riders break basic arena riding etiquette. I don’t think they do so to be disrespectful, but more because no one ever explained what is appropriate behavior in a public riding arena.

OK – I’m kind of off the “pole building” track here talking about horse riding etiquette.  Today is Father’s Day as I write this and I’m thinking of my daughter with her horses and the riders she trains…at a horse show today.  Sometimes I just have to …go with my brain flow!

Here are a few helpful hints…..

Don’t mount on the track; lead the horse to the center of the arena at a location away from other horses and to then mount. An option is to ride into the arena, provided the gate can be opened and closed while mounted.

Riders moving at the faster gait have priority on the track. If walking or riding slower, move to the inside. In most arenas, the faster person rides to the outside and the slower person moves inside to get out of the way.

Communicate with other riders. For example, if making a circle, let other riders know to avoid accidental collisions. If about to start cantering and someone is on a green horse ahead, warn them or better yet, move away from an inexperienced horse and rider if transitioning to a faster gait. Most people are considerate and will move out of the way if they know.

Don’t use loud verbal cues. Something sure to create haters in a crowded arena is to be constantly clucking and making kissy noises as horse cues. The same with rein slapping and yelling; both disturb other horses and could accidently cue a nearby horse and cause an accident. Loud cueing is considered rude. Learn to communicate in more subtle ways and save the voice commands for when training alone.

Leave dogs in the stands. Enough said.

If someone falls off – Stop. If another rider takes a tumble, don’t keep riding around. Stop your horse. If the closest rider, dismount and offer assistance. Help the person and catch their horse if it is loose. If the rider is injured appoint someone to call for help.

Think Left-left when passing from the opposite direction. At most arenas there is a rule to pass left shoulder to left shoulder if going in opposite directions. Most riders try to go in the direction of the other riders.

Practice safe distances. Just like driving a car, don’t get too close to the rear of other horses. The general rule is to keep at least a horse length distance between horses. For horses which kick, it is recommended to tie a red ribbon on the horse’s tail to provide a visual reminder to other riders.

Just like when driving, no talking or texting on cell phones while riding. If a call must absolutely be answered, move to the center of the ring, stop, and make it quick.

Keep gates closed while riding in an arena. This is a simple safety issue. If someone has an accident, the loose horse won’t run off if the gate is closed.

Use caution if lunging. First, ensure lunging is even allowed. Some arenas don’t allow lunging while riders are riding in the arena. Other stables allow it so long as the arena isn’t too crowded. If lunging try to do it in ways which least interfere with other riders. Use common sense and don’t have an attitude of lunging being a right. Treat being able to lunge as a gift.

Stay alert and practice courtesy. These are always good rules to live by, but they are especially important from a safety perspective in crowded arenas when factoring in the unpredictable nature of horses.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to buildings – I promise!

Indoor Riding Arena

My daughter Bailey is a professional horse trainer in Canby, Oregon (blatant plug for her here – https://www.baileymombtraining.com). Last weekend I watched her, and horses and riders she trains, at the TWHEAO (Tennessee Walking Horse Exhibitor’s Association of Oregon) Summer Extravaganza in McMinnville, Oregon.

Own a horse or horses, ride frequently and don’t have an indoor riding arena? Probably more than once the thought of owning one has been more than just a passing fancy.

For the average horse owner, who has enough land to ride on, the tough part – the space for an indoor riding arena is already taken care of.

Most people think owning their own indoor arena is out of budget. Maybe not….

Professional horse people write off their arenas and stall barns as a business expense. You probably can too.  How? By renting out arena time or stall space, you have now created for yourself a business! You will want to have some discussions with your tax advisor. You may very well be able to depreciate the riding arena or stall barn, deduct interest paid on loans, utilities, etc. Suddenly, things start becoming much more affordable.

I can’t begin to count the number of requests we have received over the decades, for “just a covered riding arena”. If the concept of constructing just a roof is to save money, this is sorely misleading. Riding arenas, just like any other pole barn, function just like uni-body cars (or jet airplanes). Take off the sides (or skin) and the framework has to be significantly reinforced in order to transfer the loads from the roof to the ground. In the case of pole building columns, the forces taken by the wall columns increase by a factor of four when the endwalls are removed! Besides the need for much larger posts, it is possible a significant amount of unsightly and possibly view obstructing bracing may need to be incorporated.

Are you in a warm climate, where the idea is just to be able to ride out of the hot sun? Then an arena with most or all of the long sidewalls open might best do the trick to balance costs, with the airflow from side to side to help keep things cool.

In northern climates – riders want to be out of the wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail and dark of night (sounds like when the postman delivers). Building an arena without walls may be short sighted. Where I live, rain rarely falls straight down. An open walled riding arena in my area would have a damp floor in 10 to 12 feet from the open sides! If the idea is to ride out of the weather, enclose the arena and use large doors for ventilation in warmer months.

If avoiding the elements is a prime motivator for an arena, consider a combination arrangement where the barn and arena are contained in the same building. Incorporating small indoor round pens in parts of barns allows horses to work in winter when the wind is blowing ninety miles an hour. It is a special luxury to be able to walk from the tie stall to the arena in a snowstorm and not get hit by flakes (or lots of flakes) of snow.

A consideration with combination buildings is dust. If storing hay in a combo barn, provision must be made to protect the hay from arena dust.

The separate building option takes up more real estate, but keeps the dust confined to the riding arena…and not in the whole barn. For show barns – a separate building approach may be preferable to keep stray visitors out of the barn.

I’m a huge fan of insulated roofs, so it is impossible for me to be quiet on this one. Riding in the Southwest in the middle of the summer? An insulated arena roof will make it feel almost comfortable in the dry heat, where a non-insulated one will feel like an oven. In most climates – failing to insulate an arena roof dooms riders to days, if not weeks, of being “rained on” from condensation. Roof insulation is also a significant sound dampener. In a rain or hail storm, it is the difference between a pleasant patter and the beating of a bass drum!

When coming up with their riding arena and barn designs, some people opt to build a living area in one portion of their arenas. Keep in mind, while this may be convenient and save money upfront, barn homes don’t appeal to most people, so it may be more difficult to re-sell your property and virtually impossible to finance.

Have other ideas for a horse barn or arena? Let me know and I’ll do my best to look at your design from all angles.  In the end…it’s totally up to you, and the comfort of your horses.