Tag Archives: pole barn horse arena

6 Things to Consider When Building a Covered Riding Arena

You’ve been dreaming of adding a covered riding arena to your property. Maybe you teach riding lessons and need a better space to work with your students. Or maybe you just want somewhere you can ride when the weather’s less than ideal. Whatever the case, you’re itching to start building!

Choosing a horse arena kit from Hansen Pole Buildings is a cost-effective way to get the arena you’ve always dreamed of without a complicated installation process. The kit comes with detailed instructions, so it’s possible to construct the arena on your own and save on construction costs.

Interior Clearspan Arena

Of course, picking out a covered or indoor pole barn isn’t the only decision you’ll need to make before you begin working on your riding arena. Check out six more important factors to consider below.

Covered or Enclosed?

One of the first things you’ll need to figure out is whether you want a true indoor riding arena, or whether you just want a covered space to ride your horses. If you live in a warmer area, like Texas, an open pole building with a metal roof will likely be enough: you’ll have natural air circulation and protection from the sun. If you live somewhere with colder winters, like the Midwest, you’ll need an enclosed arena to be truly protected from the elements. If you go with an indoor riding arena, you’ll also need to install a ventilation system.


In order to keep you and your horses comfortable while you’re riding, you should consider adding insulation to your metal roof. Proper insulation can prevent your covered riding arena from becoming a freezer in the winter and an oven in the summer.


Since Hansen Pole Buildings offers custom pole barn kits, you can choose dimensions based on your planned uses for your indoor riding arena. If it’s just going to be you riding in the arena when the weather’s bad, a smaller space might do. If you teach group riding lessons, you’ll likely want a larger arena that can comfortably accommodate multiple horses and riders at the same time. If you and your horse do dressage, you’ll want to build a standard dressage arena so that you can practice your transitions and cueing.

Base and Footing

It’s not just what’s overhead that matters when it comes to building a covered riding arena. You’ll also need to consider the materials you’ll use for the arena base and footing. Horse Journals recommends an approximately four-inch base of compacted limestone screening over the top of a clay, sand, or aggregate fill. For your footing, you’ll likely want to choose a high-quality sand or sand mix. This will give your horse traction while also providing shock absorption.


You don’t want your brand new arena to be flooded, so you’ll need to choose a location that is higher than the surrounding area. You may also want to consider where the sun will be coming from at the time of day you’re most likely to ride.

Building Codes

Sure, it’s not the most fun part of adding a covered riding arena, but before you get started, you’ll need to check your local building codes to make sure you’re in compliance. For example, some areas will have snow or wind load requirements that you need to make sure you’re meeting. Some regions will also require you to get a building or land use permit.

Take the time to carefully plan for your pole building riding arena and you’ll end up with a comfortable space where you can ride your horses year round for many years to come.

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!