Riding Arenas

Graber Pole Buildings is one of the few legitimate experts in designing and constructing arenas in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"We're discovering that the arenas we build are simply better engineered that others, " says Rosita from Graber. "It's not uncommon to loose a job here and there because the customer can save a few bucks, but we learned the hard way a while back not to cut corners on something as substantial as an arena. Our guys can take one look at a cheap riding arena built by someone else and spot ten or fifteen things that are well below our standards. Usually they see lumber that is not intended to be used for arenas, or not using the glue-lam poles we do, which are much stronger than their smaller dimension poles.

How to Tell if The Arena Was Cheaply Built:

  1. Solid sawn lumber instead of glue-lam poles
  2. The poles sizes are too small - a 6x6 pole when a 6x8 or even an 8x8 pole should be used
  3. The span of the arena is wider than the support beams can hold, especially under heavy snow and wind loads
  4. Skimpy truss bracing; the trusses are not spaced properly

Some Expert Advice on Arenas

Make sure the builder you finally go with is using engineered plans that are up to speed and current code, and is not using undersized supports. Wider spanned buildings are no place to be risky. Make sure you err on the side of being a little too safe when it comes to the amount of support you're going to give the roof of your arena. And make sure your designer has factored in snow loads. Graber knows what anticipated snow loads are like for their entire service area, then add some extra support for safety.

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Why Risk Inadequate Support on Your Arena Project? By working with Graber Pole Buildings, you'll have access to our licensed truss designer, with over 20 years of experience designing trusses that will hold up under both normal conditions and heavy snow loads.

"A few years back we were called in to add to a building that another company constructed. When we started, we were blown away by how poorly the original building was designed and built. In good conscience, we simply were not able to add to the building without making some critical improvements to the structure of the original part. We explained this to the client, and they allowed us to put in the extra poles that were needed to support it, then complete the additional work," recalls Ira from Graber.

Steel Riding Arenas vs. Post Frame Construction Riding Arenas

Steel Frame

  • Wider possible building widths
  • More expensive
  • Harder and more expensive to insulate and heat
  • Takes longer to construct
  • Limited times of the year

Post Frame

  • Width can be up to 90 feet
  • Less expensive
  • Easier and cheaper to insulate and heat
  • Is constructed faster
  • Able to build more throughout the year

For an effective way to bring natural light into your arena, ask us about side lights when you talk to one of our designers.

Insiders Tips for Horse Arenas:

  1. For an effective way to bring natural light into your arena, ask us about side lights when you talk to one of our designers.
  2. To reduce the noise and sound within your arena, consider insulating the roof with Graber's Solar Guard fire-rated insulation.
  3. Unless you'll be pulling a 40-horse Clydesdale team, most of our customers find the 90' width is more than adequate.
  4. To protect both the horses and the riders, at least get a quote for how much rider guard on the wall would cost.

For a quick rule of thumb to get an idea of how much your indoor arena will cost, most post/frame arenas fall into the range of $5.50- $8.50 per square foot.

Want to find out more? Give Graber a call on (610)-593-3500 for a non-obligatory ballpark quote.

Some Words of Wisdom from The Experts

When in doubt, get a quote for something a little larger. No one has ever come back and said they wished they had gone with a smaller riding ring. Get some natural light coming into the space by using the side lights, rather than sky lights. Sky lights can be really tricky for any pole barn builder to design, and can up the price of the project. Side lights can actually be designed so they are double the size of a sky light in the roof, bringing in twice the light. Avoid going with a shingle roof and use metal instead. It's much easier for built-up snow to easily slide off a metal roof than a shingled roof. If you're on a budget but still want it look nice, how about just making one or two sides of the horse arena look nice by upgrading to wainscoting or stone.

What size area should you chose?

"Well, " explains Ira from Graber, "that really depends on the discipline you are practicing. The most common sizes in arenas are the 60' wide by 120' long and the 80' wide by 200' long. It's important to have a clear-span structure (no posts or beams are in the inside of the arena's riding areas). If you'll be riding in groups or training, a longer arena is advisable. The most common height in arenas is 16', but for jumping, we usually advise folks to up to 18'. Anything over 18' high is more for a commercial, professional arena. Doorways should be 12'-14' high to allow for horse and rider, and 16 foot across."

Some Options to Consider for your New Riding Arena

A 12' overhang:

An overhang- or awning- extending from the roof along the sides of your structure can provide shelter, shade and give your building a more finished look. "Usually an overhang smaller than 12' isn't really worth the money, " advises Rosita from Graber. "The amount you'll save in say a 10' overhang just isn't worth the extra 2' of space."

Side Lights

If running electricity into your arena makes your worry (the risk of a fire with hay storage) or if you are looking for a way to bring down the cost, consider side lights in your arena. "We can easily design your arena so you have side lights running along all 4 sides, giving you enough day light so you don't need electrical lights." -Patrick from Graber.

Why Many of Our Barns have the Vapor Barrier Insulation.

As discussed in "Things to Look For" section, using vapor barrier insulation provides many advantages to the structure of your building. But with stall barns, there is another important reason: "Rain falling on a metal roof that does not have insulation can make a terrible racket, which can spook some horses and make them skittish," explains Dave. "But vapor barrier insulation muffles this sound." Animals in any structure create heat, and the heat causes condensation. A solar guard or vapor barrier eliminates this problem.

Graber's Favorite Picks for Arenas

Reuben's Pick:

60 x 120 with interior height of 14 feet

"This is a good solid standard arena- an entry level arena. If you are looking for something you can use privately on your own property, I would recommend this size. Folks who are conscious of both budget and size do well with this type."

Ira's Pick:

72 x 160 with interior height of 16 feet

"I think this is a good all around arena. If gives you the option of working with different riding disciplines all under one roof and gives a bit more width for working with several horses. It's the size of arena I recommend when customers don't want something HUGE but know they don't want the smaller sizes. The added interior height allows for some jumping, but some folks will take it one foot higher just to be safe."

Eric's Pick:

80 x 200 with interior height of 16 feet

There's a reason why this is post and frame's most popular size, when it comes to indoor arenas. It's big enough to be very spacious, yet much more economical than a 90' wide arena.

Dave's Pick:

90 x 200 with interior wall height of 18 feet.

"If your arena will be home to professional events, then you'll need the width and length of this side. 200 feet long gives you plenty of room, especially for the jumping disciplines. Of course, we have years of experience designing professional arenas of any size, but I consider this size a safe bet. Usually if folks are going with this size they are looking to add some other features like a mezzanine, a viewing area and a few offices.