Indoor and covered arenas are becoming increasingly popular for horsemen across the country. There’s really no climate in which a trainer or even casual rider can’t take advantage of a roof over their head while riding. Protection from rain, snow, and blazing hot sun — all of these conditions can significantly impact your training calendar, as well as your enjoyment of your horses. They also come in handy for turn-out when paddocks are inaccessible or unsafe.
To maximize the benefits of covered or indoor arenas, many barn owners are opting to connect them to their stable, or even build them right into the design of a new barn. Should your indoor arena connect to your stable? Here are some pros and cons.
Pro: True protection from all weather. If you live in a region of extreme weather, particularly cold-weather events like snow which could physically prevent you from getting from your barn to your indoor, you know you need at least some kind of connection. Even if snow isn’t a factor, walking a horse through blowing rain or icy winds isn’t ideal for yourself or your clients. Skipping a covered walkway in favor of building your arena up against your barn keeps everyone comfortable and dry. Consider the design of Deviere Farm for an ideal example of a center-aisle barn attached to an indoor arena.
Pro: Efficient design. Incorporating your indoor arena into the main structure of your barn, as with Three Sons Ranch, is an extremely efficient way to prioritize training no matter what the weather. Here, one roof span encompasses the arena, stalls, and tack/feed rooms. In addition to the protection from weather mentioned above, you’ll save steps and maximize your time with everyone under one roof and even, in this case, along one L-shaped barn aisle.
Con: Dust and distraction. While distractions might prove useful in this case–after all, horses don’t perform at shows in a vacuum, and training despite interesting sights and sounds occurring in the neighboring stable area might be considered pretty valuable experience–no one wants dust in their barn. With your arena adjacent to your stalls, you’ll have to implement a dust-control plan you can count on to keep your stable clean and your horses breathing clear air.
Con: Noise. Not to be confused with distractions to training horses, the overall noise level of a busy riding arena should be considered. If you’ve ever ridden at a boarding stable with a healthy population of children and ponies, you know what an arena full of kids can sound like. Riding instruction can be a noise factor as well, especially if the instructor needs to use a megaphone or music in the lessons. Do you need additional separation between your indoor arena and your barn to keep the noise level down in your stable area? If you are running a boarding or lesson stable, this is an important factor to consider.
Whether you’re considering putting your arena and stabling area under one roof, or just adding your arena as an attachment to your barn, think about the uses you put your farm to now, as well as what you might do in the future. Either way, you’ll be looking forward to a lot less time getting drenched or shoveling snow, and a lot more time getting in the training you and your horse thrive on.