5 Things to Keep in Mind When You Build a Steel Riding Arena

Published August 8, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

building a metal riding arena

If you are building a riding arena for public or private use, you want to construct it with a sturdy material that provides an unobstructed riding space out of the weather. A steel riding arena meets the requirements as well as adds value in its quick construction time and low maintenance requirements.

Steel is a versatile, cost-effective material useful for any type of construction. In areas where animals are kept, steel offers a clean environment safe from fire and other hazards.

Let’s take a look at five things to keep in mind when you build a steel riding arena.

Column Free Construction

Steel is the only material strong enough for clear span construction and open, unobstructed interior spaces. Maximizing the floor space of the arena allows for larger shows, riding classes and seating without columns getting in the way.

With clear span construction, the central space is completely clear of obstacles and able to hold equipment, a number of horses and riders and host competitive riding events with plenty of spectator seating.

The additional space could also be used to create stalls and smaller areas to house and prepare the horse for riding. There is no need to bring a horse from a barn or other structure or vehicle at the time of participation. The horses can stay in the same building, awaiting their turn and remaining out of the weather.

Durability and Energy Efficiency

Horses like to chew, and a wooden arena may become a snack for visiting animals. If the wood has been treated there may be chemicals embedded in the wood to prolong its life cycle that are toxic to animals.

Wood is also prone to mold, rot and the invasion of termites, mice, rats or other pests. It can split, crack and splinter, which weakens its ability to hold up the roof.

Steel, on the other hand, is less likely to be eaten by a horse or any other animal, bird or insect. While it is coated to prevent corrosion, the careful selection of non-toxic coating and paint will ensure the horses do not become ill if they happen to nibble some of it off the stall doors.

Steel has a high strength to weight ratio, providing it with the ability to span long open spaces without pillars for support. It weighs less than a comparable amount of wood required to build the same facility yet is much stronger. Steel does not warp, crack, mold or rot, and so far nobody has discovered anything willing or able to eat it.

Your steel riding arena will be usable for decades as a riding arena, or it can be refitted to another purpose while retaining the strength of the frame, withstanding extreme weather, seismic activity and other events that would have a wood arena flying apart.

Steel buildings are also energy efficient.

  • A cool roof with white paint pigmented with emissive paint will keep the interior cool in hotter climates.
  • Steel walls are easily insulated between frame members to maintain warmth without extra energy usage.
  • Steel is recyclable and composed of recycled materials.
  • Proper ventilation in addition to other energy saving options keeps air conditioning and heating bills down.

Between the lower utility bills and the longevity of the material, your total cost of ownership continues to drop in comparison to that of a wood-framed arena.

Low Maintenance

Steel requires very little maintenance and is easily cleaned when it becomes soiled.

  • Liquids do not soak into steel and leave stains.
  • Steel requires occasional cleaning with mild soap and some water, nothing else.
  • Steel can be treated with disinfectant without becoming damaged.
  • Steel components rarely break, but if they do, they are easily replaced.

The total cost of ownership of a steel arena is not negatively impacted by maintenance costs, which are much higher with other construction materials.

If you require the arena to be a color other than steel-gray, you can obtain a variety of colors, textures and types of paint that will last for a lifetime of wear and tear.

Design & price your metal building online »

Versatility

Steel buildings are flexible in design and are also easy to change.

Design flexibility allows you to create the arena that suits your needs the best. A steel arena can be any size or shape while maintaining its central open space. If you no longer need a riding arena, the building can be reconfigured into almost any other type of structure.

Steel’s versatility makes it easy to set up a variety of exercises and to expand the building as needed. You incorporate pens, office space, skylights and other areas to create a workable space for almost any pursuit.

The arena can be used as a barn or feedlot with a roof to keep off the rain and snow. If the arena is enclosed and the proper ventilation installed, it can be used to house other farm animals. Install interior walls, windows and the right insulation, and the building can be used for human occupancy as a residence, work area or classrooms.

Speed of Construction

Besides the cost of materials, the cost of labor can add a substantial amount to your construction project unless you purchase a prefabricated steel building.

The components of a steel building are manufactured off-site at the vendor or a manufacturing facility. Every hole is predrilled, and all components are checked for quality fit. Since it is created in a manufacturing environment, the pieces easily meet the tight tolerances required for a quality building project.

Parts of the building can be preassembled for quality assurance and to reduce the number of components to be constructed onsite.

Pre-manufactured steel buildings are delivered with all the components required to assemble your arena, from the primary frame members and panels to the secondary framing and fasteners.

Once delivered, the building can be erected quickly, requiring fewer labor hours than other types of construction. With the exterior completed so quickly, the other trades can come in earlier to complete their work, and your arena can be placed into service and begin creating revenue and enjoyment much sooner than arenas created from other materials.


A steel riding arena is a durable, versatile project that can be reconfigured for other uses if needed. The clear span construction provides open space that is easily divided and has clear sight-lines from anyplace in the seating areas. If it is enclosed, you can create an energy efficient building that protects horses and riders from the elements. Maintenance is minimal, and construction is quick.

Contact Whirlwind Steel today to begin designing your steel riding arena.

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