Building Our Arena

When we first leased the property for our ranch, there were no barn or arena-type structures and we needed a horse arena. Since we only lease the land, we decided to go with a structure that could be moved if we ever needed to; and we’d always loved how bright and airy the fabric structures were. We went with a company called ClearSpan and I will tell you, we love it. It’s been four years and we don’t regret getting it one bit.

We went with a 120 feet long by 65 feet wide. We think it is about 36 feet tall. Yes, we wish it was a bit longer and a bit wider, but, each foot cost money and this was what we could do. It has two openings. One on each side. We did not have money for doors that open and close, which has been a little bit of a problem for us, so if you do something like this, try to buy at least one door if possible.

Before anything started, we had to level the ground. We had planned to put the arena in an entirely different spot than where it ended up, but it was too hard for us to get the ground level in the original spot. So, we ended up being closer to the road than we had originally planned.

We also didn’t get a permit before construction started – hand slap. Zoning passed by during construction and tagged us for not having a permit, so construction had to abruptly stop in the middle. And it took weeks to get a permit. So, even if you don’t think you need a permit for something that is considered temporary – you do – at least in Illinois.

Our herd is out 24/7 with no stalls, so the riding arena is also their shelter/barn when we aren’t riding. So once the structure was up, we had to put walls on the insides so horses wouldn’t get hurt. Most riding arenas have a wall like this anyway, even if it’s never used for a shelter.

We put in posts all around the arena and screwed board into those as a wall.

Next we wanted to make a stall area and a tack area on one side of the arena. This side (below) is where we ended us having tack.

This side is a stall area for when we need it.

Next we needed sand. We got torpedo sand which is the cheapest option around here. We needed a lot of sand. About 4 truckloads or approx. 80 tons. Like I said, a lot of sand. The trucks dumped it in there and then we used our tractor and ATV to spread it around.

This was our work area before the horses arrived. That tangled mess is part of our fencing – gone wrong. Now this area is the stall area.

Next we had to add lights, which meant calling an electrician and having them come out and run electric into the arena and install lights on the ceiling.

We didn’t have money for a real garage door who we put up a door ourselves, which was no small feat. Kevin made two wooden doors for the opening and then we used the tractor as a lift to secure them on the runners they rest on.

This picture gives you an idea of the size of the whole thing, once finished.

It was a lot of work getting it all complete, but we love it and It’s definitely horse approved.

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