Designing a Fabric Building for Multi-Use Equestrian Activities

Equestrian activities cover a broad spectrum, from dressage and show jumping to more leisurely riding classes. For enthusiasts and professionals alike, having a dedicated space that can accommodate the diverse needs of equestrian sports is essential.  That’s when fabric buildings come up. This type of structure is flexible, long-lasting, and energy-efficient, which makes it perfect for horse activities. 

They are known for being easy to install, affordable, and useful in many situations. Fabric buildings can be changed in size and plan, so they can be used for many things, from storing crops to making sports areas.

According to, an equestrian specialist, before making a fabric building for horse activities, there are a few things that need to be thought about to make sure it meets the needs of horse care and sports.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Designing a Fabric Building for Multiple Equestrian Activities

Let’s check design considerations.

  1. Size and Layout

Here are the steps you need to consider for size and layout.

Identify Activities: Begin by listing all the horse-related activities you plan to accommodate in the building, such as:

  • Dressage
  • Show jumping
  • Lunging
  • Training runs
  • Storage
  • Veterinary care

Space Requirements: Determine the space needed for each activity, ensuring horses have ample room for safe and easy movement. Considerations include:

  • Standard dressage grounds are 20 meters by 60 meters (66 feet by 197 feet) so that horses can move properly. 
  • The amount of competition can make jumping venues look very different. For both activities, you might want to think about a bigger room or a movable building design with a wall that is easy to add or take away.

Additional Spaces: Besides the arena space, you should also plan for other useful areas. Set aside a place to keep tack (like saddles, bridles, and grooming tools), feed, hay, and cleaning supplies. Think about putting wet and dry things in different places to keep them from getting damaged by moisture. You should have at least one wash stall with both hot and cold water so you can bathe your horses. Think about the size and plan to make sure the horse can move around easily and that the area can be cleaned quickly.

Office and Viewing Areas: If you want to use the building for lessons, classes, or events, you may need a separate office room to handle bookings and paperwork. Also, think about adding a place where coaches or spectators can watch what’s going on in the field. You may need to include bathrooms in the plan depending on how often the building will be used and how many people you expect to use it. 

Make sure the plan of the building makes it easy for horses, people, and equipment to move around. Designate different entry and exit places for horses and people to reduce overcrowding, especially during busy times. You could put double doors on both ends of the field to make it easy for the horse to move around.

  1. Building Materials

Here are key considerations for selecting the right building fabric:

  • Durability:
    • Opt for high-quality, fire-resistant materials that can withstand weather conditions.
    • Popular choices include Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon, and Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), each with its own benefits depending on climate and regional factors.
  • Weather Resistance:
    • Choose fabric strong enough to handle wind, rain, and snow specific to your area.
    • Ensure it meets wind load standards to prevent excessive flapping.
  • Light Transmission and Insulation:
    • Consider your need for natural light or insulation to maintain comfortable temperatures.
    • Some materials offer a balance of both features.
  • UV Protection:
    • If horses are inside for extended periods, select materials that block UV rays to protect their coats and health.
  1. Supporting Structural Components

The framework is the building’s skeleton. It holds up the fabric cover and keeps the whole structure strong and stable. Steel is the top choice because it’s strong, lasts a long time, and doesn’t rust easily. This makes your building safe and durable. Consider using prefabricated (pre-made) steel frames. They save money and are easy to put together, speeding up the construction process.

  1. Door Options for Efficient Access and Movement

 The right doors streamline smooth access and efficient movement. Here are three main door options to consider within your fabric building: 

  • Sliding Doors:

These doors move side-to-side on a track. They’re great because they don’t take up extra space when open and look neat.

  • Roll-Up Doors:

These doors open by rolling upwards. They’re fast to open, work well for big doorways, and don’t take up space in front of the door.

  • Swing Doors:

The most common type of door that swings open. They can be more cost-effective and are easily customizable to match the aesthetic of your building. However, they require clearance space to swing open․ 

  1. Importance of Airflow

For your horses and riders to stay healthy and happy in your equestrian fabric building, it’s important that it has enough air. This is why airflow is so important:

  • Air Movement: If a building doesn’t have enough airflow, wetness can build up inside, which can cause mould and mildew to grow. This can damage your building materials and make it hard for your horses and anyone working to breathe.  
  • Controlling the temperature: When it’s hot outside, good ventilation helps get rid of the hot air and lets cooler airflow through. This can make your horses a lot more comfortable, especially when they are working out. In warmer places, air can help get rid of extra wetness that can build up on the fabric and drip down, making the surface slippery.
  • Controlling Odors: Good airflow helps keep odours under control, making the building a nicer place for everyone to be.

Ventilation in fabric buildings can be done in two main ways:

  • Mesh Panels: If you put mesh panels in the fabric walls or roof in the right places, air can flow naturally. While this is an easy and inexpensive option, it might not be enough in very bad weather.  For instance, mesh screens might not let enough airflow when it’s very hot or cold, or when it rains or snows a lot.
  • Ventilation Systems:  More sophisticated ventilation systems can be integrated into the fabric or frame of the building. These systems typically use fans to draw in fresh air and exhaust stale air.  They can be automated to adjust airflow based on temperature and humidity levels inside the building. This ensures optimal ventilation regardless of the weather conditions outside.  While ventilation systems require an initial investment, they can be more energy-efficient in the long run and provide better overall climate control within the building.
  1. Safety

Designing and utilizing a multi-purpose equestrian fabric facility should prioritize safety.  Include these safety features:

  • Rounded Edges: Sharp corners and edges may frighten and hurt horses. Round off all building frame corners, especially support beams and entrances, to reduce injury risk. Pad any exposed beams or poles for extra protection.
  • Fire Safety: Fire safety plans and equipment are essential. Install fire extinguishers in strategic areas throughout the structure for emergency use. Choose a fire extinguisher depending on building fire dangers including electrical fires and combustible items like hay.  Mark extinguishers with signs. Create a fire evacuation strategy for horses and humans with defined escape routes and meeting spots outside the facility. Regularly perform these exercises with facility users.
  • Electrical Safety: Electrical dangers are dangerous in every facility. Use GFCI outlets in all water-containing facilities, such as wash stalls. These outlets reduce electrical shocks by cutting power during ground faults.  Electrical wiring should be done by a licensed electrician and fulfill safety requirements. Check all electrical parts for damage and wear.
  • Structure: Check the building’s structure and fabric for deterioration, wear, and loose connections.  Address concerns immediately to protect building structure and horse and rider safety. Focus on high-stress regions like anchor points and frame-fabric connections. Schedule professional checks following major weather occurrences like snowfall or severe winds.
  • Fall Protection: Install guardrails on high platforms and observation places to prevent falls. These rails should be strong enough to support a person and tall enough to prevent falls.
  • Signage: Exits and emergency exits should be clearly marked.  Post signs reminding people to lock doors after arriving or departing to preserve ventilation and temperature control. Display safety guidelines, fire extinguisher locations, and emergency contact information.

The design of a fabric building for multi-use equestrian activities presents a modern solution to the diverse needs of the equestrian community. Double-check the guide and create your own equestrian fabric building.