WeCover: Creating Innovative and Elegant Arenas with a Family Touch and a Green Thumb

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An WeCover arena in Pennsylvania. Photo by ES Equine Photography

BY Jessica Shannon

We have custom saddles and boots, and our halters and saddle pads are monogrammed. Our half pads are shimmable, our barn mates are decked out in matching jackets, and the barn aisles are lined with matching tack trunks emblazoned with our barn’s logo. Equestrians love a personal touch while ensuring our equipment fits our horses and ourselves. 

Why stop at our tack and accessories when we could personalize something as important as our arenas? WeCover structures are green and personalized arenas that create a uniquely peaceful environment for both horses and riders. They are the ultimate in equestrian customization.

A Personalized Approach

Large windows and a skylight at the ridge provide great lighting for this steel roof arena in Victoria, BC. Photo by ES Equine Photography

WeCover is a family-owned company that began creating custom structures for farms and livestock over 20 years ago. Operations manager Kris Tenhage works out of WeCover’s Ontario headquarters, and he stresses their company’s emphasis on listening to the client to design “one-off products,” from turnkey constructions to providing the frame and materials if a client chooses to use their own contractor. 

Whether the client is a barn owner, property owner, trainer, or in some other role, the team at WeCover will ensure clients feel heard and have the freedom to make a structure truly their own, often working alongside equine architects. WeCover also shares their list of trusted vendors for essentials, such as footing, and they remain available to clients for consultations and questions years after the structure is complete. 

Listening to the client includes matching existing aesthetics, adjusting to riding discipline’s needs, and fitting with the local climate. The cohesiveness between the WeCover structure and existing structures on the property has been a selling point for many clients. The options are nearly endless in choosing ventilation, arena sizes, doors, windows, and both exterior and interior designs. 

While your custom WeCover may blend perfectly with your other structures on your farm, it will also be one with the climate, regardless of where you live. The WeCover’s fabric roof has a built-in UVA/UVB inhibitor that allows riders and horses to enjoy the sunlight while being protected by the harmful sun rays. It also responds to the climate. The roof is a translucent fabric that will not hold snow, is quiet in the rain, and is lit by natural sunlight all throughout the day. 

Equestrians in any part of the world will feel that their arena structure is as tailored to the climate as it is to their tastes. Summer rides will feel cool while winter rides feel warm without being stuffy. Without heat or air conditioning, the roof’s material maintains a comfortable climate inside. Basically, you ride in an arena that is warmer when it is cold outside, and cooler when the weather is warm, because the fabric roof does not require insulation. 

Those in a mild climate may opt for a pavilion style arena that offers open walls, providing more natural light. Riders in climates of all extremes will be pleased to hear that the sustainable and innovative WeCover structures can handle -76 degrees F through 158 degrees F.

Redefining Fabric and Structures

A Connecticut arena—curtains allow for airflow through the space on nice days, and protection from the elements on cold or rainy days

The word “fabric” can be a bit misleading. The fabric used to make the roofs in WeCover structures is a webbed membrane fiberglass material, and comes with a 20-year warranty. Unlike the PVC or steel roofs we often see, the fabric has a thermal factor. It is also flame-retardant and fire-resistant—a major selling point in the equestrian industry.

The fabric itself requires little to no maintenance, but barn owners can choose to pressure wash it if desired. In general, notes Tenhage, these roofs are “good to go” and “maintenance free.” He stresses the importance of good ventilation, which aids in longevity and lowers maintenance. Ventilation options are discussed during the design process that include your climate and your aesthetics. The result feels as though you have just the right amount of fresh air indoors. 

“Fabric roofs are new to equestrians,” says WeCover’s Equestrian Specialist Tricia Kraybill. Accidents can happen on any arena roof, such as a leak or a fallen tree. In those cases, WeCover simply replaces that single panel, allowing it to remain “clean and consistent” with the rest of the roof, rather than having one panel that clearly does not fit with the rest. In addition to the way in which the structure is built, the waterproof barrier on the fabric also protects your footing and avoids any rain drops landing on an unsuspecting horse or rider. Your footing is also protected from drying out from the sun. Many steel roofs are built with tiny fasteners that have the ability to corrode and leak, causing a host of issues that are avoided with the WeCover structure and fabric.

Footing companies are aware that Western riders, dressage riders, and hunter/jumpers all have a preferred type of footing for their discipline, and the custom structure WeCover builds for you will also take your discipline into account. For instance, Western riders need a higher ceiling, and straight side columns are preferred for hunter/jumpers as opposed to tapered columns. Tapered columns require riders to avoid 6-8 feet of the structure when jumping. Because of this attention to detail and the intended use of the arena, riders are able to use up to 99.6% of their WeCover arena. 

Internal support columns are not needed for reinforcement in the middle of WeCover’s structure due to the lightweight fabric roof. Stalls, offices, and other elements can be added all under one roof, and the span of your riding area can be up to 160 feet wide. The steel structure is made of hot dip galvanized steel, with a warranty of 25 years. In an equestrian arena, however, the process of hot dip galvanizing the steel can ensure your arena lasts over 75 years. Other companies galvanize the exterior tubing of the steel that can lead to corrosion at welds, but WeCover takes further steps to protect against corrosion by using the hot dip process to coat both the inside and outside of their North American steel.

While the roof can have specific options like sectional panels for climates with high wind, such as Gulf Coast farms, the frames are also adjusted for places that are humid or expect a lot of snow. The design to build process is relatively shorter than more traditional buildings, and your specific products arrive at your farm in panels, ready to install and build simultaneously with other construction.

Going Green

A Victoria, BC, arena— for those who live in a cold climate, WeCover makes insulated steel roof arenas

WeCover structures are green in two ways, both in their sustainability and cost-saving opportunities. Steel roofs can make an arena warm in the summer and cold in the winter, but the fabric WeCover roof provides a thermal factor, making horses and riders comfortable year round. Kraybill adds that the fabric is “considered a green product.” There is no need for artificial lighting during the day thanks to the natural sunlight that is filtered through the mildew-resistant coated fabric roof, and lighting in the evenings costs less than with standard roofs. Electric bills are significantly lower with natural light coming in through the roof, regardless of the weather during the day. 

Cost savings are estimated to be anywhere from $10,000-$50,000 in electricity and related bills. The ability to replace a single roof panel if needed, protecting the lifespan of your footing, and the longevity of the fabric and steel structure also contribute to WeCover being sustainable and cost-saving.

Peace and Performance

The ambience created by natural light and soft acoustics from the fabric are ideal for both horses and riders. Shadows are eliminated, as well as loud noises. Fresh air flows through the arena. 

WeCover got its start designing structures for livestock. Farmers noticed that the livestock could tell when it was day and night in ways they had not been able to sense previously, and this increased their productivity in regard to eggs and dairy products. This discovery led WeCover to expand to the equestrian world. Kraybill says that there “is a dopamine enhancer for horses and riders with that natural light coming in…performance horses and riders have improved.” For therapeutic riding students, both those with special needs and veterans, the naturopathic side has aided in PTSD. 

Riders and horses are at ease with no need for electrical lighting during the day, minimal lighting at night, and no spooky shadows or creepy noises on the roof or elsewhere. WeCover provides an environment designed for peaceful rides, and happy horses and riders. And the structure will feel as personal and customized as your saddle. To learn more about WeCover, visit www.wecover.net.