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What would you think about a municipal indoor riding arena?

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  • What would you think about a municipal indoor riding arena?

    I live in a horsey area. I would bet that half of the homes in my small town have horses. We also have a lot of land designated to equestrian trails, and a lot of the town energy goes to maintaining and defending those trails. Our town logo is horseshoes. Everyone runs for office on the platform of keeping our horse-friendly atmosphere.

    What would really make my life complete is an indoor riding arena.

    Say you were the mayor of this small town and one of the residents proposed that the town buy a piece of land, construct an indoor riding arena, and sell memberships to it -- sort of like a community pool. What that strike you as nutty or interesting?

    What would move the idea a little from nutty towards interesting?

    If your community offered such a thing -- say within 5 miles of your house (because our town is no bigger than 5 miles across) -- would you pay to join? I'm thinking I would!
    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden

  • #2
    Within the past 5 years or so, 2 covered arenas have been built in South Fla. Palm Beach county has one as Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. They also build covered stalls, and about 5-6 other rings. They have a multitude of shows there and it seems to be quite successful. They also built 2 more rings for barrel shows, etc.

    Plus they reopened former trails that had been on the property. Sadly, they closed them for the last 3 years as they've had a contractor removing exotic vegetation, replanting new stuff, etc, but they are supposed to reopen this fall with the trails redone.

    Plantation Acres has had horse shows for years and they also built a covered arena with covered stalls.

    The main reason for covered show grounds down here is to combat the heat and hard rains that we get. They're able to show year round.

    People are allowed to ride at these areas when shows aren't going on, but I don't know the particulars as I'm a trail rider/camper. You can check their websites for details and perhaps it would be of interest and valuable info for your efforts.


    • #3
      I would definitely pay to have access to a municipal indoor. We have a beautiful county park close by me with 2 nice outdoor rings and trails, but they're virtually useless in winter because of mud and wind. If one of them were enclosed, locals would definitely pay a fee to have access to an indoor. There are a lot of 'backyard' owners in our area who struggle to ride in winter.
      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
      Witherun Farm


      • #4
        It sounds like a terrific idea. I would guess that for any municipality, the greatest worry is always liability, but if they could wrap their heads around taht, I bet it would be successful.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hinderella View Post
          It sounds like a terrific idea. I would guess that for any municipality, the greatest worry is always liability, but if they could wrap their heads around taht, I bet it would be successful.
          I'm wondering if there would be a liablility difference between an enclosed arena where you pay a fee as opposed to the current park setup that is free?

          Obviously there would be different upkeep issues with an indoor, but otherwise, I don't see that there would be any additional liablility for the municipality unless there is a difference because of the fee paid?
          Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
          Witherun Farm


          • #6
            I don't think it's automatically nutty, but I'd like to see the the sums the resident did to know if their estimates of costs and of the number of memberships they could sell was in any way realistic.

            Say it was going to cost $1MM to build, $100K a year to maintain and $50K in loan interest. Can they realistically sell 250 memberships at $1000 each to pay for itself over 10 years. If half those people turn up sometime during the day to use it each weekend day can 10 or 20 people realistically use an indoor of that hypothetical size at once?

            Also why should the town be involved? What does it do for non-members? If it offers nothing to non-members why shouldn't it be a separate for profit or non-profit organization?


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by tangledweb View Post
              Also why should the town be involved? What does it do for non-members? If it offers nothing to non-members why shouldn't it be a separate for profit or non-profit organization?
              My first day dream was to do this myself. There's a 2 acre lot for sale across the street from my house. I'd love to have an indoor arena right there. But that's as far as my day dream got.
              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


              • #8
                Honestly I think it sounds like a nightmare. People can hardly share arenas at boarding barns without drama, can you imagine all the random (nutty?) people you would have to deal with? You would almost need lifeguards at the sides like a public pool, to keep people from being really stupid and getting hurt.
                Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


                • #9
                  Originally posted by saultgirl View Post
                  Honestly I think it sounds like a nightmare. People can hardly share arenas at boarding barns without drama, can you imagine all the random (nutty?) people you would have to deal with? You would almost need lifeguards at the sides like a public pool, to keep people from being really stupid and getting hurt.
                  My SMALL (+/- 1,000) community had a public arena. Honestly it worked out great..... no ring side nannies needed.

                  The arena is on County land (unincorporated area), and the community....the users of the arena kept it in shape. We even gathered donations and bought sand. Had work day weekends to weed and fix fences, drag etc. Even built a collective set of jumps which were shared.

                  Would have been great if it was covered! I think it could work, if you had community support.

                  And I guess that is the key word, COMMUNITY, the arena I am talking about is in a small town, where people still "know one another" and behave respectfully. I have seen worse situations at boarding barns... barns that were not a community, but a collection of "me first" type people.
                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                  • #10
                    This has been working
                    except for some complaints about horse poop

                    ETA another county park does have an indoor....the local soccer leagues used to take up a lot of time in it though
                    I wasn't always a Smurf
                    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                    • #11
                      There are a number of places like this out here... often privately owned "riding clubs" that you can buy memberships to.

                      They can be... interesting...
                      "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."


                      • #12

                        Silver Sands Bridle Club in Port Orange, FL is sort of like that. I believe it is a private organization but the idea is simple. Members pay a fee and are expected to do volunteer hours, and in return can use the arena when there are not other events scheduled.

                        I believe the shows and clinics (most weekends) pay the bills. It has city support to the point that it is VERY difficult to get county building approval to build private arenas. Our farm was able to get a covered arena built after MUCH red tape, but the county said no way we were allowed to have an observation/spectator deck. Guess they were worried we'd try to compete with Silver Sands....
                        The rebel in the grey shirt


                        • #13
                          It's a common construct around here. Many towns have a public indoor arena/rodeo facility that if you are a resident of the town (ie pay taxes there) you can go ride in for a small fee--non residents pay a larger fee.

                          Most riders are western, footing can be an issue. Cows in chutes can be an issue... But, they are well-used and much liked around here.


                          • #14
                            In our area, I wouldn't join -- it would quickly be commandeered by the local yahoos running about yanking on massive bits in lieu of training and draining beer cans out by the trailers.
                            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                            We Are Flying Solo


                            • #15
                              The town that I'm from has one. Actually a whole equestrian facility. It was preexisting, built on donated land and everything was built by local non profit horse clubs. The regional district stepped in a few years ago and manages/maintains it as a regional park. We all have to have insurance and sign waivers to use it, also most pay either an annual or drop in membership. It works well for us.


                              • #16
                                Many counties out in the western half of the country have indoor arenas (esp if they have a nasty winter climate). They cover costs by having events ranging from horse shows to trade shows to mud pulls. In some areas they are open to any to use while others are owned by a group...here for instance I am a member of the local rodeo association...costs me $5/year to use the arena (which is an outdoor, not a covered or indoor but our limited rain...4 inches a year....makes outdoor usable most of the year) any time I choose as long as there is no event going on at the time. In another area I lived it was the county fairgrounds...if you wanted to ride at any time you could if no event was going on...if you rented stalls there you had use of the entire facility (stalls were, at that time, $35/month with you providing full care and all shavings and keeping them cleaned). We managed without the drama that seems to be present in some of the boarding barns mentioned here...not entirely drama free but very seldom was anything out of hand as anyone and everyone was entitled to deal with a problem (I remember being cheered when I yanked a 15 year old off a horse I had leased her and didn't know she was running the pregnant mare early in the afternoons...I was working day shift so didn't get there until chores were done in the evening...got off early one day and found out what was happening...everyone there knew what she was doing and several had spoken to her about it). The previous place was in a state with an equine limited liability law so the county was pretty well covered. The current place has plenty of "ride at your own risk" signs around and is open to members and guests only unless we rent it out for something...a rodeo or roping event for instance. I'm one of the western riding yahoos I guess since my horses were/are ridden in a curb bit sometimes (and yes, we were training...just because it doesn't match dressage training in looks doesn't mean it wasn't being done)....and yeah, been known to have a beer out by the trailer after a hot day of cleaning stalls, stacking hay and riding a couple. No one had exclusive use of the arena unless they paid for an hour or two (it was costly to rent) so we all learned to get along....we just worked out scheduling that allowed most to get done what they wanted/needed to do. The previous place also had a starting gate, a 3/8 of a mile track, two round pens, several outdoor arena areas, the center field of the track had some jumps set up and there were jump setups available to put up indoors as well....and about 100 stalls available for rent during off show season.
                                Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                                Northern NV


                                • #17
                                  We have an arena in our community. One pays a yearly membership fee for riding priveledges. There are times blocked out where the pony club and another riding club use it, everyone of course signs a release, and volunteers from the membership and the clubs take care of the upkeep. There are a few people who give lessons there, and it is used year round. The property is fenced and locked, and members are given the code to the gate. They hold small, local horse shows and other activities there during the year for a little added income.