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Here at Access Fixtures, we love a challenge. So when a customer called us from Virginia looking for a unique LED lighting solution for his horse riding arena, we were excited to rise to the occasion.


The Challenge


Horse riding arenas do not have standard dimensions. They are mostly custom built fenced-in areas with the purpose of showing or riding horses and dimensions vary widely. Ground conditions also vary as well as outdoor climates. When lighting an outdoor riding arena, the two main requirements of safety and appropriateness must be met. If a lighting solution creates harsh shadows, areas of darkness, or blinding glare, the area becomes unsafe for horses and riders. Lighting fixtures must also be appropriately sealed and durable to be able to face harsh outdoor locations over time. The general minimum footcandle recommendation for casual outdoor riding arenas is between 15-25fc. However, more footcandles is usually better and provides a better viewing experience for spectators and a safer riding experience. Lumen output, shadow prevention, and fixture durability must always be evaluated and determined by a specialist before installation. That’s where we come in.

Our customer’s riding arena is a 150′ by 75′ rectangle with two rounded edges surrounded by a wooden fence. He wanted to replace the lighting on his old 30′ wooden pole without adding more poles. This was the first challenge, as it is no simple task to light an entire arena this large with just one pole. However, the pole is slightly off-center of the perimeter of the riding arena, presenting another unique challenge for us to provide even lighting over the area of the riding arena. Below is a diagram that illustrates the customer’s riding arena and the location of the current wooden pole.

A Two-Fixture Solution

In order to see what would potentially work for our customer and also fulfill all of the aforementioned requirements, we ran two photometric analyses, using two setups with almost identical total wattages and price points. We used our APTI LED sports lighters in our analysis because these fixtures offer high wattage, extreme durability, and custom optics. These are also our highest-wattage fixtures used for high-powered outdoor sports lighting.

Our first analysis involved using two APTI 900 fixtures mounted on the 30′ wooden pole with a two-pronged mounting device known as a bullhorn. We have included both the image of the mounting device and the image excerpts from the photometric analysis below. As you can see, the light is extremely heavily concentrated near the actual fixtures. The highest amount of footcandles in the two-fixture analysis was a whopping 650, with the lowest footcandle amount being 23 in one of the corners. The max/min ratio was over 28, which is not acceptable for sports lighting. Obviously this was a huge discrepancy, which could result in unwanted glare and shadows. Unimpressed with this result, we continued on to try running an analysis with three lower-wattage fixtures.

A Three-Fixture Solution

We ran the second photometric analysis using three APTI 600 LED fixtures mounted on a three-pronged bullhorn. Both the image excerpts from the photometric analysis and the image of the bullhorn device can be seen below. We compared this analysis with the APTI 900 version to compare any dark spots, shadowy areas, and extreme areas of light contrast. Using three lower-wattage fixtures, we were able to accomplish more of what we thought would benefit the customer. Using these fixtures, the light was less concentrated in one area and more spread out. Indeed, the highest amount of footcandles using this model was 309, less than half of the brightest area in the previous model. The lowest number of footcandles was 34 instead of 23, and the max/min ratio was a little over 9, making this setup a more acceptable choice.There were visibly fewer dark zones in this analysis and less harsh light concentrated in one small area near the fixtures.

The Better Solution

In the end, we decided that the three-fixture solution was the most conducive to even lighting that still met the footcandle requirements of a riding arena. Our solution was carefully considered and researched by our lighting specialists. Using advanced photometric technology, we were able to solve our customers’s lighting dilemma without the addition of more poles. Ultimately, lighting a riding arena comes down to personal choice, budget, and the size of the arena. Each situation is different and the Access Fixtures team takes all of these factors into account before offering a lighting solution to a customer.

It is important to note that despite the 3 APTI 600s being a better choice than the 2 APTI 900s, we had to work within the customer’s constraints. There are better options for lighting an outdoor riding arena that usually involve more poles and fixtures to get a truly perfect even lighting across the arena. Much of our job involves working within customer constraints and satisfying the light requirements therein. Please contact an Access Fixtures lighting specialist if you have questions about your project or special requests as we are always striving to accommodate customer needs.