Indoor horse arena lighting design requires LED lights with diffuser optics

How to Light an Indoor Riding Arena 

Regardless of your passion, equestrian training, equitation, jumping, roping and/or dressage, your indoor riding arena needs to have an effective indoor horse arena lighting design. In order to achieve the best riding experience, it is imperative to select the correct LED light fixtures and then the light fixtures need to be located in the right places. Horse arena lighting design factors include the footcandles delivered to the riding area; how even is the lighting; is there glare; energy efficiency; and how impervious the luminaire is to water, dirt and bugs

What are horse arena lighting standards?

Most indoor riding arenas are illuminated between 20 and 30 footcandles (fc). As a reference, the interior of a Wal-Mart is 30fc. While your personal preference and budget need to be taken into consideration, these are the most common horse arena lighting standards.

  • Recreational Riding 20 – 30fc
  • Equitation Training 30fc 
  • Hunter/Jumper Training 30 – 40fc 
  • Bull Riding 30 – 40fc
  • Roping and Barrel Racing 40fc
  • Dressage 50fc

Riding Arena Lighting

Max/Min Ratio is the Measure of Even Illumination

For all sports facilities including indoor riding arenas, the lighting must be even, or your eyes will continuously need to adjust to the variance of light levels. If any speed is involved such as with jumping or roping, significant variance in light levels can compromise safety. The measure of how even the lighting is called the max/min ratio. It is calculated by dividing the maximum light in the riding arena by the minimum light. For an indoor riding arena, the Max/Min ratio should be 3.0 or below. Even lighting is achieved by having more points of light, suitable optics, and appropriate beam spread. This lowers the Max/Min to acceptable levels and reduces shadows too. 

A Glaring Issue for Indoor Equestrians

The most common height inside indoor riding arenas is 16’. That means that the lighting hangs from a 16’ mounting height, while the light source is closer to 15’ 6” high. A 16’ mounting height might not matter much on a shop floor, but this is an indoor riding arena. Assuming the horse is15 hands, the rider starts at 5’ off the floor. His or her body height adds another 3’ and that is before any activity that takes the rider out of the saddle. Consequently, the luminaires are only 7’ or so above the rider’s head. If the luminaire is too bright or lacking effective optics, there will be glare and your riding experience will be sub par. If riding in your indoor arena isn’t a great experience, why bother riding.  The solutions are low glare optics, LED luminaires that are not too bright, and LED luminaires that are evenly distributed throughout the arena.

Indoor Arena Lights with Low Glare Optics

Why You Really Care About IP Ratings

IP ratings refer to ingress protection ratings and are used to qualify levels of dust- and water-sealing effectiveness. Face it, your indoor riding arena will not be bone dry. It will be somewhat dusty and there will be bugs. Do you want to be carefully cleaning the light fixtures and getting the bugs out of the light fixture, or riding your horse? It is crucial to pay close to attention to what IP rating your fixture has. This is what each IP rating means. A fixture rated with any of the following three ratings are equally protected against dust, dirt, sand, and bugs (as indicated by the “6” digit). The liquid/water protection for each of these three ratings is unique. Here is a summary:

  • IP65 Water resistant
  • IP66 Water resistant against powerful jets
  • IP67 Completely sealed and submersible

Why Luminaire Efficiency Matters

Even if you don’t care about saving energy or reducing your operating expenses, energy use matters. Many homesteads lack the power, the amperage, to power lights in a riding arena. An example is a recent indoor riding arena lighting project. The house and barn had already used most of the amperage available at the property. While developing the horse arena light plan, the lighting specialist had to limit the quantity and wattage of the LED fixtures to remain under the limited available amps. If your location has power limitations, LED light fixtures with higher lumens per watt will enable you to reach the light levels you desire without installing a new electric service or installing a new panel. Super efficient LED luminaires will also reduce your peak demand charges which can be a significant part of your energy bill.

Which Indoor Riding Arena Fixture Should You Select?

Access Fixtures offers many different equine-friendly indoor fixtures that can properly illuminate an indoor riding arena. Here are a few examples.

Good – HIIO

HIIO is a fantastic entry level LED fixture for indoor riding arenas. 

  • High Lumen Output: 140 lumens per watt, makes this one of the most efficient luminaries in its class
  • IP65 Rated: With a high IP rating and a die-cast aluminum housing, this fixture keeps out all dust and water.
  • Great Value: High lumen output and 90-degree light distribution ensure a superior lumen-per-dollar value.

Entry Level LED Fixture for Indoor Riding Arenas

Better – SYMU 

 SYMU checks all the indoor riding arena “must have” boxes. 

  • Wet Location Rated: UL 1698 wet location rated, similar to IP65, so ready for wet, dusty, dirty locations 
  • Superior Visibility: UGR<28 glare rating and 80+ Color Rendering Index (CRI) score work together to deliver superior visibility 
  • Energy Efficient: DLC 5.1 rating and 136 LPW means low energy use in applications that have limited amperage or to lower operating cost 

Horse Arena Lights with Superb Performance

Best – SYMO 

 SYMO performance exceeds every specification to provide premium indoor riding arena lighting. 

  • Ultimate Visibility: SYMO features an integrated prismatic diffuser that maximizes light distribution and reduces glare. SYMO is 87 CRI rated for excellent color rendering. 
  • Extreme Life:  SYMO is L70 rated @ 162,000 hours providing extra-long life in normal conditions and longer life in high heat conditions 
  • Durable and Waterproof:  SYMO is IP66 rated against water and dust intrusion for a higher level of protection

Premium Indoor Riding Arena Lighting

While these three LED light fixtures are excellent choices for indoor arena lighting, there are other riding arena lights that serve special applications such as open sided riding arenas where the lights must be firmly attached so they don’t swing in the wind. Some facilities want 90+ CRI, 70fc or better and 5700 Kelvin LEDs so events can be filmed or televised. Be sure to discuss your requirements with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist to determine your riding arena high performance lighting solution. 

Using Photometric Analysis for Indoor Horse Arena Lighting Design

A photometric analysis is a computer simulated model of how a potential lighting layout will render the light. Inputs include your arena dimensions, mounting height, reflectivity, the quantity of LED light fixtures, and the specifications of the LED arena light being proposed.  Results include maximum footcandles (fc), minimum fc, average fc, the max/min ratio and more. The results enable our lighting specialists to evaluate the proposed layout and to make multiple adjustments to determine the best lighting solution for your riding arena.

Photometric Analysis for Indoor Horse Arena Lighting Design

 Access Fixtures lighting specialists and lighting engineers have developed indoor riding arena lighting plans for many different size arenas. Each plan was designed to meet the required footcandles for different purposes such as jumping, roping or dressage. In many instances a lighting specialist already has a photometric study that uses the LED fixture that you prefer and meets the average fc that you require for your indoor riding arena. If you have a unique setup or specific requirements, the Access Fixtures lighting specialist can run a photometric analysis for your facility.  

Speak to a Lighting Specialist about Choosing the Right Fixture

If you have a lighting question, we will be glad to get you answer. We want to make sure you get the indoor arena lights that meet your budget and your goals. To speak with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist, call (800) 468-9925