Dear John:

Our small therapeutic riding center operates within an existing indoor arena that is a converted aircraft hangar (all steel, no ventilation). We need to retrofit it to improve ventilation. Condensation in the winter is annoying, but the heat in the summer is a real safety concern.

Can you help?


Healing with Horses


Dear Healing with Horses:

First, I suggest you contact a dealer in large, industrial fans. Big Ass Fans is a company I can recommend but there are certainly others you could contact.  Often, they can provide assistance selecting the right size and model for your arena. I imagine it will require at least two but maybe three ceiling mounted fans. See Pegaso Farm ( for one of our arena installations. These dealers can probably also connect you with a local contractor who can install them.

You may want to consider a large, louvered fan in each of the gable ends of your arena with dampers. If the louvers are large, at least 4 ft square, place a large two-way fan that allows exhaust or intake and a damper that opens only when the fan is on. They should help exhaust hot air in the summer. The contractor who installs the industrial fans also may be able to install the louver fans.

The fans and louvers should help with the temperature and bad air quality in your arena. They may help with the condensation problem, but won’t resolve it. The only way to resolve the condensation problem is to install insulation on the interior underside of the roof (which I assume is exposed metal). The important thing to consider with insulation is it has to be bird proof.

Bird proofing can be done in a number of ways. Insulation is available in a blanket with a plastic covering that is supposedly bird proof, in a blanket with a perforated metal liner on the interior face or in a ridged board insulation. These options range in cost and quality from lowest to highest. Choose the one that more closely fits your budget.

Penn State completed a very helpful study on ventilation in horse barns, and it provides a great deal of helpful information:

I hope this is helpful. Best of luck in your important work! Horses make wonderful healing partners.