We sat down recently to talk with Greg Kallmeyer of Kallmeyer Farms, a Kentucky-based trainer specializing in Dressage and Hunter/Jumper riding. We had a few questions about his experience with tension fabric buildings used for horse riding arenas.
How many years have you been in the horse business?
About 25 years.
How many years training?
I’ve been training about 15 years now.
What types of events do you train?
Dressage and hunter/jumpers.
Do you heat or cool your building?
No, we don’t heat or cool the building right now. We do plan on installing some Big Ass Fans this year.
What is the temperature like inside the building?
The building acts like a natural buffer to changes in outside temperature. When it’s hot outside the building is usually a few degrees cooler and when it’s cold outside the building is usually a few degrees warmer. In the winter the building maintains a good riding temperature, not too hot and not too cold.
Does the weather affect your training schedule? Do you experience snow days or rain outs?
That’s the great thing about operating a horseback riding business in one of these buildings. Unless the weather is so treacherous that people simply can’t drive here, we are open and on schedule. Our business is not subject to the weather anymore. We schedule our lessons and we stick to the schedule rain or shine.
Do you get less bugs while riding inside the building?
Absolutely, I actually prefer to ride inside now. I don’t like riding in the yard as much now; there’s wind, sun, rain, flies and mosquitos to contend with. I don’t get that when riding inside the building.
Do you use lighting in your building?
Just in the evening, we don’t need it during the day. When daylight hits the HDPE fabric it creates an even, soft ambient light throughout the building.
Is it quieter or louder in the building?
Acoustically it’s nice, the fabric building doesn’t echo like a steel building will. It’s a good sound barrier. It’s quieter during wind and rain than a metal building is. I can conduct my training without yelling all day to be heard.
Do you get much or any moisture on the arena floor?
No, the building is tightly sealed.
Does the floor ever get muddy?
No, we actually have to add water to the floor to control the dust.
What kind of doors do you have in your building?
We have one 12×12 sliding door.
What would you do differently if you could go back and build the building again?
I would choose to go with an all white fabric membrane instead of the 8 foot green trim I have on the building. I can feel the difference in temperature transference between the white and green material. The green section definitely conducts more heat than the white fabric, and doesn’t allow as much light through.
I would also have more openings, and maybe even side curtain walls that could be opened.
What do you know now that you wished you knew before, about the process or financing or time of year to build?
Buying from a dealer that specializes in equestrian buildings would have been better. An equestrian focused dealer will have more information about the foundation options that work best, and they will be able to guide you better in the lighting process. I find that most designers and engineers have the steel building frame of mind when creating lighting plans for fabric buildings. Conventional lighting plans are typically overkill for fabric buildings. Not only does natural light come through the translucent membrane during the day, but at night lighting reflects off of the white roof to create a well-lit ambient lighting. So you don’t normally need as much lighting in a fabric building as you would in a steel building.
Do you keep the big door open or closed when you are using the building?
The door is usually open when we ride, unless it’s really cold outside.
What kinds of things spook a horse?
Horses are natural born claustrophobics, the arena is large enough that they don’t feel claustrophobic, and because of how the light bounces around the building there are no dark corners. You’ll often see dark corners in a steel building, the horses don’t like the dark corners they’ll avoid them.