Barn and arena ventilation is critical for the health of horses and their caretakers.

Have you ever walked into a stuffy or uncomfortable-feeling barn? How about an indoor arena where you were dripped on, even though it wasn't raining outside? What a miserable experience for you and your horse. What went wrong in those facilities? Someone was not paying enough attention to the importance of ventilation in the facility prior to construction. In fact, many horse people and builders alike agree that the most common mistake in barn construction is failure to provide adequate ventilation.

Natural Ventilation

Lucky for us, nature provides a means to naturally cool and freshen the air, even in a barn or indoor arena. We just need to effectively tap into it.

Air naturally stratifies (separates into layers) with temperature and moisture. The old adage "hot air rises" is true. When it comes to the design of a barn or arena, it is up to us to take advantage of this phenomenon and tap into natural airflow to keep our equine buildings comfortable. The two goals in ventilation are to exchange air–replacing stale air with fresh–and to properly distribute the fresh air throughout the facility.

Todd Gralla of GH2 Equestrian Architects out of Norman, Okla., specializes in using design to maximize airflow. "Environmental control needs vary depending upon geography in terms of what we need to achieve for people and horses," Gralla says. "In most cases excellent ventilation can be achieved through natural means in the design of the building."

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