Having your very own riding arena is a dream come true for many horse enthusiasts, but when it comes to designing the perfect arena, many riders purely focus on the surface, leaving the aspect of ‘lighting’ out of the equation, or to consider further down the track. It is important to plan for lighting at this early stage, even if you’re not thinking of installing lights until later. Why? Because the installation required for wiring lighting and light poles needs to be mapped out to ensure adequate space is allocate. And furthermore, your power supply will need to be accessed; a power upgrade may be required to manage the extra wattage that will be required to prevent an outage. If you’re going to be using your lights frequently, then LED lighting may be a more viable choice.
As many of us know finding the time to ride during daylight hours is proving rather difficult, especially when winter creeps up on us. Riding after work or school becomes impossible, when it can get dark by 5pm. But what if you could ride at night? Imagine the extra hours of training you’d be able to fit-in each and every week. This time of year is generally when most horse riders take a break or decrease the amount of hours they spend in the saddle, but think about this… with arena lighting you’ll be able to continue on riding throughout winter, hooray!
For lighting in indoor arenas, it is particularly important to have uniform light distribution. One of the most important points to consider in indoor arenas is the prevention of shadow and ‘light circles’. For general training, a lux level of 300 would be sufficient, however for competition riding a slightly higher lux of 500 would be recommended. For spectator viewed events, like dressage clinics and showjumping we’d recommend a lux level of up to 900. For televised events, you’d be looking at achieving a lux level of between 1000-2000.
- Please note: We are a Melbourne based electrical contracting company and do not provide lighting templates or lighting installations (including lights) for interstate clients. Please contact an electrician in your area.
Best lights for outdoor riding arenas
When it comes to choosing lights for your outdoor riding arena, it’s best to put as many lights on each pole as possible. For the most natural white light, Metal Halide (MH) fittings will provide the most intensity. These fittings generally need to be higher up due to the glare factor. High Pressure Sodium (HPS) fittings are a softer warner light, similar to street lighting, generally less glare but not as much punch as the metal halide lamps. Metal halide is less efficient than high pressure sodium. MH produces much less light per watt and produces more glare due to the blue light component. Both HPS and MH are not extremely efficient, however if you’re only using them for a couple of hours a night each week, then either of these fittings would be the best choice. HPS is a better choice for outdoor lighting applications. HPS provides better quality lighting at a lower cost and with less damage to the environment. Furthermore, MH fittings need to be changed more frequently, which can be a problem when they’re high up on poles.
If you’re riding most evenings under lights, then LED lights would be the best choice. LED lights will be more expensive to purchase, however they use about 1/3 less power than their predecessors. Selecting the correct wattage and height of the fittings will be determined when the electrician installs the lights.
Lighting poles height
Just as you put lots of thought into planning your arena you must also do the same when it comes to planning the lighting. At what height will you have your poles to hold the arena lights?
“It’s best to go for taller poles, as they cast smaller shadows on the horse and rider because the light strikes at a more vertical angle.”
The light poles will need to be placed symmetrically around the riding arena. The number of poles will depend upon the size of the arena, but a minimum of four is a must. This is to avoid shadows, which can in-turn spook your horse.
Will you require 3 phase power for your lights?
The expensive part of arena lighting is the installation, so you’ll need to think carefully about your power. It may be likely that your house doesn’t have enough electricity to support the extra power you’ll need for your arena lights, so you may end up with the dilemma of having to switch off all of the lights in your house to prevent blowing a fuse, or you may have to install a sub panel, which can be costly, or 3 phase power.
The electricity in your stable or shed areas may not be enough either. A 100amp supply is generally sufficient to support arena lighting. This planning stage is the perfect time to have an electrician come out and have a look at your power supply, so we can identify if an upgrade will be required. We will also be able to do an analysis of your arena and determine exactly how much lighting is necessary.
“There is a certain amount of light that you’ll need for your riding arena, generally well lit, with 160 lux. A lux is the measure of a light’s intensity, the density of light that falls on a surface.”
Helpful hint: Don’t run conduit or wiring under your arena. If something goes wrong, you may have to dig-up the arena to make repairs down the track. This is a sure-fire way to ruin your arena. The base needs to be level throughout, and if one area is disturbed it will act as a sump and collect water. Always have the wiring in conduit and done around the outside of the arena.
You now have stables – fantastic, but what about suitable lighting? There are lots of factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right lighting for your horse’s stable or shed area. You must ensure sufficient lighting is given to fulfil the purpose of lighting the designated area adequately.
Are fluoro’s bright enough to plait-up your Hack the night before?
Are LEDs best for equestrian centres that require their lights to be on for long periods of time? What lighting is best to ensure your horse has a great coat all year round?
Have you thought about using timers and light sensors for energy efficiency and saving on lighting costs?
Best lighting for stable lights
Horses require visual contact. In dark or dimly lit stables there is much less of an opportunity for visual contact with other horses. This can cause horses to develop stable vices, such as wind sucking, weaving and cribbing, which are often caused by boredom.
When it comes to stable lighting, independent research has shown that a minimum light level of 150 to 200 lux is recommended under the Australian Standards. Lux is a standardised unit of measurement of the light intensity. The amount of power required to operate a light fitting is wattage. This light level, combined with a lighting regime of sixteen hours of light followed by 8 hours of darkness, produces positive results, described below.
Timers & Light Sensors
Timers and sensors work fabulously for added security and not to mention the added bonus of keeping your horse’s coat short throughout winter whilst stabled. The exposure to the extended period of light will naturally encourage your horse to grow a thinner winter coat, which makes a significant difference in terms of work and costs, e.g. for rugging and clipping and give you adequate lighting during the shorter day light hours throughout winter. Simply set the timers to turn on and off at whatever time of day or night it is to suit you and your horse’s needs.
Lighting for the health of your horse
Extending the day length by means of appropriate lighting influences melatonin production. Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone. Light inhibits melatonin production and darkness accelerates it. In other words: more light means less sleep hormone and therefore healthier, more active horses. But if your main purpose for stable lighting is to lengthen the amount of light for your horse then you may want to avoid Metal Halide (MH) fittings, as they more effectively shut off melatonin production.
Lighting also plays an important role when it comes to breeding, because it has a significant influence on the hormone levels and fertility of your horse. You can extend the day length by simply installing lighting into your horse’s stable. By providing your horse with sixteen hours of light and a minimum level of 150 to 200 lux, (per light) prevents the onset of the shorter days throughout winter. Mares are also more likely to come into season (oestrus).
Benefits of good lighting for horses
To sum up, good lighting in stables and indoor and outdoor riding arenas, combined with a good light level and the correct lighting regime, will result in:
- healthier, more active horses
- happier horses, with more opportunities for better visual contact
- better fertility and hormone levels
- thinner winter coat and less rugging required
- no ‘shadows’ in outdoor riding arenas
- no ‘light circles’ in indoor riding arenas
An unsuitable light level or lighting regime may have implications for the health, performance and welfare for your horse. Prolux Electrical Contractors can design a lighting plan to suit your horse’s needs. We offer full installation, taking the stress out of all aspects of your lighting and power requirements.
Prolux Electrical Contractors take into consideration the variables to determine the most cost effective and practical way to lighten-up your horsey areas, whether it be your stables, shed, tack-room, driveway or arena.
For great lighting solutions, call Prolux Electrical Contractors today on 1800 800 880.