What you need to know about Equestrian Arena LED Lighting
30th September 2020
“Lighting is to enable the safe movement of both horse and rider appropriate to the standards of participation.”
When it comes to creating the perfect riding arena many horse enthusiasts purely focus on the surface, leaving the aspect of ‘lighting’ to be considered further down the track. It is important to plan for lighting at this early stage, even if you’re not thinking of installing until a later stage. At this design stage everything must be mapped out to include placement of pole locations, wiring and power supply access to future proof your investment.
Lighting is to enable the safe movement of both horse and rider appropriate to the standards of participation. It should provide uniform illumination over the total floor area to minimise shadowing as these might distract the horses as well as minimal glare for safety.
Indoor and outdoor arenas are treated differently and hence have different lighting requirements.
Best lights for your arena
If you’re going to use your lights frequently, LED lighting should be a better choice.
The traditional lighting technologies such as metal halide, HPS, or fluorescent are prone to flicker and / or buzz as well as long warm up times. This can cause irritation, low quality experiences and spectating, with LEDs this issue is removed entirely.
Traditional lighting also fades at a far quicker rate than LED lights and require far more maintenance. LED have virtually no maintenance.
LED lights is the best choice if you’re riding most evenings under lights. They will be more expensive to purchase, however they use about 1/3 less power than the traditional lighting, instant on, brighter, and some have additional safety features eg glare reduction, controllable light spread. Furthermore, LED lights will reduce installation material costs compared to traditional lighting (eg smaller cabling and switchgear). Selecting the correct wattage and height of the fittings will be determined by the lighting designers to comply with the owners requirements. It’s not as simple as just putting up any light. With new technology constantly being developed lights are now designed with a purpose.
The brightness of an arena (measured in lux) is not the only factor to consider. In the design, the riding discipline, uniformity of the lighting , glare levels, CRI (colour rendering index) - the quality of light emitted and which light standard class to comply to are all considerations.
Currently there are no Australian Standards for the Equine industry, but there is a review in progress to include equine lighting standards later this year.
Outdoor arena lighting
When it comes to choosing lights for your outdoor riding arena, locations and heights of the poles play a critical role. 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, to avoid shadows, which can in-turn spook your horse.
The height of poles will reflect the level of glare, uniformity and the total cost of the project. Generally shorter poles tend to have higher glare and involve more lights and higher installation cost but it is possible to achieve a better result with less glare, less poles, less lights and a lower installation cost by using higher poles.
Traditionally the pole height was limited to the light fitting but with modern LED technology the latest LEDs have various lenses to control lighting spread and penetration, offering a range of lighting solutions not possible before. The lighting beam from these lenses help to maximise the lighting efficiency to provide better aiming accuracy and to reduce light spillage to areas not requiring lighting (eg neighbouring properties). Also keeping glare to the minimum to both horse and rider is an important safety factor to consider.
Lighting must be adequate to enable the safe progress of both horse and rider over the jumps and to discern the finer points of dressage.
Indoor arena lighting
Indoor arenas tend to require more lighting to achieve the standards. This is due to the assumption there is no external light from anywhere in the design.
Indoor arena lighting tend to be easier to fit by simply following the roof supports. The amount of light fittings require is determined by the riding discipline, lux requirements, glare and uniformity as well as power cabling and access.
In dark or dimly lit stables there is less time for horses to visually contact with other horses or other stimuli. This can cause horses to develop stable vices, such as wind sucking, weaving and cribbing, which are often caused by boredom.
Three main factors to consider in any stable is light brightness (lux), uniformity and also the colour spectrum of light. For a well designed stable lighting regime, 16 hours of light followed by 8 hours of darkness, produces positive results. For this level of commitment, LED lights generate a more stable performance which means lower maintenance cost, and power consumption.
The exposure to the extended period of light will naturally prolong the horse summer coat and encourage the horse to grow a thinner winter coat, which makes a significant difference in terms of work and costs, and give you adequate lighting during the shorter day light hours throughout winter.
Independent research has shown that a minimum light level of 150 to 200 lux is recommended. It is suitable for the horses’ visual contact, also bright enough for you to plait up your horse the night before. Timers and sensors can be easily set up to keep it simple.
For more information, download the brochure attached below.