A building surrounded by trees, distinctive structure in the natural world by an architect, environmental sustainability architects work on aspects of buildings or elements of a family house.

Archer & Buchanan Designs Indoor Horse Training Arena at Windurra USA

Windurra USA, located in Cochranville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, serves as the main training facility of international eventing athlete Boyd Martin and international dressage athlete Silva Martin.  Set on more than 75 acres, the world-class complex features some of the top sport-horse training amenities on the East Coast, including a jumping arena, dressage arena, cross-country course, gallop track and conditioning pond.  A new 100 x 220 foot indoor horse training arena designed by Archer & Buchanan Architecture represents the latest phase in the program of development at Windurra.

A person riding a horse. Air conditioning is the own right of the space owner. Planning ideas with an architect is helpful for development of structures and art materials.
International eventing athlete Boyd Martin training in the new 100 x 220 foot indoor arena designed by Archer & Buchanan Architecture.

As the designers of the indoor horse training arena, Archer & Buchanan Architecture contributes extensive familiarity and experience with equestrian design needs, practices and principles.  Firm partner Richard Buchanan, AIA, is a lifelong horseman and comes to each equestrian architectural design project not only with learned technical knowledge but additionally with a deep understanding gained from his decades of riding experience.

The factors that distinguish the architectural design of this indoor arena include:

  1. Footing
  2. Lighting
  3. Cleanliness
  4. Visibility
  5. Noise control


Arena footing is the top layer of material on which the horse is performing.  Selecting footing is a critical choice; it must be a long-lasting material that provides proper support and traction.  The correct material, in addition to contributing to the physical health and well-being of the horse, will help to increase the horse’s confidence and ultimately lead to a better performance.

Archer & Buchanan teamed with Attwood Equestrian Surfaces to install premium EuroTex footing, a unique composition of geotextile and specially selected sand.  The formulation creates a consistent footing that balances cushioning and grip and that helps to prevent compaction.  To maintain the footing, proper harrowing (also called “dragging”)—the process of using a tractor or all-terrain vehicle to pull a tined attachment over the arena surface to break up the top layer of footing—must be regularly performed.  Watering the footing is also important for dust control, and to help the footing materials to bind together and create a stable surface.

Wetting in many facilities relies on an overhead mounted sprinkler system which can leak and drip onto the riding surface and additionally be more susceptible to freezing.  Other methods such as hoses and horticultural or agricultural-grade systems require additional labor to put into practice.  The subsurface system employed at Windurra delivers consistent distribution in an efficient method that conserves more water than other systems.  By tying the watering system into the facility’s stormwater management system, an even greater degree of conservation is obtained.

A person on a horse in an arena. The nature in projects provides a connection to the landscape, from ancient wood to another article of style. A roman architect might use similar aspects or examples.
Premium EuroTex footing is used in the indoor training arena designed by Archer & Buchanan at Windurra USA in Chester County, Pennsylvania.


Indoor arena lighting should be as diffuse and shadow-free as possible in both day- and night-time conditions.  The architectural design of the arena at Windurra incorporates a roof ridge skylight and large, operable glass-paned garage doors to allow natural light to illuminate the arena during daytime.  The operable garage doors have the added bonus of increasing natural ventilation for the facility.

A person riding a horse in an architecture creation. Our architects can make things practical when designing and creating the construction space. The history of projects and services is important to preserve the beauty of the buildings.
In addition to the roof ridge skylight, operable garage doors provide abundant natural light as well as ventilation in the indoor training arena designed by Archer & Buchanan.


Maintaining a low-dust environment in the arena to reduce eye and respiratory irritation is critically important for the health of both horse and rider.  The design of the Windurra indoor horse training arena approaches this in multiple ways.  As noted previously, the choice of footing material and sub-surface watering system is instrumental in dust control.  Other less obvious differentiators include the steel building structure and the operable garage doors.  The clean, wide spans of the steel structure eliminate a complex web truss system destined to collect large amounts of dust and dirt.  The garage doors, when open, allow air flow and a flushing of any dust that might be in the air.

Architecture structures with large ceilings offer history in the project when designing with the builder. The theory of these skills is considered when planning.
The architectural design of the indoor arena uses steel to create clean, wide spans in lieu of a complex web truss system which would be prone to collecting dust and dirt.


The architectural design of the steel structure delivers an unimpeded view for horse, rider and viewers as there are no columns required to provide support along the spans arching overhead.  Credit must again be given to the glass-paned garage doors running the length of both sides of the arena; they provide a view to the outside which creates a far more pleasant atmosphere than that which horse and rider experience in a solid box design. Finally, care was taken in properly choosing and installing mirrors to provide instant visual feedback to a rider who relies on this tool to see precisely how her horse is performing in addition to feeling it.

A person riding horses inside a building. This could have once been an office or a studio that an architect transformed into a country style site. Numerous projects may have a similar idea and environment, but the builder might proceed with construction and art very differently.
The architectural design includes mirrors running the width of the arena that allow riders to see how their horse is performing.


The steel structure with insulated roof provides a rigid building less prone to movement and the corresponding creaks than other methods of construction.  The insulated roof additionally reduces interior noise from wind and rain.  In both instances, a less distracting, more pleasing experience is created for horse, rider, trainer and viewer.


The architectural design of the indoor arena at Windurra also includes curved kick walls.  While the curved wood form of the kick walls gives a finished, aesthetically pleasing look to the arena, its primary function is safety.  The kick wall forces the horse away from the arena wall, preventing potential injury to both horse and rider.

A person riding a horse. Latin architectus or a roman architect might have completed similar projects before. These can be used for inspiration when working on houses or other commercial spaces. The interiors of a site range in techniques and design.
The curved wooden kick walls of the indoor arena function as an important safety element of the architectural design by keeping horse and rider away from the exterior walls of the arena.
Skip to content