Open-sided arenas can be constructed either as traditional buildings, prefabricated buildings, or even fabric-roofed buildings. They are ideal for areas where the weather is generally pleasant, such as the maritime climates, where an arena needs to shield from gentle rain more than unpleasant heat or cold.
Open-sided arenas can also provide a shaded place to ride in hot, dry climates or even hot, humid climates, where air conditioning an arena is prohibitively expensive. By leaving the sides partially or entirely open, it is possible to vastly simplify the building comfort systems. For example, this type of arena would not be assumed to be heated or cooled or forcibly ventilated, although it may be desirable to add ceiling fans to assist in moving air.
Another advantage of an open-sided arena is that it can allow for a more natural riding experience. Some horses may work better in spaces that feel less dark and cavernous. An open-sided arena can also be ideal for locations where there is a beautiful view.
The natural riding experience can also have downsides, as there are some days and times of year where it may be less comfortable to be outside, and an arena with outside views may create distractions for the rider and horse.
An open-sided arena is not always the least expensive building to construct. It may need to have some custom engineering to allow for the structural openings that are created by the open side. So they may cost almost as much as their fully-enclosed counterparts, at least for the building skin. You may save money though in ventilation and climate control.
Editor's note: You can find the other articles in this series by searching Articles>Barns & Grounds in our top dropdown menu.