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Out Of The Sun For Everyone - Pavilions Provide A Welcome Relief

By Content Admin, 08/19/2020 - 7:29am

Blog By Nikki Alvin-Smith

If you’ve ever spent the day working in the heat under the glare of full sun in the ‘dog days of summer’ then you know first-hand how heat exhaustion and sunburn can creep up on you. As a clinician I have certainly spent my fair share of time giving instruction to riders from the center of a dusty, hot arena baking myself to a crisp. I’ve also suffered with skin cancer, possibly as a direct result from too much exposure to the sun. 

Horse Riding

Many of my equestrian colleagues have also experienced skin cancer, and it is a concern for all folks that work outside in the sun. Many equestrian clothing companies provide SPF protection for riders with specially treated fabrics and do a great job of helping athletes protect themselves from the ravages of exposure of the sun’s rays. That is an awesome help. But there are other ways you can help yourself and your family/friends and students.

Training and riding horses outdoors keeps them mentally fresh and is to be embraced as part of a solid training regime for both horse and rider. While the outdoor arena may not be in the shade and the rider and horse may have to work in the sun for an hour, it doesn’t mean that instructors, auditors and other visitors can’t benefit from provision of a structure to shelter from the harmful rays of the sun. 

The addition of a pavilion shade structure next to the arena is a simple way to provide a cool, comfortable space where folks can safely enjoy listening in and learning from others’ lessons.  Parents of students, and all friends and family of the barn brigade will all enjoy the benefits a pavilion will provide. It can also be utilized for fundraising events, tack sales, barbeques and gatherings of all sorts, and provides a welcome relief from the sun for guests, as well as a focal point for folks to congregate.

The pavilion provides a solid roof for ultimate protection from the sun, as opposed to a pergola with its neatly spaced ceiling beams that offers to only mitigate the rays of the sun and will not protect its occupants from the rain. 


If you seek a larger gathering space than one structure will provide, consider a combination building, with a pavilion in the center and a pergola each side. This offers a wealth of capacity of variant shade and sun that visitors will enjoy, with a pleasing aesthetic that has been used for centuries in architecture to create form, function and an impressive presence to the outdoor structures. 

Many horse show facilities, such as HITS in Saugerties, NY, have added freestanding pavilions to their showgrounds, placing them adjacent to warm up rings and competition arenas for the comfort of spectators. In addition to providing shelter from the sun, the structures also protect the attendees from summer rain showers. There are many ways to elevate your event show season with outdoor structures.

Historically, the classic pavilion structure was attached to a main building and was much used by royalty in the architectural design of palaces and mansions, such as the Chinese pavilions in the Forbidden City. Often pavilions were added to each end of a mansion to provide additional ornament to the building as seen in 18th Century British houses such as Houghton Hall. Pavilions were also designed as freestanding structures and were almost always used as places of pleasure for activities such as banquet dining and musical entertainment (hence the bandstands that we see today).

Pavilions come in all shapes, sizes, heights and designs, and their presence can add significant value both for aesthetic appeal and focal point in the outside setting. Their open sides offer a 360 degree view for the occupants, allow summer breezes to cool the shaded interior, and lessen the expenses of the building overall compared to a four sided structure. Additionally a pavilion shade structure can accommodate groups of all sizes, from small to large without the fixed boundaries of walls to preclude the gathering.


Elegant archways, decorative skirts and trim, and lined tongue and groove ceilings all add to the aesthetic appeal of a pavilion. Consider incorporating a water and electric supply to capitalize on the many useful activities the pavilion can provide. 

Functional additions such as ceiling fans and lighting can further enhance the structure, and creative uses for relaxation can even include a hot tub or cooking station. Flat screen TVs can be hung inside the space to give an up-close look at events being recorded elsewhere on the grounds at sporting venues. A pavilion is a useful structure for properties of all sizes.

Construction materials used run the gamut and range from maintenance-free vinyl covered wood, to wood, stone and even marble. Pavilions can be purchased as a pre-fabricated kit. This ensures access is not a problem for the construction of the pavilion in hard to reach locations. 

Selection from a myriad of styles and designs can be made online, shipped to your farm and quickly assembled onsite. The lumber members of the kit are precut and pre-drilled, making it a giant jigsaw that is easy to construct. All hardware and roof shingles should be included in the purchase price, you simply provide the tools and the labor.

A pavilion can be placed over level ground that is finished with gravel, stone or concrete or even just grass. Though grass is not an optimal choice, as it will quickly turn to dust with a high level of foot traffic.

Interior seating can be foldaway chairs, garden furniture such as durable polyvinyl or lightweight aluminum bleachers set inside. 

The added value that a pavilion will provide for visitors to the horse farm or showground is well worth considering. The better the experience folks have visiting your farm, the more time they will want to spend participating in your events and lesson program. 


A pavilion can also provide a safe zone for children and others with less horse sense, and for those who are not comfortable standing at the rail and who would prefer to be seated.

If you would like to elevate the appeal and usefulness of your property, a quick and simple outdoor living structure is the way to go. 

Nikki Alvin Smith

Nikki Alvin-Smith is a seasoned freelance writer who loves to share her lifelong experience with everything horse, farm and travel. Her work has been printed in more than two hundred equestrian magazine titles worldwide and her published articles number in the thousands including travel and lifestyle press.

A Brit who has called New York home for more than 37 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to her writing.

Her experience as an international level Grand Prix dressage competitor, coach and worldwide clinician, with a youth spent showjumping and foxhunting, provides lots of educational truths and fun moments to share with the reader. Additionally she has been a horse breeder/importer of Hanoverian, Dutch and Iberian horses for 25+ years.

Together with her husband Paul, also a Grand Prix dressage rider, she lives in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York and operates an organic hay farm and dressage yard. She is the proud mother of three children, Tristan, James and Chelsea (twins), and the latter two have kept with the horse riding as adults.