Big Ass Fans Circle the Arena

A therapeutic riding organization is able to operate year round with the use of these fans.

Occupying a small plot of land within the world-renowned Kentucky Horse Park is a much beloved organization that has been providing therapeutic riding to clients with special needs since 1981.

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope started as a humble operation with an outdoor arena, a few donated horses and numerous enthusiastic volunteers working to fulfill their mission of enriching the community by improving the quality of life for people with special physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs through therapeutic horse riding.

Fast-forward nearly three decades, CKRH finally moved indoors to a newly built state-of-the-art arena on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park, allowing it to provide services throughout the year without the scorching sun, pouring rain or freezing temperatures. However, despite protection from the outdoor elements, CKRH had to contend with uncomfortable, stagnant air, especially on the hottest days.

The facility needed to be ventilated as quietly as possible in a way that wouldn't disturb the arena footing, says Pat Kline, CKRH executive director.

Made of corrugated steel and concrete, the 21,000-square-foot therapeutic riding arena installed two 24-foot-diameter Powerfoil fans from The Big Ass Fan Company in the arena, in addition to a 12-foot diameter PowerfoilPlus with a VESDA smoke-detection system in one of their two stall barns.

“Ventilation in this indoor facility makes it possible for a lot of our participants, especially those who have respiratory or heat-related issues, to participate,” Pat says. “It has made a tremendous difference in the fact that the riding program can keep right on going, even on the hottest summer days.”

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Where There’s Smoke …

While the fans do their work, the VESDA smoke detector, installed in the hull of the fan, can significantly reduce the loss of equine and human life by sending smoke-detection alerts far more rapidly than standard detection systems. As barn fires can spread instantaneously, the inner smoke detector is an active smoke detection technology continually drawing air into the sampling points in the center of the fan and can shut down at the earliest stage of fire or smoke detection.

The Proper Gait

Though large and powerful, Big Ass Fans are also efficient, using very small motors, particularly relative to the volume of air movement generated. Ranging in size from 6 to 24 feet in diameter, it’s these small motors along with the patented airfoil and winglet combination that allow Big Ass Fans to provide quiet, gentle, nondisruptive air movement year-round for arenas of any size.

In the winter, the fans circulate still air in arenas while the doors and windows are sealed against the cold.

The old outdoor facility, Pat says, was really hard on volunteers due to extreme heat adding discomfort to the volunteers and horses walking circles around the arena.

“The fans have been greatly appreciated. The fact that it can remain cooler in the arena has definitely impacted people willing to stay on for the summer and help us out,” she says. “Everybody thinks therapy horses just plod around an arena to walk and that this is an easy thing for them. It is actually very difficult for horses to ride riders that are frequently unbalanced. They have to work hard, so keeping them cool is a priority.”

During the summer, gentle breezes simply dehumidify stagnant air, creating a comfortable, cool feeling benefiting all. Arenas are able keep the fans running 24 hours a day, year-round.

“[During the summer] we leave our big fans running on low overnight and when we arrive in the morning, it’s really very pleasant,” Pat says. “On a 90-degree hot and humid day, it really stays very pleasant in there.”

The additional 12-foot Powerfoil fan fitted with VESDA is installed in one wing of the V-shaped stall barn.

“We tried to pick the part of the V that we thought would do the most in ventilation for us,” Pat says. In the future, Pat and the other facility operators hope to install a second Powerfoil fan at the other tip of the stall barn.

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