Hobby Horse Acres

Challenge – Weather protection
Solution – Hercules Truss Arch Building
Size – 100′ wide x 110′ long
Application – Indoor riding arena

Some people are destined for an adventurous life. Take Andy Hillstrand, for example. If you like perilous intrigue and nail-biting suspense, you may have already joined the 23 million plus viewers who regularly tune into the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” the documentary style drama about crab fishing—one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. A third generation crab fisherman, Captain Andy Hillstrand mans his family’s custom made fishing vessel, The Time Bandit, during Opilio crab season. He and his crew brave mountainous waves, icy waters and myriad other dangers to bring the bounty home.

Home is a 17-acre horse ranch in Chandler, Indiana where Andy and his wife, Sabrina, fulfill a dream of spending their days riding and helping others learn to ride. They moved to Indiana from Alaska four years ago, “because,” Andy says, “in Alaska you can only ride a few months of the year. There aren’t many indoor arenas, only two or three.” While Andy faces off with the Bering Sea, Sabrina manages Hobby Horse Acres.

Andy shares that one of the reasons they started the ranch is “because a lot of kids don’t get a chance to ride. We want to give back,” he says. Andy started riding at age 28, inspired by his oldest daughter’s 4-H activities. He’s 42 now; in those 14 years he has become a four-time world qualifier for the National Barrel Horse Association and four-time Alaska State Champion Barrel Racer.

The Hillstrands specialize in natural horsemanship. They provide daily riding lessons, riding day camps and manage a stable of thirteen horses. Explaining their need for a covered arena, Andy says that when they were first getting started on the ranch, they had an outdoor arena. “When it rained, we couldn’t ride. It was really a bummer. It nearly shut us down. When Sabrina and I decided to build a covered arena we looked seriously at fabric-covered arenas.” He says that a well-known trainer of natural horsemanship recommended fabric covered arenas. He continues, “ClearSpan’s price was right. Now that we have our ClearSpan arena, business has increased by 50%.”

“Customers love it,” he says. “Especially the kids. They go wild with how big and tall it feels inside. The amount of light that comes in is incredible. We never turn on the lights in the daytime. Metal arenas are dark even when the lights are on. Lights make them hotter. It’s cool in our arena,” he says. The fabric cover “keeps the baking sun off of you, but you feel like you’re outside.”

“We use the whole structure—it’s very spacious, we can ride right up to the truss. The horse can see better and be more confident. I recently visited a building in Kentucky that uses 45 electrical lights. Our building is the same size and we only have 15. We’re riding indoors from 6 am until 7 pm with no lights on.”

“We also like the acoustics. We play a stereo while the kids ride. The sound fills the arena, but it doesn’t bounce. It’s loud, but not spooky sounding.”

Andy offers advice to people thinking about building. He suggests comparing “apples to apples.” “Go ahead and check out metal buildings,” he says, “ but keep in mind that after 60 feet wide the price for metal changes big time. Fabric is a better deal.”

To learn more about Hobby Horse Acres, visit www.HobbyHorseAcres.net. To see Captain Andy in action on The
Time Bandit, go to www.timebandit.tv. To learn more about the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” visit