Indoor riding arenas provide a comfortable place for training your horses and keeping them fit. However, indoor riding arenas also provide pigeons with shelter and food. If you have an indoor riding arena, you'll want to keep pigeons out. While not necessarily dangerous to horses, they can be dangerous to humans and your business. Here's what you need to know.

Pigeon habits and habitat

Pigeons like large indoor places like riding arenas and barns because these large structures provide the birds with shelter, food and enough space to fly around. Pigeons eat grains, which may be plentiful in your riding arena if you feed your horses in it.

They tend to stay in a general area, which is why you may see pigeon droppings in a centralized location. Look above the droppings and you may see a nest above. Females can lay one or two eggs, with squabs (baby pigeons) hatching within 18 days.

Squabs can start taking care of themselves at the tender age of four weeks. At that point, mom and dad are already working on producing their next set of babies. Therefore, when you start noticing pigeons in your riding arena, it's important to take care of them as quickly as possible with pest control.

Important information: Some people raise pigeons and put a band on their feet. If you notice banded pigeons, try to get the numbers from the bands so you can find the owners through the American Pigeon Racing Union.

Health risks of pigeons

You may be concerned about pigeon fever. However, pigeon fever is believed to be caused by flies, not by pigeons. It is given this name for the way the disease makes a horse's chest protrude. Pigeons do, however, carry ticks, mites, fleas and lice that may irritate your horses.

Pigeon droppings in your horse's water and feed may cause them intestinal distress because the droppings may contain diseases like toxoplasmosis and salmonella, which are also dangerous to humans. The droppings can contain a fungus that can cause histoplasmosis in humans, which can cause flu-like symptoms.

Pigeon droppings can be slippery and cause you and others to slip and fall, which could cause injuries or spook your horses. For these reasons, it's important to eliminate pigeons from your indoor riding arena.

Pest control for pigeons

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get rid of the pigeons and keep them out. You'll need to deter them from being able to make your indoor arena their home. This can be done by installing spiked strips on the rafters of your riding arena. This will prevent the pigeons from being able to land on the rafters.

You can place an owl decoy near each entrance to the arena. Some owl decoys are programmed to hoot occasionally to give a more realistic effect. There are also snake decoys available. These items can be purchased through a pest control company.

You can also get a noise deterrent device from a pest control company. These are devices that are specifically designed to deter pigeons and other birds by emitting a high-pitched noise. Your horses should not be affected by this type of device. However, it may bother small animals you may want in your barn, particularly dogs and cats.

If you'd like a natural approach to getting rid of pigeons, a few barn cats would love to do the job. Barn cats are notorious for keeping birds out of barns and arenas.

If you currently have a pigeon problem or would like to avoid it altogether, get your arena examined by professionals such as Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control.