building a riding arena on a budget

Building A Riding Arena On A Budget

Since I have been taking professional riding lessons for the past two months, I have decided I need to increase the size of my riding arena. So I want to share with you building a riding arena on a budget. The original space I had was too narrow, and not large enough to incorporate some jumps for schooling. And we brought in sand 2 years ago for the original area which was nice, but since originally putting it in, has gotten deep in spots, and dusty.

building a riding arena on a budget

And every spring it seems I have some vision of grandeur that I want to do with our property, and this year I have decided I will have a ‘real’ riding arena!

I will not be starting from scratch, thankfully. I will be adding a long section of fencing that will match the rest of our vinyl post and rail fencing that we already have on three sides of what will be my official riding arena. So we will have to rent a post hole digger, and have the fencing supplies delivered. But having everything at one time is well worth the $79.00 delivery charge, in my opinion.

Out With The Old

The original riding area I have is about 110 feet x 56 feet. Not very big at all, and the narrow ends make it a challenge for turns. The footing is basically dirt with about 3 inches of sand. Some places have 6 inches of sand. And I do have a nice arena dragger that I got on eBay for about $200.00. It works great, but with the uneven depth of sand, the tires get stuck and I am sitting there with my wheel spinning.

building a riding arena on a budget

And the footing has gotten really dusty. I really noticed that this year, specifically since I have been working my horses already this spring. And this is bad, especially for Frisby. Frisby already has respiratory issues, and he doesn’t need dust adding to his already sensitive system.

And the last thing I want to change about my riding area is fencing. At first I didn’t think it was a big deal not to have the arena fenced, but I have learned it is. When I have a small set of jumps set up, my horses wander through the jumps, knock them down, and chew on the painted surfaces.

building a riding arena on a budget

And then there is the poop. They poop everywhere! And the sand must be like a giant litter box, because they love to go to the arena area and poop. And when they aren’t pooping in my freshly groomed arena, they are rolling in the sand.

By adding a barrier and being able to keep them out of the riding area will keep the ground better, and also save my jumps.

Determining The Size

The first thing I needed to decide on was the size of my new arena. I walked off what I had planned to see how it would be for riding. I was very happy with the results. The new riding arena will incorporate a portion of the old. The new size will be 168 feet x 96 feet. This will be much better for setting a small course of jumps, along with flat work and lunging.

building a riding arena

I will be moving the sand (with my husband’s help, along with his fancy new tractor- not this one) to be spread across the new area. I haven’t determined if I will have to get more sand, but I think what I have will be sufficient. There was a lot of sand in the original area, and I think by spreading it out, it will be perfect.

Dealing With The Dust

Another huge component of this riding area is the dust. I am sure it is so dusty because the sand has broken down. But I don’t want to keep adding more and more sand, so I have been looking at alternatives.

Fiber Footing

building a riding arena

This is nice, but really expensive. And building the final fence line for the arena is taking a lot of my budget. Even though I would love to have fancy fiber footing, it would cost me over $13,000 for my arena size. And honestly, that is way out of my budget.

Rubber Mulch

building an arena on a budget

This is a more affordable option, but still expensive. It does add some cushion and water retention properties to the pre-existing footing. But from what I have been reading, it would be best to take out all the old sand and replace it. Again, not really an option for me.

Whoa Dust

building a riding arena on a budget

I found Whoa Dust completely by accident, and I am so glad that I did. It is an additive that you add to your existing footing, water it, and it’s supposed to reduce the dust by at least 50%. And it is affordable. For my new riding arena, I will need 8 kg, which is around 17 lbs. 17 lbs. of a product will help me to have a better arena? Heck ya! Sign me up!

They have a great website that gives you all of the information about their product. And after I buy it, I will of course share the results with you here, so be sure to come back in about a month or so and I hope to have my arena project done, along with a review of the Whoa Dust. I am hoping this is what I need to make my dirt better, without having to buy another 65 tons of dirt.

Projected Costs For A New Arena

I am a planner, and I like to know what I am in for before I get started, so I plan it out. To build my new official riding arena, the total cost will be around $2500.00 total. Not to bad really when you consider the size of the arena.

how to build a riding arena on a budget

And I will be buying the stuff to make the arena a little bit at a time, so I don’t have to come up with $2500.00 at one time. And I will be funding a major part of my arena build from the money I made on eBay selling off things I didn’t really need.

Hopefully by the time it is great riding weather, I will have a beautiful new riding arena. Time will tell, but that is my goal. It won’t be anything super fancy, but it will be making the most of some usable space!


I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.

    8 replies to "Building A Riding Arena On A Budget"

    • Judy Olcott

      I was reading your blog about adding to your arena. I just built mine (95×126) and got what I and the sandman figured would be 2″ depth for my size ring. It turned out to be too much!
      So now I’m scraping off the sand and adding French drains. Even though my drainage is decent I had some places that didn’t drain to my liking hence the French drains. Since mine is new (and barely ridden on) I don’t have dust problems. How long did you ride on yours before dust became an issue? Are you in an arid location? I’m in the Midwest and we generally get decent rain. I’d also like to know how the dust reducing product worked.
      Thanks! Any suggestions welcome!
      Judy Olcott

      • Lisa

        Hi Judy!
        In the original area for riding, we added 60 tons of sand…..way too much for the small area. But it worked! We added the sand 4 years ago. And this year has been incredibly dry, which I am thinking is why I am having the dust issue. I am really excited to try the arena dust control product. It’s been ordered, but still not shipped. I will make sure to give a full review of the moisture-lok, I can’t wait to see if this makes a difference!

    • Holly

      We are in the midst of building a mini horse arena for agility and cart driving. We were told to add a footing of 5 1/2 inches of stone dust and then sand on top. Please let me know how the Whoa Dust worked for you. I am in the Northeast but we can get really dry weeks during the summers.

      • Lisa

        Hi Holly,

        I am getting ready to post my thoughts on the Moisture Lok stuff we bought. It works ok, but it is really expensive for what it does. I’m trying to see if I can find some more affordable options to share. But if you are able to water the arena, it does help. It just is a commitment!

    • Laura Peterson

      What was the total cost on your finished arena? Do you like it?
      Would you mind doing a breakdown of the materials you bought and the price? This would be just for the arena repairs that you did (not the fencing)?

    • sarah Hexamer

      Hiya really interested in the follow up of this, we are in New Zealand and have just built a river sand arena, and keen to know about whoa dust, ours isnt likely to be too dusty as the river sand is like fine grit but if we do have issues will be interested in whoa dust. also interested in how you extended as that is our plan for the coming year or so, currently we have 27 x 40 arena we cant change the 40 but could do 40 x 40 as we have now removed a building. also the harrows as we have stayed away from those type thinking they would dig in too much but often see that type for sale. please keep us posted on progress. We have also built a tyre wall on the paddock side as wood here is so expensive…go figure…lol. 🙂

    • Lynn Smith

      Consider using salt for controlling your dust in your arena. A lot cheaper and actually sold for this and for controlling dust for other projects.

    • Tamra

      We use mag flakes in our arena (therapeutic barn) to take care of dust. Works great. One application per year.

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