A few years ago, I decided to make a ‘real’ riding arena at my house. It measures about 160 feet long by 110 feet wide and it is a wonderful size for me and my horses. I love my arena. But in the process of having it, So in case you are considering building your own arena, or just looking for things to think about for taking care of your riding arena, I hope you find this information helpful.
Now I should preface this by making sure that you know, I am not a professional arena builder. Nor am I an expert in the best type of footing, drainage, etc. I can just share my tips, and what I have done (and learned) with having my own arena.
And despite the work that it took to build it, or the periodic upkeep that needs to be done to keep it in good shape, it is so worth it.
Build it if You Can
Having your own riding arena is definitely a luxury worth having, in my opinion. It is worth the investment of time, as well as money to be able to have a dedicated place to work your horse.
It is so very nice to be able to have this space to take my horse and work with him, no matter what we are doing.
It also doubles very nicely as a turn out for one of them during the day as well. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to use my arena as a turn out. But since I don’t turn my horses out together, it’s nice to have two turnouts that my boys have space to stretch their legs, run or buck, and of course just chill out and nap.
Determining Arena Size
If you are just in the planning phase of building your own arena, my advice would be to make it bigger than you think you will need. The reason I say this is if you make it as big as you think you’ll need, you may find you’ll outgrow it sooner rather than later, and then you’ll find yourself in the situation I did, and have to redo your arena. And that is not something you really want to do.
So if you think you can get by with an arena 80 x 60, but have the space for 100 x 120, I would go with the larger size, if you can.
Keeping Things Neat and Tidy
And once you have your arena, it’s best to keep it tidy. Because if you keep it neat and tidy, it will always be ready for you to use it whenever you feel the need to work with your horse. I know, I know. This is easier said than done. Especially if you have a bunch of jumps set up, or even a trail course. But if you keep things tidy it will help to keep you motivated to get out into your awesome arena.
Sometimes if I want to set up some jumps, or other obstacles, I try to keep them in the center of the arena. By keeping the outer edge of the arena free from obstacles, you still have a path for flat work if you need to keep the jumps (or obstacles) up for extended periods of time.
Keeping it tidy also means cleaning up the manure when it happens. Well, maybe not during your schooling, but definitely once you are done riding. It may not seem like a big deal to leave a few piles of manure in your arena, especially if you don’t have fancy footing.
But over time, when manure decomposes, it causes dust. And one of the worst things you can have in your arena is dust. So to help keep the dust under control, well as much as you can anyways is to pick up the manure in the arena.
Tending to the Surface
If you are planning on having your own arena, it would be very wise to buy a harrow.
The harrow hooks up to either a tractor, or even an ATV or riding lawn mower. It helps to keep your surface in good shape by removing divots, hoof prints, or body marks if your horse decided to roll and it helps to keep the surface worked, and prevents some compaction. Regardless of your surface, a harrow is a very necessary piece of equipment for your arena.
The harrow I have is 4 feet wide by 3 feet long and it works great for my size of arena. And this thing is awesome. It completely grooms the surface of the arena, and makes everything nice and level.
I found mine on eBay over 10 years ago. But the cost is actually lower now. Like the link I provided above, you can find a harrow like this one for less than $250.00 on Amazon. And if you have a Prime membership, you can get free shipping to boot!
You can also find really nice arena groomers, like the Dragnfly, which is awesome, but well out of my price range. This one costs $3900.00 Ouch. That’s a lot of money. It would be awesome to have though.
But I did find another option that is a little more affordable. It’s Called the EZ Groomer. And it has a price tag of $1599.00. The added shipping to get it to Colorado would add an extra $185.00. So a total investment of $1784.00.
If I were riding every day, and showing, this would probably be a great investment. But right now, it’s just too rich for my blood. So I will stick with my cheapie harrow, for now.
If you routinely groom your arena, it will help give a better surface for riding. But after a couple of years of being compacted from horses, and the ground can compact pass the point of a small harrow.
Options for Arena Grooming
If buying a harrow, or arena groomer isn’t a possibility for you, there is something else you can do. One option would be to hire someone with a fancy (and expensive) groomer to come in and condition your arena.
I just recently did this, and it made my ground like new again, minus having to get new sand.
I am fortunate enough that there is a small business, Rowdy Riders at Walk A Mile Arena that will come out and condition my size arena for just over $300.00, Yes, it’s a lot of money, but having good ground to work my horses in is worth it.
Depending on how much you use the arena will determine how often you would need to have this done. And if you have a grass area that you want to turn into arena, they can do that too. I am not sure of the cost for that though, because my arena is already dirt. But if you live in Colorado, you could message them on Facebook and see if they could do it, or how much it would cost. Phyllis is really nice by the way.
It was so nice to come home to this after a stressful work day. Isn’t it beautiful?!?!?!? And the footing feels soft, and wonderful!!!!! This will definitely last a while for me, especially if I take care of it.
Taking Care of Your Riding Arena
Well, there are some tips and tricks that I have learned to make the most of the arena that I have. Like I said, I’m not a professional arena builder. But I have learned some things a long my path of getting my own arena. And like I said, it has been soooo worth it! So if you are wanting to build your own arena, you can do it. Just make a plan, and be patient. You can do it!