If you want a safe, usable arena that will keep you well-off over the years, it will require planning, effort, and investment in resources. Building your covered arena may be a daunting project and will undoubtedly steal time away from your main work, which is to train horses. Mistakes when creating your horse arena can prove to be painfully expensive, as anyone who has had to pay out money to correct an issue can attest. A horse arena is a significant investment for any horse owner, and it is crucial to get it right in the initial planning stages.
If building a riding arena is part of a larger equine project, think about your entire layout ahead of time. Ideally, your indoor horse arena design that you are building will be big enough that you can fit more than one horse and rider using it simultaneously. If you are planning on riding with larger groups, you will want to do it in an area longer than your indoor riding arena.
You will have to consider what discipline you will use the surface for when planning the dimensions of the structure for the indoor arena. The amount of traction needed on your surface depends on how your arena will be used. The types of riding or driving activities will partly dictate how much grip is needed on the arena surface. The nature of the terrain will dictate how much effort is required to keep the water out of your arena and out.
Suppose you are planning on building an indoor horse arena. In that case, your surface will be mostly protected from the elements, so your drainage system will play a critical role in protecting your surface against erosion. Drainage systems for indoor riding arenas are primarily responsible for ensuring that moisture levels on your surface are easy to monitor and regulate. Garden-type sprinklers may be used for indoor and outdoor arenas to automate the surface-watering process.
An indoor arenas fess mix, which holds water for a more extended period, reduces the need to water frequently. Ideal for arenas in moister climates, non-waxed running surfaces will require frequent watering (irrigation) in drier climates to keep their structure intact and to keep performing well.
Sand is appropriate for a high-maintenance indoor arena, but it is probably totally inappropriate for a full-time, open-air arena. Sand is typically one of the least expensive materials used in arena footing. However, the more complex, sharper, washed-out sand most appropriate for use as a running surface is one of the more expensive types of sand.
The base material is a costly component of an arena’s construction, and expensive to remediate should it accidentally get infiltrated with the footing material. The footing must be knitted into the base material, meaning that a loose foundation is prevented from sliding loosely over the compacted base when horses work in the arena. If the ground is built incorrectly, the arena surface never works as it should, with pools of water and soft spots. If A Good Base is installed correctly, your arena will never have any weak spots, deep spots, or areas where water is collected.
With no universal prescription for a successful surface material for equine indoor arena construction, understanding the physics you are trying to accomplish with the surface material may result in a better selection of materials. With that in mind, it is up to whoever is building an arena to evaluate what materials are available locally and figure out which one will do the job.
If you are intent on building an open-air horse arena, you must submit a planning application before you are allowed to begin construction on your project. Before you are allowed to start building, you will need plans approved by engineers to ensure that the indoor arena’s design meets the local building codes and zoning regulations. Before construction can begin on an indoor arena, you will need a building permit from the local municipality and engineering-approved plans for the build. An indoor arena significantly improves your property and is a significant expenditure. Exercise caution and perform your due diligence before you appoint your contractor, sign on the dotted line, and give away a deposit.
It is critical to have your horse stalls and the entire structure of the indoor arena planned by a certified professional engineer, even if the local Building Department does not require any permits for farm buildings. In addition, when considering earthworks and drainage for an outdoor riding arena, you must invest in a proper, quality drainage system, which will help maximize the life expectancy of your surface.
It is important to remember that getting an optimal footing in an arena is critical for the safety and performance of your horses. A good base is essential to the horses’ comfort and the safe use of your arena to take turns during jumps and barrel races. In addition, the riding surface is essential to maintain horse safety and your arena’s durability properly. Therefore, the thickness of your riding surface should be between 40mm to 80mm thick.
Once you build an arena yourself may be hard to figure out exactly how to lay out the surfaces. While the best practice is to set your chosen arena surface up early — since taking up space and replacing surfaces can lead to additional costs later — having a long-term plan for upgrading is an option if you are building with limited funds. Most arena-building companies recommend not cutting corners since many lower-cost fixes only reduce an arena’s life span or require extra costs to repair later.