- Horses

Tips for Planning a Riding Arena

Many horse owners seek to build riding arenas where they can practice their horsemanship, provide riding lessons, practice jumping or host riding competitions. However, before you start looking at horse jump designs, you should have a safe designated riding space.


Prior to designing your arena, you need to choose a location. To prevent dissension with your neighbors, consider discussing the arena’s lighting, traffic and other issues with them. Your location should be relatively flat, and the land should be well-drained. Consider building near your tack rooms, grooming areas and barns. Also, consider building close to your yard so you can watch others who are riding in case of injury.

Weather may have an effect on your arena, so protect it from high winds. Also, consider building in an area with direct sunlight so any water or snow melts rapidly.


Safety must be your first priority. Therefore, your arena should have designated areas for each activity. It should have strong, effective fencing. No nails or sharp edges should protrude from the fencing or any other structure or equipment within the arena, barns or surrounding areas.

Your foundation, or riding surface, should also be safe. It should be free of rocks and well maintained. You may choose a sand, waxed, wood chip, rubber or synthetic riding surface, based on your arena’s purpose and budget, but be sure you choose appropriate mixes and maintain them regularly.


The size of your arena may vary significantly based on its purpose. However, as you are designing your arena, be sure to prepare riding space large enough for your chosen purpose. You may also consider making your arena larger if it will serve a number of purposes, such as jumping and riding lessons.

If your arena will hold competitions, consider including enough space for viewing stands and a judges’ box.

A riding arena is a great asset for anyone who owns horses as well as those who host riding competitions. Make sure you plan a safe arena that is appropriately sized and in the best location.

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