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Arena     2006 Cherry Hill

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Equipping Your Horse Farm

Dear Cherry:  

Dear Cherry, I would like to put in a riding ring on our new farm. My daughter and I are active in Pony Club, eventing and the hunter circuit. What dimensions would you recommend and what type of footing? We are located in the east and have very wet springs, mild winters and somewhat dry summers. Have heard so many different things - thought I would check with an expert!! Many Thanks. S

Hello S:

A large dressage ring measures 20m x 60m (picture three 20 meter circles in a row) which is about 66 feet wide by about 198 feet long. (picture 3 round pens in a row!)

I prefer a wider arena (say about 100 feet wide) and then if I want to ride in the dressage space, I can put up cones to mark the narrower sideways dimension.

My personal arena is about 100 x 200 feet and it works pretty well for extended canter work. However, if I had more room (I live in the mountains so had to excavate this in the side of a hill and ran into Rocky Mountain bedrock) I would have made it bigger in both dimensions.

Especially if you will be putting up a few hunter jumps for practice, you will want more room.

Choose the site for your ring carefully, on the best drained soil you can. It would be heartbreaking to put all that time and money into a ring and only be able to use it certain months of the year. You may have to install some drains underneath or diversion ditches around the arena depending on your soil and topography.

As far as footing, first have your soil evaluated by your county extension agent for soil characteristics and percolation (drainage).

Then armed with that information, read the book, "The Equine Arena Handbook" by Robert Malmgren.

At that point, you should be able to make a very good choice of footing.

It would be risky for me and for you for me to give you a recommendation of what type of footing would be best for your situation.

Search the internet using for equine or equestrian arena footing to find current manufacturers. A good reference is the United States Dressage Federation's book "Under Foot". You can read about it and order it here:

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