Planning Horse Facilities - Training Facilities

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Cherry Hill's
Horsekeeping Almanac

Your Horse Barn - DVD
on a Small Acreage
Horse Housing
Your Horse Farm
Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
Horse Housing
Equipping Your Horse Farm
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     The most common and useful training facilities which are incorporated in most acreages include an outside tying area, a round pen, and an arena.


Horse Housing    An outside tie area provides a good place to groom, clip, or bathe a horse outside as well as to serve as a training area to teach a horse restraint and patience.  The tie area should be very strong, tall, and preferably a solid wall.  Unless you have unusually large horses, a wooden wall which starts two feet off the ground and goes up to six feet should suffice.  A board fence with spaces between the rails might allow a horse to gets its legs caught between them; a solid wall is safer.  The place where the lead rope is attached to the tie area should be at the level of the withers or higher so if the horse does pull back, he will not be able to get very good leverage.


Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage    One of the most valuable pens you can have is a safely constructed round pen.  Besides providing a good place to turn young horses out for exercise, a round pen is the best place to conduct the following training lessons:  restraint, sacking out, longeing, ground driving, saddling, ponying, first rides, and rider longe lessons.  In addition, trained horses can benefit from the tune-up effect that riding in a continuous circle can furnish.  The size and construction of a round pen depends somewhat on it's intended uses.  Generally breaking pens are approximately 35 feet in diameter; all-purpose pens are 50 feet in diameter; and training pens are 66 feet in diameter.  Walls should be at least six feet high and footing should be an all-weather material such as sand and not over four inches deep.


    The size and type of arena to include in your plan will depend on the type of riding you plan to do.  Here are some guidelines for various activities:

* Dressage.  Small size 66 feet x 132 feet  (20 meters x 40 meters)
* Dressage.  Large Size 66 feet x 198 feet  (20 meters x 60 meters)
* Calf Roping  100 feet x 300 feet.
* Team Roping  150 feet x 300 feet.
* Pleasure Riding  100 feet x 200 feet.
* Barrel Racing  150 feet x 260 feet.
* Jumping   150 feet x 300 feet

     If the arena fence is at least six feet tall, it will discourage horses from putting their heads over the rail as they are turning near the fence.  The fencing should be very strong if you plan to ride young horses.  The shape of your arena will depend on your training goals.  Rectangles allow you to ride your horses deep into the corners and teach them to bend.  Oval arenas or rectangles with rounded edges, however, are more appropriate for driving and jumping and are easier to disc and harrow.  Gates should be flush on the inside of the arena and the latch should be operable from horseback.

     All arenas should either be crowned at the center or sloped gradually from one side to the other.  Choose a site that requires minimal excavating.  Bulldozing and grading are very expensive and the less earth that has to be moved, the cheaper the final project will be.  While the heavy equipment is there, you may need to include the installation of some ditches to divert surrounding drainage away from your arena.  After excavation, the arena site will have to settle for six to twelve months, then be leveled periodically before you add any footing material on top of the base.

     Footing must be well-drained and of appropriate cushion.  The type of footing you will choose will depend on your climate, whether the arena is indoor or outdoor and what type of activity you participate in.  Jumpers require cushion without excessive depth.  Speed events require a firm footing such as a mixture including stone dust.  Reining horses do best on a firm base with a slightly slick top of sandy loam.  Dressage and pleasure horses work well on a resilient footing without excessive depth such as some of the processed wood products.

     One of the most common ways of improving native soil is to disc sand and/or sawdust in with the dirt.  This will lighten and loosen the soil and increase its drainage while adding to its cushion.  It takes about 250 tons of sand to provide a four inch cover in a 100 x 200 arena.  If you are trying to firm up the footing, add stone dust, but only a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  The total footing should probably consist of no more than ten percent stone dust.

     There are processed footings available that can be spread over a firm arena base, but if you are investing in one of these, it might be better to use it in an indoor arena.  Tan bark, hardwood fiber, and wood chip products tend to freeze later and thaw sooner than the surrounding ground.  They don't need to be disced, just lightly harrowed.  However, besides the high expense of the footing itself, processed wood fiber footing requires a well-engineered drainage system in order for it to work at its optimum.

Cherry Hill

Page 1: Planning Horse Facilities

Page 2: Barn Construction

Page 3: Fencing and Turnout Areas

Page 4: Training Facilties

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The suggestions and guidelines should not be used as the sole answer for a visitor's specific needs.