We are going to start drawing up plans for an arena. This is the first time I've ever built an arena from scratch. We'll have to grade, build fence, put in footings, etc. As I talk to people I hear all kinds of advice about what they wish they'd done differently. I'd appreciate your best arena building advice! Stuff you wish you'd known before you built yours, etc. We are debating size as well. My husband is wanting a gigantic arena and I'm trying to figure out what a nice size would be without it being too big or too small. I school dressage and he has visions of starting some young horses in the future. Anyway, any thoughts, input, advice is much appreciated!
I had to work with the space I had. I started with a ravine and rented a skid loader and started digging out the hill and moving dirt to the other side. I then brought in about 200 loads of free fill from some nearby sewer renovation and moved it with my tractor. I topped it with dirt and then sand and lime. The lime keeps it firm enough that the rain water runs off and it doesn't get muddy. I then built a retaining wall on the high sides did some post and rail fence and made a gait. I had some corral panels I used on 1 side taht I was no longer using. My arena is 165x85, if I had more room I would like it a little bigger.
My "arena" is actually just an open area of flat land where our roping arena used to be. It is grassy and just regular sandy dirt for footing (that is what our dirt is like anyway).
This is from standing nearly in the center to the south side looking east
And this is the same location looking west
I have always like the pipe panel fencing. That way, it's sturdy but still portable. Just put a good wooden post every little bit and it's good to go. If you decide you need to move to another farm/ranch/house/state/etc, then you can just take the panels down and take them with you, you can make the arena smaller/bigger as you need, or you can change the location of the arena on your property if you decide you don't like where it's at. One day, we plan to re-fence our arena area and this is the type of fencing we are going to get.
When they built our roping arena 30+ years ago, they used those welded wire "bull panels" for the fencing (it can be seen in the background here) and after that experience, let me tell you, those things are dangerous. If you have a horse bump into one a little too hard or even through just regular wear and tear, the welds will break and you end up with a mass of heavy gauge wire sticking out in every direction just waiting to impale any animal that gets close enough. Thankfully, the last of that fencing was torn down in recent years so we don't have to worry about that anymore.
I built an arena last year. I asked my friend what size I should build. I was debating a 20 x 40 or 20 x 60. She said " I've never heard anyone complain that there arena was too big". We don't have a large amount of grazing land so I opted for the 20 x 40 and I wish I hadn't. She was right ..... I wish I had built a 20 x 60. Also, we fenced our arena in post and rail, right up to the kicking boards. If I built another arena I would just have kicking boards. I find that the fence encourages young horses to lean. I would still have a fence but I would have a couple of metres from the kicking board all round. Also, because I iive in the Uk, if I ever build another arena it will be an indoor. Hope this helps.