Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
While it may offer an opportunity to improve parts of your riding, a small area limits your practice to a small area.
In a big work area you have the option to work in the large area, or create your own smaller area. When training a young horse a small area can be difficult. It is also more difficult working in a small area with other riders, to the extent that you may not be able to do what you want to do. Additionally, most jumping competitions are in large areas, so having a large area to work in can help simulate a competition. I've noticed that occasionally some people and horses can often get to rely on boundaries set up in an arena, and can't seem to do equivalent work in an open space.
The bottom line is a small area can only be used as a small area, a large can be used for so much more. Practice in both is ideal, but you have to deal with what you work with. If you've only got a small arena, and can't do anything about then its not worth complaining.