I'm building an arena to start practing to do cowboy mounted shooting and I was just wanting to know what you use for the bases and poles. I was looking for a cheaper alternative than buying from the cmsa website.
CMSA got all fancy with the new balloon stands. They look great, but are expensive.
Most of us still use traffic cones as bases. They work very well.
For the poles themselves, use PVC. Be careful not to go too thick. Thicker PVC can be a hazard if you or your horse falls on it or runs into it. Everything you put in the ring needs to either bend or break if you hit it or run it over. A thick PVC tube can impale you or your horse.
I made some poles from electrical grade PVC. I think it was either 3/4 or 1 in. The important thing is that it perfectly held the balloon pegs. It will also bend or break in the event of an accident.
Pegs are cheaper to buy than to make. These are useful if you are using a compressor to inflate the balloon. A cheaper alternative is to simply cut a small notch in the end of the PVC. You then blow up the balloon, tie it off and stick it into the notch. However, this gets old real quick when you blow up and tie-off more than 10 balloons. :)
Check out the pegs - get 10 or 20. It is a good investment and will save a lot of time and trouble. Just hook a valve up to a small compressor and you can blow up balloons quick and easy. Drop the pegs into the poles and you are ready to go.
On other thing if you are building an arena. Make sure you have enough length. For a full size course you need 25 feet from the end to the barrel, 12 ft from the barrel to the first rundown balloon. Then you need 36 feet between rundown balloons, another 18 ft to the timer and then room to stop. With 50 ft to stop that is 250ft. You can get it down to 175 by setting the rundown balloons at 30 ft. Any smaller than that and you are limited what you can do with actual mounted courses.