Riding arenas are a necessity for most horse farms for schooling and exercise of the horse. Even when the primary equine use is trail riding, a dedicated riding space is useful for training purposes. Options include a simple outdoor ring with minimal construction to highly designed competition-quality arenas. Horse farms may include an outdoor arena, indoor arena, or both.
Riding arena is a popular horse farm feature. Although a lot of attention is given to the riding surface material, or footing, it is the construction below that layer that determines the integrity and longevity of the arena. The base material installation under the footing is of prime importance in arena construction. The base is supported by a sub-base of packed and graded native soil.
In many ways, riding arena construction is similar to road building with the exception of the topmost layer being a loose footing material rather than asphalt. Similar to road building, much of arena construction cost is in site preparation. The site grading objective is to keep surface and groundwater from encroaching the arena base area and arena construction objective is to shed precipitation.
Specific equestrian pursuits often dictate the arena size and footing material needed so that a riding arena used primarily for driving horses will be different from one used for jumping, which is different from one used for speed competition events. The underlying base and sub-base construction principles remain the same despite surface or size differences.
Penn State Resources
Penn State Research on Indoor Arenas
Improved rider, instructor, and horse comfort and health may be improved with fresh air entry and distribution within the arena.
Dust is the primary nuisance associated with riding arena use. In this research project that monitored two indoor arenas, dust was associated with the overall quality of the footing in the arena, with greater dust detected from the footing of lower moisture-holding capacity with a greater percentage of fine particles.