The Construction of the Riding Arena: Preliminary Research

11 thoughts on “The Construction of the Riding Arena: Preliminary Research”

  1. I have zero experience with this. But I have watched the barn owner fix up all of our outdoor rings. He seems to make a big deal about drainage and slope of the land. I could be totally off base but there may be a drainage layer under our rings footing. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you!! Yup, that is definitely a big deal! He knows what he’s talking about. Everything will have to be sloped, and there will be a ditch dug out around it. The blue stone is the base, and next year when it is compacted, sadly, I’ll have to spend more money on this and buy more footing to put on top of the stone dust.

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  2. Oh lordy that looks intense. I have absolutely zero knowledge of arena-building, but let me know if you need an extra pair of hands! I volunteer manfriend’s hands since he’s much better at lifting heavy things than me. But for realz, lemme know if we can help in any way 🙂

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      1. Haha he’s an excellent helper, I have no doubt he won’t mind me volunteering his skills. If he does mind, I’ll appease him with beer and pizza. He’s pretty easy to please.

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  3. I have not tried to build an arena, but we are working on improving the surface of a round pen we put up in what was once just a small inclining field.
    First, I applaud your bravery in just jumping into learning how to operate a rented skid steer. I have not done that, but would sure like to have. That is a machine that we could make good use of. I have a tractor with a front loader and worked to flatten the area where we wanted the round pen. We added gravel, and then later, lime screenings. Cyndie wants sand on top, but we now need to wait until soil is firm enough to support a dump truck load.
    I totally relate to your situation and fighting the battle of cost and difficulty of DIY. The fencing always ends up being way more expensive than one would think, too. Have you considered the possibility of a loan to pay for the work, and you can pay back the lender over time? If you do it all yourself, though, what a feeling of accomplishment and pride of ownership! Your horses will know you put in that effort for their place to work/play, too.
    Good luck with everything. It will certainly give you plenty to report on in the days ahead. I look forward to your stories.

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    1. Thanks! The skid steer isn’t too bad. It did take a while to figure it out initially though. I was sitting in the cab for some time, trying to figure out if the thing was broken. But it couldn’t be broken, because they had brought it there! The whole time I had it was a learning experience, and an exercise is coordination. I’ve never used a machine that requires hand and foot controls before. But at the end of my week, I felt like I was an expert with it.
      Right now, I have a little tractor with a front end loader too, and that thing is so useful. It does work for moving dirt, it just takes much longer than a skid steer because the bucket isn’t as big. And the skid steer could bust through rocks, and my tractor gets stuck on them. It sounds like you made a great surface for your round pen, and I hope you can put your sand on soon!
      I had considered getting a loan, but I feel like it’s such a vanity purchase that the bank wouldn’t approve it. I don’t know what type of loan it would be except a home equity loan, and I feel like it wouldn’t add value the same way a new kitchen or other home improvement would. But what actually stops me from really doing it, is that the contractor can’t do it until the fall, and I don’t want to wait that long. I’m a bit impatient.
      Thank you, and I’m hoping it will all go well!

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  4. Not sure where you live, but in the Northwest drainage is a huge issue. I paid to have a contractor grade my outdoor arena, making sure there was a slight slope so water would drain off quickly. I then used a roller (attached to a riding lawn mower) to compact the footing – that was hours of fun!
    Over the years I tried sand and barkdust as footings. Any footing will degrade over time. It’s not optimum but for a low-use private arena it was fine.
    As for fencing, I used hotwire … just remembering to unplug it every time I rode. It’s cheap, keeps the horses out when you’re not riding in it, and in when you are riding.

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  5. I have a similar conundrum. My father paid someone to level a place for an outdoor a few years back, but a) it isn’t wide enough, and b) it has no footing/fence. I intend to build the fence myself and put down footing…one day. We’re putting footing in the indoor this year, so that will drain the budget plenty on it’s own.

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