So, you bought the ideal horse property with a beautiful barn which includes tack room and wash rack; and you have gorgeous pasture. Only the arena is missing.

You can build an indoor or outdoor arena, depending on your budget and wishes. No matter your option, we have some guidelines that will help you create the perfect arena surface for your horses.

Which Is the Ideal Arena Surface?

Well, the ideal arena surface is somewhere in between too hard and too soft. If the arena surface is too soft, it makes the horse work harder and so its muscles can easily become fatigued. This can only lead to muscle injuries, so you will want to avoid that. Instead, the arena surface must offer some resistance to let the horse easily push off.

But, a too hard arena surface can have negative consequences too. In this case, the toes of the horse cannot penetrate the surface, which can lead to an imbalance of the horse when its leg hits the surface. The angles of the joints will change and so his muscles and ligaments will be overwhelmingly burden.

So, the perfect surface arena should not be too soft, nor too hard. Avoid building an arena with plain sand or wood chips. As time passes their level of degradation increases, and so does the possibility of injury for the horse.

Maybe you can do some tests with your horses. You need to notice if they experience any difficulties in moving across the surface. There might be some places where the arena is not even, so small deep holes or higher parts can be noticed. It is important to perfectly arrange the arena, as the horse will be not so confident and this can affect its future performance.

Which Are the Most Important Aspects to Consider?

To create the perfect arena surface for dressage, you need to take into consideration some aspects. There needs to be enough space for machinery to provide all the necessary resources. Besides this, you need to evaluate the proximity to water, as you will need to connect some sprinkles that will keep the arena surface perfect.

So, you need to evaluate:

  • The available space to choose the best arena shape
  • The water supplies
  • How easy is the access for machinery
  • The right materials

The Available Space

Usually, the standard dressage arena has 60 x 20 meters. It would be good to design it this way, as your horses will easily get used to it. However, if you do not have so much space, a smaller arena would be good too.

You can choose from two shapes for your arena:

  • Road-like camber – where you build a higher dressage point in the middle of the arena and slow slopes to the edge. This way, if you are building an outdoor arena the water will not stay in the middle.
  • Single slope – this is the classical arena where the surface is flat. It is a little bit tilted on the length or width to allow the water to drain.

You need to evaluate the space available to see how the water is naturally flowing. Use the resources nature provides you with, to your advantage.

The Water Supply

The water supply must be in the proximity of the arena. You need to build a drainage system to help prevent water accumulation and infiltration into the subsurface. But you also need to install a sprinkler system to maintain the arena surface wet when the weather is hot.

If you are building an outdoor arena, you should look at the natural slope of the surface and plan your improvements depending on it. If you are building an indoor arena, you need to make sure that the water of heavy rains has no possibility of infiltrating.

Choosing the Right Materials

You need to take care of the surface and subsurface materials. For the surface, sand should be ok. However, it needs to be mixed with other additives to have the perfect surface for your horses. You need to add fibers and rubber to increase the experience of your horses.

They need a stable ground so always keep in mind the climate conditions in your area. Some materials, like a layer of rubber added on top of the layer of sand, can prevent the wind to blow up the sand.

To build the best subsurface, you need about 5 to 8 millimeters of sand. You have so many options to choose from. Sand types differ in the shape of granules and how these granules bind together.

To create a firm and stable subsurface for your dressage arena you need to choose a type of sand that easily binds together. The drainage system is very important, so you need to choose a type of sand that does not block it. Professionals advise on choosing sand that is angular in shape and not round.


Building the perfect arena surface footing for dressage can take a lot of time and resources. But if done correctly it can improve the experience of your horse and have an easy time while training. Depending on your budget, you can choose to build an indoor or outdoor arena. Depending on the space available, you can choose between a single slope arena or a road-like camber one.

The drainage system is very important, so you need to evaluate the distance between the arena and water supply. Choose the perfect combination of surface and subsurface materials to create a firm and stable surface for your horses. It should not be too dry, hard or soft. Keep in mind that not designing an excellent arena surface can damage the muscles and the surface from within a horse’s joints.

Author Bio:

James Murphy is an editor from New York. He fond of traveling and in his free time, he likes to write sports articles and to spend time with his family. His biggest passion is to offer essay writing service reviews and share his knowledge with youngsters.

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