The School (or arena) is the perfect place to safely exercise and train your horse. There are many factors involved with the construction, layout and position of the school that can alter determine how useful the school can become. Whether deciding to build an equestrian riding school / arena or whether choosing if the arena on your yard is suitable for what you want to do in it, there are factors that should be considered.
Is the schools surface suitable for the riding or exercise you have planned?
-Different disciplines or exercises will require different surface depths.
-Too deep can strain the tendons of the horses legs or too shallow will not provide the horse with enough cushioning but should be firm enough to provide suitable traction.
-The surface type can affect the amount of dust, cushioning, durability and time you will need to spend maintaining your arena.
Is there enough light to ride in?
-Flood lights can be added to outdoor arenas quite easily, extending the amount of time the arena can be used for.
Is the size of the school big enough for the work you want to do with the horse?
-Speeds, jumping, driving and dressage, when performed, will all require a large sized arena to enable enough space for maneuvers to be performed. A small dressage arena is often 60×40 meters.
What is the drainage like?
-Dust can be a nuisance when riding in an arena and can lead to lung damage to you and your horse. It should be watered if dust is likely to be a problem. Sufficient drainage systems should be in place, especially in outdoor arenas, to prevent rain from affecting the quality and time spent riding on the surface.
The walls or fencing on the school is an important feature to consider. Is it safe? Are there any parts of it that could catch the rider or horse as they travel past? Any such problem should be rectified first before the school is ridden in.
It is a common feature of many horse riding schools to have markers on the walls or boundaries. They help instructors when teaching and riders when training for competition. The most common are the dressage markers, A, C, F, H, K, M, E, B, and show jump numbers 1-12. R, S, V and P are also used in larger arenas for dressage. Other items that are common place in riding schools are jump wings, pole cups and Mounties (mounting blocks). Other disciplines like carriage driving will require more specific items like driving cones.
Tammy is a avid equine rider who loves to promote the best ways to be looking after horses. Tammy works part time for Anything Equine who specialize in equestrian clothes as well as dressage coat and Equitech equine products in the UK.