View Full Version : Indoor arena Debate with DH HELP

Jan. 16, 2010, 11:23 PM
DH and I have started the process of finding a new/bigger property and one thing that we want to keep in the budget is to build an arena (ok more for DD and myself but DH is all for doing it).

DH seems to think that we can get away with small and I mean like 40x80 lol he thinks this is more than enough space for personal use. I told him that I am willing to go with the smallest I can get away with but not that small.

So the question is what is the smallest you could/do deal with. DD rides saddleseat (she is only 7 and has shown interest in wanting to jump). I take lessons with DD but am mainly a trail rider. I want to keep my horses in work during the harsh winter months when riding the trails isn't the best choice (snowmobiles take over the majority of trails this time of the year too).

TIA for any info that can stop the debate.

Meredith Clark
Jan. 16, 2010, 11:40 PM
I'm really bad with sizing unless I can compare it to something else.

I think I'd be ok with the size of a small dressage ring so 66x132 feet (or 65x130 or 70x140 to make it more even) .

The way I think of it is there are some horses that when i first start riding them I'm like "man.. it's going to be a while before I get this guy balanced enough to stay in a dressage ring!"

If you have (or will ever have) a young or green horse it's nice to have some space to get that canter lead or enough strides between jumps.

Also wider is always better.. I hate the feeling of loooooong narrow indoors but wider is more expensive.

Jan. 16, 2010, 11:57 PM
My indoor is the size that Meredith Clark is talking about, and I really wouldn't want it any smaller, especially if your daughter wants to jump. That said, we get a lot accomplished in our small indoor - small jumping courses, two separate lessons being taught at the same time, etc. You also probably already know that it's VERY expensive to "expand" an existing indoor - better to go as large as you can afford from the start.

Jan. 17, 2010, 12:58 AM
DH and I are having almost the same "discussion" only he thinks 40x40 should be adequate - just to go in circles in the wintertime. I think he is basing this on the common saddleseat practice of riding down the barn aisle, stop, turn around, do it again. He thinks that is good enough, I don't. We are never going to have a 100' long barn anyway.

I say that a 20' radius circle is a very tight circle for a horse to make, then add balancing a rider at speed. He counters with circus horses canter in circles all the time (at which point I have to find out what the diameter of a vaulting circle is, haven't done that yet).
ETA according to wikipedia 13 meters or 42 feet(sic) (I get 42 feet 7 inches) for the diameter of a circle in the three ring circus.
So I figure that if there is a wall there you need to add another two feet or you'll be scraping your stirrups on it in order to track in that circle. Makes 45 feet, for a balanced horse.

Personally, IMHO 66 x 132 is the smallest useable size for any meaningful work.

Jan. 17, 2010, 08:45 AM
60'x 120' is the absolute smallest I would go.

Also, remember you can possibly add length but not width later so don't scrimp much on width.

Build it as big as possible.;)

Tell your husband to think of resale value as well. Tiny arena is going to be worse than nothing to a potential buyer who wanted a standard size arena.

Jan. 17, 2010, 09:26 AM
What the others said. I wouldn't go smaller then 70x140, but that's just me. You can always make the area you actually ride in smaller, but you can't move the walls one they are there :)

Zu Zu
Jan. 17, 2010, 10:01 AM
We just built a small personal indoor arena finished July - Love it - sent you details in pm - as I do not want to be flamed about the size here. It works beautifully for our personal use of riding and driving horses and ponies.

Jan. 17, 2010, 10:08 AM
Ours is 60 x 120 with about 60 x 100 useable this year due to hay/tractor storage this year. That is fine for my 15.2 TB with 1 or 2 jumps. It would be very difficult to do anything other than circles with any smaller. I wouldn't want to canter my 16.3 or 17.1 mare in anything less than my full arena

Jan. 17, 2010, 10:16 AM
60 X 120 is a good size, you can jump in it if you want to and you have enough room to canter straight down the long side. For saddleseat you want a long straightaway.

Jan. 17, 2010, 10:47 AM
Tell your husband to think of resale value as well. Tiny arena is going to be worse than nothing to a potential buyer who wanted a standard size arena.Great point, and probably one the OP's DH can relate to. I know that a few people passed on the farm I own while it was on the market for just this reason - and mine is 60x130! I definitely would have passed if it had been much smaller.

Jan. 17, 2010, 11:13 AM
Saddleseat rider here-absolute minimum would be 60x120, and I feel cramped in a 72X120.-but they're doable.

Tiffani B
Jan. 17, 2010, 11:22 AM
I ride Saddle Seat. 75 wide would be my minimum, due to driving (and also gaiting young horses, turns are pretty hard for them to learn), and 150 would be my minimum length.

I would also have a bullpen in the center, 40' round, for working young horses, supervised turnout, lunging/long lining, etc.

Jan. 17, 2010, 11:31 AM
Width is more expensive then length. The smallest I've ridden in was 50'x50'. We did set up some cross rails but you were truly always jumping into the corner. It was fine for flat work to keep the horses moving in the winter.

When I was thinking about building on my own farm, I was going to do a 50'x75'. Reasonably priced, and considering we'll still ride outside in the 100'x200' outdoor course in decent weather (including the winter) the indoor was suitable for what we would be doing.

I did teach lessons in a 50'x100' arena. I would have group lessons of 5 riders in there. I was a bit crazy at times, but worked for that barn for 30+ years. We could set up some rather creative 5-7 jump courses in there. It always taught the girls to look ahead, that's for sure.

I talked with a realtor about the arena and she said that to put a riding arena in on a non commercial piece of property does not increase it's value. Do not expect to recoup the money for the arena at it's sale, unless the property is designed and in an area that makes it proper for a lesson/training set up. That means higher end finishes everywhere - fences, stalls, driveway surfaces, etc.

So, with that in mind, build what you can afford to build and what you can afford to lose when you sell the property.

Jan. 17, 2010, 11:35 AM
We have a 60x120 and I would not want it any smaller.
Two other size thoughts: you need good height to safely
jump, at least 15' from floor to bottom of rafter/trusses.

One possibility to sell to DH would be to initially build
a square building, say 60x60 or 75x75 but build it on
a prepared site meant for a building twice that long.
Have the builder put an expansion truss on the end
of the building and plan to extend the length when
you have a bit more money for the project. That way
it won't be quite as expensive in the beginning and
you and DD griping about the lack of space will get
through to DH that the building needs to expand.
As others mentioned, you can not build wider but
you can go longer without much trouble if you plan
for that.

Jan. 17, 2010, 11:40 AM
Ours is 20m x 60m (65' x 200', more or less).

The money in a clear span building is in the width. For me to go from 65' to 70' in width was almost 25% more. To go to 75' was almost 75% more. This was accross multiple bids from multiple contractors.

So spend your money on width and as much length as you can affford. You can also have the end "finished" so that you can extend the length at a later date. This will add a small amount to the total cost (about $750 IIRC for me).

IMO I'd not do less than 20m x 40m. That would be completely adequate for saddle seat, and give a basic start at work over fences. It's really not adequate for driving other than the most basic work.

When it comes to contractors, shop around. I had bids that ranged from $55,000 (more or less) to well over $120,000 on the exact same specifications. Also, do a good check on the bona fides of your contractor. Go and see some of their work and talk to the people who put it up. I did and ended up selecting the third lowest bidder who did an outstanding job for me.

Good luck in your project. :)


Jan. 17, 2010, 11:46 AM
I talked with a realtor about the arena and she said that to put a riding arena in on a non commercial piece of property does not increase it's value.Don't listen to that realtor. I had a realtor tell me she wouldn't list my small private horse property higher than $XXX,XXX or it would NEVER sell. I disagreed, spent about $10 printing flyers emphasizing the horse amentities, posted the flyers in the local tack/feed stores, and sold it in a week for $20,000 more than that realtor claimed was too much, in addition to saving $$$$ on commission. In hindsight, I wish I'd priced it higher.

Horse people are a unique demographic. The property I just mentioned? The buyer told me she bought it just because the fencing was perfect...and the fencing was only worth about $10K and wasn't even taken into consideration when the realtor put a price tag on the place. I didn't even get to look at the house when I made the offer on my current place (realtor had forgotten the key) - bought it because of the barn and the indoor arena.

Don't forget, only ONE PERSON needs to appreciate the indoor arena and you have your place sold. Looking at big statistics and sweeping generalizations in this scenario is irrelevant IME.

Jan. 17, 2010, 12:25 PM
Saddleseat rider/trainer here- we work horses in an indoor that is 50 feet wide (this includes driving them). Our lesson barn indoor is 50'x120' and is the smallest I would go. 2-3 riders can ride together comfortably in there, or 1 rider and 1 driving horse. Our training barn is 50'x250' and we had 8 riders in a group lesson the other night and are routinely working 3-4 horses (riding and driving) at a time.

Jan. 19, 2010, 10:49 PM
Another lifetime saddle seat rider here as well :D. We have a 48 x 48 square enclosed lunge arena that I have ridden in more times than I can count on all sizes of horses and various ages, work levels. That said, if I built it again - it would be a little larger. For a serious indoor work arena for under saddle work only (no driving), I would want nothing smaller than 80 by 120 feet which is the size of the indoor arena at a barn I boarded at before my husband and I purchased a farm. I've been in smaller ones for a few schooling shows in the past and it was very cramped.

Jan. 20, 2010, 10:07 AM
My arena is 65 feet by 125 feet- it's the absolute SMALLEST arena I would bother building. I have gaited horses and trying to teach one to canter and not get tangled up and fall down or panic over it, when you have such a short long side, and then a really short short side, then OMG ok for three strides, then OMG I have to turn again?? on the short sides- it's a mental bind for them. But it's all the flat space I had so there you go. Any smaller than that, your turns up the center line, you'd have to start to prepare for one stride out of the corner- that's just too tight and too much for the horse. at least I have two strides before I have to look and start to get ready to come up the center line.

The longer you can afford, the better. We can't gallop out a stride or two to free them up, no room ;)

Jan. 20, 2010, 11:23 AM
The smallest I would go is the 60 by 120. I grew up riding saddle seat and switched to hunters. My QH doesn't go saddleseat..it is work enough to get him to do dressage.

The one farm that we had sent a couple of horses to for training had an indoor that was a constant circle. My dad had thought about building one like that for me but it would have been for private use and there wouldn't be jumping. My morgan was completely trained. Also money was an object.

Jan. 20, 2010, 12:07 PM
We are putting in an indoor this spring/summer (we are a hunter/jumper barn) and it will be about 65' x 135'. The smallest I have ridden in was a 50' wide arena which I felt was too small for any jumping and only okay for cantering with int/adv riders (not good for beg students since they tend to get out of balance). I know many western barns that are perfectly happy in 50' wide arenas but then again they are going very slow and only flatwork.

Jan. 20, 2010, 01:32 PM
I boarded at a barn with a 50 x 100 arena (and they stored hay in one end of it in the winter!) I could do small grids in it, but it was definitely tight. I rode for most of my teenage years in a 60 x 120 arena, and that included jumping 4'6" on a regular basis. I would go for at least 60 x 120 if you can get away with it.

Jan. 20, 2010, 08:48 PM
BO's indoor is 70' x 145' (but has stuff at one end so 70' x 130'). We jump/ride dressage. If I were building I would prefer to go 70' as a minimum width because, as I'm sure everyone knows, you loose some of that (it is the outside or truss measurement, so walls, etc. take away a bit). But I'd rather go wider!

For resale--honestly, if I were farm shopping I would, rather buy bare property than buy a home that has an indoor that is too small, because that small indoor is entered into the price and would be a deterent to me. I can only speak for myself though!!

Also, your construction price can vary wildly based on the cost of materials. I mentioned this before, but by waiting a year (last summer--bad market) my BO built her indoor and an ancillary building big enough to hold a tack room, bathroom, kitchenette, wash stall and 2 tack stalls for the same price as she was quoted just the indoor the year before!

Zu Zu
Jan. 26, 2010, 06:37 PM
Size? ! my analogy would be at a training facility MANY people enjoy a large indoor area( like an ex-larger pizza with extra toppings )-- at one's home for personal use ~ ONE can make excellent use of a small indoor arena ( like a personal pan pizza.) How many of us eat an ex-large pizza at home by ourselves??? Just an idea. Another analogy might be a swimming pool ~size for team practice as opposed to a backyard pool. I love my personal indoor ~ small but very useful ~ in fact a life saver during the winter snow & ice and Rain ! Size ~ while important may not be the only consideration ~ what are YOU going to do in the indoor ?

Jan. 26, 2010, 06:49 PM
[B][COLOR=blue]How many of us eat an ex-large pizza at home by ourselves???

errrrrrr. :winkgrin:

Jan. 26, 2010, 06:53 PM
I am going with a covered 60x60 square that can be converted to a round pen for bad weather days or breaking.

Jan. 26, 2010, 07:06 PM
If you sell your property a larger indoor is a real selling point. My old indoor was 80 x200. We used it for anything. An upper level dressage rider needs the room to do multiple changes. They have to be able to ride tests in a full size arena. Jumpers really need the room. I know this sounds large but the larger the better. If you have to skimp don't do it on the width. If you start out with a 70x70 you can always add the the length but it you go narrow you can't easily make it wider.

Jan. 26, 2010, 07:30 PM
If you have to add a barn too, have you considered a center stall barn? That way you get an outside track that's indoors to ride on. There's a few of these in CT, they're nice in winter. You can set up jumps around the track, but not a course. You also have the option of a sand floor in the aisle or some of the folks just store loose sawdust as footing that they also use as bedding.
If you build it 75x120 with 8 12x12 stalls in the center and have a 25' wide track up each side and a larger open area on each end for circling or whatever. Or even rope off the two larger end zones for some inside turnout in really icy weather, etc.
Something like this...forgive the "caveman drawing" way it came out since I just made it quick in paint:

pb ranch
Jan. 27, 2010, 10:00 AM
Well, size is one thing that many disagree on. I think an arena can be very useful even if it's smaller than a small dressage arena.
Height is a consideration if your daughter wants to jump, as is the type of doors - some that open up have framework that can get in the way.
I wanted to mention that it is nice to have the clear panels across the sides of the arena. I have about three feet the length of both sides of mine and it lets in a lot of light, but as important, a lot of heat. I have mine insulated on the sides and ceiling and coupled with those clear panels, it's very warm related to the outside temparature even when there are no horses inside to heat it up.

Jan. 27, 2010, 10:13 AM
I talked with a realtor about the arena and she said that to put a riding arena in on a non commercial piece of property does not increase it's value.

It might not increase the resale value but it for sure will increase the value for tax purposes.

I have boarded at a facility with a 60'x90' indoor and it worked just fine for riding in the winter. We got creative and even had jumps in there.

Zu Zu
Jan. 27, 2010, 10:13 AM
Well, size is one thing that many disagree on. I think an arena can be very useful even if it's smaller than a small dressage arena. I agree ~ I get alot done in my small personal indoor which I can not do outside in any weather. I ride horses & jog ponies and longline in mine - great for starting young stock as well as for conditioning. A small personal indoor is very mch worth the effort and mony IMHO. Size is so OVER-RATED !!!:lol::lol:

Jan. 27, 2010, 10:22 AM
I would not want anything smaller than a small dressage arena: 20 x 40 meters or about 65 x 135 feet. It's boring enough riding inside all the time, and if the weather's cold and nasty there's just no way I'm going to get all bundled up to go trot around in a 15 meter circle! :dead: IMO the horses would do better just turned out in the snow for their exercise, health, and sanity.

I can't stand riding in an indoor unless the weather absolutely mandates it--give me OUTSIDE, please. Up here the winters are long and violent, and I don't have an indoor--the horses that are getting worked go 3 miles up the road to my trainer's barn to board in the winter (she has a gorgeous, big, bright indoor) or they get the winter off.

I need some motivation in the winter, so boarding the working one(s) makes me go, see fellow riders, take lessons and watch other people ride. Even if I had a nice big indoor here I think I'd use it only occasionally, and for the cost it's just not worth it. I can board a horse or two for 4 months out of the year for a VERY long time before coming close to the cost of my own indoor. :) This may not be an option for the OP, but it is the best option for me.

But if you want/need an arena in which you can actually RIDE, 40 x 80 feet isn't even big enough to longe. :no: I'd say 60 x 120 feet at the ABSOLUTE minimum, and that won't allow very much more than basic work.

Jan. 28, 2010, 02:54 PM
I need some motivation in the winter, so boarding the working one(s) makes me go, see fellow riders, take lessons and watch other people ride. Even if I had a nice big indoor here I think I'd use it only occasionally, and for the cost it's just not worth it. I can board a horse or two for 4 months out of the year for a VERY long time before coming close to the cost of my own indoor. :) This may not be an option for the OP, but it is the best option for me.

Does your trainer keep a stall open for you all year? I think this is a great idea but most of the barns with arenas around here have waiting lists...and the list of places that have indoor arenas and appropriate care is even shorter.

My winter is pretty long and I would love to be able to board out from November to March and have the in work horses home from April to October. But if I leave a place in April I think I would have to keep paying board to ensure a spot for the next winter.

Sorry, OP, a bit of a hijack. FWIW, DH and I are having the same debate so I appreciate this thread.

Jan. 28, 2010, 08:19 PM
No, she doesn't hold a stall empty for me, but there are a whole lot of people in this part of the country who do "winter board" and there are also a good number of people who want to keep their horse at the trainer's during show season only, and at home the rest of the time. I've actually done both!

So there are always a few stalls opening up in the fall, and again in the spring. Given this along with the normal flux of boarders, I've always managed to get a stall when I needed one. :) It's a small barn (only 20-24 stalls) and I feel fortunate that this works out the way it does. I do put my name on the winter "list" in April when I take my horses home, though. :)