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Outdoor arena, fence or no fence?

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    Outdoor arena, fence or no fence?

    I have an "outdoor arena" that is a defined grassy part at the back of my property. I have it marked off with dressage letters, and corner posts and when I do dressage in it I put my jumps around the edges as a visual barrier. I've been in a lot of outdoors that had no fence so I've never bothered.

    Do you find you get a better quality of work in a more defined area? My fiance has been pushing for me fencing it off and I've left it for budget reasons. My horse has been spooky out there but the crops are super tall, the light is changing, and the deer are moving but I'm not sure it would make a difference.

    I have a sand arena that is fenced but it's a circle which I use if I need a fence or better footing but it's hard to work on straight. The builders used it to work cattle so they didn't want corners.

    If you want a visual barrier, you could use cones every so often and if you need more, yellow or orange surveyor tape from cone to cone.

    Many reining outside arenas don't have fences but in one end, use cones to mark the middle and 1/4 of the long sides to frame your circles.

    Indoors is where you use walls/fences and you train for both.

    Fences in outdoor arenas are good to teach beginners and when working cattle to contain them.
    To train horses, fences and walls make riders work more smartly so horses and riders are not drawn to rely on the fence for boundaries and one side straightness.
    If you are doing fine without a fence, "don't fix it if it is not broken".


      Fencelines make it more annoying to drag and allows for things to grow along more easily around the perimeter. A friend of mine strings up electrical tape and posts around her ring when she has a young horse where she wants a visual boundary. The only advantage I can see of a fenced in arena is that you can close a gate so if you fall off, the horse is more contained. Mine is fenced and has a bunch of trees growing on the fenceline that I need to address
      "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


        Original Poster

        Originally posted by Bluey View Post
        If you want a visual barrier, you could use cones every so often and if you need more, yellow or orange surveyor tape from cone to cone.

        Many reining outside arenas don't have fences but in one end, use cones to mark the middle and 1/4 of the long sides to frame your circles.

        Indoors is where you use walls/fences and you train for both.

        Fences in outdoor arenas are good to teach beginners and when working cattle to contain them.
        To train horses, fences and walls make riders work more smartly so horses and riders are not drawn to rely on the fence for boundaries and one side straightness.
        If you are doing fine without a fence, "don't fix it if it is not broken".
        I have dressage letters and some overturned trash cans as a visual barrier, plus my jumps that I use around the edges. I was wondering more if a fence would make it less spooky?


          Having worked in both, I prefer a fenced outdoor arena ~ works better for me and mine ~ IMHO

          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


            Ours is fenced, because we work cattle in there.

            You can fence it with nice lighter panels made just for arena fences, that can look very nice.
            You can change the fence at will any time you decide to do other, doesn't need to be a permanent fence.


              When we put in our arena, it was originally not fenced; after several months, we had one installed. I've always started my horses, and had a couple youngsters coming up, so I wanted the physical/visual barrier.

              In this area, a lot of arenas are constructed of pipe, which is pretty much what I'd ridden in when boarding or hauling-in for lessons, but I wanted something a little more forgiving if a greenie clipped the fence, or in case one of my legs got rubbed against the fence, or some other such incident. One of my trainers hit a knee on a pipe post at a barn where I boarded, and that really hurts!

              So I went with cedar posts and two boards, spaced so that my usual foot/stirrup iron height on the general height range of horses I ride would hit a board, instead of between boards, and reduce the possibility of my catching a toe on a post. Boards are on the inside, posts on the outside, so my knees can't hit a post. Never have been shoved into the fence, but I'm still happy we went this route. My fence has held up well, with a few of the boards being replaced over the years; I re-stain it every few to several years, so there is some maintenance.

              I once audited a non-dressage clinic in which one particularly incorrigible horse ran backwards with such force that he broke a board of the wooden arena fence! Fortunately, both he and his rider were uninjured. But I guess breaking a board is always a possibility; I'd just rather take my chances with breaking a board, rather than my kneecap.

              I have also seen fences of portable pipe panels with t-posts and of electric tape with step-in posts. Sometimes, pipe arenas have mesh fencing below the top rail, instead of secondary rails, and one place I used to ride only had the top rail, period -- which I didn't care for.

              Really think about where you want your gates -- I have a wide gate at one end for equipment entry, and a smaller walk gate at the other end, closer to the paddock (which is the one that gets far more use).


                A fence is necessary for teaching or training. I leave space at the bottom for escape, to roll out if necessary or dog/cat escapes. Also allows weedwacker use. I use the 2 board also and leave space between to sidepass (human!) through.

                Our arena runs up to a rural subdivision rd, with a gate there so we can drive in and use another gate to the back door of the barn for hay deliveries, vet and farrier. Plus a people/entry gate. VERY HANDY in all weather. We can also use the fenced arena for turnouts during bad weather to allow some explosive energy frolics. Because of rd access it could also be used for parking - lg party or on site auction etc. We have a base topped with sand and rubber crumb. Zero problems with it for 25+ yrs. One of the dry lot round bale sheds backs up to the far side of the arena and we can access it to drop the bales in bad weather without tearing up the dry (wet) lot with the tractor.
                The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton


                  Oh yes, if it's just me (no horse), I also slip through between the boards -- no bothering with a gate, lol.


                    I haven't found that a fence by itself makes a horse less spooky. As you probably know, if a horse is feeling spooky, it will find something! OTOH, I may feel a bit more secure in a confined area and be better able to relax a nervous horse. YMMV.

                    If your jumps, etc haven't made your horse feel more secure, I really wonder if a proper fence would do anything different.


                      I fenced mine and it was more for my peace of mind than the horses'. I did treated posts painted black and two rows of black cenflex from Home Depot. Got the posts used but total cost with no labor was well short of $2k.
                      COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                      "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                        I have a flat area that I use to do flatwork, roughly full sized dressage arena sized, that's fenced on two sides (one long side and one short) by fields/ paddocks and then bordered on a third by the driveway. I like it because it gives me a rail to work off for lateral work and a corner to ride into but feels more open and bigger than a ring that size would. That said there are definitely days I'd like a fully enclosed ring!


                          My ring is 'walled off' off on one long side and one end by trees/bushes (some of them can be spooky!) at the bottom of a rock cliff.
                          There is a fairly busy road at the top of the cliff at the short end, so we also have cars. bikes, etc going by up there. ...also can be spooky.
                          The trees hide most of the road activity in the summer/fall.
                          The rest of the ring opens onto a hay field where there are plenty of roaming deer!
                          Up until 3 years ago there was no fence at all on the hay field side and I have started and ridden quite a few horses/ponies in there just fine.
                          However, when my granddaughter was finally able to ride on her own I did put up a fence of sorts, with T-Posts (capped!) and a single split cedar rail about 4ft high along the long side of the hay field. The short end is still open.
                          Having the rails there gives us some sense of safety as the pony won't be tempted to run out ...and he has never tried... but it certainly does not lesson any of the 'scary' things that surround the ring and I don't feel any different riding in there than when the rails were not there.