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Indoor Arena Size/Footing Question

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  • Indoor Arena Size/Footing Question

    My family is looking into purchasing a house that had a gorgeous house, barn, pasture set up and covered arena. The only thing is that the covered arena measures a little less than 60' x 100' and has horrible footing at the moment.

    I would be hacking my semi-retired horse and competition horse, both of which are big boys (17hh++). I would focus on flatwork and poles, as I don't jump on my own outside of lessons and would plan on trailering out for lessons at least twice a week. My question is, is this arena too small for the work I plan on doing? There is also a flat area that I would plan to build an outdoor ring in the distant future, but it would be at least a few years until that would be plausible.

    Also, what type of footing would you recommend for this size arena?

  • #2
    Well FWIW, I boarded at a facility with a MUCH smaller arena than that. Maybe 60 X 80 on a good day, maybe? It was enough to keep my horses fit at the time. I couldn't get a hand gallop by any means but it certainly kept me and my horses on our toes. In some respects, I almost think it was better because it caused them to have to pay attention and rock back because there were no long rails to recover from a bad corner. It was a bummer though when I wanted to work on hand gallops. I could also only do small cavalettis and jumps, but absolutely no lines.

    I believe the footing was some sort of wood mulch with a sand base. It wasn't the greatest, but it worked.
    "Be the change you want to see in the world."
    ~Mahatma Gandhi


    • #3
      While not ideal, it can work. I have friends who board with smaller arenas. It beats having nothing Mine is 60 x 120 and often have hay stored in one end corner and have ridden my 16.3 horse along with a friend's 17.1 horse (all flat work). Have to be more heads up aware, but workable.

      Do the best footing your budget will allow. Sand or sand rubber mix is nice
      Epona Farm
      Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the information! That makes me feel much better about the size of the arena.

        Any other recommendations on footing? I would like to have as much minimal maintenance as possible (i.e. watering and dragging) as I would rather spend my time riding than doing arena work! The property is located in the rainy PNW if that makes any difference.


        • #5
          What is the current footing material? If it is dirt or sand, you need to level and pack it, then add new footing: roughly 2-3 inches. Sand or sand/rubber will require dragging weekly to keep it "fluffed" and to redistribute the track and highs/lows created by your work. If you go with shredded cedar, a popular choice here in the PNW, installation is key. When it goes in, you must lay it evenly and roll it well (we've used a car driven round and round to do that!). Once cedar is in place, you really can't work it in the traditional way. A leaf rake and a roller attachment seems to work well to even things up and keep the footing flat. A good method of watering is a consideration, too.

          Not sure where you are in the PNW, but if you're in SW I know a good supplier of cedar. If you choose sand, make sure you use angular, washed sand. There's a good rubber supplier in Marysville.
          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


          • #6
            For me that would feel pretty small on such large horses. I guess if you are hauling out a couple times a week it may be workable...do you have pasture you can ride in too? I would just worry that it would be a lot like longing under saddle...and have the same risks to the hocks/joints that comes with longing.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by CHT View Post
              For me that would feel pretty small on such large horses. I guess if you are hauling out a couple times a week it may be workable...do you have pasture you can ride in too? I would just worry that it would be a lot like longing under saddle...and have the same risks to the hocks/joints that comes with longing.
              Definitely agree, although one of my latest purchases (a 17+h thoroughbred) came from a barn with an indoor about 60'x80'. I was able to walk/trot/canter but not very comfortably since the horse was a little green. So it would be doable so long as you didn't solely rely on that for the majority of your riding.

              As for the footing- make sure it isn't too loose or shallow which can make it easy for the horse to slide. Of course you wouldn't want it too deep either, but that would be the lessor of evils (IMO). Depending on where you were, I would just go with a sandy loam and make sure you keep it watered to manage the dust.


              • #8
                My last barn had an indoor about that size. Honestly, I hardly ever used it. It felt so small - I rode it in as a last resort if the weather had been bad for days, or if I was just going to lunge a bit to let them get some energy out.

                Personally, I would not want to ride in something that small on a regular basis.
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                • #9
                  That is pretty small. You have to really be sure that it is neither too deep (it will pull tendons in an arena that is so small), nor slippery. I am also from the NW and have built two indoor arenas in my life and you have to be careful with cedar as it can get slippery, and in that small of an arena that could be bad. Personally I would go with a mix of sand and clay and keep it watered. A regular water and drag shouldn't take more than 10 minutes for that size!
                  "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."


                  • #10
                    I am 'listening' this this thread with interest, as we just bought a place with an indoor (84' x 60') in the PNW. What's in there now is pretty much dirt, with a little bit of old sawdust.

                    I am curious about the shredded cedar footing. I rode in an arena once that seemed to have something like that and really liked it. I also want to stick with additions that a okay to go into the compost pile for the manure that will be picked up, so rubber won't be my choice.

                    I have a little bit different use than the OP though. My horses are smaller, around 14-15 hands and I'm not planning much jumping inside.
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                    • #11
                      Shredded cedar is wonderful to ride on, offers a "matted base" once it all settles in--if you get real, honest to goodness, shredded cedar bark. Do not get "chips" of any kind. Go to "Swanson's Bark"-- they are in Kelso, WA, but their website is a great resource of what all that stuff looks like. I've ridden is several different rings locally (Portland/Vancouver area) that have this footing type. Super if done right, and totally compostable. Simrat--not sure where you are in OR, but you might check Cornerstone in Portland-they have a very large ring done it this and might now a good source for it. IIRC, it is cheaper than sand, but does need to be refreshed more often (added to).
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                      • #12
                        I trained in a nice barn in Portland, and we looked at several options in wood product footing. We ended up with cedar shreds which the supplier called "gorilla hair". It Mats down and makes a nice springy "felted" surface which is not slippery at all if you put in a good, deep bed of it. It is terrible to spread: you have to rake it all out by hand, and it starts out lumpy and clumpy...but it's worth it in the end because once established you just water it. No dragging, just some rail raking. Do NOT use chips. They are very slippery when wet!


                        • #13
                          I believe you would have the opportunity to ask questions and receive valuable feed back by contacting Lawton Adams in Westchester N.Y. They install footing in many of the indoor rings in the tristate area, but also across the country.
                          A few years ago they were responsible for the footing at The Syracuse Invitational Horse Show among others.
                          Their material is great and their service BETTER.