1o steps to your budget arena…
1. Location, location, location… is everything, obviously a flat level surface to start off with is a bonus and less costly however if yours is less than perfect, don’t worry, it can be levelled to get it right but it’s not as expensive as everybody thinks! Don’t forget to think about your ground conditions too, for instance is the site on soggy or rocky ground? This may or may not be extra cost in terms of equipment needed, time taken and materials required, but needs to be seriously considered when choosing your plot. Consider your existing soil conditions and the impact on run off and drainage too, a competent installer can advise you on this. Also, is the location accessible for the building phase, if larger equipment cannot access your site then smaller diggers will need to be used which may significantly delay and lengthen the project timescale.
2. Size – The most common arena size is 20m x 40m, but can be as small as 15m x 20m for a small exercise/sand school area, if you do alot of lunging consider an extra sand school /lunge area separate from your main arena if you have room, as excessive use of your arena for lunging could ruin it over time, which will be a very costly mistake in the long run. Dressage sizes are typically 60m x 20m layouts. If you are interested in jumping then consider an arena with extra width.
3. Base & Surface – This has to be right, if it isn’t then in wet weather you will get pooled water and your manege will look like a XC course! There are many different surfaces out there too choose from, you could use mixes of sand, fibre, rubber, PVC or woodchip. Ask around for recommendations, speak to suppliers before making your decision. Think about the types of usage you are aiming for from your arena. Cost for most people is a deciding factor unless you have endless pockets. Test drive different surfaces before deciding. If choosing sand we always prefer angular high quality silica sand this tends to ride better and doesn’t clump when wet. Sand and rubber is also a popular choice for those on a budget, but for those where cost is not the most important driver then a wax surface will be a premium product providing a pleasing ride. However, with all surfaces yearly maintenance is the key to keeping it performing well year in, year out.
4. Drainage – This is super important, a decent groundworks contractor can advise on this. Where will the excess water be draining into? Will this effect your neighbours?
5. Planning – Placing your arena next to existing facilities is not only practical but could be looked upon favourably by your planners. Be aware of planting hedges or existing hedges/trees next to your plot, as mature root systems can play havoc in the long run with your arena, and planners are not always in favour of mature trees in such plans. Planning can take up to 12 weeks too, so its a good idea to call your local council to discuss the process and your ideas before you make an application. They can usually give you some good advice which could save you time and cost in the long run. Also is your site in a special scientific or AONB which has its own planning restrictions?
6. Lighting – Do you need it? Will you be using your arena in the winter months when it can get dark after 3.15pm sometimes? If so it will be a good idea to install it. Think about your planning and site considerations. Will your neighbours object? Is the plot near to a road where planners may object putting in lighting?
7. Fences – Kickboards can be added also. Ensure your fence is super sturdy and at least 4ft 6in in height. A small inadequately reinforced fence could become a danger. If budget is an issue use round fence posts.
8. Gates – An offset central gate is the best option that doesn’t mess with the centre lines, don’t put them in the corners either. However for a dressage arena, a central placement for training would be better.
9. Mirrors – Everyone loves mirrors, and some horses do too! However when considering placement think about the direction of the sun when you mostly ride and ensure there isn’t too much glare which could spook your horse or pony. Ideally they should be angled towards the ground and on their own framework not the fencing posts.
10. Cost – Realistically the cheapest you could spend on the smallest arena would be £15k upwards excluding VAT. If you want to cut your budget, cut the size of your arena is my advice. If you can’t quite afford the menage of your dreams now, level the ground ready for the big dream one but build a smaller one in the interim and extend later when funds allow. Also choose a budget surface for now and upgrade when finances are better in a few years. A fence also is not essential either, unless you have a horse or pony who like to take off, just have kickboards for now until funds allow.
For any further advice and to plan your new horse arena in 2020, call Brian now for a more in depth discussion on 07710 780943.