Factors to Consider when Planning your Arena
If you’ve decided to build your own indoor or outdoor manège, it’s crucial to spend time planning your project. This article highlights the essential points to consider when constructing a new riding arena or choosing an appropriate surface.
An all-weather arena needs to be fit for purpose, so spend time choosing the best location. Ideally, the area should be as level as possible to avoid additional work, such as cutting and filling, to make the ground more suitable.
Consider the access for construction machinery and delivery vehicles, paying particular attention to the condition of the ground they will be required to travel over. For example, it will be cheaper for the construction materials to be delivered in an articulated vehicle rather than a rigid tipper lorry. Although, larger trucks may struggle to access the arena site. The season should also be considered, as poor weather conditions may hinder the delivery and construction schedules.
It’s important to consider if your arena will be built near any trees or hedgerows. It’s best to avoid areas with overhanging branches, as falling leaves will contaminate the arena surface, and shaded areas will take longer to thaw during cold winters. Ideally, the riding arena should be situated close to the stables for ease of access. However, you should always include additional space around the perimeter to allow fencing installation and future maintenance access.
The size of your planned arena will depend mainly on its location, the intended use and your financial budget. Typically, a 20m x 40m sized arena is suitable for general use, whilst advanced dressage riders require a slightly bigger area, such as 20m x 60m. If the arena is used for show jumping, you’ll want a minimum width of 25m. You should strive to build the largest-sized school that the location and your budget will allow, without compromising on the raw materials or the quality of the construction, as extending a manège once it has been built can be expensive.
If you plan on doing a lot of lunging, the arena surface will be subjected to additional wear, as the horse’s hooves cut more deeply when working on smaller circles. Therefore, it is recommended that you create a dedicated lunging area, either in a purpose-built 20m round pen, or a separate dedicated space, to help increase the longevity of the surface.
Some construction companies will offer a full planning service, where they will take care of everything on your behalf. However, if you decide to manage the application yourself, it’s essential to understand the critical stages of the process:
- Contact your planning department for advice – this involves them from the outset, and you can find out if they have any specific guidelines
- Submit your drawing & application plans to the planning authority – some construction companies will do this on your behalf, or you can do it yourself
- Wait an average of 6 to 8 weeks – in the first 3-4 weeks, your local authority will inspect the site, and consult any neighbours
- Receive the planning authorities’ decision – your application will either be granted or refused. In some instances, they may request amendments before approving the plan, such as additional landscaping.
- Once you’ve received planning permission, you can proceed with your build.