Factors to Consider When Planning Your Riding Arena
If you’ve decided to build your own indoor or outdoor manège, it’s important to spend time planning your project. In this article, we’ve highlighted important some points to consider when constructing a new riding arena, and/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, in order 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. It will be cheaper for the construction materials to be delivered in an articulated vehicle, rather than an eight-wheel tipper lorry, but larger trucks may struggle to gain direct access to the arena site. The time of year should also be considered, as poor weather conditions may hinder both the delivery and construction schedules.
It’s important to consider if the 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, it’s important to include additional space around the perimeter of the arena, to allow for the installation of fencing and access for future maintenance.
The size of your planned arena will depend largely on its location, the intended use and your financial budget. 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 to be used for show jumping, a minimum width of 25m is advisable. You should strive to build the largest sized arena 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. It is therefore recommended that you create a dedicated lunging area, either in a purpose built 20m round pen, or a separate dedicated area of the arena, 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 important to understand the key 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 the site will be inspected and any neighbours will be consulted.
Receive the planning authorities decision – your application will either be granted or refused. In some instances the authority may request amendments, such as additional landscaping, before granting approval.
Once you’ve received planning permission you can proceed with your build.