Let’s talk about outdoor arenas. What is your biggest issue with your outdoor arena? Outdoor arenas are trickier to build and maintain than an indoor, for the fact that you are working against Mother Nature. An all-weather horse arena needs to be designed and constructed to deal with the many different weather conditions that Mother Nature may send your way. Having a traditional sand arena during these situations can make the fight even harder.
I think there are many aspects of outdoor arenas that are overlooked when building, then by the time you are done you wished you had done something differently. One of the biggest, minor things that I think is overlooked is the importance of retaining boards in an arena.
Retaining boards are very critical to an arena. They have the job of holding the footing in the arena, and stopping it from migrating into the drainage outside of the arena or grass. Many times, without using a retaining board, footing is pushed to the outside every time the arena is groomed. During this instance, customers have to replenish their arena every few years because of footing loss into their yard. Along with keeping the footing in the arena, retaining boards also create a nice clean boarder around the arena. This will stop grass from growing in the arena, and make it easy to maintain and mow the area around it.
Just below, you can see a graphic of a side view of how arenas should look. Your base should be about 2-3 inches of large aggregate stones, with 2-3 inches of compacted stone dust on top of that. Your retaining board needs to sit on the outside of your fence posts, directly on top of the aggregate stone. The retaining board can be held in place by the aggregate stone drainage on the outside of the arena, or you can install pins in the boards to hold it in place. The top of the board should be about 1-2 inches above your footing in order to stop the footing from escaping the arena.
IGK Equestrian has spent years studying and researching the best ways to build both outdoor and indoor arenas. We have driven or flown out to see customers, whether an hour away or across the country many times to help them with the installation process of their arena, and we can come to your arena for a consultation at any time, just call us up or send us information online! Our dust-free footings are the perfect addition to your arena installation. With never having to water the arena and less time on maintenance, you have more time to ride and train your horses.
Is there something you wish you did differently when installing your arena?