Is your horse riding arena safe?


At the top of my list for where to board my horse, two things matter the most. Quality of food, and quality of the riding surfaces. Our horses are much too valuable to risk their health and soundness on bad footing or unsafe arenas.


Is your horse riding arena the best it can be?



covered riding arena

About as level as it gets!


  • The ground is level. And it’s maintained to stay level. The earth is a changing thing – even under the base of a solidly constructed arena, you will have shifting over time and weather. You also have the added factor of many riders using one track, which creates a much harder pack than the less popular places to ride, such as off the rail.


  • The footing is routinely cared for. A harrow every few weeks is super if there’s only one horse in there every few weeks. It might not be daily, but dragging the arena should be regular and appropriate for the number of riders.


arena footing with golf cart circle

Pro Tip – Golf gart tracks make perfect circles to follow if you are working on accuracy when you ride.


  • There is minimal dust. The number one reason horse riding surfaces are dusty is because of manure. Pick it out! Don’t ride your horse through a pile, and for bleeps sake don’t leave it there to be harrowed into the footing. Your horse’s respiratory system is at risk. Yours, too.


  • All gates have a way of being secured together. And also, being secured when they are open. I know of one horse that was happily trotting along when the wind picked up an open gate and swung it right into his chest. Needless to say, the Vet bills and recovery time were horrific, just as his wound was. If you keep the gates open, they must secure back to something. Period.


latch to hold gate open

This was literally a $3 fix to secure the gate back to the outside railing when open.


  • There is a way to communicate about areas that are off-limits. For example, if the drainage is not so good in one area, use cones or ropes to notify all riders. Sure, you could tell everyone in an email, but you also should tell the horses and remind the riders at the same time.


  • If the arena has lighting, how often are the electrical components inspected and serviced? There’s no need to be causally riding around and then all of a sudden things start popping and exploding.



bird netting above riding arena

This “ceiling” also has wall-to-wall mesh to keep the birds out. Electrical systems and lights are inspected regularly.


  • If you are lucky enough to live with horrible winters and have access to an indoor, how much ventilation is there? Sure, it’s super nice to be out of the weather, but without airflow, no one’s lungs are happy. And you need more ventilation than you think.


  • If there are jumps in the ring, how often are they moved? Jumps that are rooted in the earth and harrowed around created pockets of waves in the footing and possibly the base. Think of it as a workout to be constantly moving standards and poles. It’s good for us and even better for our horses.


large opening in riding arena

This enclosed side has GIANT doors that slide open for good weather and can be closed for rain. The entire opposite side is open, so ventilation is just enhanced when these doors are open.



For more arena care tips, read this award-worthy article.