Q: Please can you tell me how to go about installing a manege at home? I need one for schooling my 15.2hh horse, although not for jumping. Please could you tell me what is the best type of surface to use?

Yard manager Kate Skirrow replies: Installing an outdoor riding arena is a very exciting project, and there are many considerations to take into account when deciding on its design.

The standard size for a manege is 20mx40m, but this may vary depending upon the amount of land and money you have at your disposal.

I suggest you contact a selection of specialists in building arenas, many of whom advertise in the equestrian press. They will be able to provide you with quotes and offer specific advice.

Consider the following points:

  • Planning permission will be needed and this may or may not extend to floodlighting, depending on your needs.
  • A good drainage system is vital, as water lying on the surface can turn your arena into an ice rink in cold weather. The aim is to ensure that water flows around your arena and that any water landing on it can drain away quickly. A specialist can advise you on drainage.
  • There are many types of surface to choose from including sand, woodfibre, rubber and wax-coated surfaces. Some people use a combination, such as sand with a rubber topping. Prices do vary and your budget may limit your choice, but try to choose a surface that doesn’t freeze. Bear in mind that a surface of sand alone will freeze when wet.
  • Don’t forget to find out how to maintain your chosen surface, as the purchase of a levelling device must be included in your total budget.
  • Finally, when you contact the arena specialists, ask for a list of local arenas they have built, and go and see them for yourself. Often, the best advice comes from people who have already gone through the experience.

This Q&A was first published in HORSE magazine