the cost of building an outdoor horse riding arena

What Does it Cost to Build an Outdoor Riding Arena?

Thinking of building an outdoor riding arena? If you’ve begun to research the project, your head might be spinning. It’s quite complicated, and mistakes can be expensive. On top of that, if the arena is built incorrectly, it can result in injuries to the riders and horses. So, what does it cost to build an arena the right way?

To find out, we interviewed an expert on the matter, Kimball Keller of  VP of Family Entertainment Industries. Here’s what he had to share.

What does it cost to build an outdoor riding arena?

“Cost can vary based on the size of the arena as well as the materials used. It can range from $25,000 to upwards of $200,000 or more depending on how in-depth you want to get and whether this is a commercial operation or your own farm,” says Keller.

To illustrate, a small dressage arena is around 8700ft2. But a standard-size competition arena that is large enough for professional jump courses is 20,000 ft2. Using the estimated costs explained below, a basic arena with those dimensions would cost about $39k for a small arena and $90,000 for a competition-sized arena ($4.5 per ft2).

Cost breakdown

To understand more about the costs involved, here’s a break down of the planning and construction phases.

In summary, Keller provides these estimates depending on what quality arena you want.

  • Good – utilizing your existing arena base and sand, and adding a horse footing material $0.65 per square foot.
  • Better – utilizing your existing base, adding sand aggregate and horse footing additive material per $1.50 square foot
  • Best – complete build of new arena including excavation, drainage, materials, fencing, sand, and horse footing additive $4.50 per square foot.

To understand more about the costs involved, here’s how the planning and construction phases work.

Cost can vary based on the size of the arena as well as the materials used. It can range from $25,000 to upwards of $200,000″


First things first, thorough planning is essential to a final result that is safe, effective, affordable, and usable for the majority of the year. Here are the basic steps:

  • Find a level area to build the arena.
  • Ensure there is enough space for the intended activities (i.e. novice dressage, advanced dressage, and show jumping will all require differently sized arenas).
  • Consider accessibility of the arena site during construction and afterward.
  • Test the soil to three feet deep.
  • Identify if you need to excavate/level.
  • Determine the soil and gravel layers needed.
  • Research your drainage needs and strategy.
  • Decide on fencing needs.
  • Figure out how much it will cost and what will fit your budget.

Creating a well-researched plan will save you time, money, and energy by preventing problems down the road. If you don’t feel confident in planning on your own, there are companies like Keller’s that will come out to perform a consultation.

Keller says, “We can bring in a soil tester to see what the existing ground is like, and also look for drainage patterns and low-lying areas to see what would need to be built up. We then compile several mixtures of soil and footing and let the client see the different mixtures and feel the texture.” He adds, “The client is heavily involved in the process, as they know their horses better than anyone else.”

Hiring an expert can improve the likelihood that an arena is built right. However, it will come at a cost. “We do charge for consulting. That way, we are not out time and expenses if the client is only window shopping,” says Keller.

If you want to do it yourself, you’ll need to independently test the soil, perform research, and make the decisions on what you need regarding layers, materials, and drainage.

Once you have a plan all set, it’s time to implement it.

Materials and installation

When it comes to the construction, you will need to purchase the materials and plan for the installation. Materials can include large quantities of top layer mixtures, drainage pipes and fittings, rocks for the base layer, geothermal membranes, fencing, and more.

As for the installation, it can require heavy machinery as well as someone with knowledge on how to install the materials properly. Keller says, “We would do a package deal where we would contract with the dirt, rocks, geotextile, etc. and install it all.”

Price will vary greatly depending on materials needed, the quality of the materials you choose, the type of drainage system you pick and it’s complexity/materials, the amount of excavating/leveling required, the fencing you choose, and other features you want such as roofing or lighting.

If you’re looking for a simple arena with the bare minimum and your yard is decently level in an area with little rain, you can likely get closer to the $25,000 to $35,000 range. On the other hand, the sky is the limit if you want to go for luxury and maximum usability.

How to Finance your outdoor riding arena

If your heart is set on constructing your own outdoor riding arena, the cost can be a bit intimidating. However, online personal loan companies can make your project a realistic possibility.

There are a number of lenders such as Avant, Prosper, and Lightstream that offer an easy online application process and funding in as little as one day’s time. Approval is based on your credit, and repayments are often structured as monthly payments over a set term.

To find out what you qualify for without hurting your credit score, try SuperMoney’s loan offer engine. You simply answer a few questions and then get offers from a number of lenders delivered to you.

If you’d like to further vet the top lenders, our Personal Loans Review Page provides in-depth reviews and real user ratings to help make your decision a little easier.

Building an outdoor equestrian arena is a big project. However, once you do your homework and get the right financing, it’s just a matter of seeing the plan through to completion. If you’re looking for a local contractor to do the work, Homeadvisor ProFinder makes it easy to get quotes from vetted contractors.