Thinking of building an outdoor riding arena? If you’ve begun to research the project, your head is probably spinning. It’s a complicated process, and mistakes can be costly. 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, Kimball Keller of VP of Family Entertainment Industries. Here’s what he had to say.
What does it cost to build an outdoor riding arena?
Costs 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,” says Keller. “It depends 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 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).
Need help budgeting for these expenses? SuperMoney can hook you up with money management software to help figure out what you can afford!
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.
- Basic — 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: $1.50 per square foot
- Best — complete build of new arena including excavation, drainage, materials, fencing, sand, and horse footing additive $4.50 per square foot.
To better illustrate these costs, 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″
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. Novice dressage, advanced dressage, and show jumping will all require different sizes.
- 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 and money by preventing problems down the road. If you don’t feel confident in planning on your own, there are companies like Keller’s that can perform a consultation.
Keller says, “We 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 needs 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 test the soil, perform research, and make the decisions on what you need regarding layers, materials, and drainage.
Once your plan is complete, it’s time to implement it.
Materials and installation
Your first step is to purchase materials. These can include large quantities of top layer mixtures, drainage pipes and fittings, rocks for the base layer, geothermal membranes, and more.
The installation process requires heavy machinery and the expertise to use it. Keller says, “We would do a package deal where we would contract with the dirt, rocks, geotextile, etc. and install it all.”
Costs vary depending on the quality of your materials, the type of drainage system, the amount of excavating/leveling required, your fencing, and other features you want, like roofing or lighting.
If you’re looking for a simple arena and your yard is already level, 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 intimidating. However, online personal loan companies can make your project a realistic possibility.
Lenders like Avant, Prosper, and Lightstream offer easy online applications, and provide funding in as little as 24 hours. 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. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and you’ll get personalized offers from our suite of recommended lenders.
If you’d like to further vet the top lenders, our Personal Loans Review Page provides in-depth reviews and real user ratings make it easy.
In addition, different personal loans come with different rates, fees and requirements, so check out what the best personal loans are to ensure that you choose the best option for you.
Building an outdoor equestrian arena is a big project. But once you do your homework and get the right financing, all you have to do is see your plan through. Good luck!
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.