Planning the Construction of Your Indoor Riding School or Dressage Arena?

Ingliston stables with specialist roofing

It would be wonderful if you could school your horse in the field all year round, but unfortunately we live in the UK! Our weather is unpredictable at best – slipping around in a soggy field or not wanting to jump onto rock solid dry earth – it’s one extreme to the other! The ideal situation is obviously an indoor riding arena, but this can be a big project. If you’re going to spend the money you need to make sure you’re making a sound investment, so planning is key!


What Discipline Is Your Indoor School For?

The first stage of planning is to make sure you’re clear about the use of your indoor riding school. There are no absolutes when it comes to the design of your school as it depends completely on your discipline and of course the size you have available. A standard dressage arena would be 20m x 40m or sometimes 20m x 60m, which will allow for the perfect placement of the letters so you can prepare precisely for your dressage tests and get a good feel for the size of your circles.

If you tend to do more show jumping you may want to go larger than the dressage standard to allow for a miniature course to be set up so you can practice your all-important jump-off turns! You might even want to allow for a full course to be set up, which could allow you to set up your own small events to recoup some of the expense of building the arena. Remember the height of the roof will need to be higher for jumping and if you do intend to put on events you may want to incorporate some seating which will require a higher roof or just leave standing space for a cheaper option.

Arena Planning Permission

One thing is for sure about riding arena construction, you will need planning permission! Don’t risk going ahead without permission as you could be made to take down the riding school if you are found out, which would be utterly heart breaking and a complete waste of money. Contact your Local Planning Authority (LPA) early on in the planning stages as they may have conditions that could alter your design or the materials you can use. You can find you LPA here.

Choosing the Right Arena Surface

The options are fairly extensive in this area and will likely come down to your budget. There have been great developments in rubber surfacing that have brilliant shock absorbing and water drainage properties, but it does come with a price tag. So you might prefer to go for a traditional sand surface which is much cheaper and a good all-round surface. Take a look at this article from Horse & Hound magazine for more advice and the pros and cons of different options. 

Roofing Material

Horses love to work in light and airy places, so you definitely need to plan some good ventilation into your roof as well as the sides of the arena. If you can afford to build in skylights this is a perfect option for letting the light flood in and will reduce your electricity bills for lighting. Something you will want to consider here is picking a roofing material that is low maintenance and highly weather resistant so that you don’t have any hidden costs further down the line. Our lightweight steel roofing is the perfect option for this, as it is highly weather resistant having been tested against bush fires in California and cyclones in Japan. It has a 40 year weather guarantee and is virtually zero maintenance. Ventilation and skylights and other natural light options can also be incorporated into our roofs to provide the perfect riding conditions.

We have also found that the traditional look of Metrotile has helped many customers get round planning constraints, where blending seamlessly into the countryside has been a concern. Take a look at this case study of our work with Ingliston Equestrian Centre, to see the type of aesthetic that can be achieved.

If you want to receive a free quote, simply give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk you through your options, or follow the link to see our steel roofing products on the website. In the meantime take a look at this video of dressage rider Fiona Bigwood showing you her indoor school to get you inspired…and very jealous!

Tel: +44 (0)1249 658514