Dressage is a discipline of subtle movements and beauty. A dressage arena should reflect the standards stable owners hold for themselves and for their riders. Equine professionals strive to maintain an arena that looks as professional as the way they ride. Here is how they do it.
Top Notch Footing
No dressage arena is complete without decent footing. The serious equestrian will work his or her horses daily. Bad footing compromises the health and concentration of the horse. Ultimately this will result in lameness and poor scores in the show ring.
There are many types of footing available for indoor and outdoor riding arenas, but profession dressage stables typically prefer a custom blend. These blends should:
- Reduce dust
- Store large amounts of water
- Prevent packing
- Extend the lifetime of the arena
- Have a fluffy surface
- Provide stability
Owners of professional stables work with arena footing experts to come up with the arena footing that best suits their needs.
Regular Arena Drags
Dressage is a discipline of patterns. Riders tend to follow similar routes as they work their way through the letters of the arena. This moves the footing around substantially over time, creating uneven areas that pose problems.
The solution to disturbed footing is regular arena drags. A dressage arena that sees a lot of traffic each day will benefit from a daily drag. Arenas that see less frequent use require less dragging.
Outdoor arenas require more care than indoor. Check with the footing provider for optimal dragging conditions. In general it is a good practice to drag when the arena is not too dry and not too wet. If the arena is dusty, the footing will blow away. If the arena is too wet, the footing will turn to mud.
Indoor dressage arenas require lighting. During the winter months riders will depend on indoor lighting exclusively, which requires more than adequate lighting. There are several excellent options on the market, including energy-efficient LED bulbs. Many stables have poorly lit arenas that are depressing to ride in. This is unacceptable at the professional level. Choose a light that illuminates the whole ring. The right light choice will differ from arena to arena, and depends on size, ceiling height, and indoor decor.
Outdoor arena lighting is no less important if the arena sees regular night-time use. When selecting floodlights, make sure that every inch of the arena and surrounding area is well-lit. The last thing a stable owner wants is an accident resulting from inadequate lighting. Even the best trained horse will spook at times. A well-lit perimeter ensures that horse and rider are not taken unawares, either by another rider, an observer, or a wandering dog.
Ride Like A Pro
Having a professional level dressage arena won't make a rider any more talented, but it will attract a higher level clientage to the stable. For stable owners who wish to cater to the pros, maintaining a professional dressage arena is a must.