Riding in a Grand Prix ring can be a thrilling experience, especially for amateur or junior riders. However, as the title of this post suggests, not all Grand Prix rings are created equal. Arena size, footing, shape, grandstand layout, and the associated warm-up ring are all contributing factors, which make some Grand Prix rings amazing, while others leave much to be desired. If you are a barn manager or a horse show director, then be sure to take the following design characteristics into account before you lay the foundation for a new Grand Prix arena.
Arena Size: Arena size must be taken into account for the anticipated ring events. For example, if the Grand Prix ring is going to feature a 1.60m Grand Prix, then the ring must be large enough for both horse and rider to compete over the large obstacles and challenging courses. If, however, the ring will only hold up to 1.40m competitions, then the arena's size can be slightly smaller.
Footing: When it comes to arena construction, choosing the right footing is paramount to building an amazing ring. A jumper blend or GGT footing are typically the best choices for Grand Prix rings. Should you choose to have grass footing, be sure that it is kept properly watered, aerated, and the grass is cut to the ideal performance length. Spruce Meadows provides the best example of well-maintained grass arenas.
Shape: Whether you choose oval or square, the Grand Prix ring must be shaped to maximize the available square footage.
Grandstand Layout: One of the best things about competing in a Grand Prix ring is the grandstand layout. As you race against the clock or perform in a highly anticipated hunter derby, it is nice to have a crowd watching from all angles.
Warm-Up Ring: As mentioned in our earlier post, How to Build the Perfect Horse Show Schooling Ring, building the correct warm-up ring is an important factor in arena construction. The warm-up ring should be accessible to the show ring, contain the GGT footing as the show ring, and be large enough for competitors to successfully ready themselves for competition.