Known for its fast spins and dramatic sliding stops, reining is one of the fastest growing equine sports. It is also one that requires lots of practice for both horse and rider. While the basics of reining can be taught in any level area, the speed work and slides require an arena with adequate size and good footing for best results. Building a reining ring or arena doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require advance planning.
Select a site that is on high ground with good drainage. This site should be at least 100 by 200 feet and fairly close to the barn for convenience. According to the Equine Journal, the ideal site will have a slope of 1 or 2 per cent for drainage, although grading can provide the proper slant if necessary.
Add at least 6 inches of slightly damp lime dust for base material. Make sure there are no particles more than a quarter of an inch in diameter in it. Use the grader to pack the material tightly. The base material should extend at least 2 feet past the arena dimensions. Since the area along the rail will receive the most traffic, this extra 2 feet will keep the arena from breaking down.
Add 2 to 3 inches of clean sand for the footing to begin with. Make sure the sand has no large particles in it. Ride on this material for a few days; then add additional sand as necessary.
Place fencing that is 6 feet high around the arena. While many reiners do not totally enclose the arena, the fencing will allow more options for future use. The height will allow a rider to "fence" a horse when necessary. Vinyl or pipe fencing will work best.
- Do not skimp on the base material or footing. If this size of arena is too expensive, it would be better to build a smaller arena than to skimp on quality materials.
- If you are in doubt as to how well the area you've selected for your arena will drain, contacting a soil engineer may be cost effective in the long run. Ideally your arena will have a water source nearby, so the surface can be dampened if it becomes dusty. Another option is to add a coating of liquid magnesium chloride to the surface. This will help hold moisture in and will help prevent freezing in colder climates.