An indoor or outdoor riding arena is one of the most valuable financial assets any equestrian or business investor can own.

With horse show quality footing and a state-of-the-art facility, you’ll drive competitive riders and casual horse owners to your barns. That will earn you a reputation in the equestrian community and skyrocket revenue.

Along with careful planning and preparation is the riding arena size, which is crucial to the success of the space and horses. It is one of the first decisions you should make.

There are general specifications that should be taken advantage of as you consider basic measurements. But you should also consider your audience’s specific disciplines when building an indoor or outdoor arena.

Indoor General Specifications

For outdoor riding arenas, height does not cause much issue since the area is exposed to wide open space for the rider and horse to move.

However, indoor arenas offer the same height measurements across facilities and do not vary widely.

We recommend indoor steel buildings and facilities having an interior height of 16 feet to 18 feet. This ensures mounted riders do not touch the ceiling.

For jumpers, it is a good idea to stay in the higher end of the height range and add an additional foot or two if they believe it is needed.

Similarly, entrance/exit doors should be around 13 to 15 feet tall for the same reasons as the arena height, protecting both equestrians and horses.

Discipline: Dressage, Jumping, or Hunting?

Building an arena requires an intimate knowledge of your competitive rider and their specific sport, whether it’s dressage, jumping, or hunting.

This gives you insight into determining the riding area sizes for each discipline and sets equestrians up for competition success.

When you meet their niche riding needs, they are more apt to give you business and become lifetime customers.


The official footage for a competition standard dressage arena is 20 meters by 60 meters, totaling 12,915 square feet. Combined with horse show quality footing, your dressage riders can train on the same arena surface during an event.

You have the freedom to increase or decrease these measurements, but the original ratio must stay intact. Otherwise, dressage riders will spend long hours practicing in the wrong riding arena size.


We recommend constructing an arena that’s 20,000 square feet (100 ft by 200 ft) for the average hunter and jumper arena size It satisfies the general requirements for both indoor and outdoor versions of the sports.

However, serious jumpers and hunters want to train on arenas with dimensions that meet the USEF’s guidelines for their competition level.

That means you need to know the specific rider your business wants to target to build the right jumper and hunter arena size.

For example, Premier Hunters and Level 5/6 Jumpers require a 28,000 square foot outdoor arena. But you can get away with only 14,000 square feet for Local Hunters and Level 1 Jumpers.

Horse Health and Age Evaluation

Even after you have identified your horse’s discipline to select the standard arena size, the animal’s health and age may change those specifications.

Did you know that if a horse is forced to run small circles in their riding arena due to its size, it will wear on their legs and can lead to unsoundness?

Any competition horse arena owners need to be aware that the overall success of their horse does not lie only in consistent training sessions. It’s just as important to consider whether the riding arena size and design match the particular animal.

Truss Installation and Manufacturers

The placement of trusses in indoor riding arenas is not often thought of when considering the overall size, but to truss manufacturers it is key.

Trusses will be installed by professionals on your indoor arena’s ceiling every 12 feet in a majority of cases, which means your dimensions need to be divisible by twelve.

For example, the standard dressage arena measurements of 20 meters by 60 meters is effective because you can fit exactly five sets of trusses longways in your arena.

Decide who is going to install trusses in your future arena and ask them their policy for truss installation so you can pick your indoor riding arena size with confidence.

Riding Lessons/Multiple Disciplines

Other considerations for indoor and outdoor riding arena sizes are made when thinking about whether the horse owner desires to give riding lessons or implement more than one discipline.

When equestrians are helping several horse riders mount and trot across an arena at the same time, changes must be made to accommodate.

There needs to be enough room for all parties to move freely without feeling cramped by other riders.

In addition, you may own several horses with different disciplines, which recommend constructing a massive space to house all of them.

A larger arena will increase property value, so even if dressage or jumping is stopped, your efforts would not be wasted.

Test Your Riding Arena Size

Once horse owners have carefully thought through their riding arena size, they are not ready at the moment to start building. Our recommendations are standard riding arena sizes and guidelines but are not binding rules for all horse riders.

You can take materials such as cones, bales, PVC pipe, rope, and poles to layout on the ground in straight lines.

Then, practice riding in that specified area with your horse for at least a week, performing any normal routines or training sessions to get used to the space.

Although the standard dressage arena is 20 meters by 60 meters, you may conclude after testing the measurements that your horse needs additional room to make circles.

These judgments and tweaks should be made to ensure you have the riding arena size that meets your horse’s needs.

Review of Riding Arena Size

All riding arena construction projects require careful thought and planning behind them, which is why selecting the right riding arena size is important.

By identifying your riders’ disciplines, you can create a high-end equestrian arena they can enjoy and train on.

At Performance Footing, we are available to help you create an indoor or outdoor arena that is built to last a lifetime. With easy installation arena footing by expert equestrians, you will be on your way to constructing your dream riding arena.

Send us a note online or call us at 877.835-0878 with any questions you have about riding arena size or our reliable footing products.