Building a Horse Arena On a Budget & 6 Cheap Fencing Ideas

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Cheap horse arena fencing is a must to help equestrians save money, as riding arenas are one of the most expensive things to build.

This is true if they are building one of their own or need one for their facility.

I, for one, do not have the construction skills to build my arena, so if I want to build one, I will be contracting a company!

In this article, I will discuss DIY options that I learned about so that horse owners can create their own cheap horse arena, whether it is an indoor arena or outdoor.

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Can You Build a Horse Arena on a Budget?

Yes, it is possible to build a horse arena on a budget. I’ll go into more details in a minute. But first, let’s look at the higher-end cost and what you need to consider when planning your arena.

In many cases, it is worth paying more for extra quality when it comes to horse care and facilities. Top-quality surfaces and footing for riding arenas can cost $100,000 or more.

One of my dressage trainer friends has an outdoor arena with GGT footing. To fill a standard 20 x 60 dressage arena with GGT footing costs more than $5.000. (1)

However, many equestrians (myself included) do not have the financial means to afford the best of the best. But you can still create decent facilities, and it is possible to build an arena on a budget in a wide variety of ways.

To build a horse arena fence on a budget, you need to consider the following points because all of these factors affect the total costs.

  • The size you want
  • The type of footing you want to use
  • The maximum amount you can spend on the arena
  • What features do you need, and which ones could you live without
  • Whether you want an indoor or outdoor arena

Here is a video that explains the process of building a riding arena from the ground up. Although this is not a budget-friendly build, it should give you an idea of what is involved in the construction.

Outdoor arenas are generally more affordable because indoor riding arenas require you to build a structure to house the arena, whereas outdoor riding arenas only need a fence.

You also have to pay for electricity and ventilation in an indoor arena, which will add to the cost (2)

Cheap Horse Arena Fencing

Here is a list of horse arena fencing options for do-it-yourself ideas that will allow horse owners to build the arena of their dreams.

#1 Metal Posts and Plastic Slides

Metal is a common material used in building indoor riding arenas of all sizes, and steel is the most common metal. Many companies offer prefabricated steel riding arena kits (3).

They provide you with all the parts you need to construct an arena of your desired size, and all you have to do is put it together. This allows your arena to have rail fencing that creates a visual barrier

#2 Wooden Posts and Rails

Wood is an expensive material, so building riding arenas with wood is a costly endeavor. However, it is one of the most popular and best outdoor riding arena fencing choices.

But, you can save money by cutting wood from trees on your property to build a wooden fence.

Once the wood has been cut, shape and scale as needed according to your build plans. Secure the wood stakes using high-tensile wire or other durable material at your disposal.

Be careful when constructing an arena out of wood because the wood can corrode due to bad weather. If your wooden beams go bad, the hard work you did in construction will go to waste.

You will need to treat your wood arena fence regularly to protect it from the elements and ensure it lasts longer. There are lots of wood treatments available that you can get at any hardware store, and they are relatively inexpensive.

The below videos show you two different options. The first uses a more DIY option with wood cut in a way you might if using it sourced from your own property.

The second shows you how to install traditional post and plank fencing.

#3 Electric Fence and Poles

Another cheap horse arena fencing option is to use electric fencing held together by wood posts. You can buy 1320 feet of electric fence wiring for just under $200.

The fact that you only have to use wood for support, rather than to construct the whole arena, will make it a more affordable option as well.

One of my friends made their own arena in their backyard using a combination of electric fences tied to black PVC pipes for stability.

However, if you use electric tape for paddocks, it might worry your horses. My friend who made the above arena found her horses were so scared of the electric fence that they refused to come up to it, even if it was off.

But it is one of the best budget-friendly options.

#4 Repurpose Pallets

Merchandise shipping pallets can also be used as a source of wood, and they are a solid choice because they typically withstand hundreds of pounds, so the arena will be durable.

Here is a video of a barn team constructing their own arena using wood pallets so you can see them in action.

#5 Plastic Mesh Fencing

If you want a really cheap horse arena fence option, you can build a decent riding arena out of plastic mesh fencing with wood posts holding it up.

Plastic mesh is widely available online and sells for a low initial cost of $40 for a 4 x 100 ft roll.

#6 Wire Fencing

Wire mesh held up with poles is an inexpensive option as well, but use wire with caution because horses can injure themselves on it, especially if it is barbed wire. If fact, I recommend avoiding using barbed wire at any time around horses.

48 in x 100 ft of smooth wire mesh fencing costs just over $100 per roll, so you could easily build a large arena with wire.

CHECK: DIY HORSE STALLS

Cheap Horse Arena Barriers

Barriers in horse arenas are important because they ensure that the footing stays contained and does not spread where it is not needed.

They can also create a fence and help block the wind. To create an inexpensive barrier, consider using hedges or other thick plant life around the perimeter of the arena to create another barricade.

In addition to a hedge fence, you need to install a lower barrier at the base of your fence around the perimeter of the arena. This is to keep your footing in the arena.

One option for a lower barrier is wooden boards. Another inexpensive barrier option involves using thick white plastic reminiscent of a dressage ring. Plastic is a material that is cheap and widely available.

This equestrian built her riding arena on a budget. Check out her video on how she did it.

Inexpensive Drainage Options

Every riding arena needs a good drainage system. Without it, the footing will always be too wet after rain and lose its shock-absorbing qualities.

The only way you can avoid adding a drainage system is by building an arena on high ground. One of the cheapest drainage systems you can make is metal dowels screwed into the barrier.

The metal dowels will catch water and prevent it from pooling. You can also create herringbone drains covered by a layer of porous fabric so that the water can be drained.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that putting the effort and expense into a good drainage system will save you money in the long run.

This video shows talks about this whole process, including the foundation, sand and fence an equestrian used for their arena.

Budget Friendly Riding Arena Surface

According to a study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the surface used in a riding arena is directly related to horse health and safety. (4)

Sand arenas are the most affordable and most widely used. The sand is usually mixed with woodchips or other minerals to make it more compact. There are also different types of sand to consider.

Although the sand is more affordable, it does not have the same shock-absorbing qualities as better specialized equine footing, meaning that horses are more likely to trip or go lame.

One of the barns that I ride at gets a sand and woodchip mixture donated, and the horses experience lameness regularly, especially because the arena has a wood surface.

For these types of arenas, 1-2 inches of woodchips are layered on top of the sand.

Rubber also makes a great inexpensive footing material that is durable. An advantage of rubber footing is typically made from recycled tires, which lowers the cost.

Some equestrians on a budget may think soil is a good footing choice because it is readily available in the ground and at stores, but soil is an unreliable footing.

It gets slippery when wet, and it can compact easily, making it hard and uncomfortable for the horse.

Here is a video that explains more about arena surfaces.

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FAQs

Can an electric fence kill a horse?

Electric fences are not powerful enough to kill horses because they do not have a high enough voltage. They are safe.

How much would it cost to fence 5 acres of land?

It can cost anywhere from $2,300- $3,700, depending on the type of fencing you choose

Conclusion

It is possible to find cheap horse arena fencing and build a riding arena budget. The quality may not be as high, but you will still have a functional arena you can use for lessons and training.

horse walking inside the pen with cheap horse arena fencing

To save the most money, use the materials you already have at your disposal. Do you have any great DIY horse arena tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

References

  • 1. GGT-Footing | Dressage Blend [Internet]. Ggtfooting. [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.ggtfooting.com/dressage-blend
  • 2. How Much Does It Cost to Build a Horse Arena [Internet]. Performance Footing. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.performancefooting.com/blog/cost-to-build-a-horse-arena/
  • 3. Prefabricated Steel Riding Arenas [Internet]. Titan Steel Structures. 2018 [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from: https://titansteelstructures.com/metal-building-types/prefabricated-steel-riding-arenas/
  • 4. The Descriptions and Attitudes of Riders and Arena Owners to 656 Equestrian Sport Surfaces in Sweden [Internet]. Frontiers in Veterinary Science; 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.798910/full
Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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