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Do I need an arena?

One of the most common questions I get asked is 'Can I compete with Demi Dressage, we only have a field to ride in'...

And the answer is YES - of course you can!

We have a number of competitors who ride their tests in a field - all you need to do is mark out an area the right size and shape, and with markers for the letters. All of the Demi Dressage tests are written for a standard 'small' dressage arena - that is 20m x 40m:

Demi Dressage Arena Diagram
Demi Dressage Arena Diagram

It's fairly easy to pace out an arena in a flat bit of field, the hardest part is making sure the corners end up 90', and all your markers line up! For a truly accurate marked out arena, check out this great guide from How To Dressage:

We don't mind if your Demi Dressage arena isn't quite this perfect! We also don't mind if you don't have a proper set of letters - obviously it will make it much easier for your junior riders if they have letters to work to, as all the test instructions are based on these. But from a judging point of view, you just need something to mark the locations of the letters (note those IN the arena - D, X and G - are not marked!) - cones, upturned buckets or tubs are fine.

At competitions, you'll often see grass dressage arenas edged with white boards. Again, we don't mind if your arena doesn't have these, but it will make it easier for your rider if you at least have something to indicate the corners... I used half-length poles for mine (you'll need 8 - 2 to create each corner)

If your space isn't quite 20*40m, don't worry. As long as the proportions are correct, the tests will still ride correctly. A slightly smaller space will mean tighter turns, but we all know how nimble ponies are!

Over the next few weeks, I will do a series of Blog posts on some of the other more common questions asked, so I hope you will find them helpful. If there's anything you'd like to see a 'How To..' on, let me know!

Simple grass dressage arena with cones
A very simple grass dressage arena, marked with cones

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Each equestrian discipline differs in dressage arena sizes, so you’ll want to consider other dimensions when building for jumping and hunting.

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