A Quick DIY Dressage Arena Layout Guide

Mike Short of Eldwick Riding Club shows us how to build our 40m diy dressage arena layout quickly and accurately using two cheap 50m surveyors tapes and four tent pegs.

Your DIY Dressage Arena layout can be put together quickly and accurately in the middle of a field for a riding club competition. It can be a real pain if you are doing it by yourself or if there are only two of you.

But, by spending as little as £20 you can create your own DIY Dressge Arena layout quickly and accurately every time, even if you’re working alone.

Here’s how to layout your DIY Dressage Arena …

Inexpensive open reel surveyors tapes are readily available in lengths of 20, 30, 50 & 100 metres. You will need two 50mtr reels. You can pick them up for as little as £9-10 including postage.

Dressage Riding Arena Cartoon

You will also need four tent pegs or dressage board pegs if you already have them.

If you are using dressage boards for your diy dressage arena layout you will need :

  • 17 for a basic arena
  • 19 dressage boards will give you two boards to use at E & B instead of one
  • with 20 boards you can also put an extra at C
  • with 24 boards you can also double up at K, H, F & M.

Firstly decide where you want your DIY dressage arena layout, then once you have decided where you want to place your dressage arena you are going to lay out the H.E.K long side first.

DIY Dressage Arena – Step by Step

localriding DIY Dressage Arena LayoutStep 1. Starting at the judges end of your intended HEK long side, peg down the loop of surveyors tape 1 and reel it out 40m. Make sure the tape is straight by gently pulling it, but DON’T pull it too tight or the tape might break at the pegged down end.

With the tape still in place on the grass, lay out the dressage boards on the outside of the tape- one for each letter and one for each corner – and the three letters for that side on the outside of the boards (H) 6m from judges end; (E) 20m; (K) 34m. Leave the tape where it is for the moment.

localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout

Step 2. Take the second tape to measure the short side and peg it at the 40m mark on the first tape, your second corner.

Pull it out 20m along the rough line of the short entrance side A. Dont put the boards down yet.

localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout

Step 3. Now, leaving the long tape still pegged in at the first corner, pull it out to 44.72m and swing it round to meet tape 2 (at its 20m mark). The point where tape 1 at 44.72m meets tape 2 at 20m is the exact point of your third corner. Put a peg in here.

With both tapes still laid out, set out the entrance short end with two boards outside the line of the tape about 2 to 2.5m apart for the entrance (A) and lay out a board at each of the corners.

localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout

Step 4. Still with the ends of both tapes pegged down, wind tape 1 in to 20m and swing it round to roughly lay out the judges short 20m end.

Pull tape 2 out to 44.72m and swing it round to meet tape 1 exactly at its 20m mark at your last corner. Mark the corner with a peg.

Layout out the judges end outside the line of the tape with board in the centre, letter (C) at the centre and one board at each corner.

localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout

Step 5. Take up any one of the tapes and lay it down the last long side and it should be 40m. If you have done it properly you should be no more than 0.5m out. If it is much more than that you might have to make some adjustments.

With the tape still down, lay out the boards and letters for the last side (M) 6m from judges end; (B) 20m; (F) 34m.

localriding DIY Dressage Arena Layout

Step 6. Finally … Make sure you pull up the four tent pegs from the grass and definitely dont leave until you have found them. You DO NOT want to risk leaving them for a horse to step on, or have a mower run over them.


And that’s your quick DIY Dressage Arena Layout

It sounds a little complicated on paper but when you’ve done it once or twice, you’ll realise just how easy and accurate, it is.

If you hold regular dressage competitions at your riding club or livery yard it’s well worth the ?20 you spend on the two 50m tapes.

A couple of things to remember …

Dont be tempted to use a 50m and a 20m tape it will take you longer

In windy weather the tapes can blow about and you will lose accuracy. If it’s windy get someone to help and be gentle with the tapes.

Handy tip … write 44.72m on each tape reel with a permanent marker so you never forget the length of the diagonal