Arena Geometry
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The Dressage Arenas

At any dressage show you go to, regardless of the facility or the country, you will show in an arena that has very specific dimensions, with markers (which we call "letters") laid out in a specific (and challenging-to-memorize) order.

There are actually two sizes of arena that you might run across: the small arena, which is 40 meters long and 20 meters wide, and the large or standard arena, which is 60 meters long and 20 meters wide.

For USEF/USDF competitions, the small arena may be used for Intro level and some Training Level tests. Most competitions will hold Training Level Test 3, the qualifying test, in the large arena. For USEA (eventing) competitions, the small arena is used for the dressage phase up until Intermediate level, when the large arena is used.

All other USEF and FEI tests are ridden in the large (standard) arena.

If you understand arena geometry, you can ride accurate ring figures. Know the numbers, and you're golden.

(By the way, the letters that you see arranged around the arena are arranged that way in every single dressage arena you'll ever ride in. No one *really* knows why the letters are arranged the way they are, and not simply alphabetically, but there's speculation that it has to do with signs in the courtyard of royal riding stables. My guess is the arena set-up crew had a few drinks first. . . .)

 

Large dressage arena
Large (Standard) Dressage Arena: 60m x 20m

There are really only 4 numbers you need to memorize: in the large arena, 60 meters (length of arena), 20 meters (width of arena), 12 meters (distance between long-side letters) and 6 meters (distance from ends of arena to corner letters).

 

Small dressage arena
Small Dressage Arena: 40m x 20m

There are also 4 numbers you need to memorize for the small arena: 40 meters (length of arena), 20 meters (width of arena -- same as large arena), 14 meters (distance between long-side letters) and 6 meters (distance from ends of arena to corner letters -- same as large arena).

Dressage arena diagrams

Dressage arena "map"

Circle points

20 meter circles

15 meter circles

10 meter circles

Serpentines

Corners and half-circles

Okay, so just how accurate do I have to be?