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"It is the best of lessons if the horse gets a season of repose whenever he has behaved to his rider's satisfaction." - Xenophen

The Dressage Arena

dressage arenaThe arena is the playing field, if you will, for the sport of Dressage. While there are two common sizes for Dressage arenas, only the standard sized arena is used for rated shows in North American. This occurred after the combination of Equine Canada (EC) and the United States Dressage Federation (USDF). Arenas use a variety of footing materials ranging from grass to sand or shredded rubber. During competitions, the perimeter of the arena is generally outlined by small white chain or fence. Letters are placed in various locations to indicate where specific movements are to be performed during the dressage test. Both dressage arenas have been outlined below to show further detail.

While the two main dressage arenas differ in size, they have many similarities. Both arenas have a centerline and the very center of the arena is “X”. A judge is placed at C with a second judge, when present, placed at E or B during the tests. In addition, each arena can be segmented by 20 meter circles, quarter lines, short diagonals and long diagonals. Letter placement is generally 1/2 a meter back from the perimeter of the arena.

The Short Dressage Arena


small dressage arena

The short dressage arena measures 20m x 40m (or approximately 66 ft. x 132 ft.) and is seldom used in the sport of dressage today. While the small arena is used for primarily for training purposes, it can also be used for Introductory level dressage tests. The short dressage arena layout is outlined in Figure 1 above. The letters used in the small dressage arena are placed as follows: F, K, M, and H are 6m from the ends of the arena, B and E are placed 14m apart from the remaining letters and A and C are placed 10m from the sides of the arena.

Standard Dressage Arena

standard dressage arena

The standard – or long – dressage arena measures 20m x 60m (or approximately 66 ft. x 197 ft.) This arena is used for all dressage testing above the Introductory level. In addition to the letters found in the short arena, the standard dressage arena adds the letters R, S, V and P as shown in Figure 2 above. The standard dressage arena maintains the 6m spacing from the ends of the arena to the first letter; however, it spaces the remaining letters equally 12m apart. In the standard dressage arena, there are 3 primary 20m circles, short and long diagonals and 2 quarter-lines.