Building a Menage (or Horse Arena)

Butlers are always looking to take on new challenges, so when we got the opportunity to construct a new Horse Arena, or Menage, in Kingsclere, we jumped at it. We had already completed a lot of landscaping and fencing work with the client who offered us the job, so applying those skills to a horse arena seemed like a logical next-step. Unique projects like this are always exciting for us, and having now built our first menage, we’re looking forward to constructing even more in the future.

Getting Started


First things first, you need to ensure you’ve chosen the right location for construction, and that it’s large enough for the project. No one needs to be halfway through building their menage only to realise they’ve put it in the wrong place. Horse arenas can be built upon almost any type of ground, but it needs to be level. If it isn’t, the area will need more extensive excavation which will take up a lot of time and money.

Even more important is making sure it has quality drainage channels for water discharge. Like any other construction project, you’ll need planning permission too – the local authorities won’t be very happy if an unlicensed menage shows up out of nowhere!

Building the base

Once a boundary has been marked out, the construction begins with the excavation process. This removes the topsoil to reveal subsoil, which is what the arena will be built upon. From here, a pattern needs to be dug into the soil that will help pull away rain water for drainage purposes. This is crucial to ensuring the base of the menage will stay functional through to the future.

Once the process is completed, the horse arena is layered with a woven membrane to bring it back to a level plane. On top of this, a sub-base needs to be established to reinforce the drainage system. Usually this is a rock like limestone, but other materials like granite and concrete can also be used.

Finishing up

The final parts of the construction process are the most visible – building the fencing and gates, and laying down the surface. As arborists we know our way around timber like no one else, and have good quality materials to use for the former. These need to be built sturdily and high enough to comfortably contain the horse who will use the menage. Generally, a 3-bar post and rail system is used, with rails contained on the inside to avoid hurting people riding close to it.

Surface-wise, there are a few popular materials, but we went with sand to make for a comfortable landing in case of falls. You might also see wood- or rubber-chip, but in this case, we felt sand was fitting. As a bonus, we also cleared the way for access tracks on this build so people can get to the menage easily!


We’re really happy with how the horse arena came out, and look forward to building even more in the future! If you’re looking to establish a horse arena, we’d love to help out, just get in touch here.