Dry lot doubling as a riding area?

Does anyone use their dry lot as a riding area? Right now, I have a 90x 30 screenings dry lot behind my barn. One horse and two ponies have free access from the barn, through the dry lot, to the pasture. I will be splitting the 3 acer pasture into three smaller pastures and I have an opportunity to expand the dry lot during this time.

I just ride for fun in my pastures and on trails. But this expanded dry lot would be convenient to ride in when the footing is muddy and I could ride after work in the winter.

I’m thinking that expanding to 60’ wide would be enough space. My question is, do people do this set up? And if so, what do you do to maintain the footing? Do you add anything to the screenings to make it softer?

Yes, people have this set-up. It works great for me.

To maintain the footing I make sure I pick all the manure out of it every day.


Keep the manure picked up and drag it with a chain harrow (or even a piece of fence wire with some concrete blocks on it) to level it out.


I do poo pick every day, good point!

I’d have to get a harrow, but I’m sure I could figure out a way to attach it to our Gator.

It is always a good thing to have an enclosed place to ride. But, regarding the plan to ride after work in the winter, is the dry lot area lighted? It gets dark awful early.

For better footing if the dry lot is presently just compacted screenings (stone dust), I would add sand and groom into the top few inches. I assume by screenings you mean stone dust, without any stone pieces.

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Yes, the area is lit up with floodlights on the barn, and I would add more for the expansion.

Yep, in my neck of the woods, we call it screenings or stone dust.

Thank you so much for the advice on footing!! That’s exactly the info I needed.

I ride in my sacrifice paddock regularly. I’m blessed to have a native sandy clay mix. I pick poop and drag it with an inexpensive chain harrow from Tractor Supply. Works fine for me when I don’t want to ride on the grass paddocks


This is my winter riding arena. 60’x60’ screenings dry lot. I simultaneously hate and love it.

I would LOVE an upgrade to a bigger arena because 60’x60’ is very limiting but also I love the cost/space efficiency. I ride in the fields during the summer which is much more spacious.

I couldn’t probably manage 60x60 year round, but it also makes a fantastic lunging pad.

The biggest downside, IMO, is that in the winter if I have a horse turned out in there, its one extra barrier before I can ride. I pick it out daily, but if I have to bring a horse in, pick the paddock and then go out to ride after work (when it’s already cold, dark and miserable) I start feeling like it’s too much work or when I’m really cutting it close at the end of the day, I genuinely run out of daylight. YMMV if you have lights!

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Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

It would be an inconvenience to lock the other ones up, for sure.

I do when needed. We clean it daily so the footing is pretty good.

I also run out of daylight but do manage to ride at lunch some days. My dry lot is directly attached to my stalls so bringing in isn’t an issue for me. I often ride around my retiree regardless though lol. If the dry lot was a walk to turn a horse in and out that would be annoying to me too though.