Spacing Posts for Outdoor Arena Fencing

How far apart should the fence posts be spaced on an outdoor riding arena?

It depends… what fencing material is being used? boards? flexible vinyl rail?

I will be using oak boards. Which reminds me - what size should they be? 1" or 2" thick? 4" or 6" wide?

Will you ever use the arena for turnout? (Does it need to be a real fence to contain loose horses?) Or do you just need a visual barrier?

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It’s just a visual barrier. Not for containment.

If only for an arena you get to go minimal.

I’d price-out the various board lengths to determine most economical length and post accordingly. Unfortunately, usually a medium length is the cheapest, and that would be too long. But! If you can get a good price on 16ft you can halve. I would decide spacing on posts by price of boards.


We cheaped out when we fenced my small outdoor. Posts were 16’ apart, saying one day we would come back and put smaller posts in between. Ha.
We used 2 x6 boards, they were fine for a while but did start to sag.
We also butted the boards together, when new this looked great however, over the years some posts shifted, as everything does in my area, so some boards didn’t fit anymore.

10’ is the longest span I would feel comfortable with.
I would put layer the boards not try to butt them.
Attach the boards on the inside of the arena. I don’t know exactly why a few inches makes such a difference but on the one side where the boards were put on the outside of the posts (from the arena view) when I ride that side my horse tends to get too close and sometimes my knee hits the post,

yeah, always nail boards onto posts on the side where the livestock pressure is hardest.

i have all my wood posts on 8’ centers.
My Tposts with woven wire fencing at at 12 btw

also, i wish i would have used round posts…it’s a lot easier to position them…you don’t have to worry about the plane being lined up for the boards

For an arena the point is that you don’t smash your knee into a post :wink:

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well, there is that too~!

Great advice, everyone. Thanks so much.

So here is my plan… I got a deal on some cedar posts and the best price/foot on boards seems to for 16-footers. I will space the posts every 8 feet and use 16’ 1x6 oak boards nailed on the inside. That way, every board is attached at three points. I will put 2 12’ gates in as well - one at each end of the arena. I might also put in a 4-foot gate at the end where I will most often be bringing the horses in and out - simpler to handle than a 12’ with a horse in hand :wink:
Have I missed anything?

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I’d put an even bigger gate at one end, maybe 14’. And then a smallish one at the other end. I think mine is 6’ or so. You only need one big one and it should be wide enough for really heavy equipment in case you ever want to redo the arena. I didn’t even close off my gates, right now they are just openings.

I used deck board for my rails. It’s 5/4 inch thick and not all that much more than 1" ( which is really about 3/4) and less inclined to warp and break. Plus the rounded edges are nice. Like you, I used 16’ lengths of deck board, with my posts being approx 7.5 feet centers. That way I can cut the deck board to fit and butt nicely.

and the edges of these are rounded to reduce splintering

I would do an 8’ and a 10’ with an overlap in the middle for the wide equipment entrance. Overlapping is important. And the longer a gate is, the more apt it is to draw down at the far end. You really need a tall post and cable/turnbuckle for a 12’ or more. For other gatew i’d go with two other 8’ ers. It’d look even, and an 8’ gate is easy enough to walk through.

OK. They finished the limestone screening base today. The sand is coming in a few days. Very excited (the horses- not so much :wink:)The arena ended up 132x178. The landscape dictated the dimension (I had planned 100x200). So I will do the appropriate calculations to space the posts based on this.
Next question - do I nail the boards on the posts, or screw them on?


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I agree, screws. They hold better and are the safer choice, IMO.

which ever use the grade of fastener recommended for the lumber

When it comes to pressure treated wood you should use hot-dipped galvanized nails and screws. These corrosion-resistant fasteners have been coated with zinc, which helps to keep them from rusting away.

You can also use stainless steel nails and screws made from grade 304 and grade 316 stainless steel.

describe your posts and boards
generally speaking, i usually prefer ringnails. I like a short handled sledgehammer to drive them. I tend to get irritated with a battery dewart…just don’t get along very well with power tools i guess