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Epsom RDA News

Planning Granted!

Equine Planning, and our clients, were thrilled to receive confirmation that full planning permission has been granted for a new indoor riding arena and extension to the existing outdoor arena for Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association.


This was not a straight forward application as we had received negative pre-app feedback due to a minor encroachment onto greenbelt land. However, due to the significant local support we were able to demonstrate the need and importance of the expansion of the facilities.


Epsom RDA has a long waiting list and sadly the existing facilities were too small and certainly not ideal for the growing number of riders and the helpers required. It was also important for the arena to be full size due to a number of riders who compete at para dressage and the growing need to practice riding tests in the correct size arena.


Riding for the Disabled is a wonderful charity which helps disabled people of all levels of ability to ride, which not only improves their quality of life but can also help to improve mobility.


Equine planning are delighted to have been part of this exciting journey.

Top Considerations For Yard Design

What are the top considerations for usability when it comes to yard and stable design?


No equestrian hasn’t at one time or another sat an dreamt about what their ideal yard and stable layout would be.  From relocating the tack room, to adding finishing touches such as automatic drinkers, what top considerations for usability do the experts at Equine Construction recommend?


Essentially it comes down to designing a yard that it is time efficient, practical and works for those using it.


Something as simple as having the tack room as central as possible can save time and effort.  Similarly having wash bays, solaria and tie up areas within easy reach of tack and rug rooms can make preparing horses for work and competitions a lot less stressful.


Well placed taps and feed rooms, along with little extras such as automatic drinkers, swivel feeders within the stable fronts and integrated hay racks can make life a little easier.  Especially on larger yards, reducing the time that grooms need to spend going in and out of stables. Horses can be fed and watered without the need for going into each individual stable, making the whole yard run more efficiently


Having a muck heap/trailer as close as possible to the stables can save a considerable amount of time and effort.  Allowing adequate access to these areas for quick, easy and environmentally friendly waste removal can also be a huge benefit to any yard.


Designing the yard so that all facilities, for example riding arenas and horse walkers, are within easy access and on good walk ways.  Equally planning ahead for the wetter months can remove a considerable amount of stress.  Designing paddock layouts and adding surface or reinforced walk ways to and from and between paddocks can make life a little easier during Winter when most equestrians will be battling the mud.


Good lighting is essential in all areas particularly for the winter months.  Not just overall lighting, but lighting within stables, treatment areas and smaller work areas.  Not only with better lighter make a nicer working environment but it will make a safer one as well.



Designing A Safe Equestrian Environment

With our horses often being an extension of our own families, their safety will be a consideration close to the heart of any owner.  We offer our equines the highest levels of veterinary care, nutritional support and even alternative therapies to aid their performance, but are you offering a safe environment for your horse to live in?


David Johnson, Managing Director of Equine Construction and Equine Planning, has been a horse owner, breeder and dressage enthusiast for many years.  Here he offers his expert advice in yard and stable design with your horse’s safety being a chief consideration.


It is essential to ensure the yard has suitable flooring, which is non-slip, to prevent accident and injury. Rubber matting is advisable in stables, wash bays, tie-up areas and poured rubber can also be used in all walk ways.


Ventilation is of the utmost importance particularly with the growing popularity of American Barn type stabling. We always ensure that barns have a double doorway at each end and each stable has a window to allow for maximum ventilation.  Where possible we advise the use of a light ventilated ridge in the roof, which draws out stale air from the building.  The roof height itself is also very important to ensure sufficient air flow around the building.


No sharp edges.  As we all know, horses have a great talent for finding ways of hurting themselves so it is of great importance to look closely at the design and quality of stabling used. There should be no corners or sharp edges within the stable.  Good quality stabling should always have a smooth finish and needs to be solid enough to withstand even the strongest kick or rub from a horse. For example, some cheaper ranges of internal stabling available will use soft wood within the panels which is really not strong enough if a horse were to become cast or kick out.  Also the strength and thickness of the bars in stable fronts, partitions and window grilles must be thick and strong enough to avoid serious injury. 


This should also be considered for wash bays and tie up areas. Partitions should always be solid and strong. If a block or brick built partition is used then specialised bricks with a rounded edge should be used.


Walkways around a stable complex are often overlooked but if a walkway between stables is too narrow there is a risk of a stabled horse biting a passing horse or the risk of a tight turn into a stable can cause a horse to hit itself on the doorway or slip when turning.  The width of walkways therefore needs to be carefully considered when designing a new stable building or adding a new layout to an existing building.




Forward Planning With Equine Construction

Taking that first step towards your dream equestrian facility is a time full of excitement, apprehension and stress.  With planning and design to consider before even breaking ground, where do you even start when thinking about building the equestrian dream?


The team at Equine Construction and Equine Planning offer their expert advice to those thinking of starting an equestrian building project.


Location, location, location


When thinking about your new dream yard location needs to be a key consideration. Where your intended design will sit within the landscape and any existing developments will be a key consideration for planners.  Local planners will favour designs that sink a new development into the existing landscape or those that in-fill existing developments.  Consideration should be given as to whether you can renovate or refurbish existing structures rather than building from new.


With location comes access.  Will the equestrian facilities be accessed via an existing access route or will a new highways access need to be granted?  There are also practical considerations for construction traffic, agricultural machinery and horseboxes to be taken into account.


The dream design


American style indoor barn stabling is very popular due to convenience and the great British weather. However, this will largely be dependent upon what planning permission can be obtained. Traditional stables can be more appealing to planners particularly when they are built in the vicinity of listed buildings.


Chosen materials for the build will need to be sympathetic to the landscape, for example timber cladding or natural stone may be a planning requirement as opposed to the red brick.  It is not just the look of the actual buildings that will be considered by planners but landscaping around developments will also be taken into consideration, therefore planting and landscaping plans may also need to be submitted.


Cost will be a chief consideration for most of our clients.  The construction costs of brick built stables with a traditional roof with clay tiles can often work out more expensive per square metre than an American Barn complex. 


Luxury versus necessity may also need to be considered when designing elements such as wash boxes, solariums, horse walkers and arena sizes.


Time scales


Planning permission isn’t a quick process and needs to be carefully considered for both project management and financial reasons. 


For an initial pre-application for planning a response should be expected in 3 to 4 weeks after the application has been submitted.


A full planning application is likely to take 8 to 12 weeks dependent upon how many third party surveys are required in the form of ecological, topographical, landscaping and highways reports.


Timeframes for construction will vary on the design and construction materials used but in the case of an American Barn you could expect 3 to 4 weeks for ground works, 2 to 3 weeks for erection of the steel portal building in addition to the manufacturing time, 4 to 6 weeks for the fit out and external cladding. 



Riding A Winning Advanced Medium Test With Hannah Biggs

The British Dressage National Championships are a matter of weeks away, 14 – 17th September, and competitors up and down the country will be perfecting their championship tests with the sole aim of winning one of the coveted National Champion titles.

Equine Construction are delighted to continue their sponsorship of the Advanced Medium Championships for another year and along with sponsored rider, and international Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer, Hannah Biggs, they have put together some pearls of wisdom for riding a winning Advanced Medium championship test.

Make a plan and stick to it!

I like to write down a plan for my warm up as well as how to ride the test itself. Little key words to keep me mentally focussed, relaxed and in my bubble that no pressure can penetrate. Visualise your test at home when you are relaxed and recreate that feeling as you enter the arena.  The warm up arena at Stoneleigh can get quite busy, so make sure you and your horse are prepared for that so you can stay focussed on your own plan and don’t watch others while you ride.

Riding the troublesome movements

The serpentine is always one to catch people out as it exposes any tension in the horse following the extended canter down the long side.

The final centre line contains a lot of marks to be won or lost and some riders lose their concentration by then. From the last flying change, to the transition to trot, the extension and the halt, all need a lot of focus and precision, so stay sharp until the end.

Not many riders know how many trot strides it takes to ride a 10-metre circle, or an 8-metre circle. Count to the centre line and back a few times to find out. Once you know this number it will help you ride forwards in balance without having to compromise the quality of the trot.

The perfect change

This Advanced Medium test was designed to test if the horse is really established in their flying changes. Ideally you would be working towards or at Prix St George level to show confident flying changes and be competitive at the National Championships. Once your changes are established, then you can ride the last 3 strides before the change in a more active, bouncy canter to give an expressive flying change. Accuracy is also important in this test, so count how many strides it takes to get from the edge of the arena to the centre line in the serpentine.

Pirouette perfection

Walk pirouettes are easy; it’s maintaining a supple bend in the horse that is tricky! They can look awkward as they highlight quite a few faults in quick succession. Break down the movement into being able to control the bend and activity of the walk on a 10-metre circle, then bring this bend into a smaller turn without losing the quality. I imagine I’m riding up a spiral staircase as I ride around the pirouette, so I keep the bend, impulsion and uphill feeling which looks so appealing to the judges. Done well they look easy and smooth, with no funny compromising positions from the rider.



Equine Planning Ltd

We are now able to offer our own dedicated planning consultants and consultant architects’. We set up Equine Planning Ltd in January 2017 and we are currently working on the following projects-

A 60m x 20m Outdoor arena, Stabling and a horse walker in Suffolk

A 60m x 20m Indoor arena in Sussex

A specialised riding for the disabled indoor arena facility in Surrey.