How To Make Dressage Test Arena Letters
 By Winniefield Park   •   26th Apr 2015   •   6,621 views   •   0 comments

You may like jumping, trail riding or any of the wonderful western riding disciplines, but you can always use some dressage letters. Even if you never plan to ride in a dressage test, they are very handy to have. Arena letters can be quite pricey. But with a little DIY craftiness, you can make your own very economically and easily. Here are a few ideas for making your own set of dressage letters and how to set them up.

Related: How to Ride a Dressage Test - The Eventerís Version
Related: Five Tips For A Perfect Dressage Test

If you have a ring or arena already set up, a set of dressage letters can be easily made with scraps of wood and some paint or stick-on letters. You may be able to find stick-on letters sets and stencils at craft or office supply stores. If you've got outdoor paint from another project, you might want to freehand your letters onto the wood. Make your letters large enough to see from the opposite side of the ring. That means they should be about 6 inches (15cm) or higher, so you can see them easily wherever you're riding in the ring. You can simply nail these to the wall.

How To Make Dressage Test Arena Letters

Not everyone has a fenced off outdoor ring. I don't, but I still like to school outdoors when the weather is good. Freestanding arena letters can be made easily. Look around for things you can recycle, like white plastic bleach or vinegar bottles, pylons, wood scraps, large plastic buckets or big flower pots. Youíll need eight. If you don't have any of those items head for the dollar store and look for trash cans, cleaning buckets or items that can be weighted or turned upside down to make stands for your letters. If the items are light, fill them with water or sand. That way they won't get knocked down or blown around and become trash. With a permanent marker, draw on the letters. Some paints won't stick to plastic, so I've found markers work the best.

You can use stick-on letters too. If you have a friend with a personal cutting machine like a Cricut or a Cameo, you may be able to get a set custom made. Shelf vinyl works well for this and adheres to a variety of materials well. Or, you can use a craft knife to cut letters. This is a little tedious and needs a steady hand, but it can be done.

Sturdier arena letters can be made with short lengths of fence railing or other wood scraps. Cut 16 lengths of wood, at least 12 inches long each. Nail or screw them together so you have eight T shapes. Turn them so the top of the T is down and paint or stick on the letters. It may be easier to paint them, and add the letters before you nail them together.

What letters do you need? For a small arena, you'll need AKEHCMBF, for a larger one add VSRP. Most of us will only need the first set of letters. The larger arena is used for tests above the introductory level. Using a diagram, distribute the letters around the outside of your riding area. You don't need to have the lengths strictly mapped out if you're not training specifically for dressage. But, the letters will give you focus points and destinations as you ride your horse.
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