I recently built a new arena at my place in Casa Grande, Arizona for my family and I. I have three growing boys that are starting to ride and rope, and a lovely wife that team ropes and breakaways. Between my family getting more involved in the Western Industry, and my growing horse training business, I had to have the perfect arena to get the most out of our time in it.
I choose Chute Help products for my arena because of the durable quality, and the innovative designs. As I started to plan my arena I thought of a few things I found crucial to achieving the perfect arena:
1. Keep the return alley away from your home if possible.
I constantly bring cattle up the return alley and between the horses and the roping steers, it creates a lot of dust that can become a nuisance.
2. Make the arena size fit your needs. Don't oversize it, or undersize it.
I chose to make my arena 150' wide x 275' long. I train a lot of younger horses now, and I need more length because I sometimes need a second turn. Some younger horses can only be pushed so far at first, and I like to use the walk before you trot, trot before you run method. You need a lot of space to go this slow. However, if you are just going to be practicing for the rodeos and jackpots, you don't need an arena that long. It wears your horses out faster doing things that aren't productive towards your goal. Make sure you size the arena based on your needs.
3. Put the Chute Help off of the right fence around 30'.
I placed my Fully Automatic Chute Help off of the right fence about 30'. This does two things, 1) it makes it so you can ride your heel horse all the way around the back of the box to push cattle up, and two, it allows the steer to go to the right. I know this is not ideal for a really good team roping run, but it happens in game situations, and I like my head and heel horses to be able to go over to the right if I ask them to.
This distance off of the right fence will also dictate how many Chute Help Straight Lead Ups you'll need. I recommend at least 2 - 10' Lead ups on the back side, then a 90 and at least 2 - 8' Lead Ups coming up to the Fully Automatic Chute Help. I keep around 20 roping steers, 10 breakaway calves, and a few donkeys (all of them go through the Chute Help by the way, even the donkeys). The more lead ups you have, the more cattle you can store in them if you need it. This saves time and makes practicing at the end of a work day more efficient if you're limited on time.
4. GET A CHUTE HELP FULLY AUTOMATIC!
I will always have a Chute Help Fully Automatic to practice out of. I get asked a lot about how cattle leave the Chute Help off of the platform in the bottom. Some say it creates a delay in the steer or calve's start, but it really doesn't. Even so, I like all of my horses to leave off of the steer rather than the opening sound or motion of the chute. The Chute Help Fully Automatic is the best tool in the arena a person can have. I highly recommend them.
5. Install the Pivoting Adjustable Roping Boxes from Chute Help.
Having multiple arena setups is important when preparing for different situations. Whether it be a rodeo, or a World Series of Team Roping jackpot, the Chute Help Pivoting Adjustable Roping Boxes are an important tool when training a young horse, or keeping your good horse working the way you need them to. Sometimes I flip the back leg over so a horse can't squat. I want them to leave flat footed and this look allows them to learn to use their legs rather than a structure to leave off of.
I hope these suggestions help you as you plan your next dream arena using Chute Help equipment.