Material Selection and Management for Riding Arena Footing 

Material Selection and Management for Riding Arena Footing 

The “perfect” riding arena footing gives grip, is not too slippery or dusty, is not overly abrasive to horse hooves, is inexpensive, and is easy to maintain.

Surface of the Riding Arena

There are no universal recommendations for the optimal riding arena footing. The availability of resources in the area, as well as shipping expenses, determine the cost of footing materials. The intended use of the arena, such as jumping, reining, or driving, has an impact on the traction and loose material depth of the footing. Branded materials are less dependent on local availability. They also provide more uniformity in material quality. Natural inorganic materials are available from quarries. They can give raw materials or mixtures with predetermined particle size and composition (sand, for example).

By establishing basic criteria and employing common sense, it is feasible to obtain a solid, working footing material. Quarried inorganic materials such as sand, stone dust, gravel, and road foundation mix can be classified using a standard nomenclature based on particle sizes and size distribution in the obtained product. In a “standard” formulation, particle size distribution characterizes a footing substance. Shaking the footing material through a series of sieves with decreasing porosity determines the distribution. Finer material ends up on the bottom sieves and larger particles remain on the higher sieves.


Footing changes in composition and qualities as time passes. All arenas will naturally involve manure over time. This results in a firm, functional footing that defies simple categorization. In addition, the impact of horse hoof activity degrades footing materials. The arena surface originated as a single material that, in certain cases, broke down into microscopic particles or compacted over time. New, possibly different material will replace these venues as previous material degrades, to support or regenerate the lost property. A combination of two or more features make up many good arena surfaces.

Because riding arena footing material does not endure indefinitely, most arena surfaces, regardless of kind, will require adjusting at least every couple of years. Every 5 to 10 years, plan on a whole footing replacement or, at the absolute least, a substantial repair. The best, most carefully selected foundation materials rarely retain their beneficial properties indefinitely, even with good management. The idea is to learn how to care for your belongings at every stage of their “lives.”


A small backyard arena used once or twice a week will not go through wear and tear as much. A simple arena design would be sufficient. Most importantly, an effective arena surface is only as good as its foundation and sub-base. The top layer of a multi-layer composite is what determines whether the arena floor is acceptable for indoor or outdoor use. The base material is a dense substance with a similar structure to a road base. You will find the loose footing material on top of the supporting base. Because the footing must “knit” to the foundation material, loose footing cannot move freely along the compacted base as the horse works. Knitting happens naturally with some types of foundation materials and the installation of other types of footing materials also incorporates it.

Indoor and outdoor arenas on a farm may have varied footing materials. Take into account the circumstances and usage of each arena. For example, on a farm, indoor and outdoor arenas use different footing materials. Consider the circumstances and intended use of each arena. During the winter months, you may use an indoor arena and use an outdoor arena for the rest of the year. The outdoor arena may have to shed a lot of rainwater and snowmelt, so a well-draining, heavy, non-floating material would be perfect. An indoor arena footing combination that retains moisture for longer will lessen the need for frequent watering. To preserve moisture, the surface material of an indoor arena uses salt to control dust. By applying a wax, polymer, or oil coating, you can also reduce dust.


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