Lv 6
Ziggy asked in PetsHorses · 9 years ago

Arena surface types - your opinion?

I have two questions.

If you could have any type of arena surface to ride on, what would you choose and why?

My arena needs resurfacing, it is a very large area with good drainage. My husband has suggested looking into some type of wood surface, before just jumping back to sand.

Have you ever used or seen a wood riding surface and what type was it (chips, sawdust etc). Did you like it... why/why not?

Thank you very much for your personal opinions on this topic ;-)


I like the idea of rubber pieces if they are a good quality (not containing metal) I have seen them at one of our big indoor arenas that is a few hours away. I will look into where they sourced theirs from and costing. I would not use them straight, but a mix of that and sand would be good.

And for the TD fairy .... ;-( ...... personal opinion, there is no right or wrong!

20 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I really don't like sand. I think I am alone (or nearly alone) in this, but there you go. I have found it to go deep and abrasive, and horrendous when wet.

    My arena is a mix of rubber and plastic chipping. It's lovely. I live on the side of a hill in Scotland where it's windy most of the time, and can be very wet. My arena surface hasn't blown away in howling gales, nor washed away in driving rain, it survived when we had snow above our knees and way back in the height of summer it never got hard. It doesn't need a whole lot of digging, I harrow it once a month when it's being used and when my children land on it they bounce pretty well.

    My neighbour has an indoor arena which is a sand/peat mix and it's the dustiest place I've ever ridden. When there's more than one horse going round the air is cloggy with dust so she has the door open all the time.

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  • 3 years ago

    Arena Surface

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  • Gerald
    Lv 4
    3 years ago


    Source(s): Woodworking Advanced Classes http://WoodworkingProjects.enle.info/?N2eg
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  • 9 years ago

    The place I board at has an outdoor arena and an indoor.

    I prefer the outdoor because it's surface is made of old cut up car and tractor tires. There's other bits of rubbery material thrown in there, too. It gives it a sort of springy feeling. I'd definitely recommend it.

    The indoor is sand. I don't mind it but I'd definitely choose the rubber over the sand. Or, you could choose a mix of the two - Rubber and Sand.

    If your going to use wood chip, firstly make sure the chips won't get stuck in your horse's hooves. I don't have any personal experience with it, but apparently wood chip seems to degrade after a few years. It turns to 'mush' and rots, which leads to flooding and uneven ground. The arena will most likely become un-rideable. Even when you add more wood chips, the under-lying rot is still there causing a lack of drainage and making the arena 'swampy'.

    So, I'd stick to sand and/or rubber. But again, I think rubber is much better.

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  • Driver
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    I used to ride in an indoor arena that used wood chips. When the chips were new, the surface was pretty nice. However, it didn't take long for the wood to break down and become incredibly dusty. Even with watering the arena often, you'd still blow your nose after riding and see a tissue full of brown snot (sorry to be so graphic).

    I think sand or crushed stone works better. I have not had the opportunity to try out rubber or synthetic footings.

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I prefer sand. It has enough cushion for the horse, but deep sand also gives them a great workout. It is also a nice surface to land in if you fall.

    I've also ridden in a clay/dirt based arena. It was a very firm surface with little give, and it was hard on the horse's joints.

    Never ridden on chips or sawdust, but I feel like they would need to be replaced very often and you would need to watch out for big chunks of wood or sticks. It wouldn't hurt to look into. Maybe go ride in a wood chip arena to see how you like it.

    Source(s): owner/rider
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  • 9 years ago

    The arena in my barn currently uses hog fuel (wood chips/shavings) in the arena, and I have to say that I am not a fan. The type we have is a mix of big chunks of wood, smaller chunks, shavings, and dirt. Over time the a lot of the wood has degraded and broken down, making it very dusty. We have a sprinkler system, but if you wet the footing down enough to significantly control the dust then the hog fuel/dust/ mixture becomes muddy and very slippery. If there's one thing I hate, it's horses slipping and losing their footing, so most of the time I just won't water the arena. I figure dust is better than my horse slipping and going down. I also sometimes find wood chips wedged in my horses' feet after I ride.

    My trainer agrees with me, and isn't a fan of the hog fuel in my barn. However, she says that if you get the right kind (smaller chips) and properly maintain it (water and drag every day), it is a good surface to ride in.

    My favorite footing is not-too-deep sand. Of course, the to find your ideal footing you have to factor in what exactly you are going to be doing in it :-). Each footing provides a different level of cushioning, traction, and resistance. When I was playing polo I hated sand arenas, because it's hard to hit the ball in them. Now that I ride dressage and jump I love sand.

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  • 9 years ago

    Sand is a very good option. It is cushioning, provides support, practically all weather surface, very easy to maintain. The only downside is that it freezes over in winter with very cold frost and snow.

    Wood chippings are also great but it can cloud up slightly and I would imagine it would be very sludgy in winter.

    A friend of mine laid her arena surface with recycled rubber chippings - they found sharp bits of metal in there and when they had no choice but to clear it out, there were still bits of metal.

    So, overall, I wouldn't take the risk - go with sand. But if you did want wood go and visit some places with wood and practise riding on it or take a sample from a company that sells it.

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  • 9 years ago

    I would not suggest using wood chips - they can become very slippery and I've seen several riders and horses go down on them.

    Sawdust is nice until it gets wet - then it's just a soggy mess. Also when it's dry, if wind picks up it takes all the sawdust with it.

    I prefer a DG/Sand mix in my arenas - great for all types of disciplines, horses seem to like it and cushions fairly well.

    Good luck!

    Source(s): Personal experience - 25 years riding/training/breeding
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  • Cassie
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    I think for outdoors sand is the best. Wood based surfaces need to be replaced more often because they rot down, plus once that happens it's really slippery. I live in WA and basically you are stuck with either beach sand or a beach sand/ rubber blend if you want to ride all year in an outdoor. Everything else is too sloshy and turf gets too slick. After sand I like turf though.

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