The footing we provide our horses is one of the most important aspects of a riding arena. The amount of concussion the footing absorbs from the horse’s legs, the quality of its drainage, even its life as the particles are tramped down through daily use, are all variables to consider and all you should evaluate. How do you choose your riding arena’s footing? Here are a few initial items to consider when looking at footing options.
The climate will play a big role in choosing your ideal footing. Naturally in wet climates you’ll need a footing that drains well and doesn’t float during rainstorms. But looking more closely, you also need to consider potential issues caused by extreme temperatures. Soil blends may freeze, as may wood products.
Indoor or Outdoor Arenas:
Drainage and air quality can differ a lot between indoor and outdoor arenas. Indoor arena footing can need to hold moisture or you’ll be spending hours a day watering it. Sand is very affordable, but requires constant watering to keep down dust. The answer to each is usually creating a mix of different materials.
The primary riding discipline that your arena is supporting should have an impact on your footing choice. Reining requires a surface that allows for sliding stops, but loose footing won’t provide enough traction for the sharp turns of barrel racing or show jumping.
Once you’ve determined what your requirements are for a surface in terms of weather, location, and discipline suitability, you can take a look at what’s available in your area. In some parts of the country, you’ll find varieties of arena-suitable sand are easily accessible. In others, you might find stonedust easier to attain. Blending materials to get the footing right for you is well worth your time, for the sake of both maintenance, and your horse.
Of course, arena footing goes well beyond the surface. The best footing in the world still needs a good base, sub-base, and surrounding walls to make sure that it doesn’t all just wash away. Consider these the box spring to your mattress. One does not work well without the other. Do your homework on your footing, and talk to experts, for an arena that will make you, your boarders and clients, and most of all, your horses, happy for years to come.