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Horse Arena Footing: Understanding the Basics
With any horse arena, one of the most critical elements is the footing. The type, quality, and ratio of the materials you use can determine your arena’s quality. Whether it be an indoor or outdoor arena, you should choose high-quality footing materials and diligently maintain them.
What Should a Good Footing Do?
The best footing protects your horse from injury and allows them to perform to their full potential. Whether you are in the beginning phases of your arena design or are renovating your current arena, you should aim for your arena footing to have the following qualities.
- Retains moisture. This is arguably the most important aspect of your footing. If your footing holds excessive moisture, it could get muddy and slippery, which could easily cause injury.
However, without enough moisture, your footing will become dry, dusty, and slick. Having a footing that can hold water properly is vital. Otherwise, you may encounter an array of problems as time moves forward.
- Provides a dust-free environment. Many equine arenas would have excellent footing if it weren’t for the constant dust that the horses kicked up. The best arenas have moist footing or use dust control additives that protect riders and their equine partners from dust and its adverse health effects.
- Provides traction. With any equestrian surface, the goal is to give the horses enough traction to effectively grip the surface and make their moves properly and safely. Insufficient traction can cause your horses to hesitate when taking sharp turns or making quick movements. Even worse, they could injure themselves in the process.
- Provides stability. Having the proper stability is also extremely important. Traction and stability combine to support your horse’s hooves and help their feet touch and bounce off the footing while making quick motions.
Much of the stability comes from the lower levels of the arena, such as the base and the subsurface. This makes having a well-designed arena and structure crucial.
How Does an Insufficient Footing Behave?
While there are many ways that you can create an excellent footing for your arena, there are even more ways you can mess up your footing. Any equestrian surface that does not retain moisture, provide traction and stability, or prevent dust is not effective.
With so much variation, it is important to contact a footing consultation service to ensure your horses’ high performance. If your footing does not meet your needs, contact our footing experts today.
What Materials Should I Use?
Choosing the correct composition for your arena footing is extremely important. Unfortunately, there are no exact, universal specifications or ratios that work for every arena. Since each arena is different, it’s up to you to decide how to proceed. However, there are specific materials that almost all arenas use to differing degrees.
- Sand. Sand is the most common element used in most equine arenas, indoor and outdoor. There is significant variation in the size and shape, which means that you can mix different kinds of sand for different effects.
- Stone Dust. Stone dust is typically the cheapest footing material in terms of the initial investment. However, as you can guess from the name, it is very dusty.
This means you will have to spend significant resources to maintain it and keep it moist. If you do choose stone dust, dust halt may help you keep dust at bay.
- Rubber Mulch. A typical synthetic option is rubber mulch, which can be used as a primary or supplemental option. It generally costs more than any of the other natural alternatives. Still, the maintenance costs are lower since it does not dry out like sand or stone dust.
In addition to these common base materials, most arena owners use additive materials to improve their arena’s quality. There are various options, including some that retain moisture, bind the various materials together, and provide cushioning.
Your arena footing should have at least one additive. Regardless of which materials you choose, your footing will shift and compact together over time and with frequent use.
What Does Performance Footing Offer?
At Performance Footing, we know that perfecting your arena surface is essential, whether for show jumping or a dressage arena. That’s why we have developed the perfect footing additive: FoamFooting.
As a team of riders, trainers, and product designers, we created this product intending to improve arena footing for various disciplines. Regardless of which base and footing materials you have, our FoamFooting comes with a variety of benefits:
- Softens the impact on hooves
- Lessens the amount of dust
- Reduces the amount of watering
- Improves cushioning
- Prevents injuries
Whether you are an arena owner or looking to build an arena, dressage rider, etc., we have solutions for you. If you are interested in FoamFooting or any of our products, give us a call at 877-835-0878 today!