When building or modifying a horse arena, choosing the correct footing materials is one of the most important aspects. You can build a beautiful, functional indoor or outdoor arena, but if the footing is ineffective, horses and riders can get hurt. In addition to the type and quality, price is an important consideration when choosing the proper horse footing.
Whether you are building a small dressage arena, a mid-sized arena, or a large arena, you will need three primary levels. Each of these levels are important for keeping both horses and humans safe and free from injury:
- The Base: This is the foundation, which is often made of clay, that your arena is built on. Without a solid base, the horses will not have the support they need to avoid injury.
- The Subsurface: This layer is usually made of or mixed with sand or some type of manufactured material. Oftentimes, the subsurface is just an extension of the top dressing.
- The Top Dressing: This should be integrated with the subsurface to provide the best combination of grip and stability. The top dressing and subsurface combine to form what we consider the footing.
What Are the Types of Footing?
There are a variety of different footings that you can use to cover your arena surface. Which one you choose largely depends on which discipline your arena will host and how much money you are willing to invest. Additionally, Eileen E. Fabian (Wheeler), PH.D. of Penn State University points out that there are two primary, equally viable ways to develop footing.
- Primarily Native Soil: With this method, the owner of the arena spends most of their resources and time manipulating the materials — whether that means watering or shifting — to maintain its quality. According to Wheeler, this method is ideal for arenas that already have strong soil composition. For those building an arena or completely redoing their footing, this is the cheapest option because it does not require importing tons of materials.
- Primarily Imported Materials: On the other hand, owners who do not have the luxury of high-quality soil as a base can import their materials. With this method, the outdoor riding arena cost skyrockets, while the footing maintenance decreases.
As time passes and as horses run and jump on the arena surface, its footing composition and effectiveness will change. Regardless of the quality, arena footing will need to be completely redone every ten years, but typically more often than that.
It is also important to note that the footing for most equestrian arenas is not made up of just one material. Instead, it is common to mix several different materials to create the ideal footing. Here are a few of the most commonly used materials.
Rubber footing is sometimes mixed with local soil for arena owners who don’t have high-quality soil to implement. Rubber does not absorb moisture so remains slick when wet.
Rubber mulch also retains heat and depending on your geography, will harden. Also, since it is a synthetic material, rubber mulch is usually more expensive than other, more natural options.
Sand footing is probably the most common and diverse of these materials. Most arenas are going to have some sand included in their footing composition. For sand-heavy arenas, intense maintenance is required. If watered too much, it can become muddy and inhibit movement. If not watered enough, it will become too loose, causing the horses to slip.
One of the main benefits of sand is its cost effectiveness. Since it is so affordable, arena owners can keep their costs lower by including sand in their arenas. It is also very diverse, as you can purchase very fine or very coarse sand.
Stone dust is made by processing sand and stones through a crushing machine. As the name implies, stone dust tends to be very dusty. This means that constant watering is required to maintain it and prevent it from becoming too hard. Stone dust provides stability and is known to drain without issue.
The initial cost of stone dust is quite inexpensive. However, stone dust maintenance takes significant time and water, which can make it expensive over time.
As mentioned before, these different footing options are not mutually exclusive. Most arenas contain a combination of different materials. However, there are a variety of additional products that can supplement primary footing materials. That’s where Performance Footing comes in.
What Does Performance Footing Offer?
At Performance Footing, we offer three supplementary products for your riding arena: FoamFooting, BaseCore, and Geotextile Fabric. None of these items are intended to be footing on their own, but each serve as great supplements for indoor and outdoor arenas.
Our FoamFooting is an arena footing additive designed for the comfort and safety of you and your horse. As a team of riders, trainers, and product designers, we created this product with the goal of improving footing for a variety of different 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
- Enables longer training sessions
- Less frequent injuries
- Happier horses
We charge $125.00 per 55 pound bag of FoamFooting. You can use our calculator to determine how much you may need. We also have varying shipping rates for pallets. If you purchase 51 bags or more, we provide free shipping!
Our BaseCore is expandable ground stabilization panels for soil retention of all terrains. This product allows water to move freely without washing out the material, which protects your top soil, footing base or arena footing additive. It provides significant benefits such as:
- Military-grade strength
- Reinforces the ground to eliminate further erosion
- Reduces the amount of fill needed to form a strong base
- Easy to install without heavy equipment
Each panel covers 72 square feet, costs $145.00, and comes with connectors to connect to adjoining panels. The more you purchase, the more our shipping cost decreases. If you purchase more than 100 panels, you will receive free shipping. Use our calculator to determine how much you need.
Our geotextile fabric is landscape fabric for ground stabilization, weed control and more. Non-woven geotextiles have historically been used for filtration and erosion control and have many other beneficial characteristics which work in combination with our BaseCore geocells. This fabric offers significant benefits for equestrian arenas such as:
- Prevents the mixing of a subgrade and an aggregate material
- Helps ensure the longevity of your arena
- Helps stop the formation of holes or uneven foundations caused by temperature changes
Our geotextile fabric comes in rolls of 3 feet x 328 feet, which costs $125.00.
If you are interested in our products or wish to learn more, contact us or schedule a free consultation.