Many equestrians will agree that when it comes to arena riding, a well-appointed ring is a joy to work (and play!) in. The footing you choose for your enclosure will depend on a variety of factors and will be the most important component of a well-designed and properly constructed riding area.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, Glynnie Walford, of Martin Collins Equine Surfaces, explained how to create a solid base for your arena. In Part 2, she describes how to choose which footing to install.

Choosing the Right Surface

Well-kept turf is an ideal surface for training and equestrian competitions; it is the traditional footing for all equestrian sports. However, in situations where turf cannot be sustained, all-weather surfaces for horses allow them to train and compete in different situations and weather conditions.

There are six main types of surfaces available in the United States: Fibers, sand or a sand mix, dirt, wood chips, rubber, and wax-coated (often referred to as all-weather). Rubber and PVC tend to be less popular choices as they tend to “ride deep” in dry periods and disposal legislation is becoming restrictive. As a result, structural fibers are becoming more common.

Wax-coated equestrian surfaces provide the closest equivalent to turf, without the need for “managed rain fall.” Dry, sand-based surfaces, on the other hand, refer to those made up of sand that’s mixed or topped with another material, such as rubber or synthetic