How to Choose the Best Equine Arena Footing

For a successful equine program, the quality of arena footing is essential. Are you a public facility that hosts equine competition or a private training facility? To keep your horses sound and able to achieve maximum performance during a competition, a safe footing is essential. When the equine arena is well-built, it will fulfill your needs and endure any weather. From the equine arena footing options available, you should choose the footing material that is custom to your specific requirements.

Equine arena footing

A good arena should evenly percolate water and shed rainwater. The building site and influencing factors should be analyzed before building a new arena. These factors include rainfall, wind, topography, structure, and temperature. The current footing is assessed and current problems analyzed when creating footing for an existing arena. Footing materials are then taken to the footing lab to develop the right mix of material that fits the equine arena. The primary footing products include clay, sand, and silt.

For a successful and safe footing, the base layer should be solid and maintain consistency. Clay, mat systems, and stone dust are the most common base materials. The arena footing should be installed and maintained perfectly to ensure safety and enhance performance for the rider and the horse.

Qualities of a perfect riding surface

  • Easy to maintain.
  • It provides traction.
  • Not too dusty.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Not overly abrasive to the hooves of the horses.

Footing materials

Transportation expense and local material availability determine the cost of footing material.  The intended use of the arena affects attributes of the footing materials like traction. You can choose from various equine arena footing options. They include:

  1. Sand

You can only use sand or combine it with other materials or particle sizes. Applying the proper depth of sand is essential. If the sand is deep than 6 inches, it will stress the horse tendons. Watering sand is a requirement. It is because it rapidly dries out. To reduce dust, you can add water-holding material such as commercial additives or wood products.

  1. Wood products

It can be used alone or mixed with other footing materials. Coarse sawdust or wood chips improve water-holding capacity and provide cushioning. Wood products are organic. It means they can decompose or break down into smaller particles leading to the compacted footing. After a couple of years, you should add more wood products. You may need to remove some footing materials to maintain an appropriate depth.

  1. Rubber

To add cushioning and minimize compaction, you should mix the ground rubber with sand or other footing materials. Rubber does not degrade but can break down into smaller pieces. Its dark color helps to reduce glare and absorbs more solar radiation during winter. It helps to defrost the surface faster.

  1. Stone dust

When allowed to compact and dry, it can be as hard as concrete.

  • It is hard to maintain.
  • It drains well.
  • It is cheap.
  • It offers good stability.
  • If watered and harrowed, it is an attractive surface.


Proper equine arena footing is critical for the success of equine competitions. It is essential to select the best footing material to ensure maximum performance and keep your horses sound in a competition. A perfect riding surface should provide traction, not too dusty, easy to maintain, and inexpensive. The common footing materials include wood products, rubber, sand, and stone dust. After installation of footing materials, do regular maintenance in surface finishing and dust control.

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