One of the most crucial parts of any horse property is the schooling area. Most people have arenas. There are a variety of different options for arenas to make them unique to people’s personal needs. The most important part of the arena is the footing.
The ground/footing makes a huge difference for the horse and rider. The type of footing is specific to what the arena is being used for. There is no excuse for poor footing, it must be good. Arenas can have a variety of depths.
Horses need to have a stable foundation to perform their best at their current task. The standard depth for arenas is between two and four inches. This depth creates a soft footing but still allows them to get traction. Some western sports such as reining require the sand to be a little bit deeper so that the horse has more sand to work in.
“Bowed tendon” is one of the words that makes any horse owner cringe. If the sand that horses ride in is too deep, then the horse is at risk. This is why many people ride on the wet part of a beach as opposed to the dry soft deep sand. The depth of an arena is a key point.
What is an arena actually made of? They are made of a layering of substances. High quality arenas are made up of a very flat area that is slightly sloped downward. Then there are rocks so that the water can run through, then something like decomposing granite, then the arena sand on top. The top sand can be just plain sand which is the cheapest option. This can be dusty and some equestrian sports like jumping prefer more spring in their arenas.
Recycled, chopped up car tires mixed with the arena sand is a great option. It is usually small pieces, one to two inch long strips. This rubber adds bounce to the horses which gives them an easier take-off and landing. Another cool thing about this rubber is that it can come in a variety of colors.
The rubber sand mix does have some down sides. It tends to separate from the sand. It moves to the top of the sand and is no longer very helpful. It has to be dragged just right so that it gets mixed in.
One type of arena footing that is becoming popular is having little bits of cloth mixed in with the sand. The strips create a nice cushion for the horses and it retains water from the sprinklers. The cloth holds the water for longer and helps to keep the arena from getting too dusty.
Yet another type of footing is processed wood. This wood is a stringy wood that mixes with the sand and like the cloth, helps to keep the dust down once it is watered. This can also vary slightly in color. There are many more types of arena footing, but these will be the most common in this area. The footing is one of the most important parts of horse property.