Find the right arena surface to suit your riding style

There is more to building a good riding arena than meets the eye, it’s not just a case of fencing off an area and filling it with sand, a complicated science goes into making a safe, durable and consistent surface. Why go to all that expense? Because your horses training environment can greatly influence not only the horses confidence and performance, but also soundness and resultant career longevity.

Arena surfaces are subject to compaction, drainage issues, surface irregularities and climate. A surface that is too hard can lead to bone, joint and hoof injuries. A surface that is too soft and yielding can lead to soft tissue injuries. An irregular surface can compromise your horse’s performance by encouraging an irregular gait and has the potential to cause injury due to unexpected transitions between hard and soft.

Having been involved in the equestrian surface market for nearly 30 years Equestrian Direct has seen the research and development of riding arena surfaces come on in leaps and bounds. Equestrian competitions are increasingly technical and challenging and we are asking more from our horses and arena surfaces to ensure our horses can continue to lead healthy and sound careers.

The fundamentals to a successful riding arena are good construction with a stable base, it is important to use the same foundation material throughout the entire arena base for consistency. Look into the correct materials for this, crushed concrete or hardcore can be unstable, we recommend a hard, clean drainage stone no bigger than 40mm. And, of course, good drainage.

When it comes to choosing the best surface for you and your horse there are a number of questions you should ask:

* Which surface provides the right amount of resistance, cushioning and traction for the kind of riding I do?

* Will it work in my environment (indoors, outdoors, etc.)?

* How much maintenance will it need?

* Do I need to look at a combination of materials to provide the ideal surface?

* What is the longevity of the surface/how often will it need rejuvenating?

It is important to discuss your needs with an arena company to make sure you are choosing the correct surface for your discipline, i.e.: for predominantly dressage you would need a surface that gives you the right balance of stability and energy return (spring) to encourage your horses to be expressive in their paces and develop top line, while performing to the best of their ability, whilst for show-jumping you would need a surface more open to allow greater penetration of the hoof whilst providing sufficient support to facilitate take off.

It is also important to try a number of surfaces to see how your horse performs, all horses are unique and some prefer different surfaces to others, at Equestrian Direct we offer a ‘try before you buy’ policy and can recommend a number of our surfaces near you to try out.

At our Equestrian Centre we run a team of eventers and have 2 arenas, our flatwork arena is Flexiride® with a sand base, and the jumping arena is Flexiride and sand with added fibres. The Flexiride, comprising of industrial strength synthetic textile and polymer materials, carefully blended with cushioning foam is exceptionally versatile and is ideal for most equestrian disciplines. The cushioning foam ensures the surface does not become too hard and compacted whilst the surface retains moisture so reducing dust during the summer months. Even with a yard of over 30 horses our surfaces need very little maintenance or watering.

There are a number of ways of laying Flexiride. The most popular is with sand through the top to bind, making it a more cushioned surface or on a sand base which allows for a firmer ride, so whatever your requirements, we can provide your perfect surface!

There are a number of ways of laying Flexiride, the most popular is with sand through the top to bind which makes a more cushioned surface or on a sand base which allows for a firmer ride, so whatever your requirements, we can provide your perfect surface!