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Part 4: Equine White Surfaces Paper (FEI, April 2014)
15/04/2015 12:31:00

Choosing the right sand for a horse arena. Part 4 of a series summarising its findings

The world’s most extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopedic health of sport horses in the seven FEI disciplines and in racing was published by the FEI in April 2014.

The Equine Surfaces White Paper was the result of a four-year collaboration between eight equine experts from six universities, three equine and racing-specific research and testing centres and two horse charities in Sweden, the UK and the USA.  It brings together the latest data and published scientific papers on turf and equestrian arena surfaces, and the effects these have on horses in training and in competition.

Here we look at its findings on equine surfaces on how to choose sand for a horse arena?

There are many alternative equestrian surfaces currently available, but what purpose will the finished arena be used for? This is an important factor when considering the choice of riding arena surface that best suits your needs. The use of sand for a horse arena has become increasingly popular in the UK particularly with dressage riders.

Types of Riding arena sand:

A number of different types of sand are used in:
  • Pre-washed sand is widely used because it reduces the impact of silt displacement and deposition.
  • A high silicone content provides durability
  • Very fine angular sand with up to 15% clay or silt content provides a firm surface

How sand can improve an equestrian surface;

  • provides a root structure which allows the horse to work on top of the surface
  • riding arena sand particles add elasticity to an equestrian surface
  • the particle size of the sand grains, can affect bulk density, compaction and water retention.

The importance of drainage

The greatest variable to a sand arena surface is moisture, and as with any equestrian arena, the construction stage is always crucial to the overall performance of the finished product.  When building a riding arena, it is vital to provide a uniform, level base and particular attention should be paid to providing a suitable drainage system because:
  • the drainage system will affect water holding capacity
  • an effective system will prevent excessive water retention
  • it will allow the riding arena sand to recover from rainfall
What  is essential is that the right balance is provided. A sand surface that is too permeable, for example, may reduce moisture retention during dry spells

Consult the equestrian surface experts

Martin Collins Enterprises is the UK's top equestrian surface manufacturer and installer, with a growing international operation and prides itself on setting the winning standard in equine surfaces. 

Founded by Martin Collins over 30 years ago, its equestrian origins remain at the heart of the business today. The company provides a full construction service and undertakes projects which range from the single horse owner to large commercial projects, both racing and equestrian.

The Martin Collins Group has a proven track record for quality, durability & performance and an after sales service that is second to none.  It continues to invest in sophisticated testing equipment, scientific research and product development to provide the best level of support to the equine industry. Click here to see its full range of equestrian surface or contact the team now to find out more.

Click here to read other articles in the same series.
Click here to download the full FEI report.
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