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What is an equestrian surface made of?
Our range of equestrian riding surfaces features seven synthetic surface options, suitable for all disciplines and for use in all weather conditions.
Purchasing a new equestrian surface can often feel overwhelming or confusing for clients; with so much information out there, it can be challenging to know where to begin.
That’s where we come in!
With so many surface options available, we thought it might be a good idea to get back to basics and look at the components that make up each surface – to give you a greater understanding of what you’re purchasing!
High-grade silica sand
All of our surfaces use sand as their main component – but whilst you’d be forgiven for thinking that all types of sand are the same, you would be wrong. There are subtle differences in sand variations that can have significant consequences on your riding experience, as well as on the health of your horse.
For example, many sand variations consist of rounded grain particles. These particles slip and slide against each other, which results in an unstable surface and can put your horse at unnecessary risk of injury.
Similarly, these tiny rounded particles allow dust and silt to collect under the surface of the sand, which can fuse to form a solid and rock-like structure when subject to rain or heat. This creates a dangerous environment for a horse to fall on, as the surface mimics the consistency of hard concrete!
On the other hand, our high-grade, multi-washed silica sand avoids these hazards by having sub-angular-shaped grain particles. These ensure that the arena surface is firm and stable, as the particles can interlock and compact together, creating a sturdy and secure surface that offers your horse support and stability.
Additionally, high-grade silica sand typically has low clay and silt content – reducing the likeliness of a dusty surface, which can be bothersome for horses, riders and spectators alike. It’s for this reason that we use high-grade silica sand as the bulk of most of our equestrian surfaces, as it is less susceptible to breaking down and generally has longer longevity.
Synthetic stabilising fibres
Whilst sand makes an excellent base for a riding surface, if used alone, it tends to absorb too much water and can mean that your horse is riding in the sand rather than on top of it. This can be avoided by adding a mixture of synthetic fibres to the sand, improving the arena’s consistency and enhancing the riding experience for the horse and rider alike.
Adding synthetic fibres gives the sand substance and firmness, which prevents your horse from straining ligaments and muscles and provides enough cushion and support so as not to strain their joints.
All of the fibres used by ourselves are sourced from recycled carpet fibres, which would otherwise largely be considered a waste product. We take pride in our ability to repurpose what is primarily considered to be waste, and repurpose it into something that’s not only useful but practical, durable and reliable.
Wax isn’t a necessary requirement for equestrian surfaces; however, the addition of it does make quite a significant impact on the characteristics of the surface.
Waxed surfaces (such as our Cushion-Track Premier and Cushion Track Classic surfaces) are known for their versatility and ease of maintenance. The addition of wax offers resistance to freezing temperatures whilst also reducing the need for irrigation during warmer weather – making waxed surfaces ideal to use all year round.
Waxed surfaces are also designed to be hard-wearing and durable, making them the ideal choice for professionals who rely on the use of their arena for daily riding.
The wax works by binding the sand to the synthetic fibres and evenly distributing the fibres throughout the sand. This provides excellent cushioning and support for horses and reduces the need for as frequent maintenance and irrigation.
Alternatively, unwaxed (or dry) surfaces typically cost less but require more upkeep and maintenance.
Underneath the upper surface, you’ll find a base layer. The function of this layer is to provide all-year-round consistency and a secure and safe footing for your arena surface. Whilst different arena construction companies may use different membranes, at Equestrian Surfaces, we use a combination of Lotrak® woven and nonwoven membrane that is then lined in drainage channels.
Drainage is a crucial component of an equestrian arena – and typically provides three main purposes: to provide a firm and stable base for the upper surface, to allow excess water to pass freely from the arena, and to provide a reservoir that can hold excess water until it can be dispersed.
Outside arenas need to be functional throughout the year and not suffer from harsh weather conditions, meaning the drainage systems need to work efficiently when it rains.
Underneath the base layer of Lotrak membrane, you’ll typically find one main carrier drainage channel down the centre of the surface, with other drain pipes branching off to the side of the horse arena. All drainage systems follow the same principle of collecting drains feeding into the carrier.
Once drainage channels have been installed, a drainage stone is typically fitted. At Equestrian Surfaces, we use washed limestone or granite.
Beneath this drainage stone, a foundation stone is fitted. It is essential to use a hard stone for this function, such as limestone or granite, as this prevents the drainage stone from breaking down during use.
We understand that choosing the correct surface for your project can be overwhelming! If you’d like to get in touch with our team of experts to discuss surface supply, installation, arena construction, or surface maintenance, give us a call on 01282 834 970 or drop us a message here!