Sand for Riding Arena Footing


Arena footingSand is the most common arena footing used throughout the United States and is a good shock absorber. The best sand for a riding arena is usually hard, cleaned and screened, and of medium coarseness. Cleaned means silt and clay have been washed out of the sand; screened means that large grains have been removed, so the sand is more uniform. Hard sand won’t break down as quickly. Because sand drains so well, it requires frequent watering. Some people choose to help sand along by adding wood or other materials that hold water (See “Hot Tip” pg. 88). Sand that has been correctly watered (not so much water that it becomes slick) will provide better traction than dry sand.

George Chatigny, general manager of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, recommends starting with about 2 inches of sand footing atop your base. “Start off with a limited amount of material—2 to 3 inches. Ride on it and see how well it works. If you think that it’s too thin or patchy, then bring in more. It’s always easier to add more than to take away.”

Over time, sand, like other footing, will break down. “Your footing will become tired,” George says. “It will break down into finer granules, and then it will not be as forgiving. At that point, maybe two to three years down the road, you want to take all that sand off, down to your base, which should still be at the same pitch and level as where you were.” George says to regrade the base a little bit and level it off, then place your new footing on top.

Further Reading
At-home Arena Maintenance

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Sarah Evers Conrad
Sarah Evers Conrad is the current Digital Content Editor for Horse Illustrated and Young Rider magazines. Her career includes time at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care and the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) Equestrian magazine, before she became USEF’s Director of E-Communications. She then spent time as a content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency before she opened her own business, All In Stride Marketing. Throughout her career, she has been published in equine publications such as Horse Illustrated, The Horse, Blood-Horse, Equestrian, Arabian Horse Life, USDF Connection, the American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Driving Digest, American Farrier’s Journal, Off-Track Thoroughbred, Stable Management, Equine Wellness, and Camp Business Magazine. She has also served as the editor for the Certified Horsemanship Association’s official publication, The Instructor magazine, and for multiple books. Conrad has a BA in Journalism from Western Kentucky University with a double major in Agriculture with an Equine Science emphasis. You can learn more about her at


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