Arena Footing

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Keep Your Performance Horses Healthy and Safe

By Dustin Gruetter, DC Structures


Photo credit DC Structures


Arena footing sounds simple enough, but when it’s time to start selecting materials for your equestrian facility, you’re likely to find more options than you ever imagined. Poor footing could subject your horse to increased risk of injury and long-term degenerative issues.

For the safety of you and your horses, arena footing must be completely:

  • Free of holes and uneven or shifting surfaces
  • Stable, yet shock absorbent
  • Non-slippery with excellent traction


Arena footings that meet these requirements can be comprised of a variety of materials—both natural and synthetic—as well as a combination of footing types. While there are tons of unique products and formulas on the market, the most common footing materials are made from clay or silt-based dirt, sand or wax-coated sand, and wood products or natural and synthetic fibers. The arena footing materials you choose should be right for your regional environment and equestrian discipline.

Before you even think about choosing an arena footing, you must have 100% confidence in your riding arena’s base. Solid arena bases adhere to high standards for the three D’s: drainage, durability and depth. If you live in a wet region or know your arena will be heavily used, it may be necessary to go beyond standard recommendations.

  • Drainage: Select a strong base that will allow water to seep into the ground rather than flood the surface.
  • Durability: Make sure your base is compacted above 90% density, so it will hold its integrity and keep rocks from creeping to the top.
  • Depth: Keep your base layer at no less than four inches deep and up to twelve inches deep if your equestrian activities call for more support.


Dustin Gruetter is the owner of DC Builders and DC Structures


Published July 2018 Issue

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