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BETA-RIDE® PRO-EQUESTRIAN SURFACES DISCUSS
Constructing an Outdoor Arena WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE DECIDING WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU
Sighting your outdoor arena If possible choose a sheltered level location with good natural drainage, access to water is also important. If like most of us these three requirements are not readily available then ... · If exposure is your problem, think about including a good hedge or tree barrier in your construction plans. An alternative to these is an earth bank, probably the easiest and fastest means of protecting the arena from the prevailing weather. · If drainage is your problem, pay more attention to your drainage plans consider not only the footing drainage consider water ingress into the Arena and away from the immediate boundary of the arena. Remember the final surface is the icing on the cake, however good the final surface is, if you have not paid particular attention to the drainage you will be plagued with problems, remember to check local bylaws before diverting water into a water cause. · Access to water, remember you will have to water your surface, a ditch that you are draining into can also be a good source of water, or maybe even a nearby stream or spring, if none of these are an option include a water pipeline in your construction plans.
Constructing your arena Having chosen the most level area available mark out your arena leaving a good margin around the proposed arena consider the access for construction vehicles and lorries delivering your aggregates and other materials. · Remove the top soil from the marked out area and store for landscaping after construction. · If your chosen site is located on a slope the next stage is to level this chosen area by a process known as cut and fill. This means having removed the topsoil the sub-soil is excavated from the higher side of the site and deposited on the low side to create a level surface.
Sand grains magnified Angular
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· The next stage is to construct the drainage and the footings. There are several considerations for drainage the most popular being the herringbone method. Before undertaking this stage Beta-Ride® recommend you consult a drainage engineer, or those of you who have been confident enough to undertake the construction to this stage should read the many available downloads or publications detailing the various drainage methods before continuing. · Next stage is to fence the arena using 3-bar post and ‘D’ rail fencing with bottom boards known as gravel boards. These are to retain the sub-base and finished surface. Rails should be installed on the inside to ensure the posts do not obstruct the rider, posts cut flush with the top rail to prevent accidental injury to the horse or rider. · With the first woven membrane positioned ideally into the drainage channels as well, drainage laid and back filled with 2 inch clean stone. The entire site is then covered with a 4–6 inch layer of clean aggregates such as ¾ to 2 inches. Limestone or granite using a laser level to ensure accuracy. It is essential that the aggregates are free of dust to prevent drainage channels blocking. · The sub-base should be compacted in layers using a vibrating roller to give a solid base. · The next stage is the upper membrane, Beta-Ride® recommend a 200gsm non-woven membrane this type of membrane feels and looks like felt. The laying of this membrane is most critical it should be turned up at the outside edge and attached to the gravel boards using an industrial staple gun. The seams should be over lapping and sealed this can be achieved with tape or careful use of a blowtorch, it is imperative that the seams and gravel board fixings are sound, this prevents the membrane from coming up to the surface and the sand filtering down to the sub-base and drainage.
The final stage choosing your sand and stabilising ingredient Sand Grains vary from angular to round. The rounder the grain the less tightly the grains fit together. The more round the sand grain the more it will move and give less traction. Sub-Angular Grains compact less than angular grains yet still allow good traction and drainage. When selecting natural sand, you need to request magnified pictures of the sand and select the most sub-angular available. Whilst fine Silica sand with particles ranging between # 60 sieve and #200 sieve is the most
desirable, cost and supplier location often exclude this option. Sand promoted as arena sand needs to have a graded range size of between #60 sieve and #200 sieve particles with about 7 per cent below #200, to ensure this percentage use an unwashed sub-angler sand, some sands have a clay content this type of sand, with a small clay content can be an advantage in areas of low rain fall as the clay helps to retain moisture.
Manufactured sand Crushed quarry stone called Fines or Duff usually ranging between angular to sub-angular in shape with sizes #10 sieve to #50 sieve, the particles are sharp and will compact tightly. If used alone, being softer they break down into dust sooner and should be avoided if at all possible.
Fibre Regional sands need a fibre best suited to their particle sizes and range of particle size, Beta-Ride® Pro-Equestrian Surfaces offer an affordable fibre solution for different regional sub-angler sand types. Cofibre® (Polypropylene) Beta-Ride® (a mix of polypropylene, nylon and polyester) Beta-Ride® + (a mix of polypropylene, nylon, polyester and lycra) Whether your sand is from Sandbach, Mansfield, Cardigan, Leighton Buzzard or even fine-dredged estuary sand Beta-Ride® have a fibre to suit. For years fine silica sand was the recommended sand to use when constructing an arena and polypropylene fibre was the essential
Properties of fibres used
stabilising ingredient. Now the specialised art of mixing the different synthetic 100 per cent new material types together with fibre sizing perfected by Cojarec® and Beta-Ride® has made the dream of owning a quality arena a reality, no longer do you have to transport hundreds of tons of fine silica sand hundreds of miles at great expense. Less expensive cheaper to transport regional sub-angler sands are the answer. The days of having to pay high sand prices and compromise by using recycled dirty shredded carpet and other materials probably with a large proportion of organic material (wool and other household nasties) are over, Cojarec® and Beta-Ride® fibres being OVAM certified are well-ahead of the Paris Agreement on waste disposal, (prohibiting the depositing of rubber, organic material, etc. into the ground). Guidance number of bales required: • 40 × 20 metre 9 bales • 60 × 20 metre 12 bales (bales approx. 300kg)
Installation We recommend that your sand riding surface be a minimum of 15cm (6” depth) before installation of the fibre.
Mixing ratio The ratio of fibres to be mixed into the top 10cm (4”) depth of your sand surface depend on the type of sand used in the riding surface and the riding discipline for which the surface will primarily be used, as a guide we recommend the following; Racing gallops: 2½-4kg per m2 surface area of sand. Showjumping/dressage: 4-5kg per m2 surface area of sand.
Maintenance The sand and fibre surface is best maintained by a maintenance harrow, (consisting of harrow tynes and compacting rollers), operated on the ball-hitch of a ATV/UTV or the 3-point link of a tractor. A cost-effective sub-angler regional sand and the correctly matched fibre all add up to a quality arena giving years of pleasure at a sensible price. Cojarec® bvba and Beta-Ride® Pro-Equestrian Services Ltd working together to secure a safer environment. ■ Call Beta-Ride® Equestrian Services Ltd on 01269 595064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Working for a Safer Environment
The Rural Planning Practice are experienced and knowledgeable rural planners. Not only are they riders themselves; so they understand a martingale versus a farthingale, but they also have a good understanding of design for equestrian businesses, competition yards, or for leisure.
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hether a private yard, busy livery yard or competition venue, we are using our arenas more than ever, expecting the surface to suit a range of different disciplines and be ready to use whatever the weather. The soggy, waterlogged and frozen arenas we have avoided all winter can soon be replaced with dry, deep and dusty surfaces come spring. A
surface that isn’t performing is at best annoying and disruptive, and at worst has the potential to cause injury. Poor surfaces can damage soft tissue, joints, muscles and hooves, as well as respiratory and vascular systems. A quality riding surface is necessary to maintain a horse’s safety, longevity and performance.
Choosing a surface
WOOD CHIP/WOOD FIBRE
A natural surface, wood fibre which has been produced especially for equestrian surfaces consists of smaller wood particles, whereas woodchip can be anything out of a timber yard’s chipper. Environmentally friendly and economical, wood surfaces are however the least durable and have the shortest lifespan of all the different types of surfaces currently available.
PROS • Eco-friendly if the wood is not treated with chemicals or colourings. However, avoid using recycled wood which may contain nails, wire or staples. Cheap offcuts will breakdown quickly and may block drainage, splinter or become slippery. • Versatile. Can be used indoors and outdoors, as well as for gallops, lunge pens and turn-out paddocks.
CONS • Ground works are needed. Like traditional sand and rubber schools, a drainage system and membrane are required. • Slippery. Wood surfaces can become very slippery when wet, and deep when the wood begins to rot. • Lifespan is roughly two to six years depending on use.
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Economical, suitable for all equestrian disciplines, rot-proof and highly shock absorbent, rubber is still a popular surface choice. PROS • Long-lasting alternative to woodchip. Pretty much indestructible if properly maintained. • Low maintenance. Once a week with a flat back leveller will ensure an even rubber coverage; however, regular topups will be need. • Weather resistant. Less likely than woodchip to dry out, become waterlogged or freeze. • Good for jumping on as horses are less likely to skid on landing and the “spring” of the rubber reduces the risk of concussion injuries.
CONS • Not the eco-friendly choice. Traditional rubber surfaces can take more than 50 years to decompose. Good news for the longevity of the rubber in the arena; however, rubber crumb migrates easily. • Regular top-ups needed. Once the rubber topping has dwindled, the sand beneath may freeze in winter and become deep in summer. Without the “spring” of the rubber, the sand will also start to “ride dead”, taking the energy out of the horse’s stride. Deep, dry sand will cause horses to travel through the surface rather than over it, increasing risk of injury. • Rubber needs a sand base and drainage system to make sure it doesn’t puddle during the wetter months. • Disposal. Bear in mind that as rubber is not biodegradable, it can be expensive to get rid of.
SAND (WAXED SILICA SAND WITH FIBRES)
Sand combination such as sand with a rubber topping or waxed sand with fibres mixed through are popular choices. High-quality, waxed silica sand mixed with fibres is currently the surface of choice for most competition venues and professional yards. PROS • Secure footing. By replicating the natural qualities of turf by mimicking the binding ability of top soil, sand and fibres minimise kickback and provide a secure footing, which allows horses to travel over the top of the surface rather than through it. • Problem-solving top-up. Sand with fibres can transform most types of poorly performing surfaces, rejuvenating loose surfaces which dry out easily and ride deep. • Versatile. Top-up or complete surface, sand with fibres can be used for outdoor arenas and on gallops. Ideal for indoor use as it’s dust-free, the natural light colouring also visually brightens enclosed arenas.
Carpet surfaces are versatile and suitable for most disciplines, in all weather conditions. PROS • Environmentally friendly. Most carpet surfaces are recycled from surplus and waste carpets, saving large amounts of carpet fibre ending up in landfill • All-weather. High-quality carpet
CONS • Abrasive. Sand, as soon as it is laid, will begin a natural process of grinding against itself. Through the action of the hooves, it will gradually become finer and the surface progressively deeper. Adding fibres will prevent movement in the surface and slow down this process. • Not a complete solution. Sand without the fibres can freeze in winter and, if unwaxed, sand will also need to be watered in dry weather for optimum performance. surfaces will not freeze, rot or blow. • Versatile. Carpet can be used on both indoor and outdoor surfaces, added to most types of existing surface as a top-up or, if you are building your arena from scratch, laid directly on top of a simple, stone drainage layer, negating the need for additional materials and labour costs. • ‘Cushioning’ ride. Carpet surfaces offer a springy, forgiving feel, making them ideal for most disciplines.
• Adding ﬁbres means moisture is retained, reducing surface movement and required maintenance. • Clever membranes. New products, such as Equitex-Drain System Membrane, allow arenas to be constructed without the need to dig drainage ditches. Made from multiple layers which contain an internal band of drains, the system provides a costeffective option for well-draining land. International event rider Ben Way, pictured below, uses a synthetic rubber crumb and silica sand surface, on top of an Equitex-Drain System Membrane. He says: “The membrane was put down over eight years ago – directly onto a mown grass area, with silica sand and synthetic rubber placed directly on top. We work at least 12 horses a day on it, including jumping, lunging and loose jumping. I am very pleased with the surface and how well the horses move and perform it.”
Photo: Simon Bratt/Shutterstock.com
• Minimal maintenance. Silica sand and fibres move less, meaning less maintenance is needed.
NEXT GENERATION A new generation of synthetic rubber crumb, containing fibre, and laid on top of silica sand has removed some of the downsides of choosing a rubber surface. It is still rot proof, shock absorbent and all-weather – but with the addition of the fibres, which prevent the surface from drying out.
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From a full brand new arena to refurbing your existing school Equestrian Arenas Limited are national installers of quality horse riding arenas, lunging pens and gallops. It is run and owned by just two directors, with a combined experience of over 20 years in the arena building industry. Nationwide company providing a turn-key service to the exact specification of the client. With our vast experience in the equine industry we are able to give you a bespoke product for you to be proud of. We can also provide you with friendly independent advice, incorporating your needs into any project. Thoroughly recommend Equestrian Arenas LTD - these guys have done a great job restoring the arenas at Gadlas.
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• Low maintenance. Surfaces made from carpet require very little maintenance to remain in peak condition. A weekly harrow to ensure even coverage is often more than sufficient. CONS • Lifespan. The lifespan of carpet surfaces can differ depending on their original use. While they may look similar, a surface recycled from industrial sources will last significantly longer than domestic carpet. Surfaces made from
Problem solving an existing arena Reconstructing an arena is a costly business, but there are other options available for improving what you already have. A short-term solution to a deep, sandbased surface is to level and water the arena, replacing the moisture which has been lost due to the warmer weather. However, the beneficial effects will only be temporary. Surface top-ups are a quick and cost-effective solution. A top-up of a sand and fibre surface works by rotating additional fibres into the existing surface, meaning more moisture will be retained, as well as vastly improving the top “riding” layer. A top-up of a multi-purpose surface can be used to improve footing and retain moisture on the majority of existing surfaces. The carpet-based surface also works as an insulating layer preventing the surface from drying out in the summer and freezing in winter.
Choosing a surface provider Purchasing new or topping up an arena surface can be a high-cost investment – however, choosing the cheapest option could prove costly down the line. • Years of experience. Look for a company which has been around for a while, and likely to still be in business in the next few years, should you need them. • Social media reviews are a great
virgin material (surplus clean, industrial quality carpet) also offer UV protection, for even greater longevity. • Quality. Surfaces made from used, domestic carpets may be contaminated with unwanted extras such as carpet grippers and wire. Poor quality carpet can also become dusty when used in indoor schools, whereas larger pieces of carpet will not lay correctly, giving an uneven surface. • Foam. Beware of carpet surfaces which contain high quantities of foam. The foam will quickly break down,
place to start when researching a surface company. • Customer service. Give the office a call to discuss what they would recommend for your specific circumstances. Some will send out surface samples if requested. • Try before you buy service. Most good manufacturers or suppliers will offer the option of going to see or even riding on one of their previously constructed arenas. However, this cannot always be expected so it is a question well worth asking.
meaning a surface top-up will be required just a few years after installation. • Can be costly. Surfaces made of carpet offer a wide range of benefits, but only if they are good quality and if you have enough surface to cover your arena. Beware of companies offering cheap carpet surfaces. If something looks too good to be true, it usually is. Poor quality carpet will break down quickly, and too sparse a covering will not give you the benefits listed above. Making an investment now will pay off in the long run.
n Editorial content supplied by Equestrian Direct Ltd – visit www. equestriandirectltd.co.uk or call 01564 794020. n
Purchasing new or topping up an arena surface can be a high-cost investment – however, choosing the cheapest option could prove costly down the line
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