Readers Comment on Riding Surfaces

More than 1,250 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "What kind of footing does your riding area have?"

 results of poll on footing in riding arenas

Results were as follows: 

  • Sand 37.73% (472)
  • I don't have a specified riding area 19.02% (238)
  • Grass 16.07% (201)
  • Tilled-up dirt 12.47% (156)
  • Other 9.75% (122)
  • Rubber mixture 4.96% (62)

Readers shared what where they like to ride most in the comments below.

Results of weekly polls from TheHorse.com are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.  

Look for a new poll on TheHorse.com every week!

 


  • 12 grass
  • COvered arean with 1 1/2" washed river sand + 1" rubber crumbles = perfect
  • I trail ride. I only have 3 acres, 2 the horses have fenced off for pasture, the rest is taken up b
  • i ride in grass, dirt, riverbed, and other places
  • natural sand arena I'm lucky
  • It's wood bark that we can water down.
  • We have Pond Clay as a base. Wondering what to top dress with?
  • Our indoor & outdoor arenas have rubber mix and the trails are mostly crushed rock and some grass.
  • has to be drug once a week
  • My horse hates arenas; the roundpen has tilled-up dirt be we ride mainly in the wild
  • clay!!!!
  • pea gravel and sand mix
  • 50/50 sand and sawdust mix. Awesome footing that is not slippery, and holds moisture well.
  • trail
  • Sand and till up dirt mixed
  • flat with some uneven spots about 270 ft by 90 ft
  • I have sand mixed with offcuts from tyre manufacturing process which gives a lovely cushioned arena
  • It is great when it rains and we can drag it. It is miserable in the summer months (dusty) and packs
  • I board at a private barn and actually like the sand because the arena is still usable in wet weathe
  • looking for great beigeener horse email me kalismithiwck@yahoo.com when u find one please
  • ok, but it is very dry here and it gets dusty
  • a large enclosed agew of sand that is laid out and has a tie poll in the middle
  • round pen, trails, pasture
  • Clay
  • I feel it is better, softer and easier on hooves. My horse is still barefoot.
  • Sand & Sawdust chips in indoor,hogfuel in the outdoor area
  • grass and sand track along fence
  • bluestone
  • It was sand but now it is mostly dirt and dust.
  • sawdust
  • crushed stone dust
  • It's a mix of sand and shredded plastic bottles.
  • stone dust
  • I like and use all-weather sand. It is fantastic, durable, and can be ridden in no matter what.
  • great , but needs watering too much and winter is a problem with dust and freezing
  • good black dirt that discs up great
  • pea gravel, best perfect natural feet, almost self wearing
  • riding ring sand /cork
  • use trails in 6 states
  • sandy lome
  • sand and dirt outside/ sand indoor arena
  • 8" deep
  • shredded carpet fiber and sand- Its great!
  • native soil to this area
  • "White" DG: sand +decomposed granite. Drains well & doesn't pack down hard.
  • sand stone dust mix
  • We use a mixture of dirt and sandy loam for our arena. It drains well and doesn't clump badly.
  • Well ,i ride my horse on grass and once she is hungry she can eat .and plus there is pale of water!
  • Indoors is sand, outside its grass. My horse prefers the grass:)
  • wood chips
  • clay
  • we train race horses on the beach
  • Don't have a ring;use part of pasture...
  • It is a covered arena with soft sand.
  • We ride mainly on the grass in the pasture or grassy trails through the woods.
  • 3 way sifted
  • it is ahy land or cultivated crop land that i ride on
  • We trail ride in the country on gravel roads, through grassland, sometimes trees and small creeks
  • I don't generally ride i an arena, so when I want to i just set a portable fence in my paddock
  • Multiple surfaces- grass, indoor is rubber mix, some gravel in outdoor arena
  • mixture of sand and stall shavings
  • sand. basically mixed with dirt and manure.
  • I wish I could do something to it to make it not so deep!
  • equi-footing - a polymer coated sand product that's totally dustfree.
  • What ever is on the endurance trail.
  • Rocks, rocks and more rocks - NE trails!
  • its the best i have ever riden on and good for the impacked on horses legs when jumping
  • I ride anywhere I can so all the above.
  • crushed blue stone
  • sand blended with shredded rubber
  • Trail ride only
  • Dressage arena:sand/clay blend, jumping arena: "all weather" stone dust mixture
  • its dirt with wood chips
  • coarse sand about 3 1/2 inches over a clay base. Its great but dust control ($)is a problem.
  • my ring doubles as my turnout for mares/foals, grass in the middle and tilled dirt on the track.
  • provides a small amount of extra effort, builds muscle, provides soft landing :)
  • Crushed egg shells!
  • Stone Dust base
  • We use chat - very little dust with good traction
  • The sand/rubber stuff--so lovely to ride on all the time!
  • Decomposed Granite and Sand Mixture over dirt
  • gravel base. silt sub base, screened dand &silt top
  • Grass over Sand/Clay, no rocks, stallion/brood mares all ride barefoot
  • Dirt and rocky areas-no shoes on horses and they do fine!
  • with hydrophillic granules added
  • Four inches of sand.
  • Florida Panhandle-not much dirt
  • I use my friend's sand ring for ringwork when not on trails
  • red clay base with grass to stabilize it because that is what I can afford
  • We ride on trails and use friend's rings when necessary
  • sand, dirt and decomposed granite. I live in the high desert.
  • Really bad and getting worse. Moving to a new boarding facility.
  • hatches more rocks every spring, no sense putting in something more costly!
  • Quarry dust
  • A mixture of sand tilled with dirt with a depth of about 3 inches.
  • I'm strictly a trail rider so it varies; some dg, sand, rocks, dirt and some beach riding-the best!
  • I ride on grass, sand, tilled-updirt and gravel when i have to.
  • Arena recently stripped and filled with deep sand and dust free additive-great footing now
  • Tire tread with drain tile around outside of ring to draw water. Works great- rides well!!
  • Turf as dirt is hard on their feet.
  • Actually, sand & dirt
  • It's more fine gravel w/ sand
  • sand/clay mixture
  • Mostly trail ride but do have a closely mowed grass "arena"
  • We have Ranch Horses, so dirt, rock, grass, pavement
  • sand, but its near the shale line so there is some firmness but its still ALL SAND!
  • mixture of sand and stonedust
  • 80% crumb rubber 20% course sand. This is some of the best footing that I have worked on.
  • Sand footing for an outdoor arena works well in our wet northwest weather.
  • I would like to tighten the footing for dry conditions
  • it is very dusty hot.
  • Ride in trails in the national forest
  • we use a nice flat spot in one of our patures
  • I have native "puffy dirt" on top of a very poor base of rocks.
  • With recycled hay!
  • We have Posi-Trak footing mixed with sand. It's lovely!
  • The indoor has dirt with broken down wood shavings, and the outdoor I believe used to be the lawn.
  • Natural terrain for the area
  • stone dust, wood chips and sand mix
  • wax-encapsulated sand mixed with fiber -- $$$
  • grass footing in sandy soil is the best for tendon, joint and foot health; deep sand=BAD!!!
  • I live in Wyoming ranching country so the footing my horse rides on is a mixture of all the above.
  • Also hog fuel arena available
  • Sand and crushed stone mix
  • sand& dirt mix in outdoor arena
  • The grass is kept short and later shows more dirt
  • Alot of trail and backwoods roads
  • Sand/dirt mixture
  • SAW DUST-WET
  • stone dust & sand mixed
  • What ever the trail is made off - dirt, rock, etc.
  • stonedust
  • Our arena has a base of crushed stone with sand on top.
  • I train on a Class 5 gravel road
  • clay base with sand over that, the arena has excellent drainage and grooms very well ( miminum care)
  • Becomes saturated after a heavy shower, and is very dusty insummer. Has to be sprinkled.
  • grass at farm, some rocks on trail
  • it used to be crushed stone but shallow, not worth anything; now grass is growing
  • No arena, we ride in our fields and trails
  • about 4-5 inches deep.
  • crushed bluestone
  • My hayfield is the choice when I am not growing a crop.
  • I'm planning on sand soon because its to slick when wet and dusty when dry.
  • mixture of dirt,sand, and old stall bedding that decomposes
  • sand that is watered to reduce dust
  • riding arena? what riding arena??
  • HOGFUEL
  • Red clay/dust
  • Around my barn I have pea gravel
  • a special all-weather sand and clay mixture that we till and water every day and it is very fluffy!
  • We have wood chips, called grindings, 2-3" over natural sand base
  • DG base with 4-5 inches of sand/dg mixed for the topper. We ride reiners
  • stonedust/sand
  • fibar and sand (wood chips)
  • trails, never the same footing
  • It's hard as a rock and makes me so mad!
  • I have a rouond pen and then trails and dirt roads.
  • mud, pavement, dirt, woods trails
  • Course sand is best and not too deep or you risk hurting tendons. Can be dusty in dry weather.
  • Always dusty, have to water constanly.
  • packed stonedust base 5" then 1"river sand
  • sandstone and manufactured sand
  • cedar hogfuel
  • Dusty and dry, prefer rubber
  • I ride on all types of footing out on trail including ledge, tar, gravel, sand, etc.
  • soft for the fall, but bad for horse footing
  • My outdoor arena is sand and mulch. My indoor has sand,rubber,fibers & glycerine for dust control.
  • The riding dirt in the arena is just plain ground soil and is raked often.
  • Outdoor- sand, indoor-dirt
  • washed concrete sand (it is angular)
  • Three areas: sand, dirt and crushed mulch
  • My arena is sand. I mostly ride on trails that vary in footing
  • I ride in a 4 acre grass field.
  • aggregate lime base with 2 - 3 inches of sand on top
  • we have an indoor and outdoor; one with sand/bluestone and one a dirt/sand/rubber mix.
  • I ride a trail to the county fairgrounds where the arena is tilled dirt.
  • What riding arena? Our endurance horses have great feet b/c we ride over varied terrain.
  • One has sand; the other has decomposed granite which I like better because it drains better.
  • stone dust and that stuff hurts, i've burned burned/scraped up for a couple weeks now. won't heal!
  • I ride on farmland. I have access to 1100 acres right in back of my yard.
  • We trail ride!
  • I have hills and flats.
  • Our sand/recycled tire rubber mix is great, lot less dust.
  • shavings and sand
  • Pasture, gravel roads, mountain trails. Tough barefeet!
  • My dressage arena has red clay footing. Its OK as long as the dust is controlled.
  • We ride around our city often. Could be anything, & everything!
  • river bottom sand, low dust!
  • I love it! Much better than sand- alot easier on the horses' joints and mine when I fall (LOL)
  • sand and sawdust- we keep it damp in spring and summer
  • I trail ride, so my horses can move out in any kind of conditions and footing.
  • bluestone. waiting patiently for the owners to get money for sand
  • With 50 horses in a training barn it's tough to maintain fulltime good footing
  • an old dairy farm and other peoples dump place
  • stone dust
  • 3 inches structural fill, 2 inches sand mixed. Works great.
  • the road right now for barefoot rehab issues. 8 mile rides
  • Sand, with pine grindings mixed in.....
  • Sand/Clay mixture.
  • We use grey "A" sand. It drains well and works well for gaited horses.
  • ride in pasture which is grass and soil
  • sand and rubber - lovely :)
  • Hogfuel (wood chips) outdoors, sand indoors
  • Sand in roundpen, but grass in arena.Hope to get sand soon.
  • Just drying up after a rain is the perfect time to harrow the dirt.
  • The dirt God put there
  • Right now I just ride in my pastures
  • trailk rider, in NH we have rocks and hills!
  • stays wet long after rain, dusty when dry.
  • work on trails and fields unless I truck for a lesson in a sand ring
  • hardpan/clay base with sand on top
  • trails: dirt, rocks, grass, etc.
  • decomposed granite
  • Trails - rocks, gravel, dirt...
  • Red Clay Sand
  • Indoor is a sand/rubber mix. Outdoor is cedar chips.
  • I either ride in my yard or out on the trails where there is mud, rocks, water, moss, ferns, etc
  • Wish I had the Property to have real arena with real footing, Arena doubles as pasture
  • 2" of washed sand on top of 6" packed roadmix.
  • stone dust
  • red clay and limestone, hills
  • all sorts, rocks, gravel, pavement, you name it.
  • I have a round pen with grass and a sand track
  • 6 arenas with various levels of sand from shallow to too deep!
  • crushed limestone
  • crushed limerock
  • also have a grassy area to ride in
  • Our land is too hilly to set up a riding arena
  • Grass and sandy loam
  • Home arena is grass; lesson arena I trailer to is sand mixture
  • indoor is sand, outdoor is grass
  • Bare foot horse in the desert, chat in the arenas
  • on ride on rocks and trails
  • and droppings
  • sand and rock = high desert
  • sand/clay mixture
  • Just a dirt/clay ground leveled riding area with a little sand that I keep dragged.
  • what is best?
  • indoor or outdoor? indoor - sand with shavings and mineral for dust control
  • clay trails mostly, pretty hard, overboots help
  • my round pen has sand footing, I do not have an arena--yet
  • Tilled diret, sand and wood chips
  • stone dust
  • hog fuel
  • a mix of grade 1 and grade 2 screenings
  • I don't find sand footing entirely satisfactory, but that's what the barn where I board has
  • crushed limestone
  • I ride trails.
  • M10 gravite and river sand
  • Sand and pea gravel mix - squeegee. The best!
  • Sand, screenings and PermaFlex rubber. Love it!
  • crushed granite
  • crushed blue stone
  • Got a great deal from a Thoroughbred breeding shed here in Lexington -- free rubber chips!
  • I mostly ride pastures and trails
  • Wish the sand were better maintained. Would be great footing if it were.
  • There is also some grass
  • We ride in the side yard so their pasture remains theirs.

About the Author

Megan Arszman

Megan Arszman received a Bachelor of Science In print journalism and equine science from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., and loves combining her love of horses, photography, and writing. In her “free time,” when she’s not busy working as a horse show secretary or riding her American Quarter Horses on her parents’ Indiana farm, she’s training and competing her Pembroke Welsh Corgi and Swedish Vallhund in dog agility and running.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners