What’s in a name?
There is no “Arena Sand”
Sand is the most important ingredient for an equestrian surface; however, not every kind of sand is suitable for riding arenas. Quarries across the country will have different names for their sands, and particle size, gradation, mineralogy, and shape will vary.
The qualities of your sand will greatly affect the performance of your surface, such as being tight, loose, or just right; soft or hard; and how much dust is produced. Becoming familiar with these characteristics will help you determine a solution for adding additives, improving an existing surface or building a new arena, and maintenance.
Be sure to use the recommended specifications and sizes to determine what sand you will need rather than the name of the sand, as “Arena Sand” could mean anything.
Super Fine Silt/Clay
less than 0.074 mm
Sieve smaller than #200
0.074 mm to 0.42 mm
Sieve #200 to #40
0.42 mm to 2.0 mm
Sieve #40 to #1
2.0 mm to 4.76 mm
Sieve #10 to #4
Sand gradation is the most important aspect of a sand for equestrian arenas.
Gradation is a representation of different sized particles and the percentage of each size within a sand. This affects how much the sand compacts or remains loose.
Sand gradation is measured by vibrating a sample through a set of known mesh sizes (large to small). The percentage of sand that passes each numbered sieve is measured to create a sand gradation report. Higher sieve numbers equal smaller grain size, lower sieve numbers equal larger grain size.
Most equestrian sand suppliers will have prepared gradation reports for the different sands they sell.
The type of mineral affects how the sand particles will hold up over time. When sand particles become small enough they turn into dust and become airborne. Quartz and Silica are commonly used for horse arenas because the hardness of the particle. Different regions of the country will affect what minerals are available