Riding Arena Construction Guide: Part 5 – Laying the Surface
In this guide, we will be explaining how to install a silica sand and rubber surface. At this stage, your fencing should be in place and the drainage stone should be rolled in preparation for the surface. There are many different surface options available, so it’s important to consider your options carefully before making an informed purchase that is suitable for both you and your horse. Pre-mixed riding arena surfaces, such as Fibrewax™ or Fibremix™ are relatively easy and quick to install, but can be more expensive than non-mixed options. By comparison, mixed in-situ sand and fibre surfaces might seem like a cheaper alternative, however they can be very difficult to install correctly – requiring additional, costly machinery to carry out the mixing operation.
1. Laying the Membrane
The first step is to lay a heavy duty non-woven membrane onto the rolled stone. As with the first membrane, avoid rolling out more than you need as it can become unmanageable in windy weather conditions.
An overlap of at least 300mm is desirable and the membrane should be lapped up against the kickboards by approximately 100mm. Use double-sided tape or glue on the overlapped joints – this will help to prevent any sand creeping between the layers during installation.
2. Laying the Silica Sand
To avoid contaminating the sand upon delivery, it should be tipped onto a clean area of concrete and transported to the school using a dumper.
Alternatively, if an area of suitable hardstanding isn’t available, the sand can be tipped directly onto the arena. The sand should be spread roughly, across the whole arena, before being carefully levelled with an excavator – remembering to work backwards out of the arena.
It’s important that the excavator is manned by a skilled operator to avoid damaging the underlying membrane. To ensure that the sand is being levelled correctly, you will need an assistant to help check the depth of the footing as you progress across the arena. This can be done using a measurement stick or fencing pin, which has been marked at the required level.
Once the sand is laid to the correct depth, it should be thoroughly compacted using the excavator. This is done by tracking the excavator up and down the arena, which also helps to level any remaining lumps and bumps. The final step is to soak the arena with water, as this will help the sand to settle.
3. Laying the Rubber Chippings
Upon delivery, the rubber chippings should be tipped onto a clean area of hardstanding or just inside the arena, to help prevent contamination. Use a dumper to distribute the rubber into three or four equal rows, down the entire length of the arena. The rubber should then be levelled using the same method as the sand.
Once you have achieved the required depth, which is normally 50mm, finish off the arena with a rake or grader.
Your new riding arena is now complete!
It will take at least three months of regular watering before your new arena surface is completely settled. During this period, we recommend that you avoid heavy impact activities, such as lunging or jumping. It’s important that you implement a regular maintenance regime to help keep your new arena in peak condition. Please see our maintenance page for further information.
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