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What Makes a Sand Suitable For Equestrian Use?

A sand’s primary purpose is to provide the horse with a firm footing that offers adequate traction and support.

If the surface is too soft, it can ride deep and put unnecessary strain on the horse’s legs. When too hard, it fails to provide enough cushion and increases the risk of impact-related injuries. 

There is currently no official specification or standard that applies to sand used in equestrian surfaces. However, there are key characteristics that we can use to determine a sand’s suitability. 

 

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Key Characteristics

The following characteristics can help us to determine whether or not a type of sand is suitable for use in equestrian surfacing:

1. Chemical Composition

High purity silica sand is durable, meaning the individual grains are less susceptible to breaking down through use, which will help the surface to remain consistent.

2. Particle Shape

Sands classified as either sub-angular have grains that compact well, providing a firm riding surface. Additionally, highly angular grains are more susceptible to fracture under the impact.

3. Particle Size

Fine sand is best as small-sized grains aid moisture retention and good drainage.

4. Particle Distribution

A range of grain size helps the sand compact due to smaller particles filling the voids between larger ones.

5. Clay & Silt Content

A high clay and silt content can prevent the surface from draining as it should. In waxed surfaces, it can also stop the sand from being sufficiently coated.