I am building a barn with a small indoor arena. I am new as an arena owner and I do not know what to place as footing. Something safe for my horse and not terrible to take care of. Do you have any suggestions?
I have gone through this same process, and our family has researched many types of footing. We came to the conclusion that we wanted something that would be natural, something that would hold up and not become dusty quickly, and something that would retain watering. Depending on your discipline, you will also have to consider how deep you want your footing.
Our arena has a natural clay base. Your base is very important, just as you have a base in your stall. If you have ever had dirt stalls, you know what happens to them after time; they bottom out. Without a base, after time, your arena will do the same thing (areas where there will be a uneven footing). Consequently, your top footing becomes uneven and you end up with heavy footing areas and light footing areas. You can imagine what your horse will go through, not to mention the wear and tear on his legs.
Choose a base that will hold up over time (clay that is tamped, tamped screenings, or some people even choose to use asphalt). Secondly, we choose a concrete sand. It holds water well, levels out nicely and has a tendency to be less dusty. Talk to your local sand man and ask about different sands that are sifted and will not break down quickly. We also added a bit of shavings to our footing to make it a bit lighter. You will find what you like once your footing is added.
It took a bit of time to level out our sand. We rode on it and found areas that were heavy, and then used our Track and Ring Conditioner (we carry this product) to even out all areas. Lastly, we use Terra-Sorb, a product that we carry to help hold water in the footing.
Terra-Sorb works best with dirt mixtures, but not well with footings that are made up of wood products and rubber products. It lasts between 8 months to a year! We make sure that the arena is conditioned (leveled) as needed to keep it in good shape. This way, it does not take long to be back in the saddle and riding, no matter what the weather is like!! I hope this helps you. If you have further questions, feel free to email again. Good luck and enjoy riding often!!