How to Choose The Right Horse Arena Sand Depth for Jumping

So you’re building or rehabbing a jumping arena and you want to be sure you have the right amount of footing. Since sand is popular and affordable for most riding rings, that’s your go-to. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and has enough spring to protect your horse’s legs…if you have the right footing depth and type.

And that’s where it gets tricky…

If you want footing that provides a protective cushion for your horse, then you’ll need the right depth of sand in your arena. High impact disciplines, like jumping, require more shock absorption in the footing to protect joints and dampen the force of impact, and that means you’ll need a deeper layer of sand in your ring.

But if you’ve ever ridden in sand that’s too deep, you’ll know deeper isn’t always better. Footing that rides too deep, is more fatiguing for your horse, and can lead to soft tissue injuries from straining through the deeper sand.

So, how do many of the upper-level jumping arena footings consist of 4+ inches of sand, yet the horses stay right up on the surface instead of sinking in too far?

The key here is to start with a sand that has the right characteristics for the job, combined with the right additive and proper maintenance.

Gray horse landing in deep footing

Pro Tip: Dry sand will always feel deeper and looser than wet sand. So, moisture is key to preventing footing from becoming as shifty!

Common Arena Sand Depth Misconceptions

  1. Having a lot of sand means that it’s going to be too deep – this will be true if the sand is not the right type or if it is allowed to get too dry. With the right sand type, additive and maintenance, the arena footing can be installed quite deep, to provide better cushion and shock absorption, but it won’t actually ride deep.
  2. A shallow sand depth of 1-2 inches will be a more stable footing – In this scenario, it may appear that the horse is traveling on the surface of the footing, but he’s essentially just riding on the base, and getting little to no support from the sand whatsoever. Sand that’s too shallow is more jarring and causes excess wear and tear on your horse’s joints. It is also not good for the longevity of your arena’s base.
Horse jumping on optimal footing

What is the Correct Horse Arena Footing Depth for You?

With a quality sand, combined with the right additive, a jumping arena sand depth can easily be a compacted 4” deep, without riding deep, which offers the best shock absorption for upper level jumping.

If you’re only training at the lower to mid levels, then a 3” compacted footing depth can be sufficient.

Depending on its specific characteristics, with a less suitable sand, you may be limited to a <2.5” footing depth, which is only suitable for light work.

Getting the most ideal sand for the job when starting out can save you a lot of headache in the long-run and allow you to install the most optimal depth for the level you’re riding at. The higher impact the work in the arena will be, the more critical this is.

Our experienced team of specialists can assist you with finding the right sand to purchase for your arena or evaluate and consult with you on enhancing an existing sand footing.

How Do TruTex Additives Help When Installing the Correct Jumping Arena Sand Depth?

To achieve the best of both worlds; enough stability and grip combined with enough cushion and shock absorption. This is where TruTex Footing products come in!

Mixing TruTex additives into sand further enhances and stabilizes the footing, making it possible to keep the horse closer to the surface without giving up the cushion that having a deeper sand provides.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about horse arena sand depth and picking the right type of sand for your arena.

Pro Tip: To avoid frustration and costly mistakes – make sure you get the sand evaluated for the job prior to purchasing!

Not all sand is the same. Some sands are capable of producing much better footing properties than others so finding a sand type with the right characteristics at the outset is a HUGE advantage.

Learn more about how to find the right sand for your riding arena.

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