So you’ve decided that sand is your footing material of choice. In this article, we’ll discuss standards for arena sand (also known as equestrian sand). We’ll also talk about which sands Tacoma- and Seattle-area arenas like best at Washington Rock Quarries.
Arena Sand Standards
Getting the right material for your horse arena is all about safety, safety, safety.
According to Horse Stable and Riding Arena Design by Eileen Fabian Wheeler, the perfect arena surface “should be cushioned to minimize concussion on horse legs, firm enough to provide traction, not too slick, not too dusty, not overly abrasive to horse hooves, resistant to freezing during cold weather, inexpensive to obtain, and easy to maintain.”
Wheeler recommends that the sand you use should
- be washed and evenly graded to reduce dust;
- not be too angular so it doesn’t compact and not be too round so it doesn’t roll;
- be medium to coarse;
- be mined and not manufactured;
- be durable enough to last up to 10 years; and
- contain no more than 5-10% fines (passing through a number 200 screen).
Remember that these guidelines are for a perfect-case scenario, but what you ultimately choose will depend on the resources in your area and your personal needs. See the “Resources” section for links to articles with more information.
Understanding Sand Terminology
Fines: very small particles. Fines help materials compact but can also make materials dusty or dirty.
Graded: when sand is put through a specifically chosen set of screens to attain a certain distribution of sizes.
Evenly Graded: when the majority of particles are within a limited size range.
Washed Sand: sand is washed with water using special equipment, which removes some dust-creating fines.
Angular vs. Subangular vs. Round: angular means the edges are sharp while subangular means that the edges are blunted. Angular products will pack down more because the pieces fit together like a puzzle. Rounded products will not pack as well and will roll more. So subangular is a compromise between these two extremes.
Silt: material less than 0.074 mm in size. 0.074 refers to the size of holes on a #200 screen. Any material that passes through this screen is known as silt.
Washington Rock’s Arena Sand Options
The reality is that the type of sand you choose varies widely based on the exercises your horse will be doing, whether your arena is inside or outside, and whether you’ll use an additive along with the sand (like wood chips or a binder). The best way to determine which sand you want is to request a sample and feel the products for yourself.
Here are a few different sands that customers commonly use for horse arenas, with a description of their properties:
Fairway Top Dressing Sand (921-3)
A fine, washed sand that is commonly used on golf course fairways. Very uniform with no particles above 1/10 inch. Ranges from subangular to subround. Typically contains 0–1% fines.
WSDOT refers to a standard created by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Class 2 Sand is a coarse, washed sand with particles up to ¼ inch in size. It ranges from subangular to subround. It typically contains
A fine, washed sand that is finer and dirtier than Fairway Top Dressing sand. No particles above 1/8 inch. Subangular to subround. Typically contains 1.5–3% fines.
Manufactured Sand (937-3)
100% fractured sand. Angular, washed sand that typically contains 1–2% fines.
How Washington Rock’s Sand is Made
Washington Rock’s mined sand comes from natural deposits at King Creek Pit in Orting, Washington. The sand is sent through a machine that shakes it through a set of screens to create products of different sizes. Then, if needed, the sand is sent through a wash cycle to remove some of the fines that make the product dusty.
Our manufactured sand is made from crushing rock until it’s very small. It is 100% fractured, making it angular. It is washed and graded similar to mined sand. It’s better for those who want good compaction.
Combining Arena Sand with Other Materials
Sand is a great choice for horse arenas because it can be combined with topsoil, wood chips, rubber, and other materials to create the ideal surface.
For example, topsoil or wood can be combined with our sand to improve moisture retention. Rubber can be added to increase padding for horse hooves.
Other Horse Facility Materials
We supply road base for arena foundations and horse paddocks as well as sandy loam for horse pastures.
Recently we published an article about a horse farm who uses our ¼” minus Trail Mix gravel for both their horse arena and their event venue. The article includes a paddock recipe for the rainy Pacific Northwest. Check out our video about the project below.
Please let us know if you have any other needs in terms of rock, sand, and soil.
- All About Equestrian Sand
- Riding Arena Footing Material Selection and Management
- A Horse Farm Turned Wedding Destination: The Hidden Farm
Need a quote or sample? Send us a message through our Contact Us Page. We serve the Puget Sound area but also ship bulk specialty products throughout the U.S. and to U.S. territories.