Help! Choosing an arena surface?

Starzaan

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We are currently building a new outdoor school, and are looking at surfaces. Ideally we want a sand and rubber mix to prevent freezing - much as I love fibre and sand mixes they do freeze and we need to be able to use it throughout the winter.

I'm looking for any advice at all - what not to do, who not to go for, or a surface you've used and loved. Anything would be greatly appreciated. I want to get this right!
 

giveitago

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We have sand with wire casing rubber on top. It works fab, quite soft but not deep.

Spend your money on drainage, the less water in the surface the less it will freeze.
 

Mainland

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Good advice. Drainage is key. If you haven't got good drainage it doesn't matter what surface you use. Surfaces can't freeze without the presence of water. Therefore, the more water you can remove the less likely the surface is to freeze.
 

AdorableAlice

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My very lovely and generous neighbour invited us to ride on her brand new Flexi Ride arena yesterday.

Despite rain of biblical proportions falling on it over the last few days it was totally dry. The horse, an unbalanced youngster went beautifully on it and we were very impressed with the surface.
 

ThePony

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Get smaller bits of rubber if that's the route you decide to take - when ever we've ridden on schools with the larger strips one of our mares has really saved herself and gone terribly - I think she feels a slight slip when she puts her feet down and it knocks her confidence.
We occasionally school at Top Barn sometimes - amazing in that it never rides 'wet' if you see what I mean, and I can't imagine it would ever freeze, but it is a bit of a dead surface. It looks like a sort of carpet/foam/rubber mix.
 

Starzaan

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Thank you all for your replies.

Having done some research it looks like a sand and fibre mix will be the way to go rather than sand and rubber. Our drainage is almost finished and is fantastic - the guys have done a brilliant job bless them, despite all the rain. We're in Gloucestershire, very close to Malmesbury which is one of the areas most affected by the flooding, and although we have major floods all over the rest of the estate, the school has remained bone dry despite the drainage not being finished.

As far as I can see, the most recommended surface in everything I've read if "Clopf" by Martin Collins. Has anyone got any experience with this? The MD of Martin Collins is a neighbour, but I think he would probably just try and sell it to me regardless (understandably).

It's a minefield.
 

Gingerwitch

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not wood chip !

Also look at investing in a bunker rake or a quad.... save driving anything heavy onto your arena, when its all laid, as this is when the majority of the damage will get done

apart from that all i would suggest is you pop to a few yards around your area and ask them for advice.... you see what works in some areas does not work in others especially the sand - dont start me on sand, each area calls it something different and depending where you get it from in the uk it has a whole load of differances/

You are right it is a mindfield
 

Polos Mum

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If you speak to the big suppliers they will give you names and numbers of local people who have their surface for you to go and have a look at - I'd recommend this as some surfaces seem to behave differently with different kinds of sand and the suppliers will always get the sand closest to you (cost of transport) so a surface that's well recommended in one area might not work well in another. I got a very well recommended one and I hate it - really wish I'd have gone for my second (cheaper) choice that I've ridden on locally and works well!
 

Starzaan

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That's a really good idea - thank you. I shall go on a surface tour tomorrow!

We have a quad already which we'll be using to harrow it, but I'm holding off buying new harrows until we know what surface we'll be putting down.

I want someone else to decide for me. This is too stressful! It's not even like it's just me who'll suffer if I get it wrong.... all my liveries are depending on me...
 

scribble

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We have sand and rubber on the arena at the yard (rubber is small strips and chopped up car door seals etc and it never freezes and rides beautifully. horses really bounce off it and love it.
 

Auslander

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Thank you all for your replies.

Having done some research it looks like a sand and fibre mix will be the way to go rather than sand and rubber. Our drainage is almost finished and is fantastic - the guys have done a brilliant job bless them, despite all the rain. We're in Gloucestershire, very close to Malmesbury which is one of the areas most affected by the flooding, and although we have major floods all over the rest of the estate, the school has remained bone dry despite the drainage not being finished.

As far as I can see, the most recommended surface in everything I've read if "Clopf" by Martin Collins. Has anyone got any experience with this? The MD of Martin Collins is a neighbour, but I think he would probably just try and sell it to me regardless (understandably).

It's a minefield.
We have Clopf, and its a fabulous surface! Closest thing to riding on perfect grass that I've come across. I'm very fussy about what I'm happy to ride Alf on due to his dodgy legs, but have no hesitation about working him in our school. It's just perfect...
 
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Based on my experience - avoid Flexi ride. I researched all the surfaces and thought flexiride ticked all the boxes. But soon after it was laid we discovered it was contaminated with sharp pieces of shredded metal (1 to 2 inches). It took 9 months of hassle and struggle to get it resolved with Equestrian Direct. they even claimed it was safe to use with the shredded metal in it! :mad:
 

Mainland

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Provided the correct quality checks are made we find you can't go wrong with good old Sand and Rubber. There seems to be a thing with the equestrian market where companies try to find the most weird materials to use for surfaces because they think it makes it a better surface when in actual fact it doesn't but they can charge more IMHO.
 
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I have martin collins sand and clopf. Surprising has only frozen once this year and was only the top. Ran the harrow lightly over it and worked the horses fine! I love it

First time riding in it a couple of weeks ago :D It is much more mixed now. Provides a firm ride and it fine to lunge and lose jump on :)



Sorry my toes are sticking out! Lazy 4 year old wouldnt go straight or forward haha
 
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Starzaan

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Thank you for your help everyone. We went for Clopf in the end and it's being laid as we speak - I shall report back when I've ridden on it!
 

LynH

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Starzaan, did you just use Clopf with sand or with wax too? My friend has the waxed Clopf surface which is amazing but way out of my budget for an arena at home. Did you buy the Clopf and mix it yourself or buy it ready mixed from MC?
Thanks
 

shadowboy

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The yard I am at had sand and rubber and it froze a couple of weeks back when it dropped to minus 4. It didn't go like concrete but no one rode on it as the rubber fragments were a bit like stones
 

Starzaan

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Starzaan, did you just use Clopf with sand or with wax too? My friend has the waxed Clopf surface which is amazing but way out of my budget for an arena at home. Did you buy the Clopf and mix it yourself or buy it ready mixed from MC?
Thanks
We went for sand and Clopf (no wax) and mixed it ourselves. We're very lucky that the managing director of Clopf lives on the estate so he was able to recommend the best sand for our area etc.

They're really helpful, and it's an amazing surface. We're very flooded at the moment, and it's a struggle to get off the estate to drive to the nearest town for food, but the school is bone dry!
 

LynH

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I like the sound of Clopf but have read quite a few people have had to wet it in the summer. Not a problem this year but hopefully we won't keep getting wet summers. I'm trying to decide between Clopf, Flexi-ride or Combi-ride.
 

Oliver12

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I've narrowed it down to these choices also. I won't be able to do my school for another year or so and would be grateful if you let me know which one you chose in the end and how you got on with it.

Thanks.
 

LynH

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I have to make a decision by Friday and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go for Flexiride as it's low maintenance, doesn't need watering in summer and I've found miles more positive reviews than negative.
I ruled out rubber as the arena will be very near our house and I was worried about the rubber smell on a hot day as well as the environmental issue of disposing of it if I ever need to get rid of it. Also I've found it rides quite deep in dry weather.
It's always a bit of a gamble so fingers crossed I've made the right choice.
 
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