How to Construct an Equestrian Arena
This entry was posted on July 8, 2015.
The total cost of a typical 40m x 20m equestrian arena is often in excess of £10,000; however whilst the cost of geotextiles represents a small fraction of this overall cost, they do play a vital part in the performance and longevity of the riding surface and can potentially affect the performance of the arena dramatically if you make the wrong choice.
Geotextiles have only started to be used in equestrian applications fairly recently – approximately 15-20 years ago. Previously, they have been used in civil engineering applications, and it was no doubt somebody with this type of experience who first thought of using them in the construction of horse arenas!
So if you are thinking of building your own horse arena or need some tips on equestrian arena drainage check out our tips on geotextiles below:
Equestrian Lunges, Arenas and Gallops
The majority of horse arenas built in the U.K. are approximately 40m x 20m which is generally adequate for most domestic arenas, however commercial arenas tend to be two or three times this size to accommodate more than one lesson taking place at the same time.
The below image shows a typical cross section through an arena with two separate layers of geotextile, i.e. one at subsoil level below the drainage stone layer and one on top of the drainage stone layer immediately beneath the riding surface. These two geotextiles need to have very different performance properties as they are doing two very different jobs:
Subsoil Drainage for Horse Arenas
At subsoil level the geotextile is required primarily to act as a separator between sub-grade and drainage stone, ensuring that the graded aggregate is not contaminated by fines from the riding surface and remains in-situ and preventing migration of the drainage stone within the sub-grade. Rhyno GW8118 woven geotextile is ideal for use at subsoil level since it provides good separation characteristics as well as class leading economy. Rhyno GW8118 should be laid up the side of the excavation/kickboards to prevent sideways migration of the stone however you also need to allow enough material to line any drainage trenches if you have them.
The aggregate used should be clean and hard; i.e. it should not contain material which could break-down and block the drainage system. The overall depth of the drainage stone layer should be a minimum of 300mm to allow machine access over the area. Furthermore, the depth of aggregate layer should not be less than two times the size of largest stone being used (i.e. if a stone greater than 150mm size is used). This way the risk of transferring direct pressure point loading onto the geotextile is reduced.
The geotextile to be used beneath the riding surface also acts as a separator, but more essentially prevents small particles that form the riding surface (e.g. silica sand) from being lost down into the aggregate layer below, as well as allowing free drainage to avoid the arena becoming waterlogged.
Fiberforce - Horse Arena Drainage Supplies
Fiberforce non-woven geotextiles are the most suitable for horse arenas which is why we recommend them for use within equestrian arenas in the UK as they have the best combination of pore size and flow rates of all the geotextiles we supply.
Most silica sands produced for equestrian use will provide consistent long term drainage and avoid compaction, however regular maintenance of the surface is vital to ensure that the cover level above the geotextile membrane is maintained to a level that protects it from rupture due to direct impact from horses’ hooves. For advice on silica sand riding surfaces we recommend contacting Mansfield Sand on 01623 622441.
When laying the final layer of the Fiberforce geotextile layer on top of the drainage stone (below the riding surface) it is best to lay it in full roll widths down the longest side of the arena. This gives the most cost effective way of constructing the most popular size (40m x 20m) of horse arena.
It is also best practice to lay the geotextile in such a way so as to minimise the laps which are generally in the longest dimension. We advise laying the geotextile in parallel strips with a minimum 300mm overlap for best results.
If you need help with this or any other type of horse arena drainage project it may be best to create a drawing showing the roll pattern for your arena depending on the grade/roll size used. These are available for standard 40m x 20m and 60m x 30m arenas.
Finally, when overlapping the Fiberforce geotextiles (we recommend a minimum 300mm overlap) it is possible to glue the laps or to weld them by using a hot air gun. The minimum grade of geotextile that is hot air weld-able is the Fiberforce Premium grade however you must not use a flame welder or any naked flame as this will simply burn the Fiberforce.
Fiberforce grades are as follows:
If you need any further guidance or want to talk through your requirements further please contact Drain Depot on 01793 422040.
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