Soooooo my hubby and I put in our first arena together about four years ago. We have a decent base that drains very well and nice granite for sand, washed of course. There is very little dust, and the few pros that i have had over seem to like it and compliment me on the footing. I went with suggestions to start with less footing and add as needed....well I think we are officially there. I have always felt that the footing was too shallow and planned to add more in the future- the 'more' being the same type of sand I already have. But I have run into an option to make the addition out of rubber. I like a lot about rubber. Mostly I like the thought of my older arthritic gelding being more comfortable. But, I have a few questions about the type of rubber to use! The rubber that I'm looking at is very fine for what I have seen in person-equal to my sand particles, has anyone used this small of a particle? And if you already have rubber, what do you dislike about it?
We have a rubber/sand mix in our outdoor and I love it! Ours is little 1/4" chunks. It has given my 24 old TB years back, he looks great in our arena working w/t/c and little jumps, even though he has told me that he doesnt want to do trails anymore (doesnt like hard ground). I feel really good about starting our babies on it, too. When it gets super wet, I do have to drag after to remix a bit - the sand tends to settle down to the bottom and the rubber will sit on top. I've heard some people complain that if you have rubber footing at home that a horse's movement feels 'flat' at shows without rubber footing, but I have not had this issue at all. An arena a bit away from us has rubber as well, but the super fine stuff. It is lovely to ride on as well. It think the finer stuff is supposed to be better but I've been so happy with ours, I would put it in again with no hesitation.
We have 1/2" of crumb rubber mixed with 1 1/2" sand. Our rubber is 1/4" also. I really like the footing. Ours did wash out of the arena with a very heavy, prolonged rainfall. We had to shovel it back in and then we put up a barrier - I won't go into detail here but would be happy to share our experience if you would like.
It floats to the top when it rains, and we drag to mix it back in. Riding on it will mix it back in too though. We drag regularly anyway, so it isn't a big deal.
I think you would be happy with it. Be aware that it comes in huge sacks that weigh a ton, yes, a real ton. We had to rent a forklift in order to take delivery of it and to spread it. If you can find it in smaller sacks it would be much easier. Forklifts aren't inexpensive to rent.
We put in a sand mixed with rubber shavings many years ago and always loved it. I really want to add more rubber but our local supply dried up when the county forced the old tire processer out. Where do you get your rubber?
Not sure where you guys are, but we get our rubber from Mahatango. You can google it. It does float to the top but dragging takes care of remixing it. One thing we have found is that you need to be careful with your hoof care. We have some horses with deep clefts and close heel bulbs and they would tend to pick up rubber pieces that would stay lodged in these areas. The rubber would cause abrasion which was very painful. Getting everyone in the habit of picking their horse's feet carefully before and after each ride was an easy solution for the problem horses but it is just something to be aware of.
I do arena footing consulting as part of my business, plus have rubber in my own arena (several sizes over the years). I am currently working with a recycler dispersing the 1/16" crumb rubber from artificial turf athletic fields. I like it a lot - better than the 1/4" crumb, which is the smallest I could find previously in this area. The smaller the crumb size, the more pieces of rubber will be mixed in between the sand grains per cubic inch, and the deeper it will settle in. Especially with outdoor arenas, settling down into the sand will keep a higher percentage from floating in rainstorms.