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What type of footing do YOU have in your indoor?

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  • What type of footing do YOU have in your indoor?

    And do you like it?

    We are building an indoor and researching footing options. Would love to hear some COTH opinions on indoor footing.

    A few facts:
    -Indoor will be used for flatwork and jumping
    -This is a small private facility (5-10 horses), so while the indoor will get used regularly, it will not get the amount of use of say, a large lesson barn.
    -We will not be installing a sprinkler system, but have a watering system for the back of our gator to drive around and water the ring.
    -We live in the New England, where the temperatures stay below freezing in the winter.

    Would love to hear opinions on what you like, what you don't like and what you would have done differently in your indoor.


  • #2
    Spring for the dust-free footing (plastic-coated sand w/ carpet fiber). No sprinkler system in the world keeps down dust. In the heat of summer it dries so fast that once/day doesn't cut it, and in winter it's too cold.

    With that said, you don't need a full 3". Start with 1.5 - 2" and you can always add more. Seems like people always over-buy (or places over-sell). Every boarding farm I know has a pile of excess footing somewhere on the property.
    "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince


    • #3
      I have 2" of sand, not BEACH SAND - which is round, but angular sand.
      Sand is over a 9" bed of compacted, crusher-run gravel - pieces about 1-2" diameter.
      It's just me, so no track has formed yet and minimally used (I discovered I really prefer riding outdoors to the arena).
      I have jumped in there - nothing huge - maybe 3'.
      I'm happy with the footing and some day I may even try raking it.

      I have wet it to keep down dust - especially when it was first put in - but like retorfit said: you really can't keep up with it in the heat and when it's freezing out you don't want ice to form where water may puddle.
      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


      • #4
        My barn has what they call hogsfuel... But it's not what I have usually seen called hogs fuel, which is the large chunks of wood. Ours is finely chipped to the point where it is basically dirt with very small pieces of wood. It is an absolute dream to ride on - the perfect amount of cushion and spring. It's by far my favorite footing I've ridden on. My BO's run a high end barn - they don't spare expense on anything and this is what they chose after consulting with many professionals. It's not a super high-tech fancy footing and it's not even close to the most expensive option but it is absolutely fabulous. If I ever get to put in an indoor/covered at home it is definitely what I will use.


        • #5
          I have stone dust with the hopes of adding rubber - Lightfoot. If you can afford coated sand with lightfoot that would be my perfect footing as I have ridden on it at show facilities.
          Epona Farm
          Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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          • #6
            White cedar mulch over a firm, well draining base.


            • #7
              frozen footing would be quite a challenge... my guess is some additive that does not clump or stick together when damp.
              Do other arenas in your area use a chemical for dust control?

              One place I bought was frozen all winter. The footing seemed great ... till it thawed. It was patchy with wet spots/ dry spots, a total disaster. My opinion would be keep it dry as possible, unless you have alot of layered rock base for drainage.

              Nobody likes the dust on top but water has to go somewhere... don't wreck the base !
              Can a footing really be Dust FREE???? I've never seen it myself.
              I think only a synthetic product could be, on top a synthetic base ?


              • #8
                I would recommend sand or sand and rubber, treated with Mag Chloride to keep the dust down. The Mag will also keep the footing from freezing. Watering a ring (unless it is tiny) with a gator pulled water tank would be an exercise in futility. Do a little research on how many gallons of water it takes to wet 2 inches of footing--it's a lot. Plus, obviously your water tank and your footing will freeze in the winter. And, assuming you are able to get enough water down, you will end up with wet spots. Much better to use a footing additive to keep dust down. If you use rubber, be sure to use a vulcanized product.


                • #9
                  All mag chloride does is lower the freezing point, to allow you to water all winter.

                  Of course, if your sprinkler system or hoses are all frozen, this doesn't help.

                  It doesn't do squat for dust if the footing is dry.
                  "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince


                  • #10
                    I grew up in the Boston area and now have a barn with indoor in the upper midwest. Dealing with the climates would be very similar. We may get a few degrees colder on a regular basis than you and have a few occasions of single digit to outright frigid temps in the winter.

                    My barn sounds similar to yours; small, private - 7 horse, mostly dressage, a bit of low level jump schooling - 2'6" to 3'. I absolutely love, love, love my indoor and its footing. Base is well packed road gravel, topped with 6" well packed diamond dust (may have other names in other parts of the country, but it's what they make baseball diamonds out of), topped with 2 inches of angular (known as 2NS in these parts) sand - angular being the key, beach or lake sand is too round to give the hoof the needed support. Base was professionally graded and packed then allowed to weather a year to insure no frost heaving before we built the indoor over it. (If I had run out of $$$ the plan would have been that I had a great outdoor, but I am lucky and have both now.)

                    To control dust, I water as needed with one of those sprinklers on extended legs that makes a 35 foot circle. Set sprinkler, go clean a few stalls; reset sprinkler in other half of arena, do a few more stalls. Finish other barn chores. Drag arena after water has percolated down a bit. All done - VERY EASY. Watering time may be anywhere from 1/2 hour to 45 minutes total with hardly any work on my part. Usually water once a week or less. Occasionally if it has been very windy I may need to water more frequently (barn & arena were built with good ventilation in mind.)

                    To prevent freezing we spread a bit of mag chloride about this time of year, water and drag well. Don't water too much or the Mag leaches out of the footing. The Mag tends to draw moisture/humidity out of the air so the arena needs very little watering in winter. Round about February we seem to get one of those very dry cold spells for maybe a week. The arena will get a bit dusty then, but just about every year that cold is followed by a short February "thaw" - temps in high 30s maybe low 40s for a day or two. At that point I "make hay when the sun shines" and water and drag arena well again and its good to go for pretty much the rest of the winter. If needed, I do pay close attention to the above freezing days now & then to top off a bit of sprinkling, but it takes very little. I also do drag the arena as needed even though I may not have watered.

                    Do your homework. Get a contractor that will listen to exactly what you want. Also listen to what they might suggest. A good one knows their materials and can be very helpful. Spend the $$$ to get it right the first time. I spent far less than some others around me - most cut corners the first time and are now spending more to fix or redo.

                    After 6 years of steady use I would do it exactly the same way again. I'm so happy with the way it turned out.

                    Good luck & enjoy.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by retrofit View Post
                      All mag chloride does is lower the freezing point, to allow you to water all winter.
                      We use CALCIUM chloride at the quarry and it's pretty effective for dust control.
                      It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mosey_2003 View Post
                        We use CALCIUM chloride at the quarry and it's pretty effective for dust control.
                        This. I don't have my own arena, but I will tell you about a friend's. She has quartzite sand (angular and a bit abrassive) and the first year had a company spray on cal chloride. It was fantastic, except they oversprayed a bit and soaked it too much. After a week or so of drying it was perfect and there was no dust all winter (and no watering).

                        Last year she tried Mag Chloride and wasn't as happy. I haven't talked to her lately, but I'm guessing she is going back to the Cal Chloride. Based on seeing her ring, I would use the Cal Chloride. We didn't have any hoof/dryness issues, btw.
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                        • #13
                          Sand. I water and drag every other week or so. Gets ridden on maybe 7-10 times per week. This will be our first winter using the indoor and I plan to use a Sprinkler as needed.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by retrofit View Post
                            All mag chloride does is lower the freezing point, to allow you to water all winter.

                            Of course, if your sprinkler system or hoses are all frozen, this doesn't help.

                            It doesn't do squat for dust if the footing is dry.
                            This is incorrect. Mag Chloride is hygroscopic, meaning that it takes up and retains water. Both Mag Chloride and Calcium Chloride pull water out of the air and into your footing, keeping your footing moist without watering.

                            As a bonus, both Mag Chloride and Calcium Chloride also lower the freezing point of water and will keep your footing from freezing.

                            The down side is that these salts can be mildly corrosive, potentially increasing the wear and tear on your arena grooming equipment. Theoretically they also might be harsh on hooves and skin, however both are very commonly used for arenas without ill effects. In outdoor arenas they will wash away and need to be reapplied. In indoor arenas, it is possible to over-apply.

                            Calcium Chloride is typically less expensive than Mag Chloride.


                            • #15
                              The standard for arenas up here has become some sort of manufactured footing like travel light or ggt.
                              Basically it's some combination of silica sand, fiber and vaseline.
                              This footing never needs watering, ever. It rarely needs harrowing in a low use arena and does not compact. The horses move beautifully on it.
                              The problem with watering, in any amount, is that is ruins your building. That is the main reason, other than ease of maintenance, that most people here in the colder climate are switching. The condensation in the winter from the water in the footing is just really terrible on the structure of the building, even with additives like MgCl and CaCl.
                              Since you are in Boston you should look into travel light, they are out of NY.
                              Good luck with your arena!


                              • #16
                                I rented a farm for almost two years with an indoor with lovely footing. It was just plain (angular) sand, coated with Mag Cloride. I never watered the indoor even once when I was there. There was no noticible dust. I harrowed it weekly with a chain harrow and that was it. The Mag Cloride like someone said above, pulls moisture from the air, so it wouldn't work if you were somewhere like Arizona probably, but worked awesome in the Mid-Atlantic area where we have humidity even in the winter. One day when we own our own place, if we can ever afford an indoor, it'll get sand, a touch of rubber, and Mag Chloride.



                                • #17
                                  I don't have a barn but have been in many. Do yourself a favor and spend the money on the dust free. What you save in dollars with other methods you loose in time and trouble. It is not just the watering but the time it takes you to clean your indoor and barn because the dust flies around the building. You can always add more footing if you start light.

                                  I am that boarder that can't stand the dust and don't mind paying more to not deal with having to complain to the barn owner about the arena not being watered enough. Dust free is a big selling feature when you are looking for a place to board.


                                  • #18
                                    hi RedmondD. - what type of supplier did you obtain this from and how much did it cost - thanks!


                                    • #19
                                      The barn I'm at has put in new footing last year that is fantastic! It's sand with carpet fibers and wax mixed in. No dust, doesn't get "hard", keeps its cushion even when packed down along the rail. Great for flat work and jumping!


                                      • #20
                                        Cedar mulch. It can get pretty dusty, so it needs to be watered quite a bit. Plus we haven't really had much luck with dragging it. Seems that some places it clumps up in big piles and others it drags away too much and reveals the base. I love riding on it though. Just enough cushion. I'm not sure how it would be for jumping, but it works great for flat work.
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