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Shouldn't you be considering synthetic surfaces for your arena?

Improving your arena

Shouldn't you be considering synthetic surfaces for your arena?
Shouldn’t you be considering synthetic surfaces for your arena?

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]xtreme weather conditions inevitably put added pressure on your arena surface. Common problems are that surfaces become too deep, and in the case of sand-based surfaces, dry and dusty. If your surface is suffering, don’t automatically assume that it’s a case of facing the expense of entire replacement. Replacing the whole surface is of course always an option, although you will still need to check your base is in good enough condition before doing so. However, it is not always essential and certainly not always within an individual’s budget. What you may be able to look at, instead, is equestrian ménage surface enhancements or refurbishment.

Topping up with a sand-based surface and adding a fibre

This is an option if your surface is sand-based but does not have a coating. If you can’t afford to replace the entire surface and the base of the school drains freely, it may prove cost-effective to:

  • re-grade and level existing sand.
  • bring up to recommended depth suggested by the footing company with a good binding sand.
  • add in a fibre of your choice as per the instructions of the footing company or employ the services of a reputable contractor to do this for you.

In researching the different fibres available, you may choose our CLOPF fibre.


If your surface is waxed, it may be an option to re-wax. However, you will need a specialist consultation and the surface may require lab analysis before specific recommendations can be made. There are two re-waxing options available:

  • Re-wax in situ using mobile specialist equipment.
  • Lift and re-wax at site. However, it is worth noting that this option may only be commercially viable for larger surfaces such as training gallops and racecourses.

Introduce additives

Adding fibre will aid stability and energy return to your horse’s limbs

Adding fibre will further improve the ‘root structure’ of the surface, thereby aiding stability and energy return to the limbs of the horse. If your current surface is sand-based, Martin Collins have developed a new, cost-effective, long-lasting, original, performance fibre that is the perfect solution for surface enhancements, called CLOPF fibre.

It is worthwhile considering adding CLOPF to your surface as it:

  • provides root structure (acting in a similar manner to grass roots in turf).
  • enhances the surface stability, allowing the horse to work more ‘on top’ of the surface rather than ‘through’ it.
  • improves surface performance.
  • provides more cushion.
  • increases water retention.
  • provides excellent value for money.
  • is laboratory-proven to be environmentally sound.

Every CLOPF surface we sell comes with a free maintenance DVD and we provide customer follow-up.


Wax-coated riding surfaces are dust-free (provided that the maintenance procedure is adhered to), have a very good climactic tolerance, and do not require an irrigation system. It is worth noting that Martin Collins’ synthetic horse riding surfaces are not coated with oils or petroleum jellies for three important reasons:

  • Some oils can wash through the surface and render the underlying base impervious.
  • They are susceptible to melting in the warmer weather causing inconsistent ‘going’.
  • Neither oils nor petroleum jellies have the same lifespan as a wax-coated surface and will therefore require re-coating much sooner.
The wax-coated EcoTrack at Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre
The wax-coated EcoTrack at Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre


Non-coated riding surfaces require more maintenance than those with a wax coating. For optimum performance, an irrigation system is essential. Once a surface has dried out, it can ride deep and can quickly become unlevel. However, this can be rectified with specialised machinery.

Care advice for all synthetic riding surfaces

Martin Collins surfaces are sold to provide an average compacted depth of approximately four inches when laid. Some others are sold uncompacted so that, when laid, the depth can be reduced by two inches (50mm). The following advice applies to all surfaces:

  • It is important that your new surface is kept both level and evenly compacted. If any hollows, dips or tracking appear, these should be corrected by hand-raking prior to grooming the surface.
  • Horses must have clean feet and legs prior to being worked in the school; likewise, when grooming the surface, it is very important that the tractor has clean tires so contamination is not brought into the school.
  • Horses should have their feet picked out prior to leaving the arena.
  • Fences should be moved frequently, and take-off and landing pads hand-raked before the stands are put away.
  • It is important that any organic matter (droppings, leaves and so forth) is not allowed to remain on the surface. It will cause the wax to dry out prematurely – if waxed, the surface could become dusty and the drainage ability of the school could be reduced.
  • If you lunge on the surface, we suggest that you ‘walk lunge’, as this helps to prevent a ‘doughnut’ appearing on the surface. Lunging or liberty work is likely to require additional maintenance. Ideally, build a dedicated lunge ring to save your treasured new surface.
  • We do not recommend using the school as a turn-out area. Should this be necessary, all feedstuffs must be fed off the ground, and droppings, hay and spilt feed must be removed as often as possible.
  • Care should be taken when using a maintenance machine with deep tines, as these could damage the separation layer and drainage blanket.


The full article appears in the November issue (116) of HQ > Shop now