Last Modified: April 1, 2024

Equestrian Rubber Chippings

Durable, All-Weather Safety

Close up of horse's hooves standing on eqestrian rubber

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist

Overview

The equestrian sector has seen a tremendous improvement in safety since the use of rubber for arena surfaces materialized. From traditional sand to recycled rubber equestrian chippings, the industry has been fast-evolving. Equestrian rubber, primarily sourced from recycled rubber tyres, has the ability to withstand outdoor elements, particularly the cold, making it a common choice for riding arenas.

When discussing equestrian surfaces, equestrian rubber chippings stand out. They provide a durable all-weather surface for canter tracks and on the riding arena, ensuring minimized leg concussion risks. Plus, they're cost-effective. But what exactly is this wonder material?

This material ensures excellent equestrian surface drainage, making puddles a thing of the past. But what makes rubber mulch such a popular surface? Let's find out.

Horse arena with rubber chippings. Jpg

A Diversity of Options for Rubber Equestrian Surfaces

When making a selection about a surface substrate that is suitable for various uses, there are many aspects to consider. Primary factors include the number of horses utilising it, the types of discipline, and budget. However, additional considerations such as drainage, underlying ground composition, and whether the arena is indoors or outdoors will contribute to the ultimate decision.

Nevertheless, its overall benefits often outweigh these drawbacks, making it a practical choice for many seeking long-lasting and inexpensive surface materials suited to varied weather conditions.

The Benefits of Equestrian Rubber Chippings

A rubber-based covering demands minimal upkeep, reducing the problems of water-logging or drying out. Rubber is devoid of dust and won't blow away in strong winds, making it an excellent choice for outdoor arenas. However, they are generally not advisable for indoors. During sweltering summer months, the equestrian rubber chip can heat up, resulting in an unpleasant leaching of gases. Let's take a look in more detail.

Close up of grey rubber chippings

Excellence in Durability: Equestrian Arena Footing

From providing safer surfacing to preventing surface harshness, rubber's role in riding arenas cannot be overstated. Their ability to withstand wear and tear while ensuring horse safety makes them an industry.

The Durability of Equestrian Rubber Chippings

Above all else, equestrian rubber chippings are known for their almost unlimited life-span and superior durability. Whether it's resisting cross winds or ensuring a firm grip, they can perform in the harshest conditions.

An All-Weather Companion with Great Drainage

Sun or frost, using shredded rubber for horse arena surfacing will mean you wont lose valuable riding days to frozen riding grounds. Also, drainage issues are of no concern due to the permeability and structure of equestrian rubber chippings.

Horses in a field. Jpg

Comparing Rubber Chippings to Other Materials

Chipped rubber, made to a coarse grade with the use of a specialised granulator, have emerged as able to provide a durable equestrian arena footing, given the benefits and low maintenance requirements. Rubber combined with silica sand offers a resilient and extraordinarily long-lasting surface, particularly suitable for outdoors and jumping.

Rubber crumb, a finer version of rubber chippings, also finds its uses in various equestrian applications, from horse walkers to training gallops. However, its non-biodegradable nature does make disposal difficult and, especially in hot conditions, it can emit unpleasant odors in the hot weather. There's also a risk of the presence of foreign objects like metal wire.

With a number of innovative and traditional options out there, let's take a look at some of them in a bit more detail.

Wax Coated Surfaces

Certain surfaces that remain unfrozen during the winter season are those that have been treated with a wax coating. This wax coating serves a crucial purpose by effectively amalgamating the surface materials, consequently minimizing the extent of surface shifting. Furthermore, this protective wax layer plays a significant role in preventing the surface from accumulating dust and warding off excessive drying during the summer months.

Although the initial installation cost of these wax-coated surfaces might be higher, they ultimately prove cost-effective in the long run due to reduced maintenance needs, thereby leading to savings on irrigation and watering expenses.

Silica Sand

There is a phenomenon known as the "emery board effect" which commences immediately upon installation, as it undergoes a natural grinding process against itself. Over time, as hooves interact with it, the sand gradually refines and deepens. Sand, when used as the sole surface material, is also not suitable for all-weather conditions because it is prone to freezing during the winter months. It will generally require periodic watering during dry spells to perform best. Sand is expected to last around 5 years, coming in also as the cheapest by far.

It's worth noting that while silica sand was once the primary choice, a blend with equestrian rubber chippings yields many benefits, including minimal maintenance and safety, that make the combination a more appealing option today.

Wood Chippings

Wood chips and wood fibre are versatile materials suitable for a wide range of equestrian applications, both indoors and outdoors. These materials can be effectively employed in arenas, including those for various equestrian activities such as gallops, lunging rings, turn-out paddocks, and horse-walkers. Generally, they are well-suited for use in equestrian disciplines across the board.

Among all the types of arena surfaces available, they exhibit the lowest level of durability and last between 4 - 10 years. Additionally, wood chip surfaces can become slippery as they dry out, necessitating frequent watering.

Need to work out how much equestrian rubber chippings your arena or equine project needs? Try our free chippings calculator.

The Advantages of Rubber Chip over Wood Chips

Rubber chip offers several advantages over wood chip, primarily its longevity. With no need for annual replenishment, unlike wood chip, because it does not decompose. Further, equestrian rubber chippings don't blow away, and offer a better level of protection for equine feet.

Horse enclosure with rubber chipping surface. Jpg

Safety Profile of Equestrian Rubber Chippings

Prioritizing Safety: Minimising Leg Concussion Risk

Safety is paramount. Using rubber for horse arenas, especially equestrian rubber chippings, provide superior cushioning, and thus can reduce leg concussion risk. There is also a lower likelihood of skidding when horses land, due to the added traction they offer.

Also, rubber is likely the most comfortable surface to land on for riders, and their beasts, in the case of all-to-common falls.

Ideal for Cold-Climate Conditions

Equestrian rubber chippings resist frost to around -5 degrees and protects the surface against cross winds giving riders an adequate, all-year-round riding surface, that minimises slipping.

Practical Applications of Equestrian Rubber Chip

While it's easy to sing the praises of using equestrian rubber chippings, it is crucial to note that they must be complemented with a suitable base - usually silica sand, as the optimal choice. Show jumping and outdoor applications seem to be the best applications.

Ideal for Outdoor Riding Arenas

Outdoor riding arenas benefit immensely from rubber surfaces. Whether it's for dressage or general training, rubber ensures optimal performance. For training gallops, rubber offers the perfect blend of grip and cushioning, ensuring optimal performance.

Show Jumping

When rubber chippings are blended with silica sand, it can create a resilient and comfortable surface, just what horses need for jump arenas. The unique properties of rubber directly make it a superb insulator against frost due to its impermeable nature, and it retains its durability without the decomposition issues associated with wood fibre.

Nonetheless, there are some drawbacks to using rubber in such applications. One major concern is its non-biodegradable nature, which makes disposal a challenge. Additionally, during periods of high temperatures, rubber surfaces can emit undesirable odors. Another potential issue is the risk of contamination from foreign objects like metal fragments. Despite these disadvantages, the overall benefits of rubber-silica sand blends often make it a practical choice for creating resilient and long-lasting surfaces in various settings.

“Rubber surfaces are not only environmentally unfriendly, as the rubber used is not biodegradable, but they can also become dry and loose in hot weather,” says Becky. “There are a number of versatile synthetic surfaces on the market today which are ideal for most types of equestrian disciplines without the downsides of rubber.”

Field with horses

Maintenance

No matter which type of surface you opt for, numerous well-established companies are available to offer valuable guidance on selecting the ideal surface that aligns with your specific requirements and personal preferences. Proper maintenance of your chosen surface is crucial for its longevity and performance.

With equestrian rubber chippings, you can expect very little maintenance. Its durable nature ensures it remains in top condition, requiring leveling or occasional top-ups. One effective strategy to ensure your arena remains in optimal condition for an extended period is by consistently clearing manures to prevent contamination.

Equestrian arena with rubber safety surface

Purchasing Rubber for Arenas

Rubber Arena Surface Prices

Rubber provides an inexpensive surface material suitable for many conditions, especially when bought in bulk. It offers excellent value for money without compromising on quality.

Buying in Bulk: Advantages of Bulk Bags

Buying rubber chippings in bulk bags is not only cost-effective but also ensures a consistent quality product for your arena.

Delivery Expectations: What to Anticipate?

Expect quick deliveries, especially when ordering in bulk bags. Providers ensure your rubber chippings reach you in perfect condition.

Chippings bulk bag on a pallet. Jpg

Summary

Equestrian rubber chippings, with its vast array of benefits, has undeniably made its mark on the equestrian world by offering safer, more durable, and economical solution than traditional materials used for riding arenas. Its ability to provide an all-weather surface, minimize leg concussion risks, and require minimal maintenance have made it popular among hobbyists and professionals, alike.

However, like all materials, equestrian rubber chippings aren't without drawbacks. Its non-biodegradable nature poses environmental concerns, especially when it comes to disposal, which can be very expensive. During the hotter seasons, they can release undesirable odors that can be quite off-putting. Furthermore, the sourcing of rubber, especially from recycled tyres, can include the presence of foreign objects like metal fragments, necessitating rigorous quality checks for the safety of both horse and rider.

Ultimately, the climatic conditions, and the type of discipline should be strong determinants of the overall benefit equestrian rubber chippings can convey, but when used right, they are hard to beat!

Smiling horse showing teeth. Jpg

FAQs

What is equestrian rubber?

Equestrian rubber is specially processed rubber, ideally suited for use in horse arenas and other equestrian applications, ensuring optimal performance and safety.

Is rubber mulch safe for horses?

Absolutely! Rubber mulch is non-toxic and offers a cushioned surface, reducing leg concussion risks for horses.

How much does a 20x40 arena cost?

Typically a 40m x 20m riding arena will require approximately 20 tonnes. The cost of a 20x40 arena varies based on location, materials used, and labor costs. However, with rubber mulch as the surface material, it's an economical yet high-quality choice.

Is rubber footing good for horses?

Yes, rubber footing provides a safe and comfortable surface, ensuring minimal injuries and optimal performance.

What do you put under rubber chippings?

Typically, a base layer of compacted crushed stone or similar is placed under rubber chippings to ensure proper drainage and stability.

What rubber for dressage arenas?

Equestrian rubber chippings are ideal for dressage arenas. They offer the right blend of cushioning and grip, ensuring a superior riding experience.

There are many options available for your project. Check out them out!

About the author 

Ben Parrot is a landscape gardener and amateur geologist. He is the founder of Outdoor Aggregates, with the mission to create the first encyclopaedia for decorative aggregates. From natural stone through to decorative bark, these aggregates are critical to garden and landscape design, universally.

The problem: There isn't any place where all the different types of decorative landscaping materials and construction aggregates can be found, nor are the specifications of each type readily available. So, enriched by his extensive experience, and inspired by the timeless elegance and raw beauty of stone and rock, etched by nature's artistry over millennia, Outdoor Aggregates was born.