Last Modified: April 1, 2024

Rubber for Horse Arenas

Equestrian Rubber Chippings

Equestrian rubber close up

By Ben Parrot - Landscape Gardener & Amateur Geologist


Are you looking for an eco-friendly surface for your riding arena that combines safety, comfort, and durability? Using rubber for horse arenas offer these benefits and more, such as the need for very little maintenance.

In this article, we will explore rubber arena surfaces; what equestrian rubber chippings are, their advantages, installation, and maintenance, as well as alternative surface options, and how they compare to other surfaces in terms of cost and benefit. Giddy up!

Key Takeaways

  • Key Benefits of rubber chip surfaces includes all-weather safety, comfort and longevity.
  • Considerations for establishing new arenas have an important bearing on the choice of surface.
  • Alternative surface options include waxed, sand and rubber, rubber crumb, and chopped rubber.
  • Correct Installation and maintenance of all equestrian rubber chippings surfaces is essential.
Indoor horse arena with raked chipped rubber

What is the Best Surface for an Equestrian Arena?

The best surface for an equestrian arena depends on the specific discipline and the local climate conditions. Commonly favoured surfaces include: wood chip; a blend of sand and waxed geo-textile additives; and, rubber chippings with sand. They offer different levels of stability, cushioning, and drainage.

Equestrian Rubber Chippings as a Surface

Shredded rubber for horse arena floors are made from automotive tyres that are re-purposed to create chipped rubber. Using a specialised granulator results in a coarse grade of chipping, typically about 20mm in size. They provide a durable, low-maintenance surface for riding arenas and horse walkers.

However, in many cases they can't be used in isolation, although there are some options. Generally, rubber chippings must be laid on a minimum base 100mm of silica sand, followed by 50mm of rubber chippings, in order to create a firm, safe and stable surface.

Durable All-Weather Surface

One of the main advantages of using rubber chips for horse arenas is their ability to withstand various weather conditions. They can resist frost temperatures up to -5 degrees, making them an inexpensive surface material suitable for year-round use. This durable all-weather surface ensures that your riding arena remains usable even during the harshest weather conditions.

Equestrian Surface Drainage

Proper drainage is vital for a safe and optimal equestrian riding surface. Equestrian surface drainage encompasses methods like perforated pipes and gravel-filled trenches to manage water on riding arenas, ensuring performance, safety, and durability. With a heavy duty membrane installed, equestrian chippings complement these drainage systems,  providing a consistent riding surface even during rainfall.

Understanding Equestrian Rubber Chippings

Equestrian rubber chippings, derived from recycled tires, offer a cushioned and stable riding surface, with chips measuring between 8-20mm and being 99% wire-free for the safety and comfort of horse and rider. Besides ensuring a quality riding experience, they promote an eco-friendly approach by using believed to be non-toxic, recycled materials, aiding in reducing our environmental impact.

Horse resting its head on a wall. Jpg

Rubber Horse Arena Surface: Key Benefits

Using rubber for horse arenas, particularly in colder climates, presents multiple advantages. These include heightened safety and comfort for horses, superior frost resistance, suitability in all weather conditions, and impressive durability. Notably, rubber chippings lower the risk of leg concussions, favouring the overall health and performance of horses.

Minimising Leg Concussion Risk

Minimising leg concussion risk is crucial for the well-being and performance of horses, as such injuries can result from falls. Equestrian rubber chippings cushioning qualities provide added protection for horses, including their feet and tendons, reducing leg concussion risks.

Inexpensive Surface Material

Rubber chippings, although initially more costly than alternatives like sand or wood chips, are a cost-effective choice for equestrian surfaces due to their durability and low maintenance. Their versatility allows them to be combined with other materials, ensuring a tailored cushioning and stability, ultimately offering both flexibility and cost savings for users.

Enhanced Comfort and Safety

A key advantage of rubber chip surfaces is the comfort and safety they provide for both horse and rider. The benefits include:

  • Minimising the risk of leg concussion and other injuries due to the cushioning effect of rubber chippings.
  • By trotting on rubber directly it reduces the risk of slipping.
  • Resistance to frosty cross winds giving riders a safer surface year round.
  • Reduces surface harshness, providing a more comfortable ride for horses

By opting for a rubber equestrian chippings surface, your horses' added well-being and safety will translate into more enjoyable riding.

Low maintenance

Equestrian rubber chippings surfaces are favoured for their low maintenance, as they don't decompose or blow away easily, ideal for busy equestrian venues or those desiring minimal upkeep. Regularly loosening hard-packed spots and leveling deeper zones using tools like a flat bar harrow and sprinkler ensures the surface's longevity and optimal condition. Annual replenishment is not generally required.

Environmentally Friendly

Rubber chippings, crafted from recycled rubber, offer an eco-friendly option for equestrian surfaces. Re-purposing old tires minimizes waste, taps into existing resources, and benefits the environment. Furthermore, they're mostly non-toxic, don't emit chemicals (except in hot weather), and aid in dust reduction, enhancing the air quality.

Equestrian rubber chippings under a galloping horse. Jpg

New Riding Arenas

When constructing new outdoor riding arenas, it’s important to consider the recommended quantities of rubber chippings for optimal performance. Ensuring that you have the correct amount of material in your arena will result in the best surface.

When selecting the best surface for your arena, the following factors should be considered:

  • the number of horses that will use it
  • the discipline it will be used for
  • budget
  • drainage
  • whether it is indoors or outdoors.
Outdoor horse arena with a horse and its rider

Recommended Quantities

The amount of rubber chip needed for an arena is contingent on its size and the intended depth of the surface; a 20 x 20m arena requires around 10 tonnes, while a 20 x 40m arena needs about 20 tonnes. These guidelines can help estimate your approximate requirements.

Need to work out how much rubber chip your arena project needs? Head over to use our free, handy calculator.

Horse Arena Installation

Proper installation and upkeep are essential for the durability and efficiency of equestrian rubber chippings surfaces. For a riding arena to be correctly constructed and maintained, it requires a minimum depth of rubber chippings, and a base of sand, preferable silica sand.

How deep should rubber be in a horse arena?

The suggested depth of equestrian rubber chippings for a riding arena is 50mm (2 inches), providing a durable equestrian arena footing. For a typical 40m x 20m riding arena, approximately 20 tonnes are required to provide a comfortable equestrian rubber chip surface. This guarantees a safe and stable riding environment, regardless of the weather.

Geo-textile Membrane

Before installing any kind of rubber chippings in your horse arena, it is vitally important to lay a high quality, non-woven geotextile membrane. Due to the demands that will be required of it, the recommended thickness of the fibre should be a minimum of 300gsm, but 500gsm would be ideal and offer a more durable and long-lasting result. It would be installed between the sand and the sub layer in order to prevent the sand from mixing with the sub base layer.

Laying Techniques

Before installing rubber chippings in an arena, ensure that the fencing and drainage stones are properly positioned. Laying techniques involve evenly spreading the rubber chippings across the arena's surface using tools like a shovel or spreader. Following this, a harrow or rake is used to incorporate the chippings into the arena's surface, for creating a dense and robust riding area.

Topping Up Your Arena

Periodically, arenas might require additional top ups of rubber chippings to maintain their optimal performance. Occasional topping up with a bulk bag ensures the surface maintains its desired depth and consistency. For a uniform riding experience and to prolong the lifespan of the surface, it helps to use rubber chippings that match the type and quality of the existing surface.

Horse running over equestrian rubber safety surface. Jpg

Alternative Equestrian Surface Options

While a sand arena surface can offer several benefits, it is also worth considering alternative options when determining the best choice for your specific needs. Some alternative options include waxed surfacing, sand and rubber mixtures, rubber crumb, and chopped rubber. All have their many benefits and here are some considerations for each.

Waxed Surfaces

  • With durability, support, cushioning, and energy return, waxed surfaces are apt for professional training to leisure use.
  • Waxed surfaces resist freezing in cold weather and reduce irrigation needs in warmth, ensuring year-round usability.
  • Offer a consistent performance regardless of weather, making them ideal for professionals depending on regular indoor arena use.
  • Comprised of multi-washed silica sand, eco-friendly synthetic fibres, and varying wax amounts.

Sand and Rubber Arena Surface

  • Sand and rubber mixtures create a cushioned surface suitable for riding and jumping.
  • Installation and maintenance is comparable to equestrian rubber chippings.
  • Provides excellent drainage and durability.
  • Choice depends on budget, preferences, and needs.

Equestrian Rubber Crumb

  • Made from recycled vehicle tyres, it offers superior cushioning and insulation.
  • Suitable for various weather conditions.
  • An alternative to equestrian rubber chippings.
  • Selection depends on cost, texture preference, appearance, and specific requirements.
  • Laid directly onto a drainage, stone layer - giving huge savings on groundwork, drainage and membrane installation.
  • A minimal amount of sand can be added through the top as an option to create a firmer ride.
  • Suitable in all weather conditions.
  • Offers benefits like low maintenance, reduced risk of leg concussion, and durability.
Horses in a field. Jpg

What is the cheapest horse arena surface?

The cheapest horse arena surface is sand, by far, although it is the least durable. However, over the long run, it really depends on factors such as material costs, installation, and maintenance requirements. While equestrian rubber chippings may not be the cheapest option upfront, they offer cost effective prices long-term, due to their durability and low maintenance requirements.

Arena Surfaces To Consider

A careful evaluation of the costs and benefits of the various surface options will guide you in making a decision that best aligns with your needs and budget, including:

  • Sand and rubber chippings mixture
  • Rubber crumb
  • Waxed surfaces
  • Wood chip
  • Sand
A countryside landscape with a raked outdoor equestrian enclosure

Comparing Costs and Benefits

When selecting the best surface for your equestrian area, it is important to compare costs and benefits to determine the optimal choice for your specific needs. Factors to consider include:

  • Initial material costs
  • Installation expenses
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Expected lifespan of the surface
Equestrian rubber chips with obstacles

Delivery Options

Suppliers offer delivery either on a lorry tipped straight into your arena or in 1-tonne bulk bags, making it convenient for you to receive your equestrian rubber chippings and start enjoying their benefits.


In conclusion, equestrian rubber chippings offer numerous benefits, including durability, comfort, safety, and eco-friendliness, making them an excellent choice for your riding arena surface, especially in cold climates. By considering factors such as drainage, installation, maintenance, and alternative surface options, you can make an informed decision that best meets your specific needs and preferences.

Indoor horse arena with rubber safety surface for equestrian. Jpg

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best surface for an equestrian arena?

For the best equestrian arena, it is recommended to avoid using bark as this surface will not last long and will absorb more water. Other surfaces are more suitable for exercises such as gallops, lunging rings, turn-out paddocks and horse-walkers. Rubber is best suited to outdoor arenas and can be used for all disciplines.

What is equestrian rubber?

Equestrian rubber is an economical and durable surface material designed for various uses, such as outdoor riding arenas, training gallops, canter tracks and horse walkers. It offers a quality and safe, non-toxic footing solution at a cost-effective price.

Is Rubber Mulch Safe For Horses ?

One concern that may arise when considering rubber mulch for your riding arena is its safety for horses. The good news is that rubber mulch made from recycled tyres, and should be free of wires in order to be deemed suitable and safe for horses.

What are equestrian rubber chippings made of, and how are they produced?

Equestrian rubber chippings are produced by shredding automotive tyres into pieces, providing a safe and effective surface for horses.

How deep should rubber be in a horse arena?

Equestrian rubber chippings should be around 50mm (2 inches) deep in a horse arena.

We have more information about rubber chippings available for your equine or landscaping 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.