Quantification of sand-based arena surface characteristics


Norman Hayward Fund



Research Period


Area of study



Investigator(s): Carolyne Tranquille

How do the surface characteristics of three different sand-based arena surfaces change with different maintenance techniques in the UK?

A recent epidemiological study, carried out by the applicants, demonstrated that there is a link between arena surfaces and lameness in the horse. Arena maintenance has been highlighted as protective against injury in a variety of equine disciplines. Sand-based arenas are the most common surface type in the UK (2121/2532, 77%) and previous data has shown that superficial harrowing and watering of sand-based arena surfaces significantly alter the mechanical properties of the surface. The applicants were involved in optimising the arena surface for the equestrian events at the London 2012 Olympics, and testing throughout the event.
The main outcome of this project is to provide advice on maintenance schedules of sand-based arena surfaces. We hypothesise that deep-harrowing and rolling will significantly alter the mechanical properties of sand-based arena surfaces. The results of this study will enable us to provide immediate advice on arena maintenance schedules, which will decrease the risk of injury, and improve the welfare of horses and ponies.


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