Levi Reeves - May 4, 2023

Horse Arena Fabric 101

Ahorse riding arena offers a controlled environment where both horse and rider can train, practice, and compete. A well-designed and maintained arena can significantly improve the performance of both horse and rider, ensuring their safety and comfort. In this article, we will discuss the critical aspects of horse arenas and the importance of choosing the right arena fabric.

These arenas can be found in various sizes and can be located indoors or outdoors. The primary purpose of a horse arena is to provide a safe, comfortable, and stable environment for both horse and rider to improve their skills and practice different disciplines.

Horse Trotting in Arena

Quick Summary

What is it?
Horse Arena Fabric is geotextile fabric that is used for separation and drainage in outdoor and indoor horse arena applications.

Why use it?
The fabric helps separate the base soil layer from the top layer of sand or other materials, while also provide high drainage capabilities.

How to install it?
Clear the area, level the soil, roll out the fabric and secure it down, and then cover sand or other appropriate materials.

The base, footing, and surface of a horse arena play a crucial role in its overall performance.

  • The base, usually made of compacted subsoil or aggregate, provides a stable foundation for the footing layer.
  • The footing, composed of various materials such as sand, rubber, or wood chips, is responsible for cushioning the horse's hooves and minimizing the risk of injury.
  • Arena fabric separate these two surfaces.

Arena fabric, also known as geotextile fabric or equestrian fabric, is a critical component of a high-performance horse arena. It serves several essential functions that contribute to the overall quality and durability of the arena surface.

The primary reason arena fabric is used under the footing in horse riding arenas is to provide a stable and durable base. By placing the fabric beneath the footing, it serves several essential functions:

1. Separation: The arena fabric acts as a barrier between the base layer and the footing, preventing the two layers from mixing. This separation ensures that the footing remains consistent, allowing for better performance and safety for both horse and rider.

2. Drainage: Proper drainage is crucial for maintaining a safe and functional riding surface. The arena fabric allows water to pass through while preventing the footing material from being washed away, keeping the arena surface dry and safe for use.

3. Stabilization: The fabric's placement beneath the footing provides additional support and stability for the upper layer. This helps to minimize shifting and movement of the footing, ensuring a more even and predictable surface for horse and rider.

4. Longevity: Using arena fabric under the footing helps to extend the lifespan of the arena. It does this by reducing the need for frequent maintenance and providing a more consistent riding surface, which ultimately leads to less wear and tear on the arena's components.

Leveling Out for Horse Arena

Horse Arena Construction

Indoor Horse Arena

Horse Arena in Building

Types of Arena Fabric

When it comes to arena fabric for horse riding arenas, there are two primary types to choose from: woven and non-woven. In this section we will discuss the benefits of each type to help you make the best choice for your arena.

Woven Fabrics

Woven fabrics are made by weaving individual threads together to create a tight, durable, and stable fabric. The main drawback of woven fabrics is they allow much less water through compared to non-woven fabrics.


  • Strength and durability: Woven fabrics are known for their strength and durability, thanks to the tight weave. This makes them less prone to tearing, puncturing, or stretching under the weight of horses and equipment.
  • Stabilization: The tight weave helps to keep the footing material in place, preventing it from shifting or becoming uneven over time.
  • Drainage and separation: Woven fabrics offer excellent drainage and separation between the footing and the base layer, ensuring a consistent riding surface and reducing the risk of water pooling or mud formation.

Fabric for Beneath a Horse Arena

Looking for a heavy duty, yet permeable non woven geotextile for placement underneath a horse arena? Weighing in at 6 oz / sq. yd. our professional-grade arena fabric is reinforced and can handle the weight of horses, sand and topdressing but is also permeable allowing for water to drain through. 

View Fabric

Non-woven Fabrics

Non-woven fabrics are created by bonding fibers together using heat, chemicals, or other methods. This type of fabric offers its own set of benefits for horse riding arenas.


  • Ease of installation: Non-woven fabrics are easier to install, as they can be more forgiving when it comes to measurements and cutting.
  • Adaptability: Non-woven fabrics can conform to irregular surfaces better than woven fabrics, which can be beneficial for arenas with uneven terrain.
  • Filtration: Non-woven fabrics provide good filtration, allowing water to pass through while preventing the mixing of footing and base layers.
  • Longevity: Non-woven fabrics are typically more durable than woven fabrics, which means that they can last for many years with proper maintenance. This can be a cost-effective option for arenas that see heavy use.
  • Reduced Maintenance: Non-woven fabrics has a property that it avoids formation of ruts or uneven areas. The result is that they require less maintenance. This can be particularly beneficial for larger arenas or arenas that are used frequently.
Horse Arena Fabric Under Sand

Sand in Horse Area

Non Woven Geotextile Fabric Texture

Equestrian Fabric Texture

Factors to Consider When Choosing Arena Fabric

Selecting the right arena fabric for your horse riding arena is crucial to ensure the safety and comfort of both horse and rider. When evaluating your options, it's essential to consider several factors, including drainage, durability, traction, maintenance, and cost. Let's delve deeper into each of these factors and explore additional considerations to help you choose the best arena fabric for your needs.

A well-designed arena fabric should facilitate proper drainage to prevent pooling and standing water on the surface. The presence of excess water can lead to various issues, including slippery or muddy conditions, which can increase the risk of injury for horses and riders. When choosing a fabric, look for one with excellent water permeability and air circulation to ensure that the arena surface remains dry and safe.

The durability of the arena fabric is crucial for maintaining the performance and longevity of the riding arena. A high-quality fabric should be able to withstand constant use and resist wear and tear from horse hooves and equipment. When comparing fabrics, consider the material's strength, tear resistance, and overall lifespan to ensure you select a durable option that will stand the test of time.

The amount of maintenance required for your arena fabric is another important factor to consider. Some fabrics may need more frequent upkeep, such as raking or watering, to maintain their optimal performance. When choosing a fabric, consider the time and effort you're willing to invest in maintaining your arena and select a product that aligns with your maintenance preferences and schedule.

Proper Installation and Maintenance of Arena Fabric

Proper installation and maintenance of arena fabric are crucial for ensuring the optimal performance of your horse riding arena. The arena fabric is installed between the base and footing layers, playing a significant role in enhancing the arena's drainage, durability, and overall longevity. In this section, we will discuss site preparation, installation, and maintenance of the arena fabric to help you achieve the best possible results.

Site Preparation

Site preparation is the first step towards ensuring a successful arena fabric installation. Before starting the installation process, consider the following steps:

  • Evaluate the site: Choose a location with good natural drainage or consider adding drainage systems as needed. Ensure the area is level and free from any debris, rocks, or vegetation that could interfere with the installation process.
  • Base construction: Construct a stable and compacted base layer with appropriate materials, such as crushed stone or compacted earth. This layer should be well-drained and provide a solid foundation for the arena fabric and footing layers.
  • Measure and mark the area: Accurately measure the dimensions of the arena and mark the boundaries. This will help you determine the amount of arena fabric needed and guide the installation process.
Horse Walking on Dirt

Horse Walking on Sand

Equestrian Jumps

Jumps for Equestrian Use


Once the site is prepared, follow these steps to install the arena fabric:

  • Roll out the fabric: Unroll the arena fabric over the prepared base layer, ensuring it covers the entire area. Be sure to overlap the edges by at least 6-12 inches to prevent gaps and maintain proper drainage.
  • Secure the fabric: Place temporary staples or weights on the fabric to secure the arena fabric to the base layer. This will prevent the fabric from shifting during the installation of the footing layer.
  • Install the footing layer: Carefully add the footing material (such as sand, rubber, or wood chips) on top of the arena fabric. Apply the footing layer evenly and at the recommended depth for your intended riding discipline and arena usage.


To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your arena fabric, proper maintenance is essential. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your arena fabric in good condition:

  • Inspect regularly: Periodically inspect the arena fabric for any signs of damage, such as tears or holes. Promptly repair any damage to prevent further issues and maintain the effectiveness of the fabric.
  • Maintain footing depth: Regularly check the footing depth and redistribute the material as needed to maintain a consistent depth across the entire arena. This will help prevent uneven wear on the arena fabric.
  • Address drainage issues: If you notice any pooling or standing water in your arena, investigate and address any drainage issues promptly. Proper drainage is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the arena fabric and the overall performance of your riding surface.
  • Keep the area clean: Remove any debris, such as leaves or sticks, from the arena surface regularly. This will help prevent damage to the arena fabric and ensure a safe riding environment.
Freshly Raked Sand

Sand Raked at Equestrian Arena

Galloping Horse in Arena

Horse Galloping in Arena

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Arena Fabric

While choosing the right arena fabric is crucial for a horse riding arena's success, it is equally essential to avoid common mistakes during the installation process. Here are the most prevalent mistakes to avoid:

Incorrect Installation

Installing arena fabric correctly is crucial for obtaining optimal performance and longevity of your equestrian arena. Mistakes made during installation can lead to issues such as inadequate drainage, poor traction, and increased maintenance. Below are some common mistakes to avoid when installing arena fabric.

Insufficient Site Preparation
Failing to properly prepare the site can result in uneven surfaces and poor drainage. Ensure that the area is leveled, compacted, and graded to promote effective water drainage.

Using the Wrong Type of Fabric
As mentioned earlier, it is essential to choose the right type of fabric based on factors such as drainage, durability, traction, and maintenance. Using the wrong fabric can lead to issues with the arena's performance.

Incorrect Fabric Overlap
When laying multiple sheets of fabric, it is essential to overlap them correctly. Insufficient overlap can lead to gaps, allowing the sub-base and footing materials to mix, while excessive overlap can lead to uneven surfaces.

Inadequate Securing of Fabric
Properly securing the fabric to the ground is crucial to prevent shifting or bunching. Use appropriate anchors or staples and ensure they are spaced at regular intervals along the edges of the fabric.

Equestrian Practicing

Equestrian Practice Area

Poor Quality of Sub-Base and Footing Materials
Using sub-par materials for the sub-base and footing can compromise the performance of your arena. Choose high-quality materials that provide adequate drainage, stability, and cushioning.

Inconsistent Footing Depth
An uneven footing depth can lead to inconsistent riding surfaces and increased maintenance. Ensure a consistent depth across the entire arena by using proper grading techniques during installation.

In conclusion, the selection and installation of the right arena fabric are crucial for the safety and success of any horse riding arena.