Base Options for Horse Arenas

Having your own riding arena can save money in the long run.
Having your own riding arena can save money in the long run. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Having your own riding arena can be extremely convenient and in the long run, can save time and money by allowing you to practice riding or have lessons at your own facility. Regardless of what base you use the material should be easy to compact, allow for excellent drainage and applied uniformly to create a level base for your footing. It should also be 4 to 6 inches thick. Your arena base material will commonly be the same type of base that is used to support roads in your area.


Stonedust might be called something else in your part of the country -- white or blue stone, decomposed granite, limestone screenings, or rockdust. The finer stonedust that is difficult to compact may also be used as top-footing material; any stonedust you use for your base will need to compact well. If stonedust is used as a road base in your area, it likely compacts well enough to be used for your arena base.

Road Gravel

If you are contemplating using road gravel as a base, make sure it is a smaller size, preferably three-quarter inch but no larger than 1 inch. Large gravel cannot compact enough, and you do not want rocks to come up through the footing in the arena. Check with your supplier and ask about dense graded base course or traffic bond which is designed for use in road construction. Gravel is sometimes used to help prepare a sub-base below your base.

Make sure your gravel compacts well to use as an arena base.
Make sure your gravel compacts well to use as an arena base. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Crushed or Recycled Asphalt

Crushed or recycled asphalt may be less expensive in your area than another base product. It may also be referred to as RAP – recycled asphalt product. It compacts similar to limestone screenings so is a good option for your arena base. Recycled asphalt is becoming more common in road construction so you should be able to find a local supplier.

Crushed Concrete

Crushed concrete is another suitable arena base material. It is generally less expensive than limestone material. Crushed concrete can be significantly compacted, to as much as 95 percent, which is well within the recommended compaction for arena base. Another name for crushed concrete is clean crushed concrete.

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