Maintaining an arena is not always easy. Depending on how much traffic you get a day on your riding ring, you could potentially be grooming it every few days. I want to take a look at the cost of maintaining a sand arena.
For this price breakdown, we are going to assume the following scenario: you have an average 66 x 130 indoor arena with 5 horses a day on the footing. With 5 horses a day, you will have to drag every other day from the ruts and holes that appear. You own a newer compact diesel tractor that has 40hp and a 5ft arena groomer. It takes you 45 minutes to groom your arena from start to finish. You ride year round in your indoor arena.
If you groom your arena for 45 minutes every other day, it equals out to spending 8,213 minutes or 137 hours a year grooming your arena. If you are paying a farm hand to do the work, say minimum wage, (here in New York, minimum wage is $9) you would spend $1,232 paying your farm hand to groom the arena. On top of the time and wages to groom the arena, you also have to pay for gas for the tractor to groom the arena. For your newer (5 year old) compact diesel tractor to work this arena all year with diesel fuel at $2.40/gallon; you would spend $493 per year. Total grooming maintenance per year for your sand arena: $1,725.
Now that number is just looking at grooming the footing. The other issue you deal with in any sand arena is dust. We can take a look at both watering your arena and using Magnesium Chloride Flakes, which seem to be the other popular options. You could get a sprinkler system installed, which is thousands of dollars up front, but then you are still using hundreds of gallons every time you water your footing. Another option is to hand water your arena with just a long hose. Again you are using hundreds of gallons of water to accomplish this, but then you are spending roughly an hour watering the arena. You would have to hand water it every four days, and if you pay a farm hand to do that it would be $821 in wages a year. If you have a well you have to be conscious about how much water you use so that your well doesn’t go dry, and if you have city water, you have to pay per 1000 gallons you use; which can add up pretty fast if you’re constantly watering an arena. Many people use Magnesium chloride flakes to fight dust in their arenas. Magnesium chloride flakes are roughly $20/bag. For your 66×130 arena, you would need two pallets, or 96 bags; totaling in $1,920 for your arena. These would have to spread and then mixed into your footing. Magnesium Chloride has to be continually added to your arena, therefore forcing you to spend more money all the time to fight the dust.
Instead of worrying about the cost of maintaining a sand arena, switch to an arena footing that will never have to be watered and will remain dust-free! You not only save lots of time and money not worrying about your footing being watered, but you also save on maintenance. We have many customers say that they only have to drag once a month! The sand, fibers and wax create a stable surface that supports your horse in every stride it takes, while not moving too much to the point where holes and ruts are created. Although synthetic footings are pricier up front, but you will save both time and money over time as our footing continues to out perform traditional sand footing.