One of the first factors to consider when refurbishing an arena surface is what exactly is the current surface composed of? The reason for this being of such importance is because if it is something like bark or mulch, then you may be able to simply spread it onto a field. However, if you have a preexisting surface of rubber or plastic granules then a cost for disposal will likely come into play, this can get very expensive very quickly. Most people will have a grab wagon collect their old surface at a general cost of £250 per 18 tons of material removed from your arena. A typical 20m x 40m arena will likely have a total of 150 to 250 tons of surface to be removed, this could cost for disposal approximately of £3500.
That considered we can now look towards the actual works to be carried out; An excavator in excess of 6 tons is ideal to rook up the old surface, ready for loading and disposal. Be careful to have your excavator operator not include the old non-woven geotextile membrane in with the old surface, this should be disposed of separately. What we are wanting to achieve is taking the arena down to its original stone base.
Whilst you have the arena down to the aggregate it is always a good time to replace old kick-boards, posts and rectify any faulty drainage issues.
Once you have rectified and replaced any of the other needed parts of the arena it is now time to lay a new non-woven geotextile membrane. This membrane is an absolute must as it prevents cross contamination between the aggregate and the riding surface. Various grades of membrane are available depending on the arena use and the amount available to spend. Most membranes will come in rolls of around 450m2. We would advise that when laying you do so along the longest length of the arena and with no less than a 300mm overlap. The membrane should be stapled at one end to the kick-board and before being rolled out towards the opposite end of the arena. If you do not staple it and the wind gets under the membrane it will carry it away like a parachute and you will a very hard job trying to position and lay it without any creases. As the roll is being laid you should deposit small sacks that have some weight to hold down the membrane, whilst you lay the next section. These steps should be repeated until you have covered the whole arena and where the membrane overlaps should be glued, stabled or taped together.
Factors That Will Be Specific To Your Refurbishment Project:
  • Time of year – Most works are carried out during the warmer, dryer months of the year.
  • Access – How able are machines to access your arena? Can HGV’s and other delivery vehicles gain access?
  • How will you dispose of your old riding surface?
  • What is your budget for materials and new surface?
  • What timescale do you have to complete the refurbishment?


You should now to ready to import the new surface. Be careful! Make sure your contractor understands that they cannot drive any machinery on the newly laid membrane, as the scrubbing action of tyres or track will likely tear apart or crease it. All plant machinery at this point should be off the arena. It is generally best to work into the arena starting at the access gate, laying the first bag/ load of surface, having the excavator level it out and then track onto the levelled out area. Having the second bag laid a little further into the arena, having the excavator once again level out the surface. Continue this process until you have worked your way throughout the whole arena and it is now safe to have machinery back on, should you need it.
In many cases the first levelling out of the surface will be quite rough/ uneven. The excavator operator will usually start from one corner of the arena and have one pass over the entire area to give the surface the desired finish.