Why are membranes important for horse arenas?
Standing water can lead to areas that become slushy and sloppy which is dangerous in equestrian arenas as it will affect the ride quality for both the rider and the horses and lead to soft spots in the ground. Furthermore it can lead to the sub layers not performing as they should due to damage caused by the water build up. This means that the correct drainage and geotextile membranes need to be installed or you could have a problem on your hands!
What are geotextile membranes?
Simply, a geotextile membrane is a layer of material that will separate different types of aggregates and stop them from mixing together. In the case of a horse arena, the membrane will separate the sand from the sub layers beneath, stopping the sand from slowing disappearing over time.
There are several different types of geotextile membrane, firstly there is the non woven membrane which is allows water to pass through, this is usually used underneath the sand but above the drainage pipes underneath. Next there is woven membrane, which is cheaper, but doesn’t allow for drainage. This is usually installed at the bottom layer as drainage isn’t required as the water will be taken care of the by the underground drainage pipe.
If you need any further information on geotextile membranes you can check out our blog post: Geotextile membranes explained.
Which Membranes are available?
There are different brands, types and weights of geotextile membrane. The most commonly known brand is Terram, but there are many other brands such as the Lotrak brand we also keep in stock. Then there are different colours, white and black. White usually denotes a non woven membrane (which allows water to pass through quickly) and the black membranes are usually woven (meaning that water doesn’t pass through as quickly). Next is the weight – the membranes are sold in grams per square metre (GSM), the higher the number the heavier (thicker and stronger) the membrane is. Usually in a horse arena you’d require 300GSM membrane as a minimum as there is obviously a lot of heavy traffic going over the top of it.
The basic rule is 100GSM for a temporary riding area, 200GSM for a light use riding area, 300GSM for a medium use riding arena and 500GSM for a permanent heavily used arena.
Usually when building a horse riding arena you would use a black woven membrane on the base layer, and a heavier white non woven membrane for the upper layer that the sand will sit on top of.
What do they do?
Basically they separate aggregates, stop the loss of aggregates, stabilise the ground and allow water to pass though without letting particles pass through which could block the drainage system underneath. It’s a totally necessary component of any horse arena construction as without it the drainage will soon become blocked, the sand will become waterlogged and eventually begin to disappear.
This could be dangerous as it will lead to pitting in the ground which can be a hazard to both rider and the hoses, as well a puddling which again can become a hazard. It’s important to have a horse arena that drains well in order for it to be a safe place to ride a horse.
We get a lot of customers trying to save on money by ordering either the wrong membranes or unsuitable membranes, by either using black woven membrane for both layers, or ordering a white non woven membrane which is too light duty for the type of horse arena that is being constructed, for example using a 100GSM membrane like the Terram T1000 for a permanent riding arena. While it may seem attractive to save a bit of money during the construction the results of installing an incorrect membrane can be disastrous which could end up meaning a full replacement of the arena, or if lucky, replacement of the membranes and aggregates after a short period of time, but in the worst case scenario could end up in a lawsuit if injury occurs!
We would be more than happy to help with any questions you may have about horse arena membranes, so don’t hesitate to drop us a call or email if you want to speak to us!