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Published on 6/14/2019

Published by marketing@concretebroker.com.au

Goulburn River sand wins the horse arena prize, hands down

Goulburn River Sand is building the Hunter Valleys number 1 horse and dressage complex's

Cover photo courtesy of Aldridge Trucking Company



Our latest member Goulburn River Sand and Aggregates not only has magnificent decorative pebbles that can be found in "all colours of the rainbow", they have high quality sand. There sand is utilised not just in the manufacture of concrete, but in the laying of sporting ovals and equine arenas. The growing horse industry in and around the Hunter Valley in NSW is waking up to the suitability of Goulburn River Sand for use in the construction of horse and arenas and complex's, given its particle size, gradings and mineral composition.


Photo Courtesy of Budget Equestrian


To understand the suitability of Goulburn River Sand to horse stud complexes throughout the Hunter Valley, we need to take a quick look at the different types of sand available from quarries throughout the country.


Sand Types

Quarries across the country will have different names for their types of sand. Mineral, particle size, and gradation will vary. Be sure to use the specifications and sizes to determine what sand you will need and not the name of the sand, as “Arena Sand” could mean anything. These are sands you’ll commonly find:

Fine Sand: This sand’s particles range between 0.42 mm – #40 sieve and 0.074  – #200 sieve (40/200). Fine sand mixes well with textiles and binds loose sand, but should not be used alone. Fines, clay, and silt can create dust and compact.


Fine sand


Masonry Sand: This particle shape can vary from round to sub-angular. Particle size for Masonry sand ranges between 0.60mm (#30 sieve) and 0.15mm (#100 sieve). Masonry Sand is a standardized size specification and is washed but contains some fines. Masonry Sand is widely available, however it can be difficult to bind up. Mason sand will feel very unstable. Some mason sands can be stabilized with ArenaAid, please check with one of our consultants to verify the gradation of the mason sand you are proposing. Mason sand should not be used alone, it will feel deep and can cause additional soft tissue strains.


Masonry Sand


Concrete Sand: Particles are usually sub-angular to angular in shape and tend to be larger in size. The particle size ranges between 2.0mm (#10 sieve) 0.3mm (#50 sieve). Concrete Sand is a standardized size specification and is washed but contains some fines. Like Masonry Sand, Concrete Sand is also widely available. Concrete sand is more difficult to stabilize because of the larger particle size. Disciplines that require lots of stability like dressage and jumping, should not use this type of sand. Concrete sand may be more suited for disciplines that require more slide than traction.


Concrete Sand


Pit Run: Sand excavated and sold “as is” without grading or washing is called Pit Run. It will have a wide variation from large grains to dust fines and the sand deposit, which may vary within the quarry, determines the properties.

Washed Sands: Getting a sand that is washed of all fines (dust) will not be as stable of a surface as a sand that contains some fines (below #200 mesh or sieve size). Washed sand will have less dust, but it will also have less traction, less compaction, and less shear strength (the horse’s hoof going through the surface). Be careful when choosing washed sands. If you have water available, unwashed sand may be a better option. Be sure that the particles that fall below a #200 sieve do not exceed 10% or dust and compaction may be an issue.


Now lets take a look at particle gradings, to see how that affects our horse under foot.


Photo Courtesy of pinterest.com 


Particle Grading


Nb. Sand is classified by its size, rather than what type of mineral it is. Particle size, or grain size, refers to the diameter of a grain of granular material.


Grading is a representation of different sized particles. This affects how much the sand compacts or remains loose. Sand with all the same size particles will remain loose, may become shifty, or feel deep. Sand with equal amounts of differing sizes will nest and compact. A happy medium range of large to small particles will help keep your footing firm, but not compacted.


2.0 mm to 4.76 mm
Sieve #10 to #4

0.42 mm to 2.0 mm
Sieve #40 to #1

0.074 mm to 0.42 mm
Sieve #200 to #40


Super Fine

less than 0.074 mm

Sieve smaller than #200


When tested recently concrete broker found Goulburn River Sand had an even dispersement of medium sand particles, not too coarse, or more importantly too fine, ensuring the horses feet were able to obtain sure footing in an arena based environment, without injuring themselves.In an arena where sand that was too fine instability can result, whereas sand that is too coarse, can result in shin and tendon injuries due to the coarse nature of its particles, hence their uneven distribution and failure to compact appropriately.


Sand particle grading



Goulburn River Sand Test March, 2019 


The material contained within this report may not be quoted other than in full. Extracts may be used only with expressed prior written approval of Geochempet Services.


Sieve Size Wt                                                      % of sample

Coarse (>1.18mm)                                      


Medium (>0.3mm)


Fine (>0.075mm)


Silt (<0.075mm)



Goulburn River Sand Test March 2019



When it comes to horse and dressage arenas particle grading is of the essence. Keeping your sand particles graded is an important part of maintaining your footing. With this in mind professional grooming and maintenance is the key. Goulburn River Sand when properly mixed, leveled, and stabilized on the surface leads to high-performance results in horse and dressage arenas throughout NSW.



Why Is The Right Equestrian Sand So Important?

Sand is the key ingredient in all good arena footing and additives; however, not every kind of sand is suitable for all riding arenas. Sand that is well suited for a highly-maintained indoor riding arena might be completely unsuitable for an all-weather, low-maintenance outdoor riding arena. Choosing the wrong sand for riding arenas can create problems and be very expensive over time.  If you are looking for advice on which tyrpe of sand to choose for your horse arena or sporting complex consider talking with our concrete broker member Concrete and Quarries ​​​who supply both natural and manufactured sands throughout NSW. 


Natural Sand from Goulburn River:

Natural sand has eroded from mountain rock and is mined from where it was deposited. The host rock determines the exact mineral composition, but most sand is composed of silica from broken down quartz crystals. This type of sand is extremely resistant to weathering and breakdown due to its chemical hardness and will last longer as arena footing. These hard sand particles have been transported and tumbled by water, making them round or sub-angular in shape.

Manufactured Sand from hard rock quarries: 

Rock quarries crush rock into various sizes. The smallest particles are called fines and are sold as ‘manufactured sand,’ ‘man-made sand,’ ‘crusher fines,’ or ‘stone dust.’ These particles range from 5 mm to fine dust, are sharp, and will tightly compact if used alone. The mineral composition can range widely. These particles are not the hard quartz grains of tumbling river action, so they may be softer and break down to dust sooner. These sands have very sharp tendencies. A small amount of manufactured sand can be useful to add stabilization to rolling footing with very round sand grains.

Depending on whether your horse or dressage arena is indoor or outdoor may determine what type of sub base and overlay or upper surface is required due to drainage and all weather conditions, therefore seek the counsel of our professionals at Concrete and Quarries 



Thanks to premierequestrian.com in the USA for much of the technical information found in this blog article. Visit or consult with them online for all your equestrian arena needs . To verify the integrity of the sand you currently have or want to use for a new project, be sure to contact one of their footing specialists prior to choosing a footing amendment.


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Tags: concreteandquarries dressage arena horse arena sand sand types sporting oval

This article was written by marketing@concretebroker.com.au all rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of concretebroker.com