Fibre Topper versus Fibre Integration
Beta-Ride® Fibre Integration
At Beta-Ride, our arena fibre is to be integrated with arena sand. It is NOT to be used as a topper (ie. sit on top of another surface) or with any other surfaces other than sand (i.e. not rubber or woodchip).
There’s a good reason for this. After years of extensive research & scientific advice, we believe that mixing the fibres with the sand creates a safer, more stable & more durable surface with better performance for the horse.
Our arena fibres integrate with the sand & create a root-like structure in the sand, similar to grass. This affects how the sand performs. It prevents too much movement of the surface, creates stability, prevents compaction, increases impact absorption & slows sand degradation. It also aids drainage. Let’s find out why this is…
Loose Arena Surfaces
If you have a loose sand arena which rides too deep & the surface moves too much, this has the potential for strain injuries & saps energy from the horse. It also means a lot of maintenance as the surface moves around so much that the high footfall areas become bare. This is generally because you have round sand grains (read more about Sand Types here). Round sand grains don’t have any traction, so move around a lot – imagine a bowl of marbles.
If you simply place a layer of fibre on the top of this, it may look nicer in the short term & might appear springier, but the surface underneath is doing exactly the same thing as it was – it’s moving around & still too loose.
Now let’s integrate Beta-Ride fibre with the sand. The fibres go in between many of the grains & provide traction, so stop the sand moving around as much. They provide both impact absorption & stability. This gives the horse a secure footing but enough spring, so that it’s comfortable to work on & non-energy sapping.
Compact Arena Surfaces
A compact surface has the potential for high impact & stress injuries. It is not comfortable for the horse (& often the rider) to work on. Compact sand surfaces are generally the result of angular sand, whose grains have slotted together resulting in a fairly solid surface. There is greatly reduced impact absorption & reduced drainage ability. The sand also degrades more as the sharper edges are fractured & it turns into dust.
If you simply place a layer of fibre on top of this, it may feel springier temporarily, but you’re basically just riding on the fibre, which won’t give you enough impact absorption. The sand underneath becomes like concrete & continues to degrade. As a horse moves, it throws a lot of downwards energy through its body into the ground. This energy needs to be properly absorbed & controlled. The whole surface needs to perform optimally to achieve this.
If we integrate Beta-Ride fibre into the sand, we help to prevent further degradation of the sand, as the fibres fit in between the grains. Additionally, the fibres help protect against fracturing of the sand grains & reducing the ability for the grains to lock together, resulting in much greater impact cushioning. This also aids drainage as the sand hasn’t locked together, allowing water to drain in between the grains.
Dusty Arena Surfaces
This is basically the same as the above (Compact Arena Surfaces). Most dusty surfaces are from sand fracturing. Our fibres sit in between the grains, therefore helping prevent fracturing. If you just cover up the dusty surface, the sand is still fracturing underneath & so still creates dust. Our fibres are of course fully synthetic & dust-extracted, so don’t produce dust themselves.
There are some extremely poor sand types that we simply can’t work with. If the sand is already an unacceptably dusty level, with not enough stable sand grains to work with, we would have to advise you to replace the sand. We suggest sending us a small sand sample for us to analyse. We would not suggest wasting your money on the addition of fibre if your sand was already too far gone.
Wet Arena Surfaces
Wet arena surfaces are generally either a problem with your base or because of compaction caused by angular sand. If it’s the former, you need to sort out the base first. There’s no point in adding fibre if the base is the issue. However, if the poor drainage is due to the sand being compacted, then fibre can help encourage drainage, by sitting in between the grains of sand & providing a route for the water to drain.
If you just add fibre on top of a surface that isn’t draining due to compaction, the water still has nowhere to go as the sand surface underneath is still the same as before.
Beta-Ride do not offer woodchip surfaces because we believe sand & fibre arenas give a much better performance. Woodchip can give an uneven ride, as the pieces do not sit together like sand does. Woodchip rots down over time, resulting in a mushy mess. Whether the fibre were on top of, or integrated with the woodchip, the result would still be a mushy mess, with the fibre becoming useless as it’s stuck inside the rotting down woodchip. Even with new woodchip, fibre cannot create the same root-like structure as it can with sand.
Beta-Ride do not offer rubber surfaces because we believe sand & fibre arenas give a much better performance. Rubber surfaces can give an uneven ride, with some bits of rubber not having any give and causing an unlevel riding surface. Rubber can make you ride ‘on top’ of the surface, rather than gaining the optimal balance of traction, secure footing & impact absorption. Some rubber surfaces have been known to cause trip injuries.
We do not recommend adding fibre as a top layer or integrated fibre with rubber, as the fibre does not create the same root structure system as it does with sand. It can stay separate from the rubber and clump together, working as two individual surfaces.
We believe that using fibre as a ‘topper’, i.e. just placing it on top of the existing surface does not create the root-like structure needed to give optimal performance of both surfaces. Leaving the fibre on top does not help the performance or condition of the surface below.
Integrating fibre with sand provides a secure surface with the optimal traction & impact absorption. It works with the sand, creating a root-like structure. This helps give the optimal performance of the sand & the fibre.
Integrated fibre helps increase the longevity of the sand, thanks to the fibre’s root-like structure reducing degradation of the sand grains. Spending a bit more time/money integrating the fibre into the sand may result in years more performance.
Integrated fibre is drainage friendly, helping to keep pathways open in between the sand grains for water drainage. At the same time, it is also moisture retentive so helps decrease dust, although generally dust will be reduced anyway due to less degradation of the sand. The fibre also helps with frost resistance.
Integrated fibre reduces arena maintenance time as its root-like structure helps to prevent movement of the sand. Integrated fibre generally means less wastage. Fibre that is left on top of the surface can get blown away.
Remember that not all arena fibre is the same! When buying arena fibre, be sure to get good quality, pre-consumer fibre which is fully synthetic from a reputable company. Avoid post-consumer fibre which can contain contaminants such as carpet grippers & nails, and avoid organic fibres which can rot down, unlike synthetic fibres. Beta-Ride fibres are, of course, pre-consumer fibres and are fully synthetic. We rigorously test our fibres to ensure they are of the highest quality.
✓ Working for a safer environment for horse & rider