GENUINE WEXFORD FINE SILICA SAND – Nothing is better quality in Ireland or the UK than Genuine Wexford Sand. It is the preferred sand selected by the top trainers, riders and racecourses for good reason.
Wexford sand is a very pure, fine sand with particles between #60 sieve and #200 seive (or 60/200). Silica sand has sub-angular particles and is highly desirable for use with textile footing additives, like Equitech Footing. It is not widely available, however, and may be expensive or hard to find in your area, and we are one of the few companies in Ireland to use it exclusively in our synthetic sand mixes.
Sand Shape is Critical:
Man-Made Sands will have very sharp tendencies. Sharp, very angular materials are prone to fit tightly together and compact to a road like surface. If used alone it can become very uncomfortable for horse and rider! Man-made sand breaks down to small particles from harrow usage, which means you need to re-surface more often. If you currently have a man-made sand on your arena, it is best to start replacing it with natural sand mixed with fibre.
Natural Sands will have sub-angular to rounded grains (depending on quality), because the sharp edges have been worn off, so they don’t fit as tightly together. Sub –angular grains lessen compaction while still giving traction, which is why genuine Wexford Sand is so popular.
Round grained sand will not compact because all the edges have been worn off. Although round particles create more voids and therefore offer more cushioning, they are very unstable and will roll and not provide any traction.
Here is the scientific stuff:
Natural Sand: Natural sand has eroded from mountain rock and is mined from where it was deposited. The host rock determines the exact mineral composition, however 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, and the time spent tumbling determines the sub-angular or round grain shape. We exclusively use natural Wexford Sand. It is the best sand source in Ireland for having the correct size, hardness and sub angular grains that equestrian surfaces require.
Manufactured Sand: Rock quarries crush rock into various sizes, and the smallest particles are called ‘fines’ and sold as Manufactured Sand. These particles range from 5 mm to fine dust, are sharp and will tightly compact if used alone. The mineral composition can range widely, and these particles are not the hard “surviving” quartz grains of tumbling river action, so they are softer and break down to dust sooner.