Choosing a Base Material for a Horse Arena


Choosing a Base Material for a Horse Arena

Choosing the correct base material for a horse arena is paramount. Primarily, this choice impacts on the health and welfare of your horse, and therefore its performance. It means the rewards you receive for the time and energy you invest in your horse will be greater. Here’s some points to better inform you about choosing a base for your horse arena.


“The softness of sandmyth

Traditional sand-based arenas, which have been popular in the past, are usually made too deep which can negatively affect your horse’s biomechanics. This can lead to numerous physical issues, including tendon, ligament and back strain.

The latest research coming out of America suggests that surfaces that the horse travels over, rather than through, are far superior for the correct functioning of a horse’s limbs, joints and ligaments, plus the muscles of the hind end and lumbar region. This theory has been supported by organisations such as the International Lameness Prevention Conference and Equine Lameness Prevention Organization.


Benefits of Shell

Shell provides the ideal base surface for a horse arena, as it reduces leg concussion, giving support to the hoof without giving way. It provides an excellent non-slip surface and is easy care.

Crushed Mussel Shell is an excellent solution as it packs down well and lasts for a long time.  It is organic and consists of lime and other trace elements, such as calcium. The natural process of weathering bleaches out the colour, leaving a nice white shell which is odourless.


Ocean Shell Superiority

Wholesale Landscapes Ocean Shell is a superior product and here’s why it should be your choice as a base material for your horse arena.


Ocean Shell has been aged for 12-18 months which removes all unpleasant odours. Wholesale Landscapes allow a natural bacterial process to remove any by-product from the shell whilst it is monitored and turned. During this process, the sharpness of the mussel shell reduces significantly which provides a safe surface for your horse. Natural trace elements contained in the shell base, such as lime and calcium, will improve horse’s hoof health, making them less susceptible to injury or disease.


Our Ocean Shell is crushed to a size which will accommodate a horse’s impact over a 2-4 year span. The range of particles in the shell means that your horse gains high impact-protection whilst eliminating any artificial sponginess.



From the Horse’s (owner’s) mouth

Sarah Cornwall

“I have had my Crushed Ocean Shell arena down for two years now and it’s such a joy to ride on. The horses track across the surface (even when still in large shell form) rather than through like they would with sand. The horses don’t stumble or trip and it provides a cushioning ride so less stress on their joints.

I find the Ocean Shell doesn’t need as much grooming as a sand arena does and maintains a more even surface for longer. The shell even when broken down doesn’t blow away in gale winds and there is far less dust coming off the surface, so horse and riders are not inhaling or being covered in dust.

Wholesale Landscapes provided an excellent service, very professional and easy to deal. Would highly recommend them and using Ocean Shell as an alternative arena surface to straight sand or sand/rubber mix.”


 Maureen Taylor

“Recently, we have purchased shell from your company to surface our round training yard, and also our 40 x 40m riding arena which we use for both dressage and jumping.


We have found this surface to be durable, have excellent footing for the horses and gives the ideal balance between being non-slip, and having sufficient concussion absorption, without being too deep and causing unnecessary strain on tendons, muscles and ligaments.


We have recommended this surface to several of our friends and associates, one of which has installed a shell arena already and two others are planning to do the same.”

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Our Truck Volumes

3T Truck

Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 7m³
  • Compost: 4m³
  • Supersoil: 3m³
  • Soil: 3m³
  • Shell: 3m³
  • Stone: 1.5m³

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Full truck load volumes
  • Bark: 20m³
  • Compost: 10m³
  • Supersoil: 7m³
  • Shell: 8m³

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Full truck load + trailer volumes
  • Bark: 25m³ - 65m³
  • Compost: 17m³ - 38m³
  • Supersoil: 12m³ - 29m³
  • Shell: 12m³ - 30m³

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Below is a list of our retailers. Please contact them for stock and supply.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all of our products are supplied to all retailers. We can only guarantee product quality of products we manufacture.

  • Wholesale Landscapes – Stoke Yard (that's us!)
  • Stoke Garden & Landscapes
  • Bay Landscapes & Garden Centre
  • Goldpine Richmond
  • Māpua Landscapes
  • Stonescape Garden Supplies (Concrete & Metals)
North Canterbury
  • Woodend Landscape Supplies
  • Amberley Hire & Landscape Supplies
  • Hanmer Landscape Supplies
  • Garden Box – Middleton
  • Urban Paving & Landscape Supplies – Harewood
  • Pearsons Landscape Supplies – Bromley
  • Styx Mill Landscape & Nursery  – Styx
  • Mitre 10 Mega Ferrymead
  • Odering Garden Centre Christchurch - Philpotts
  • Odering Garden Centre Christchurch - Barrington
  • Mainscape Garden Supplies
South Canterbury
  • Fulton Hogan Timaru
  • Ashburton Contracting Ltd (ACL)
  • Centaland
  • CMT Group
  • Kaikōura Landscape Supplies

Pick-Up Information

We welcome pick-up of product by the public for volumes 1m³ and over. Please check your estimated trailer weight rating below. If your trailer is unable to hold the weight of our minimum pick-up volume, please book a delivery. *We require a minimum order quantity of 3m³ for any bark, compost, soil or shell products and a minimum order quantity of 1.5m3 for any stones or aggregates.

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(750kg limit)
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(1,500kg limit)
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Recommended depths

Typically you need a finishing layer of screened soil of 100mm when working with an uneven surface. 100mm of soil will allow to even out any hollows and give enough depth to create a flat surface

A general rule for compost is to allow for the depth of the current root structure of your plants with an additional 30-50% to mix in with the base. If you’re planting into holes or filling up a vege garden  you will need to accommodate for this prior to filling up

We recommend 100mm (10cm) deep for new bark gardens and planting into bare areas. For existing gardens with some cover, we recommend 75mm-100mm (7.5cm-10cm)

Note: Barked areas for playground impact protection need to meet NZS5828:2015 standards and is calculated on the fall areas and the height of the playground. Please contact us to discuss your barked playground areas

For paths and driveways which are often exposed to car and foot traffic, we recommend 100mm-125mm (10cm-12.5cm) on newly prepared areas due to settling of product.

This excludes preparation, compaction or drainage gravel underneath. For existing areas 75mm thickness is recommended for areas needing a small top-up.