So many racing yards use Ransfords woodfibre for their all-weather gallops. This is because Ransfords woodfibre really makes the horses work hard, which in turn builds muscle and stamina to win races, whilst still being incredibly kind on joints and tendons.

Sand after all is only ground up rock. The racing trainers simply need to know that they are continuing to use the best, most durable wood on the market which is synonymous with their horses’ fitness and performance.


This page is aimed more at the general public who are looking at resurfacing or taking their first hesitant step into surfacing their first arena, which for the majority is a huge outlay and one which they have no doubt worked long and hard to financially achieve. The thought of getting it wrong is a bit alarming to say the least. So it is helpful to ask how long any surfacing company has been incorporated, how long they have been selling their surface for (as in Ransfords’ case over 20 years) and indeed, how long the staff have individually been selling the surface. All to give you peace of mind you are listening to a voice of experience.


Here at Ransfords we will not supply you with waste wood. We have the largest seasoning plant in the UK here on our own 38 acre site (visitors welcome), however, we do not use seasoned wood in our riding surface…. why?….because seasoning does not make any difference to ground contact durability. There is also no jurisdiction over the type of wood that goes through a recycling plant…it can be anything…old pallets, old post and rail, kitchen units, window frames basically unwanted aged wood thrown out by people, whereby once the products are minced up and shredded a magnet is then used to try and extract all the wire, nails and screws that have held them together – not always successfully.


Metal detectors can be hired or maybe your contractor or friends know someone with one which you could borrow. Alternatively punch “hire metal detectors UK” into an Internet search engine. The one that popped up for us was which you might like to click on and have a look at. (You could also scan your property for buried treasure over a weekend!)

Unlike old aged wood sent for recycling, here at Ransfords we always know what we are putting through our equestrian woodfibre plant…which is pristine, new top quality wood chosen for its durability and working properties to cope with pounding hooves and this is why we can give you our 100% written guarantee there is no shrapnel of any kind in our surface.

Seasoning means that wood, such as pallet board, is dried of moisture and sap before it is nailed and wired together. This is only done to stop the wood warping and buckling as it dries out naturally in heated environments such as warehouses. This simply means that the seasoning (drying) process stops the wood fighting against the nails and wire holding it together. It makes no difference to ground contact durability on an arena once the pallets are shredded before being fed into a recycling chipper, as ground contact durability only boils down to the choice of high quality wood chosen for its hardwearing qualities and resistance to splitting which in turn resists pounding hooves. When put back outside wood simply soaks up moisture again. Use low quality wood and in due course you have a problem. We employ some of the most educated and experienced staff in the UK timber industry and our knowledge of how woods react under working conditions is second to none. With this wealth of experience we cannot be rivalled in our choice of top quality wood chosen for its durability and riding qualities.

Basically all wood sent for recycling has reached the very final stage of its product life and is probably already in excess of 5 years old, much of it many, many years older than this so will already be in varying stages of age, disintegration, rot or decay which will ultimately knock years off an arena or gallop’s lifespan, so do get it in writing you are not being supplied with waste wood.


As a riding surface these have no relevance to the durability of chipped wood. They remain constant, they simply get wet, and, if anyone tells you that saps or acids in wood make a riding surface slippy – do try and get it in writing because it is not true …they don’t!

The durability of the wood that is laid as an all-weather surface is the most important factor when buying an all-weather surface so it is vital that you find out what the species of wood is that you will be getting. The species used by Ransfords are highly resistant to decay in their natural state, due to high levels of organic chemicals called extractives, mainly polyphenols, that are deposited in the heartwood of certain tree species as the tree grows and converts sapwood to heartwood.

Most people hearing the words “softwood” and “hardwood” think: ‘well, softwood must be soft and hardwood must be hard’. Not true.

Hardwood means that this wood comes from flat leafed deciduous trees and softwood comes from conifers. It’s as simple as that. For instance Balsawood is one of the lightest, least dense woods there is, and is considered a hardwood.

Oak meanwhile is too dense for riding surfaces and can bruise the horses frogs (oak also cracks under temperature change), beech, another hardwood, has low ground contact durability, as does Pine (a white softwood) and so it goes on.

Hence you can see how important it is to know the species that is laid as a riding surface.

To further define the difference between hardwoods and softwoods…

The distinction between hardwood and softwood actually has to do with plant reproduction. All trees reproduce by producing seeds, but the seed structure varies. Hardwood trees are angiosperms – plants that produce seeds with some sort of covering. This might be a fruit, such as an apple, or a hard shell, such as an acorn.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are gymnosperms. These plants let seeds fall to the ground as is, with no covering. Conifers, which grow seeds in hard cones, fall into this category. In conifers, these seeds are released into the wind once they mature and spreads the plant’s seed over a wider area.

For the most part, angiosperm trees lose their leaves during cold weather while gymnosperm trees keep their leaves all year round. So, it’s accurate to say evergreens are softwoods and deciduous trees are hardwoods…absolutely nothing to do with the durability of their wood.

So here at Ransfords we use a softwood, but it is a redwood softwood as opposed to a whitewood softwood, such as Pine – again a difference in terms of ground contact durability. Our chosen wood is one of the toughest and most durable woods that you can buy and is also the preferred wood in the construction industry because of its strength and durability…and our surface is also brand new wood, not old wood that is already in various stages of decay.

For instance, Ransfords donated one of our huge redwoods (20m/66ft) for the bowsprit (the “mast” at the front) in the revamp of the sailing ship, The SS Great Britain at Bristol. A redwood softwood chosen for its strength and durability and the same high quality wood that you would have from us as your riding surface – it is a King amongst woods.

Here at Ransfords, we therefore can always tell you the species of wood that you will be getting so you are therefore assured of the durability and working qualities of your riding surface.

The bottom line is that if the species of wood is not known you will have no idea of the durability of your arena or gallop and how long it might last, and if the surface is mixed wood again it is impossible to say – or indeed, whether there might be an unsuitable wood in it.

So, like Ransfords can, for peace of mind get any supplier to put the species they will be supplying you with in writing.

All arena and gallop surfaces eventually reach the end of their life span and here at Ransfords, with over 20 years’ experience in the surfacing industry, we believe the only way forward for riding surfaces will be one where ultimate disposal is non-costly, or indeed free. When a synthetic riding surface comes to the end of its life span you will have to pay to have it landfilled and with landfill costs spiralling this one day may cost you as much to dispose of your arena surface as it was to put it in. ie. The European average for landfill is currently £50 plus VAT per ton and as part of the EU, Britain is in line to be brought up to this European average. You would also have to pay for the transport to the nearest landfill site which could be some considerable distance.


Then there is the chemical content on wood. Get it in writing from the company supplying it that their wood surface is guaranteed not to have a chemically induced content. This means that without any chemicals in your surface it can ultimately and confidently be spread on your ploughed land or that of farmers – you certainly wouldn’t want someone coming back to you to say that all their crops had died! You have Ransfords company guarantee that all our surface is untreated because treatment on particled wood makes no difference to ground contact durability. Again it is the choice of natural durability and the grain of the chosen wood that ensures it does not split under hooves. Old treated timber is sent for recycling.

Don’t think that all woodfibre surfaces are the same as ours as Ransfords produces the best, most durable equestrian bark free woodfibre on the market. We cannot be rivalled in our choice of wood and our production facilities so if you truly want the best for your horse email or call as you can’t buy our surface from anyone else in the UK. It’s unique only to us and then to you.