at home i have grass. i like it because it doesn't get dusty like sand. it is a harder ground however as long as you dont just go galloping and jumping around on it on an unfit horse and you work your way up in the long run it makes the horses legs stronger.
at school we have Rubber footing. although its great for horses legs, i would be scared to take them to a show to really show them. the rubber is SO nice and if we were to take some of our horses to a show with grass arenas adn harder ground i could see a lot of them comming up lame on it. that is the problem with working on nice footing like that. but for some of our schoolies that have problems with their legs its really nice for them and helps keep htem sound and happy.
The outdoor school used to be muddy sand, it would get horribly rutted, turn into a lake when it rained, and freeze solid half of winter. I left the yard for a year and have just gone back, to witness it being renovated. It's now rubber/sand mix which is lovely to work on, doesn't churn up, doesn't freeze over, and they've improved the drainage too. I would guess it's softer to land on if you fall. What more could I ask for?
Sand and clean shavings at ours - more shavings then anything tho, it's very soft and easy to maintain. As the shavings get worked in they end up like sand.. hmm I guess one could say we are riding on saw dust!
we've got 2 woodchip schools and one sand and rubber one. the woodchip ones are fine, although they take a fair bit of maintenance. luckily we have the hands to do it and Mr YM is a tree surgeon, so we can get the woodchips for them with no trouble.
We have sand, on sandy soil (no real base) and it just gets deeper and deeper, outside we just ride in the fields so its grass but as the whole area is sand soil it turns to sand in no time.
Used to have grass on clay and that was terrible, just a boggy mess and in summer it was all rutty and nasty.
Used to have sand and rubber at another place which was really nice, still needed a bit of maintainence but good surface, cost a fair bit to top it up with rubber periodically.
How it mulches down over time especially in bad weather. How it can get slippery as it mulches down. I have been spoiled by sand and sand/rubber schools in the past so woodchip was a huge come down for me. It's also not as 'comfortable' to land on. It isn't that it was badly maintained because it wasn't but our school is fairly open to the elements (great views) so was probably worse off with wood chip than a lot of schools would be.
A lot of horses at our yard went a lot better when the school was redone with rubber and sand.
Although BayMare is right about woodchip, don't confuse this type of surface with a woodfibre one.
Woodchip has bark included in which causes the surface to become slippy in the wet and freeze in the winter. You also find with this type of surface the size of the chips are to large and wedge in the horses feet.
I did a lot of research on the different types of riding surfaces before opting for the Ransfords equestrian woodfibre product. This surface is easily maintained (I only have to roll it once a week) and it's guaranteed to be bark free and not freeze in the winter - it also has a longer lifespan than many other surfaces because it's produced with new wood rather than recycled.
If anyone is considering having an arena or round pen constructed I'd highly recommend this surface.