Taking good care of your arena surface with a regular maintenance regime, is essential for keeping your equestrian surface riding at its optimum performance level. The frequency and type of maintenance that you undertake will depend largely on the climate, your chosen arena surface, the number of horses using it, the type of riding that you do and whether it’s for indoor or outdoor arenas.
Horse Riding Arena Maintenance for Waxed and Non-Coated Surfaces
Waxed equestrian surfaces are generally very durable, requiring only minimal maintenance to keep them at peak performance. Due to the wax’s binding and adhesive properties, these types of footings are usually dust-free, provide minimal kickback, adapt well to most changes in climate and require little to no irrigation.
Non-coated surfaces, however, require a significant increase in maintenance. Unlike waxed footings, these types of riding surfaces are susceptible to drying out, particularly during hot summer months, which can cause the silica sand to ride ‘deep’. To prevent this, most non-coated equestrian surfaces require thorough and regular irrigation, which helps to keep the arena footing material secure and compacted.
Horse Riding Arena General Maintenance
Once your horse arena build or refurbishment has been completed, it’s a good idea to introduce a daily surface maintenance programme for the first few months; this gives you the opportunity to study the effects of weather conditions and the impact your horses’ hooves have on the footing material, before settling on an appropriate schedule. Particular attention should always be given to the entrances, tracks and the centre line, as these are the highest-traffic areas of most arenas.
Surface graders come in all different shapes and sizes, with varying functions that are usually designed around a specific type of surface, such as sand and fibre or sand and rubber. It’s important to use the correct maintenance equipment for your chosen footing, as using the wrong grader can be very detrimental to the surface and cause unnecessary problems later down the line.
When grading your arena surface it’s important to set the tines at the correct level; set too deeply they can cut into the membrane and base layer which can be costly to repair, whilst tines set too shallow won’t provide adequate re-distribution or levelling. Graders can either be ‘towable’ or ‘tractor mounted’, and are best used in conjunction with either a quad bike or small tractor.
As part of your maintenance regime, it’s also recommended that you use a probe at least four times a year to check for inconsistencies in the surface depth, recording any anomalies on a chart for easy reference; this allows you to easily spot any irregularities and gives you a good indication as to whether the surface may need re-levelling or topping up.
Tips for Improving Your Arena Surface Longevity
Always remove any droppings and any other organic matter, such as leaves, as quickly as possible from the arena surface, this is obviously especially important for outdoor arenas. Droppings and organic matter can quickly degrade into your footing, affecting its stability and causing the surface to dry out prematurely.
Pick out your horses’ hooves, and make sure that their legs are as clean as possible before entering the arena.
Whether you use a quad bike or tractor to maintain the arena surface, ensure that tyres are clean so as not to contaminate your footing.
Never neglect your surface. Keep in mind that a regular and thorough maintenance programme significantly prolongs the life of your arena and avoids expensive repairs.