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Riding Arena Maintenance

Taking good care of your arena surface, with a thorough and regular maintenance regime, is essential to keeping your equestrian surface riding at its optimum performance level. The frequency and type of maintenance that you should undertake will depend largely on the climate, your chosen arena surface, the level of use and the type of riding that you do.

Once your arena build or refurbishment is complete, it’s a good idea to introduce a daily maintenance programme for your surface. This gives you the opportunity to study what effects the weather and the impact from the horse’s hooves have on the footing, before settling on an appropriate schedule. Particular attention should always be given to the entrances, outside track and centre line as these are high traffic areas. Surface graders come in various types and sizes, with varying functions that are usually designed around a specific 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 type of grader can be detrimental to the surface and cause unnecessary problems .

When grading your arena surface, it’s important to set the tines at the correct level. If set too deeply they can cut into the underlying membrane and stone, which can be costly to repair. Tines that are set too shallow won’t provide adequate re-distribution of the surface or levelling. Graders can either be ‘towable’ or ‘tractor mounted’ and are best used in conjunction with a quad bike or small tractor. It is also recommended that you use a depth 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 needs re-levelling or topping up.

Maintenance for Waxed & Non-waxed 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 kick-back, adapt well to most changes in climate and require no additional irrigation.

Non-Coated surfaces, in comparison, 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-waxed equestrian surfaces require thorough and regular irrigation, which helps to keep the footing secure and compacted.

Tips for Improving the Longevity of Your Surface

  • Always remove any droppings and any other organic matter, such as leaves, as quickly as possible from the arena surface. 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 surface, ensure that the tyres are clean to prevent them contaminating the footing.

  • Never neglect your surface. Keep in mind that a regular and thorough maintenance programme significantly prolongs the life span of your arena and avoids expensive repairs.