A well maintained equestrian surface will provide your horse with a level, consistent and supportive footing – helping to prevent injuries, build confidence and enable your horse to perform at its best.
The frequency and type of maintenance needed to keep your arena at peak performance is largely down to personal preference and individual circumstance. However, certain factors, such as changing seasons and varying weather conditions, can dramatically affect your maintenance regime – particularly during the cold, wet and wintery months.
As the UK is quite consistent with its bad weather during this period, we understand that it can be difficult to maintain your arena as you normally would – we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of our top ‘Winter Maintenance Tips’, to help make things a bit easier!
The type of footing you’ve chosen for your riding arena, or gallop, will significantly affect how you maintain your surface during periods of exceptionally cold weather.
Waxed equestrian surfaces are often referred to as ‘All Weather’ as they generally have a lower freezing point than most other non-coated versions. Whilst these types of riding surfaces may be more resilient to frost, they still freeze during adversely cold conditions – especially if the surface contains any excess moisture.
1. Maintenance Tip: Grade your surface regularly
This will help to keep the surface light and even, whilst encouraging any excess water to drain away.
Waxed surfaces have been specifically designed to provide a firmer, more supportive ride, which is achieved by the wax element helping to bind all the materials together. If not maintained correctly, waxed riding surfaces may become overly compacted – when this occurs, the surfaces’ ability to effectively drain away any excess moisture is restricted, making the footing more likely to freeze during low temperatures.
2. Maintenance Tip: Grade your wax surface slightly deeper than usual
This will help to prevent the footing from becoming heavily compacted and allow any excess moisture to effectively drain away.
Sand & Fibre Surfaces
Unlike waxed riding surfaces, which have a slightly lower freezing point, sand and fibre footings are more susceptible to frost during periods of cooler weather.
3. Maintenance Tip: Grade your surface last thing at night and again first thing in the morning
This will allow any moisture to drain through and help to prevent freezing.
During particularly cold spells, the application of frost or arena covers may help to provide the surface with additional insulation and protection from the elements.
Sand & Rubber Surfaces
The reason why most sand-based surfaces freeze during periods of exceptionally cold weather is because they retain excess moisture. By applying a layer of rubber chippings on top of your surface, you create an insulating, frost-resistant barrier for your horse to work on – instead of the frozen sand beneath.
4. Maintenance Tip: Grade Surface Evenly Across Whole Arena
Make sure your rubber topping is graded evenly across the whole arena – if your surface is looking a bit low or thin in places, it might be worth considering a top up.
Rubber-topped surfaces, despite being more resistant when it comes to frost, still require a general maintenance regime in order to keep them useable during the winter months.
Maintaining your arena correctly during snowy conditions is extremely important if you want to avoid any damage to your surface.
Most damage occurs when people try to maintain their arena without first removing the snow. If this isn’t possible, you should allow the surface to naturally thaw out before grading. If snow has been mixed into a surface, it can cause severe irregularities in both its composition and consistency.
5. Maintenance Tip:Remove Snow Before Grading
Make sure to remove any snow from your arena before grading – this could potentially save you thousands in costly repairs.
If you would like any further information regarding winter maintenance, please contact us on 0800 044 8101 or complete our online contact form