Arena Footing & Maintenance

Arena Footing & Maintenance

Arena footing is one of the most important ingredients in the development of horses during training. Horses experience a lot of stress especially when they are performing at a High Level. With good reason, today’s trainers, owners and riders are becoming more and more demanding about the riding surface.

How to build a horse arena.
Go with a product and concept that has been well tested. The quality of materials is very important – it is better to choose local materials instead of shipping tons of sand from across the country. You will need a specialist who should be someone who understands the importance of arena footing. to work with your contractor to oversee the project. It may cost more in the short term, but it will save you money in the long term. Get the job done right the first time.

What makes an ideal arena footing?
The perfect arena footing surface considers the bio-mechanics of the horse's step as well as the physical properties that influence performance and soundness. "The arena footing that increases performance and maintains soundness" should provide the optimum balance between impact absorption in the loading phase, resilience during the break over and stability during takeoff. The ideal arena footing deters injuries in your horse and boosts performance.

What makes the worst arena footing?
Anything resulting in an arena that you would describe as too deep, too hard, too loose, too dusty, shifting, rolling, and not draining. A poor arena footing will steal confidence from both the rider & horse and cause unsoundness – the damage might not happen within one ride, but the accumulation of days, weeks, months of riding on improper footing will take its toll and take your equine partner to the vet clinic, eventually.

Common complaints we hear all of the time:
• "My arena base is coming up – light gravel is showing up in the footing."
• "My arena base is not draining – we have a swimming pool after rainfall."
• "The arena base is getting uneven because of uneven watering of overhead sprinklers."

How do you construct a horse riding arena with the perfect arena footing?

1. The arena base is the first and most important phase.
Solution 1: HIT Drain grid for building a perfectly functioning arena base with transverse drainage. This arena base will drain, not mix with your arena footing even with heavy use (e.g. lunging) and adds spring. Optional installation of sub-surface irrigation lines for even watering and water conservation if you live in dry areas. Solution 2: High and Low Tide arena system (also known as ebb and flow arena) (also known as ebb and flow arena) with the subterranean irrigation and drainage pipes. This system do not need an arena base, provides even moisture and drainage throughout the footing. This footing system combines the ‘base and footing’ in one.

2. The arena footing determines optimum performance.
A surface that his too hard absorbs little if any impact energy. The high impact shock wave results in large concussion and will develop bone and joint problems. Horses working on an arena surface that is too hard will adjust their strides and movement to avoid excessive shock to the limbs, the strides become short. Horses working on a surface that is too soft and loose also adjust their stride and movement to cope with the extra energy required caused by the low impact of the soft surface. In all those cases, soundness and performance is compromised.

3. What is good arena footing?
Watch the horse go by and look at the surface afterwards. If you see an hoof imprint not deeper than 1” with no shifting of sand then you know that you are on perfect arena footing. Also listen!!! - The less you can hear the hoof beat is a good indication.

4. What materials do you use?

Sand
High quality sand is essential to creating and maintaining the right horse riding surface. The next time you talk with your contractor or visit the quarry, explain that you want sand that is ‘hard’, quartz’, ‘glacial’ and ‘angular’. Unlike ‘river sand’ that has rounded particles, the sand you want for your arena footing will be durable (silica/quartz last a very, very long time) and angular for better traction." Good sand isn’t cheap, but don’t be tempted to go with ‘dirty sand’ or ‘river sand’ or ‘manufactured sand’ – those not only won’t provide the arena footing that you want no matter which additives you choose, they will also wear out much more quickly and decompose into stone dust in no time. The upfront expense of getting the right sand the first time around makes for an economical arena when measured over the long haul. Jumping arenas do require a layer of 4" of high quality sand, for dressage arenas 3" of sand is sufficient.

Additives
SoilTex Geo-textile & Rubber Flakes sand additives are the only additives proven to efficiently improve your sand arena footing. SoilTex & Rubber Flakes consists of a soft, thick needle felt which fibers have the ability to connect to the sand assuring the knitting and cushion effect to the sand. The result is a stable yet springy arena footing. SoilTex’s & Rubber Flakes special blend has a certain percentage of extra fibers to assure the connecting of the sand grains. For some sand types we use a higher percentage of the fibers & Rubber Flakes. So if you are out shopping for geo-textiles& Rubber Flakes, compare the samples for quality, Soiltex & Rubber Flakes creates the perfect equestrian surface that provides:

• Spring and cushion
• Traction
• Consistency
• Support

Maintenance
Establishing a maintenance program is essential. Building a riding arena is one thing; the maintenance of it is another. Firstly, make sure you are using an adequate arena drag and leveler, secondly use just enough or as little water for an optimum stable, yet springy arena surface. Even watering of arena footings requires careful attention - watering with overhead sprinklers is often very inconsistent. Unevenly watered arena footings will harrow in differently. To avoid this problem, The High- and Low Tide system and the HIT-Drip-Drain grid construction both take care of the uneven watering issues. If you do your homework, building the perfect horse arena footing can be

What Are Equestrian Surface Stabilizing Fibers?
Stabilizing fibers are used to help improve the consistency of the arena. Sand is a good base for a riding arena but it can absorb too much water, and riders can find that the horse can end up 'riding deep', which means the horse is riding in sand rather than on top of it. Mixing stabilizing fibers helps the horse work on top of the arena & keep his tendons & Joints Sound & Healthy.

The fibers are made from synthetic materials that are mixed with the sand; these fibers can be made from recycled rubber chips and other materials. Stabilizing fibers help to aid drainage and provide a good footing for horse during movement. Synthetic fibers also help retain some moisture, which is important because it helps keep the surface firm & makes it Dust free Arena.

Advantages of Using Surface Stabilizing Fibers
Fibers are used worldwide to improve the arena surface; many top class competitions and horse Arenas will use a certain blend of fiber and sand.
These are some of the reason why a surface stabilizer is so useful:

. Horses will be less tired if working on a fiber mixed surface; if a horse is working on pure sand they can expend up to 50% more energy to simply keep balance and move smoothly.
. Arena with stabilizing fibers will need less water over time as the fibers help to retain moisture.
. An arena can be used all year round especially with rubber chipping, as this makes the area frost resistant.
. The arena can look more uniform and presentable if the surface is maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.
. Recycled surface stabilizer offers the horse rider the satisfaction of keeping the Horse(s) sound & healthy all year round.


It keep the horses tendons & Joints Sound & Healthy equals less injuries & Less Health Problems.

Different Types of Equestrian Surface Stabilizers
There is a wide range of stabilizing fibers available and they have different uses, depending what they are needed for. Surfaces can be shredded, cut or blended to a certain amount.

Many surface fibers are good for outside use, but for inside the buyer needs to consider other factors. An indoor arena will need a dust free stabilizing surface fiber, as the dust could cause respiratory problems for the horse & rider over a long period of time. Available solution is to use dust free fibers, which contain products that have lower dust content.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Before purchasing any surface stabilizing fibers the buyer will need to consider a few aspects:

. What size area do they need to cover?
. What is the area used for-Which Horse Sport?
. What is your budget?
. What is already laid down?

If the area is used for training and won't double up as a show or competition arena then the buyer won't need to select the finest quality of stabilizing fiber. A good mixture of all round qualities will ensure a good practice arena that will last with good maintenance.

Those who work with horses on a professional level will need to research what is accepted and what is not accepted for a surface stabilizer. Those doing dressage and show jumping may need a high quality surface stabilizer all year round.

The stabilizing fiber is bought per tone and is delivered to the site. The arena will need to properly prepped before laying anything down. It is generally advised to lay about 100mm of sand and then a further layer of 50mm of surface stabilizing material of choice. A brand new area will need digging out to the correct depth and a membrane lying down before any sand based layer is placed down. The membrane will help keep the moisture in, dust free and keep the arena ground level.

 

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