Looking after your equestrian surfaces will prolong the life of the arena and ensure you have a reliable and consistent surface to ride on. In this blog, the Green Birch Equestrian Surfaces Team share their top tips for maintaining an arena surface.
The Right Arena Equipment
With so many equestrian surfaces to choose from, it’s important to note that different arena surfaces require variations in arena maintenance and arena equipment. For example, a silica sand and rubber mix will, over time, compact the sand down to a solid base to leave a top layer of rubber alone.
This combination requires harrowing with specialist equipment to penetrate beyond the surface. It will also require more watering during the dry summer months than, for example, our eco-fibre surfaces.
Pick Your Horse’s Feet Out
Picking out your horse’s feet each time you leave the horse ménage, might not seem like much. However, over the years and depending on how many horses are using the arena, each hoof full can add up.
Picking out your horse’s feet before you leave the school, will help keep your equestrian surfaces in the school and not across the yard!
Pick Up Droppings
Always pick up your horse’s droppings before it gets mixed in with your arena surface. The FEI gives a compelling reason to poo-pick your arena where their guide states:
“If every horse produces manure once during each session in the arena, the manure will have a volume of about 2 litres. With 50 horses a day using the arena and no mucking out, this means 100 litres of manure daily being mixed into the surface. After three years, 50% of the top layer will represent manure.”
In real terms, regardless if you have less than 50 horses a day using the horse ménage, it still means you could end up replacing your ménage surface more quickly than anticipated.
Harrow Regularly & Use The Whole Arena
Your choice of surface will dictate the type of equipment required and also the harrowing required. Pay particular attention to high traffic areas such as the entrance and outside tracks. While harrowing your arena regularly is important, looking after your equestrian surfaces by using the entire horse ménage is also essential.
For example, if you always use one end of the school for jumping (because that is where your jumps are stored) then consider swapping ends at intervals. This will ensure that your arena surface is evenly distributed.
Some arenas have inbuilt irrigation water systems. For the majority of equestrian surfaces, physical watering is an essential part of maintaining a good working surface during the dry summer months.
Our eco-fibre arena surfaces are contamination free and have excellent moisture-retaining properties, which can help reduce watering time.
Keep An Eye On Your Surface Levels
Your arena surface should be a ‘compacted’ depth of 4 inches. When you lay new equestrian surfaces, they will naturally compact down over time.
Bear this in mind when budgeting for your new surface or equestrian arena build. The beauty of our eco-fibre mixes is that they sit on top of your surface, and act as a cushioned layer. The very nature of the product means they have minimal compacting characteristics. Looking after your equestrian surfaces shouldn’t be difficult.
Maintain & Install Kickboards
Ensure that your outdoor arena has a physical surround between your surface and the outside of the fence line to stop your arena surface being kicked up and ending up on the verges.
Rotting wood kick board panels, broken fencing, protruding nails and screws can be dangerous to horse and rider. If your kick boards have seen better days, then replace them. This avoids losing your arena surface over time. Broken arena fencing is dangerous for both horse and rider. Avoid the risk of getting clothing and equipment caught on it. It will also ruin the aesthetics of your arena and setting.
Whatever The Weather
Few UK riders are ‘fair-weather’ riders, after all, we’d probably never ride our horses if this were the case! You are going to be using your arena all year round, come rain or shine. Our weather patterns mean that our horse ménage can suffer long prolonged spells of dry and wet weather, so choosing a reliable equestrian surface that will cope with these extremes is essential.
Regular watering might be required more with a sand surface during the dry months, while a rubber and sand mix is most likely to be affected by frost. Our eco-fibre equestrian surfaces are frost resistant and fine grade so our customers can happily ride in all weather.
It’s important to note that ménage surfaces vary hugely in quality and performance. A substandard arena surface or poor arena construction can cause multiple problems from drainage issues, through to poor footing and deep-going. One example is our eco-fibre surfaces, which are 100% synthetic fibres which don’t break down naturally. Choosing a cheaper product could include a high percentage of wool fibres, which, as a natural fibre, will break down quickly and won’t stand the test of time.
Also, be aware of metal filings, chips and staples, which can also find their way into equestrian surfaces and cause injury to your horse. All our products go through a magnetic sweeping system to remove detectable fragments as part of our standard manufacturing process.
If you’re thinking about topping up your existing horse ménage or looking to install a new arena, our friendly, knowledgeable team are at hand to help with your enquiry or general questions. Call or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org .
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