Barrel Racing

May 18, 2017

Let’s talk about barrel racing. Barrel racing is a huge sport where we are located in Central NY. I have lots of friends that race, and many times multiple days a week. If you don’t know the point of barrel racing, let me break it down for you! The horse and rider are timed for how fast they can get around the barrels. They run through a gate where the timer starts, run around one barrel on the left or right side of the ring, then run across the ring to the other, then to the end of the ring to loop around the last barrel and race for home! It is such a fun sport to watch!

Barrel racing is a sport that demands a lot from the footing. The fast acceleration and explosive turns are what makes up barrel racing. The horse needs grip to do all of these fast, tight turns. The wrong footing conditions can cause catastrophic injuries to barrel horses. It can’t be too slippery and it can’t be too hard, or too stable. Some riders like a deep footing, others like a more solid ground. A ground that isn’t firm enough can contribute to soft tissue injuries, and a ground that is too hard can lead to bone injuries.

When building an arena, we recommend 3-4 inches of a large aggregate stone, a layer of geotextile fabric, and 3-4 inches of a compacted stone dust for the base. This base will allow for water to properly drain from the arena. The footing would go directly on top of the compacted stone dust. With barrel racing, we normally recommend 4 inches of either TruStride or LiteStride. The recommended base, combined with the footing, provides the perfect grip and support that is needed to barrel race. The base has the solid foundation that the footing needs, and the footing is not too deep and not to shallow, so that the horses can dig their hooves in to quickly turn around barrels.

If you ever get the chance to attend a barrel race I encourage you to do so! Watch the footing while they race, and how the horse’s body reacts to turning around the corner and running for home. Is the footing too slippery? Is it too deep? Is it too shallow? What would you recommend to the barn owner after reading this blog on how the footing should react?

Get Your Outdoor Arena Ready for Spring

May 17, 2017

It’s a gorgeous day here in Upstate NY as it seems like Spring is finally hitting us! Do you know what spring time means? More horse riding time outside! Now is the time to get your outdoor arena ready for spring and summer riding! Let’s take a walk to your outdoor arena and assess any current issues.

What do you see?

The arena looks great! Awesome! Don’t worry about doing any maintenance and go for a ride!

A lumpy arena. Take your drag and drag your arena good. Make sure you break up the lumpy surface and fluff the top inch. Be sure that you don’t push the footing outwards when you groom, you will build up the edge and possibly lose footing out the side of the arena.

Thin areas in the arena. You may have some areas of your arena that are thinner than others. Try to drag the arena so that you are pushing the extra sand towards the thinner areas of the arena. If needed, fill up some buckets in the thicker areas and dump them in the thinner. We often use yardsticks that have the proper arena depth painted on one end, and go around the arena and check them depth in each area. Move or groom the footing accordingly.

A wet corner. Not good. You do not have proper drainage in your arena. You may be able to fix it by adding some drainage in the form of perforated drains dug 6 inches down on the outside of the arena and give them a place to drain. If you notice that that corner is still wet, you may need to add drainage directly in the base of the arena. Be sure to consult a professional arena contractor to do the work for you.

Broken Fences. Maybe the winter was a little too harsh on your fence posts. Easy fix! Grab your screw drivers and screw gun and fix the broken fence posts, replace boards that may be broken and go around and tighten all screws. Maybe even repaint them to add a fresh new look to your arena!

Switching to our dust-free arena surfaces could eliminate many of the potential issues that arise from using traditional sand. By choosing our TruStride or LiteStride for your outdoor arena, you will be spending significantly less time maintaining your arena. The footing will wick water right off of the surface because of the wax component, so you no longer have to worry about wet spots. Our footing will not create lumpy spots in the footing and the groomer that is used only fluffs the top inch of the footing. Get your outdoor arena ready for Spring faster by choosing our footing for your outdoor arena!

How Often Should You Drag Your Arena?

May 17, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, I get arena questions all day long. “What should my footing depth be?”, “What is the best footing for me?”, or “What’s the difference between the TruStride and LiteStride Footing?”. The most common question I’ve been getting lately is “How often should I groom my arena?”

Grooming an arena is a maintenance that cannot be ignored. Neglecting your arena maintenance can cause serious, and expensive issues down the road. The problem with the common question that I get, is that there is no equation for how often you need to groom your arena.

An arena should be dragged as soon as ruts, or holes appear anywhere in the arena. But the frequency really depends on the traffic in the arena. If you’re grand prix style jumping, with 15 horses a day on the footing, you will be grooming much more often than a private arena just doing ground work. A busy lesson barn could be dragging the ring multiple times a day, while a private barn can get away with dragging once every week or two.

The footing also plays a big role in how often you drag. Some sands can compact hard when they’re ridden on and need to be dragged to loosen the material up. Some sands are fine granules and move very easily, so the arena develops ruts quickly.

When purchasing footing for your arena, it is important to take maintenance into consideration. When ordering a traditional sand arena, you should find out the angles of the sand as well as granule size and research how that typically performs in an arena. Our dust-free footings are composed of pure silica sand, wax and synthetic fibers. The combination of these components creates a footing that does not compact, and does not move as freely as traditional sand. We get a lot of feedback from customers stating that they do not have to groom their arena as often as they did with traditional sand. Our footing is much more stable, so it takes longer to create ruts when riding. By purchasing our footing, you will significantly cut down on your grooming time!

In addition to our footing, we often suggest to purchase a PARMA Groomer to groom the arenas. PARMA Groomers are a less aggressive groomer so that the fibers in the footing as not pulled out. These groomers are very lightweight and can be pulled with anything from a tractor to a golf cart!

Attached Arenas Create Dust in Barn

May 17, 2017

Building or renovating a barn can be fun, but also very time consuming. You’ll want to design a barn that promotes good health for both the humans and the horses in the barn!

Although building your barn with an attached arena sounds like an ideal situation, it could severely affect your horses’ health. An article from The HORSE takes a look at Indoor Arena Dust and the damage it causes to horse and rider. The air quality was tested in four different indoor arenas, each with a different barn layout. They noted that the dust levels were highest in the arena that was in the same building as the stalls.

The arena dust can easily migrate to the stalls, as the dust from the stall bedding as well as hay, can increase the dust levels. Many local barns have been building arenas, with stalls lining the inside of the arenas. This can be the worst combination if the traditional sand is used. With the stalls being located in the arena, the horses in the stalls are breathing as much dust in as the horse doing the riding. Dust is not only harmful to your horses but to you too. It can cause many bronchitis issues as well as sinus infection.

Instead of worrying about dust from your arena migrating into your barn, install a footing that is completely dust-free. Our dust-free footing products will relieve the headache of dust levels being high all over your barn. Not only will you never have to water your arena again, but you’re also providing your horse with the best product for them to train on that will properly cushion their every hoof fall.

Spring Cleaning the Tack Trunk

May 17, 2017

Some parts of the country are having crazy weather, including our location here in Upstate NY. One day it’s 65 degrees, and the next is 30 and snowing. But the warmer weather is giving me spring fever. And all I want to do with spring fever is… clean! My first project: my messy tack trunk. Spring cleaning the tack trunk is always the first big project!Spring cleaning the tack trunk

Over the past year, many items have found their way into my tax box; from extra socks to a few scarves to at least ten dirty horse brushes to tons of horsehair and dirt. I cringe a bit every time I open my trunk. Here are the steps I took when cleaning out my tack trunk:

  • I pulled everything out of the tack trunk and shop-Vacced all of the dirt and hair out of the trunk. I also have a grooming caddy that I shop-vacced.
  • After I pulled everything out, I filled a bucket full of hot water and dish detergent and put all of my synthetic brushes, curry combs, shedding blades, and hoof picks in the bucket and let these soak for a few minutes
  • While the grooming supplies were soaking, I got another bucket with warm water and a tiny bit of soap and started to scrub my trunk in and out to make sure I got rid of all of the grime. After I was done with my trunk, I scrubbed my grooming caddy too.
  • After I washed out the trunk, I went back to my grooming supplies and started rubbing the bristles of the brushes against each other to clean them down to the base of the bristles. I made sure to bang out any debris that was in them. Once they were good and soapy, I transferred them to a clean bucket of water and continued to brush them all together and rinse the soap out. I had to get a second clean bucket of water because the first one ended up being too soapy. Once these were clean, I put them out on a towel to let them dry in the sun.
  • After I finished cleaning the brushes, I went back to my tack trunk contents and started to organize. I got a plastic milk crate, and put all of my bottles of fly spray, tack cleaner, thrush remedies, and liniment into the crate. This works out great because I can pull the crate out to look through my things instead of just pushing them around in the bottom of my trunk.
  • I got a good size Tupperware container to put all of my human and horse emergency kit supplies into. I labeled the container as an emergency first aid kit as well so that it was clearly displayed.
  • I looked up great containers for horse treats and an old coffee cans was one of the first containers listed. Which was great because I had an extra one at home. I thoroughly cleaned this out and dumped in my treats I have. Now I don’t have to open and close that annoying ziplock bag they come in!
  • I went through all of the extra tack that I had in my trunk and sorted them by how often I use them. This was a great time to clean each of them before I decided where their new home was going to be. I had to get a bridle bag to put all of the extra brides and reins I had deep in my trunk. All of my extra spurs and spur straps, I put into another Tupperware container! I also got a small contained to put my winter riding gear in, such as my fuzzy helmet cover that goes over my ears, a few fleece headbands, and riding gloves.
  • While I was in the spring cleaning mood, I took the extra time to clean my saddle too (which I hadn’t done for awhile).

Once I finished cleaning out my trunk and cleaning all of my tack, I felt like we had a brand new barn! Spring cleaning the tack trunk was successful and I now had everything nice and organized! Now I just have to make sure I continue to keep it clean and organized… I may have to revisit this post mid summer for another clean-out. We’ll see how I do!

Expensive Now, Worth It Over Time

May 17, 2017

I talk to horse people all day, whether through email, phone calls or in person. But often times, these conversations are cut short as soon as the individual hears the price of our footing. After hearing the price, the conversation ends very quickly. I don’t even get a chance to explain to the customer that yes, our footing is expensive, but it will save them money in the long run.

Longevity: Our oldest arena is 13 years old and going strong! That is not seen with regular sand arenas. Traditional sand will need to be replenished often, while our footing has a long life ahead of it.

Time spent maintaining the arena is significantly reduced. TruStride and LiteStride both have fiber in the footings, making them much more stable than traditional sand. The stability in the footing leads to less tracks when riding and much less time spent on grooming your arena. In addition to the footing being more stable, it also is dust-free. Say goodbye to your long days watering your arena to fight dust; and say hello to more time spent riding in your arena!

Supplements: By providing a cushioning surface to work your horse on, hoof and joint pain will be greatly reduced as well as give some relief to your horses’ bones, tendons and ligaments. Joint supplements will no longer be needed when riding on this cushioning surface!

Farrier Costs: Farrier costs will also lower by having an arena with a consistent surface. By not working you horse on abrasive material or an unstable ground, hoof injuries will be greatly reduced.

Although the price of the footing is higher priced than sand, the longevity and many benefits of having our dust-free footing make up for higher costs over time. If you’re interested in visiting a barn with our footing installed, just let us know! With over 350 installations across the US and Canada, there are many to choose from!

Riding Arena Footing For Each Discipline

May 17, 2017

So it’s time to update the footing at your horse facility. After extending the life of your arena footing in your indoor for a few years now but the footing has reached the point where it is constantly dusty, uneven, and inconsistent. But what footing should you choose for your facility?

Jumping Facilities: Jumping is the discipline that demands the most of the footing. The surface needs to be soft enough to absorb impact yet firm enough to be able to support the horse as it takes off for a jump. Sharp turns should also be able to be made without the horse slipping. TruStride footing is the perfect combination for jumpers. TruStride can be installed up to 6 inches deep without it having a “deep” feeling. Both the rubber and the fibers that help make up the footing, cushion the horse and rider when landing, yet offer a stable surface to take off. TruStride is our premium footing.

Dressage: Although dressage does not demand as much from the footing as jumpers, a stable footing is still needed. Dressage riders want the footing to have a bit of “give” to it, while not being too deep. Traction is still needed when riding dressage so that the horse can do side passes easily without slipping through the footing. Our LiteStride and our Equi-Blend are great footing options for dressage riders. Both footings offer stability, traction and “give”; which is exactly what is needed for Dressage. Equi-Blend can work for a private dressage arena but if there are many dressage riders, we would recommend the LiteStride.

Barrel Racing: Barrel Racing arena footings need to provide traction for the racers as they work around each barrel. Footing depth is set at around 4″ to allow for a bit of slide. Barrel racers have told us that they really enjoy our LiteStride arena footing. They said it has the perfect amount of grip and amount of slide that they’re looking for.

Boarding Facility: Boarding facilities or lesson barns can be very tricky. Typically here you have many different disciplines riding in one area. A facility that has a range of disciplines needs a footing that can handle many horses a day and support the range of disciplines. Typically the boarding facilities that purchase from us purchase the LiteStride footing. LiteStride is a great all around footing that can handle jumping, dressage, barrel racing, groundwork and western pleasure. LiteStride works for almost all situations; however, if you have boarders that are jumping higher than 3 feet we would recommend you to get our TruStride, which provides more cushion when jumping.

Of course all of our footings are dust-free. In addition to the footing supporting the horse properly, time spent maintaining the footing is significantly decreased. If you have more specific questions about what footing should go in your arena, please feel free to contact us!

Training Your Dog Around Horses

May 17, 2017

My black lab puppy!

I just moved my horse to a new private barn that just has my horse and a second horse. It is a quiet barn with miles of trails, which is exactly what I want! Riding trails weave in and out of the woods and across fields. With such nice landscapes, I’ve also been thinking about bringing my year old Labrador retriever on trail rides too; especially since my horse is great with dogs. The problem? My puppy has never been around horses.

Dogs that are trail riding partners have a few requirements. They need to be physically fit in order to go on long trail rides and they need the mental soundness enough to follow your commands. Some dogs are more independent than others and will run ahead, but they should listen when you ask them to come back to you, or wait for you to catch up. My dog loves to go on long walks. She is very independent and she is the type that will run ahead on walks through the woods to follow a scent. Even though she sometimes goes very far on a scent, she will come back as soon as I call her. Although dependent dogs might be easier to take on trail rides because they will stay close to you, a well-trained independent dog can also be a good trail companion.

Once I decided that I wanted to bring my dog around my horse, I started looking up ways to train dogs to behave around horses. Before you introduce your dog to the barn, or your horse, your dog should be well trained. She should be able to understand simple commands such as sit, stay, and down, both on and off the leash. The first thing I did in my training my barn dog journey, was bring my dog to the barn on a leash. I closed the barn off so she wouldn’t see the horses outside and let her sniff around inside the barn. After a bit of smelling on leash, I let her run around inside while I mucked stalls so that she could get used to different sites and smells. Once I finished doing my chores around the barn I pulled down one of my saddle pads that has my horse’s scent on it and let my dog sniff that for a bit to get used to the smell of the horse.

I brought my dog to the barn, and let her smell my horses scent a few times before introducing her to my horse. When she was relaxed enough around the barn, I decided it was time to introduce her to my horse.  I asked another person to be there, who had enough horse experience to hold my horse while I introduced the puppy to my horse. My dog was on a leash and my horse was on a lead. My horse of course has seen dogs before so was not too concerned about the dog. Observe your dog as you bring her closer to your horse. Does she show signs of aggression or fear? If she is showing aggression firmly say no and sit her down. Praise her once she relaxes and move a bit more closer to the horse. Once you’ve made it to the horse, make sure both the horse and dog are comfortable and let the dog sniff your horse, your horse may also sniff the dog because he has never met this particular dog. The whole interaction could take days or weeks to get to the point where both your dog and horse are comfortable together.

As you bring your dog to the barn more often she will easily become more relaxed. The next step is to keep your dog on a leash and allow your horse to run around in the pasture. Walk your dog on the leash around the pasture while the horse moves about.  Praise your dog when she does not show any signs of fear or aggression. Move closer and closer to the horse as you make your way around the arena.

Continue to teach your dog to respect your horse and his space. It could take months before your dog is calm enough to go on a trail ride with you. The important things are to take baby steps and be patient. This could be a long process! Good luck and wish me luck in the rest of my trail partner training journey!

Transitioning our Topcover

May 17, 2017

Since the start of our mattress system journey almost 20 years ago, there have been many changes in the industry. Let’s give you a bit of background on our company! IGK Equestrian, LLC is a family owned business, which has a parent company: North Brook Farms, Inc.

Here is our story:

More than 20 years ago, the Kyle family ran a dairy farm milking 350 head on their 800-acre farm in central New York. Their veterinarian advised them to make their cows more comfortable, since well-rested cows produce more milk. So the Kyles decided to make the cows’ bedding softer and more enticing by incorporating recycled rubber. The Kyles and their three sons scouted out local tire recapping shops for discarded tire buffings, packed them into stalls, and covered them with an industrial fabric. The cows readily laid down in their stalls, milk production soared and other farmers took notice.

Hunter Harrison 037When they saw how fast the cow mattresses took off, they decided to also produce horse stall mattress systems. They started with the rubber filled mattresses, then transitioned to the foam mattresses, which is currently used. Also over the past years, the Kyles and the rest of the employees at IGK Equestrian has studied and tested many different topcovers.

We have gotten feedback from many potential customers over the past few years that people would like
a more economical SuperStall mattress system. Here at IGK Equestrian, we take all feedback very seriously. Due to the feedback we have received, we currently are in a transition period with our topcover. We are trying to find a topcover that would lower the cost of the mattress system, but would still perform under a horse the way we want it to.

The new topcover is currently in the testing phase in the new product development cycle. Although we are very excited to be rolling out a new product in the future, we do not want to rush this process in anyway. The durability and the lifespan of the product under a horse is our top priority and we want to be sure that this topcover performs in the correct way. At this time, we are hoping to have the product available for purchase in late Spring 2017- Summer 2017.

From all of us here at IGK Equestrian, we thank you for your patience as we find a topcover that will be the right fit for our customers. When the product is available for purchase we will be adding it to our website, as well as writing blogs about it and advertising it. Be sure to keep checking back in a few months to see when we will be offering the new economical mattress system!

Catching Up With Customers

May 17, 2017

Equine Affaire is always our favorite show to go to. It gives us the chance to talk to lots of equestrian and hear how their current footings are, and img_3331how they want footing to perform for their horses.  As I mentioned last year, we pulled together a new way for people to view our footings at shows. We created a side view of how we recommend the base to be constructed, as well as a good amount of footing for people to touch and feel. It gives them the chance to touch all of the footings and feel the differences between each of them. We sometimes quiz them after by asking them what type of riding they do and what footing they think would be best for them!

Going to Equine Affaire also allows us to catch up with customers who have our products installed, which is my favorite part! We get to hear from students who have our footing at their college, riders that board at a barn with our footing, and directly from the customers that purchased the footing. Hearing testimonials from the broad range of people that i
nteract with our footing is great. Sometimes we contact with customers solely over phone and email and it is great to finally meet those customers in person. We also have some customers stop every year to tell us how their footing is doing, how their barn is doing and any projects they have in the future. It is also really nice to see these customers year after year.

If you didn’t stop by this year at Equine Affaire, we hope to see you next year!

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