Archive for the ‘Arena Maintenance’ Category

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?

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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!

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.


Maintenance:
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!

How Does Your Arena Handle A Rain Storm?

May 17, 2017

Don’t you hate when the weather ruins your riding schedule? The other day I was all excited to work my horse really good when Saturday came. Well Saturday came, along with a huge rainstorm; which then put the outdoor arena out of commission Sunday also. How does your arena hold up after a rainstorm?

There are a few steps you can take to make sure that you don’t end up in a muddy or washed out situation. Location is a huge play in how your arena will react to rain. If you have the luxury of designing your own outdoor arena, be sure to choose a spot that is on higher ground, and away from where your barn rain will drain. Adequate base and drainage play a crucial part in draining the arena too. When building the arena, install 3-4 inches of larger aggregate stone on the very bottom, then 3-4 inches of compacted stone dust with a 2% crown, and finish with 3-4 inches of footing with a 2% crown. The crown will allow for the water to drain off of the surface much better. Pressure treated retaining boards rests on top of the large aggregate stone and outside the fence posts. Retaining boards will help your footing from migrating off of the arena when the water also drains off. Perimeter or curtain drains should run around all sides of the arena around 4-6 buried; the large aggregate stone should also surround the perimeter drains. Below you can see a side view of the base in an outdoor arena.

Footing Side View

Having regular sand in your arena makes it even harder to ride after rain. The sand is easily washed out, and can easily migrate out of your arena. Our dust-free footings are great for both indoor and outdoor arenas. When confronted with water, the wax in the footing blend actually wicks the water off of the surface. Around 80% of the rain is wicked off the surface and the footing only absorbs about 20% of the rainfall. Our customers have given us feedback that they can ride as soon as the rain stops. They don’t have to give their arena time to finish draining the rest of the water. Don’t postpone your scheduled workout again! Choose a footing that can handle heavy rains.

Ultimate Arena Guide

May 17, 2017

Over the years we have answered numerous questions about how to build an arena from start to finish. You can imagine how lengthy that conversation or phone call can be. For this reason, we decided to build The Ultimate Arena Guide that has everything you need to know about building an arena! There are seven categories on our Arena Guide website. I can break them down to show you what topics are in each section.

Base Information: This section talks about, well the base. It takes a look at stone sizes, characteristics you need for your geotextile layer, what equipment is needed for installing the base, how drainage should be added, and the difference between an indoor base and an outdoor base.

Installation: The Installation category focuses on how to remove old footing and how to dispose of it, how your footing should be installed, andUltimate Arena Guide delivery costs and options.

Footing: Sand is the main components of 95% of the arenas in the world. The footing category explains every aspect of sand from the sieve analysis to shape of the sand. It also explains additives, different coatings, longevity, replenishment, and what footing is best for certain riding disciplines.

Maintenance: Maintaining an arena is just as important as building the arena. This section explains the different types of groomers and relative prices for each.

Arena Dust: Dust can be dangerous for both the horse and rider to inhale. Coatings that help or stop dust are specifically explained in this category.

Water: If you decide to fight dust with water instead of coatings, the Water category explains sprinkler systems, evaporation, and the correct moisture level to achieve maximum performance.

Additional Things to Consider: There are a few odds and ends that go into this section such as insurance for your contractors, what to ask about MSDS Sheets, and consulting for your facility.

We’d love for you to check out our Ultimate Arena Guide, and feel free to leave a comment!

Cost of Maintaining a Sand Arena

June 16, 2016

Maintaining an arena is not always easy. Depending on how much traffic you get a day on your riding ring, you could potentially be grooming it every few days. I want to take a look at the cost of maintaining a sand arena.

For this price breakdown, we are going to assume the following scenario: you have an average 66 x 130 indoor arena with 5 horses a day on the footing. With 5 horses a day, you will have to drag every other day from the ruts and holes that appear. You own a newer compact diesel tractor that has 40hp and a 5ft arena groomer. It takes you 45 minutes to groom your arena from start to finish. You ride year round in your indoor arena.

If you groom your arena for 45 minutes every other day, it equals out to spending 8,213 minutes or 137 hours a year grooming your arena. If you are paying a farm hand to do the work, say minimum wage, (here in New York, minimum wage is $9) you would spend $1,232 paying your farm hand to groom the arena. On top of the time and wages to groom the arena, you also have to pay for gas for the tractor to groom the arena. For your newer (5 year old) compact diesel tractor to work this arena all year with diesel fuel at $2.40/gallon; you would spend $493 per year. Total grooming maintenance per year for your sand arena: $1,725.

IMG_2358Now that number is just looking at grooming the footing. The other issue you deal with in any sand arena is dust. We can take a look at both watering your arena and using Magnesium Chloride Flakes, which seem to be the other popular options. You could get a sprinkler system installed, which is thousands of dollars up front, but then you are still using hundreds of gallons every time you water your footing. Another option is to hand water your arena with just a long hose. Again you are using hundreds of gallons of water to accomplish this, but then you are spending roughly an hour watering the arena. You would have to hand water it every four days, and if you pay a farm hand to do that it would be $821 in wages a year. If you have a well you have to be conscious about how much water you use so that your well doesn’t go dry, and if you have city water, you have to pay per 1000 gallons you use; which can add up pretty fast if you’re constantly watering an arena. Many people use Magnesium chloride flakes to fight dust in their arenas.  Magnesium chloride flakes are roughly $20/bag. For your 66×130 arena, you would need two pallets, or 96 bags; totaling in $1,920 for your arena. These would have to spread and then mixed into your footing. Magnesium Chloride has to be continually added to your arena, therefore forcing you to spend more money all the time to fight the dust.

Instead of worrying about the cost of maintaining a sand arena, switch to an arena footing that will never have to be watered and will remain dust-free! You not only save lots of time and money not worrying about your footing being watered, but you also save on maintenance. We have many customers say that they only have to drag once a month! The sand, fibers and wax create a stable surface that supports your horse in every stride it takes, while not moving too much to the point where holes and ruts are created. Although synthetic footings are pricier up front, but you will save both time and money over time as our footing continues to out perform traditional sand footing.

How Long Does Our Arena Footing Last

March 1, 2016

We had a great show at the New York State Farm Show this past week. Shows really give me an opportunity to educate many barn owners, trainers, and riders about our footing. They get the chance to stick their hands in it and get a feel for the different properties of each footing. When I go to shows I always pay close attention to the different questions that I’m asked. The most popular question at this show was “how long does your dust-free arena footing last?” Footing longevity is our most popular questions!

The longevity of footing really comes down to the components of it. Let’s take a look at the sand this week. You have no idea how different sand particles can be until you start comparing them. We have looked at sand from all over the world! The size, shape, and mineral composition are the most important properties when it comes to sand for horse arenas.

Mineral composition is going to be the most important. Basically, this is how hard or soft your sand is. For a horse arena you need something that is very hard and can take the pounding of hooves on it. If you choose too soft of a material, it will break down into very fine particles and create dust in your arena. Choosing a hard sand particle is the first and most important thing when it comes to the longevity of the footing.

Arena Footing SandThe particle shape is the next most important. The shape of the sand plays an important part in the way the arena footing will perform. If you choose a rounded particle, it will create an unstable surface because these particles tend to roll. But if you choose an angular or subangular sand, it will lock together creating a more stable surface. You want your sand to lock together to create the stable surface but you don’t want them to lock too tightly together; this could potentially create a very hard, concrete like surface.

Lastly, you can take a look at choosing between clean/washed sand or unwashed sand. If you just get sand from a pit, it could contain a lot of silt, clay or organic material. All of these materials are the components that make up dust in your arena. Some barn owners decide not to clean their sand because they believe that the sand will move more if it doesn’t have all of the impurities holding it down. You will have to decide if you’d rather use clean sand or uncleaned sand.

Sand is a huge factor in how long your arena footing will last. We specifically looked for years for the perfect sand that we wanted to use in our footing. We found one that is very hard, has the right shape to it, and has no organic material in it. By using this specific sand we have created the perfect formula for our dust-free footing. Next week we can take a look at the specific additives in our footing and how that truly affects the breakdown of the arena over time!

How did you decide on what sand to use in your arena?

Deep Sand in Your Horse Arena

February 1, 2016

Have ever tried to run on the beach? Not on the wet sand near the water, but in the dry, deep sand in your arenadeeper sand? You have to struggle just to walk through it; running is even harder! Horses struggle just as much through deep sand. Having deep sand in your horse arena can be potentially dangerous for your horse.

Sand is the most popular footing and is relatively inexpensive. The issue is that you want it deep enough to give your horse traction and provide cushion, but you don’t want it to be so deep to the point where your horse is struggling through it. Sand should only be about two inches deep in your arena. If you are practicing reining, or something else along those lines, you may want it a little bit deeper but not by much. There should not be one-inch deep horse prints in the footing after riding, and the sand should never cover the hoof while standing in the arena.

Deep sand in your arena can lead to various injuries, but almost all of these injuries have to do with the tendons and muscles in your horse’s legs. They can develop wind puffs, or fluid filled swellings, which are almost always chronic, strains and sprains in the legs, which can consist of either just a strain or a complete rupture of a tendon, and lastly a pulled shoulder or hindquarter. Pay close attention to your horse and their actions. If he seems to be sweating more or seems to be working harder, he could possibly have a strained muscle in his legs.

Instead of having to worry about if your deep sand in your arena is going to injure your horse, put one of our dust-free footings in your arena. The fiber in our footings creates a web-like surface allowing for your horse to spring off the surface and not sink into the footing. The lattice-like footing also eliminates tracking in your arenas so you will never see those deep horse footprints in your sand again!


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