Archive for the ‘IGK Equestrian’ Category

Don’t Get Bored In Your Indoor Arena!

January 4, 2016

winter-1090649_960_720Winter is not my favorite season when it comes to riding my horse. If you’re like me, you get easily bored in your indoor arena. When asking an equestrian what their favorite season is, you’ll most likely hear Summer, or Spring, or Fall. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an equestrian say “I just love riding in the winter!” Shows and races start back up in the spring and continue into summer and fall. Sure the winter is beautiful to trail ride through woods that have a light snowfall, but once the snow hits a certain depth, we all are pushed into indoor arenas to ride. Indoor arenas can make both you and your horse feel confined. Riding a few times clockwise around the arena at a walk, trot, canter; then a few laps counterclockwise with the same routine. Not only are you bored at this point, but so is your horse. I pulled together a few different options for keeping both you and your horse from becoming bored in your indoor arena.

Start off by changing up how you ride around in the arena. Instead of doing the usual, riding on the rail around in a circle, try some different patterns. Work on riding in a big figure 8 in your arena. Place a cone directly in the center so that you have a visual of where your 8 should cross over. Be sure to pay attention to how you are bending him around the circle, and try to keep the circles as equal as you can. Another idea is to ride in a diamond shape. At each corner, create a swift turn to travel up the other side of the diamond. Be careful not to rush your horse. Start with a walk first, and then trot the diamond. One more variance to try is to be about ten
feet off of the rail towards the center of your indoor and ride in the same motion as you would if you were on the rail, a rounded rectangle. At the long sides, allow your horse to extend, but then collect him as you come into the corners and keep him collected or slower on the shorter ends of the rectangle. This will help you increase and decrease speed smoothly.

If you feel very motivated you can use various obstacles in your arena. Some obvious examples are setting up smaller jumps, or poles on the ground for you to work your horse over. But if you have long winters like we do in upstate NY, you have time to get creative. One example I read about is to set up various barrels around your arena and place a cone on a few of them. Work on walking to the barrel, stopping, picking up the cone and then walk to a second barrel and place the cone down. As you progress in this challenge, don’t stop at the barrel to grab the cone, make your horse move right past it while you grab the cone. A few other options are placing tarps on the ground and working with your horse to calmly walk over the tarp, even though it may make scary crinkling noises. I have also seen others use hanging noodles that you walk your horse through through. Walking through these various obstacles will build your horse’s confidence and trust in their riders. It is hoped that the horse will react calmly if they were to encounter something like these obstacles in real life situations.

Riding in an indoor arena can also be a hassle because of trying to deal with dust. Focus more on training your horse through various obstacles or different patterns than worrying about dust by switching to one of our dust-free footings. You will never have to water your arena again!

How do you stop from getting bored in the winter?

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Winterize Your Horse Barn

December 1, 2015

Here in Upstate NY, our winters are brutal. Being located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, we can get buried pretty quickly by lake effect snow. In the winter of 2015, we had 125.3” of total snowfall! As we start to batten down the hatches, or close the stall windows of our barn to keep the nasty cold out, you also should start thinking about how we are going to winterize your  horse barn. Here are a few tips!

  • Stock up on supplies you may need in the winter, such as hay or bedding. Some barns I know cut and bale their own hay, but if you purchase hay from someone else, stock up on it at the end of summer when prices will be the lowest. If you wait until the first of the year when you are running out of hay, prices can almost double. Be sure your hay is stored in a well ventilated area.
  • Take the extra time you’ll be spending in the barn to do a good dusting. Cobwebs in a barn can be a fire hazard and are not sightly. Use a broom covered with a cloth and go through your barn with a good cleaning. The cobwebs and dust that has collected over the summer aren’t good for your horses’ health or yours!
  • Walk around your barn and see where there may need to be repairs. Waiting until there are sub-zero temperatures to fix a gate is definitely not an ideal situation. Complete all of the repairs that you may see. Also be sure to know where everything is located around the outside of your barn. If you live in a climate like we do, snow can accumulate very fast and you may lose sight or forget where something was placed outside of your barn. Draw a map of your facility if you have to, so that you know where everything is located outside once the snow covers it up. Be sure that gates are all still accessible in the snow.
  • Although our first instinct is to close everything in the barn up for the winter to keep heat in, you still need to keep your barn well ventilated. During the winter, your horses are probably going to be spending 50 percent or more of their time in their stall. Mucking your stall daily, and keeping good ventilation throughout your barn will keep your horses breathing healthy air and keeping them happy.
  • Make sure you have enough space for your winter manure. A 1,000 pound horse can generate 50 pounds of manure each day. Even a barn with a few horses can quickly create a mountain of manure. Before winter comes, create an adequate place to store the manure for a few months, or construct a plan on how to remove the manure even with snow on the ground and how you’re going to dispose of it.
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Winterize your Horse Barn

The biggest issues that you may face in the barn in the cold winter months are spending additional time mucking out manure from the horses being inside more, and trying to keep the dust in your indoor arena down, without freezing your footing.  Both of these potential problems can be solved by installing our SuperStall Mattress System and our Dust-Free Arena Footing. Our one piece, wall-to-wall mattress system will eliminate deep bedding and cut down on time it takes to muck out your stalls. By installing our dust free footings in your indoor arena, you no longer have to worry about watering your footing in the winter and then the footing freezing from the moisture. Winters can be hard in a horse barn, but installing our products in your barn and taking some steps to winterize your horse barn
can make it easier!

Oops, I Spilled Water in My Stall!

November 23, 2015

I’ve helped out at a lot of different barns over the years. I like seeing exactly how everyone operates their facility and has their own particular ways. But no matter what, when I am in a barn and I am filling water buckets they always say “don’t let it overflow!!”

If you have a deep bedded system, the spilled water will create a big wet area, and you normally spill it right where the water bucket is, where the horse stands most of the time. Some barns will leave the water in the stall, and wait for it to eventually evaporate.  It is not good for your horse to stand in wetness for long periods of time. Too much moisture in the horse’s hoof will actually weakHunter Harrison 037en and break the hydrogen bonds that are in the cellular makeup of the hoof, and will make the hoof too flexible and reduce the hoof’s structure.  The hoof will become soft and weak. Other barns will pull out the three inches of bedding that it saturated and replenish that whole area with new bedding, becoming very costly. If you’re using thick rubber mats, this water can get under the mat and create mold; which is dangerous for your horse to be around.

If you were to have a SuperStall Mattress System in your stall, then spill some water, it is an easy clean  up! Our SuperStall Mattress keeps all liquids right on top of the rubber topcover. The topcover is not porous so you don’t need to worry about the topcover absorbing some water and creating bacteria, and water will not get under the topcover and create mold. You only need to bed your stalls about one inch, so you don’t have to worry about having your bedding being soaked. Most people with our stalls installed, just shop vac up the water that is sitting right on top of the cover and add a bit of refresher bedding. You’ll never have to tell your barn help “don’t let the water overflow!!” again!

 

Stall Floors

November 9, 2015

You would not believe the kind of questions I get during sales calls for our SuperStall Systems. How old is your oldest stall? (Our first one was installed in 2006!) How thick is your foam pad under the topcover? (1 1/8”) How thick is the full mattress system together? (Around 1 1/4”) The next question I normally get is “what flooring should be under the mattress system?”

When building a barn, you normally have a subgrade (your soil), then 2-4 inches of a subbase, composed of aggregate stone, and then 2-4 inches of a compacted crushed stone, such as limestone. There are a variety of floors that you can have in yourIMG_2205 barn. Some choose to keep this crushed stone base as the floor of their entire barn, some pour a cement center isle while keeping crushed stone in the stalls, while others will pour a cement floor inside the entire barn. Pouring cement in the entire barn, or at least a cement center aisle are the best options for horse owners. If you for some reason cannot pour any cement, there are ways to make crushed stone work. The most important thing when utilizing a crushed stone floor is to make sure that it is fully compacted. If you are using crushed stone as your entire floor, you will most likely disrupt only the top 1/2 inch in the aisle way. Everything under that 1/2 inch will not be disrupted if it has been compacted correctly. Both cement and crushed stone are not adequate enough for a stall floor. There should be some sort of barrier between your horse’s hooves and the hard surface. Think of how much our bodies hurt from standing on concrete all day, a horse is the exact same. They don’t want to stand or lay on a hard surface, and adding extra bedding for padding is not much help. The stall requires some sort of cushion for the horse.

Our SuperStall Mattress System works great with both crushed stone floors and cement floors. IGK SuperStall system is composed of foam and a rubber topcover. The foam lie
s directly on the floor, while the topcover is installed over the foam and attached to the stall walls, sealing the foam under a waterproof surface. When you have a crushed stone floor, we recommend that you have a plastic sheet under the foam, so the moisture that sometimes works its way up through the crushed stone, does not reach the foam. If you have any other questions that you would like me to answer in a blog please let me know!

SuperStalls Can Help You Go Green Too!

November 3, 2015

Horse Stalls Going GreenLast week I focused my weekly blog on how our footing can help your barn to “Go Green”. This week we’re going to continue the discussion and focus on our SuperStall Mattress Systems. Our SuperStall Mattress system is a wall to wall mattress consisting of foam and a topcover. The topcover attaches to the wall and seals off the foam mattress, creating a barrier so that no liquids can get to the foam. Our durable topcover keeps liquids on top and your horses happy. Since our SuperStall has the perfect amount of cushion, you don’t need to add three inches of bedding to give your horses more cushion, instead you only bed your stall at the most, one inch. When using less than an inch of bedding, you will be saving up to 60% in bedding. This not only saves in time and money, but in the environment too!

In our last post I spoke of composting your manure. By composting your manure, you will be able to recycle the manure and use it on your gardens or to fertilize pastures in the spring.  When you fertilize your pastures with compost, you are improving aeration and also water retention by creating healthy soil in your pastures. Composting your manure not only reduces your waste and improves soil quality, but reduces flies in your barn and can kill parasites and pathogens.  In addition to composting your manure, think about ordering your bedding in bulk. You should get a discount for ordering a larger amount and you’re also cutting down the amount of gas used to pick up or deliver. If you don’t think that you will use an entire load of bedding for your barn, perhaps think of a neighbor that would be willing to split the load with you. These are just a few options to make your barn more environmentally friendly.

What do you do to keep your barn environmentally friendly?

Our Footing Can Help You Go Green!

October 26, 2015

Farms all around the country have been working harder and harder to “Go Green”.  Both horse farms and dairy farms are focusing on how to minimize their impact on the world around us. Dairy farms for examples often times use digesters that recycles their cow manure into electricity that runs their entire farm. Horse farms can do their part in trying to “go green” too!

A few tips that can help your farm become more environmentally conscious:

  • Make sure your hoses or faucets around the farm don’t leak.
  • Compost your manure
  • Harrow your pastures to break down manure and spread it out for the grass to utilize the organic material
  • Plant a water garden here the rain runoff from your barn runs to, these are plants that help soak up water

Our dust free footings for horse arenas are a great start to helping your farm go green. I recently wrote a blog about what our footing is composed of. Here’s a recap. The rubber in our footing is 100% post-industrial waste that we recycle. It comes from a factory that makes shoe soles, and we take the scraps or what is left over from the molds of the shoe soles. Our fiber blend in our footing is also 100% post-industrial waste, these also come from a factory that would have otherwise thrown them away. Both the fiber and rubber would have sat in landfills, taking hundreds of years to break down. The components that we choose to create our footing with, we choose with the environment in mind.hand-157251_1280

Additionally, our footing is dust free. You will not need to water your arena, ever! An average sized arena could use up to 3,500 gallons of water per day to adequately keep moisture level in the 20% range. Think of how much water you can save by switching to our footing, not to mention time spent watering! Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how your horse stalls can become environmentally too!

Options for Horse Stall Bedding

October 19, 2015

Let’s talk about options for horse stall bedding. The options for bedding in your horse stall are pretty endless. In the end you have to choose something that your horse loves and it works great with you too. Bedding should have a few characteristics in order to dub it the best bedding for both you and your horse. The number one thing is that it should be safe for your horse. Don’t try and experiment with random substances in your stall. Ensure that whatever you have in your stall is going to not harm your horse externally or internally in any way, and should also not be dusty. Whatever material you choose should be absorbent (which is kind of the whole point of stall bedding), and easily composted. Your material also needs to be readily available. If whatever material you choose can be compacted, that can immensely help when looking where to store it in the barn. Most importantly, it should be cost-effective and easy to pick manure from so that you don’t spend hours a day mucking your stalls.IMG_2206

Now that we’ve discussed the criteria for horse bedding, let’s take a look at some options.

Option #1 and most popular: Shavings.

This option can be the most economical based on where you live. For example, where we are located in Upstate NY it is very easy to get ahold of wood shavings for stalls. It is cheap and you can often buy in bulk. It is easy to store and is very absorbent. The only downfall of this option is that it can be very dusty, and can even make your entire barn dusty. You should have good ventilation in a barn where loose shavings are present to give your horses fresh air. Some barns that I have gone to keep their shavings stored in a lean-to on the outside of the barn.

Option #2: Wood Pellets

I really think that this option is becoming much more popular in recent years.  Wood pellets are made of kiln dried wood and sawdust. The kiln dried wood and sawdust is compressed into a small pellet. When this pellet is in the stall and moisture hits it, it will expand to be normal sawdust again and is as absorbent as regular sawdust. This option is low in dust from the compression process and is packaged in bags, so it is easy to store; and is relatively inexpensive. The only issue with this type of bedding is that you will need to spend a little extra time to make sure that you don’t take out any pellets when you muck the stall.

Option #3: Peat Moss

Peat moss is an option that is easily available and horses seem to like it a lot because it gives them that soft bedding to lie down on. You can find this at your local hardware or garden store and a little bit goes a long way so you only need to buy a few bags. It is absorbent in the stall and virtually dust free! The only downside is that if you have a barn with many stalls, this is not your best economical option. It can get expensive for many stalls.

Option #4: Straw

Straw has been used in stalls since the beginning of time. It is often inexpensive and can be easily obtained. If it is mucked properly it stays pretty clean and composts very well. But there are many cons to straw. It is not very absorbent, (which kind of defeats the purpose of stall bedding) it requires a lot of room to store the bales, and can be very dusty. Another note to keep in mind is that some horses do try and eat this. You will need to keep an eye on what horses eat this bedding and possibly change their diet based on that.

No matter what type of bedding you use, if you have SuperStall Horse Mattresses in your stalls you will save tremendously on bedding. Our SuperStall System needs less than an inch of bedding, which will then make mucking your stalls out much easier! If you want to save on bedding, call us today for a sample of our stall mattress!

Correct Footing for Horse Disciplines

October 12, 2015

Horse disciplines are all so diverse. There’s reining, barrel racing, jumping, grand prix jumping, dressage, endurance, polo, eventing… should I go on? Each discipline asks the horse to do different things and the horse has been trained long and hard to accomplish ever command the rider asks. With each discipline being so diverse, so should the footing for the disciplines.

When you’re a barrel racer, and trying to cut milliseconds off of your run each time, every little aspect of your ride matters.  If you’re riding on a hard ground, your horse isn’t going to be able to slide around the barrels. He’s going to have to work hard to grip the hard ground and turn faster. Now let’s say that you’re jumping your horse, performing some high grand jumps, around 5-6 feet (this is great pretending we can jump that high). If you’re jumping your horse this high and landing on a hard surface, your horse could get seriously injured from landing on a hard surface. The surfaces that you ride your horse on, makes a huge impact on how your horse feels, continues to train, and performs.

Our TruStride Footing, is designed specifically for the high jumps that we just discussed. The footing is composed of rubber, synthetic fiber, wax, and pure silica sand. The rubber works hard to create that bounce back effect that a horse needs when jumping such heights, while the fiber forms a lattice-like surface and the wax makes the footing dust free. It is also great footing for Thoroughbred Tracks, allowing race horses to spring off of the surface and forward in their race.

Our LiteStride Footing is the perfect footing for various disciplines such as dressage or hunter/jumper. LiteStride consists of synthetic fibers, wax, and pure silica sand. The fibers make the perfect surface to support your horse while training for dressage and going over smaller jumps; allowing the surface to “give” a little while still staying resilient.

The newest product of footing: Equi-Blend is our most economical option. The formula for Equi-Blend was constructed with the average barn owner in mind. We wanted a footing that everyone could afford while still staying dust free. This footing is recommended for a variety of disciplines such as dressage, Western/Pleasure, or small jumping at a low traffic barn. If you Frog Hollow (14)- Editedare doing higher jumps or it is a higher traffic barn, we would encourage you to consider our TruStride footing.

5K Ranch was developed specially for western riders. It is perfect footing for flat work, loping, cutting, and barrel racing. This is a looser footing that is only used with western pleasure. It consists of our pure silica sand and wax. It stays dust free while still allowing for the “slide” in the footing that is needed in a discipline such as reining.

No matter what discipline of horse riding you train long and hard in, we have the perfect footing for you. Send us some information about your arena and we can suggest the right footing for you and send you a sample!

What is your favorite discipline?

 

Picking up Manure in Horse Arenas

September 29, 2015

We love to catch up with customers. If we are in the area of where we know an arena is installed, we always like to see if we can stop in and check out the arena. I talked to a customer the other day that has had our footing for 9 years, and still tells me how much she loves it! Think of all of the time and water she has saved during the past 9 years!

One of the biggest mistakes that many of our customers make is to not pick up their horse manure in the arena. Many people don’t know this but leaving horse manure in an arena, actually adds dust. Manure is made up of organic material. When manure is left in an arena and is ridden over, it breaks into smaller pieces. Not only do these smaller pieces release airborne bacteria, but it also releases the dry particles that create dust. We had one customer who had our dust free footing in her arena, and her boarders were leaving their horse poop in the arena when they rode. She contacted us because her arena footing became dusty. After viewing the footing under the microscope, we discovered that it was full of organic material and there really was no way to fix the arena without completely removing the contaminated footing and replacing it with new footing.Untitled-1

Being sure that both you and whoever else rides in your arena picks up their horses manure is crucial. We recommend that every barn with our footing post signs around the arena that reminds boarders or trainers that the poop has to be picked up. We also urge everyone to keep a bucket with a pitchfork in the arena to further remind everyone to pick up their manure, and to stop anyone from having an excuse from picking it up. Whether riders pick it up immediately after the horse does their business, or after they’re done riding is not an issue. If they decide to wait until they are done riding in the arena or there is a busy class going on and don’t have time to pick it up during the class, it is important to not ride through the manure during the rest of the ride or lesson. When a horse rides over it, the manure will be pushed deeper into the footing, making it almost impossible to pick up without accidentally leaving some behind.

Always picking up the manure is going to increase the longevity of your arena. Our oldest dust free footing was installed in an arena over 14 years ago and is still doing great! If you have any questions about the maintenance of our footing or would like a sample please feel free to contact us!

Arena Footing: It’s Not Just About Feet.

April 1, 2013

Arena footing may cause injuryArena footing isn’t just about the feet—but about the horse’s entire body. Arena footing influences the entire musculoskeletal system, including bones, muscles, joints, tendons and cartilage. Choosing the right type of footing is important because some surfaces can be a potential risk factor for injuries.

  • Coffin bone fracture is a common fracture among horses who ride fast on hard surfaces. When a material, such as clay or stone dust dries out, it compacts and forms a hard surface, causing horses to move stiffly. Since materials can compact over time, adding an amendment helps reduce compaction and can provide cushioning necessary for good leg and tendon support.
  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD) can be developed due to repeated shock impact of the hoof with the ground, which can lead to progressive and severe cartilage damage. Surfaces with lower-impact resistance absorb more energy and reduce shock to the hoof and leg. Sand has a lower impact resistance, but very deep or dry sand can lead to injuries other than those caused by impact shock.

Wax-coated sand, rubber and fiber arena footing materials can help reduce the shock of contact between the hoof and the surface. To help prevent the risk of developing tendinitis, fractures and joint injuries, be sure to train on a wax-coated footing surface like TruStride® or LiteStride® by IGK Equestrian. TruStride and LiteStride not only provide a stable, flexible and resilient riding surface, but are among the best footings to prevent injuries in the arena.

How do you prevent injuries in your arena?


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