Posts Tagged ‘Equestrian’

Introducing Non-Horse Friends to Your Horse

May 17, 2017

When you’re a “horse girl” most of your friends are also “horse girls”. But maybe you find a friend who has never been around horses; what do you do to introduce this non-horsey friend to your horse? I recently just introduced a close friend to the beauty of horses; here is my experience with it!

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My horse, Red!

My friend had never before been around a horse. The first thing she said was “I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a horse.” The first thing I did was introduce her to the four horses in the barn and explain their personalities a bit and had her say hello to each of them. When it was time to pull my horse out of the stall to groom him, I went over a few safety precautions about being around horses. To horse-people, they come as second nature, but to someone who has never been around horses, you should teach them how to be safe around horses. Before we even went to the barn I told her she needed to have jeans and boots on. My horse is very gentle, but he’s also clumsy and can easily misplace a foot. I then taught her that horses have many blind spots. I showed her to talk to him as you’re moving around him, and keep a hand on his body so he always knows where you are.

Grooming is always my favorite horse activity, and teaching a friend how to properly groom was fun too! I explained to her that although my horse is very laid back, there are other horses in the barn that when you groom them you need to move slowly and not be loud around them or they’ll spook. As I was saddling my horse up, I was explaining what each piece of equipment is and what the purpose of it was.

Once in the arena, I hopped on and rode around the arena a few times to show her the different gaits and how to move him off of your leg, etc. Then it was time for her to try. She was a little nervous before she got on but I explained that he was a very gentle horse and nothing would happen. I lead her around the arena a few times just walking until she got used to what it feels like to be on the horse. After about 20 minutes I asked if she wanted to walk around the arena by herself and she did!

I really had a blast showing a friend of mine a bit of what owning a horse is like. If you have a friend that you can introduce your horse to, I encourage you to do it! Loving horses is easy, sharing that love with other non-horse people is easy too!

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Benefits of a Round Pen

May 17, 2017

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for quotes for round pens. So I decided it would be a great time to write a blog about the benefits of a round pen for you and your horse. Round pens are very versatile and create a controlled environment where you can evaluate, train, and bond with your horse.

The last time that I went with a friend to look at a horse to buy, the barn had a round pen. We were ecstatic! Bringing a horse into a round pen is a great area to evaluate the horse. You can free lunge the horse through the gaits to see how they move without anyone but the horse having control. This allows their full movement. It can be determined by watching the horse if they are lame or have behavioral or physical issues. Free lunging will let you see the horse’s natural abilities.Benefits of a round pen

A round pen can also be used as a good place to train a horse. One of my favorite exercise is to despook in the round pen. Have him walk over a tarp or poles. This way if he does spook, he can’t get far away from the object and can’t hide in the corner of an arena. It also is a great area to bring him in to free lunge before a ride. By free lunging before a ride, his muscles will warm up and get all of the “kinks” out before you ride.

Last but not least, it is a great place to bond with your horse. A round pen provides a non-threatening area. The horse can run around in circles until he has calmed down and realized that you are not a threat to them. He also will be able to focus on you and the commands you are asking of him. Spending time on ground manners, grooming and saddling in the round pen can strengthen your bond together, all while doing this in a safe space for your horse.

There are plenty of companies that sell round pens where you can purchase them, as well as create your own. There are lots of recommendations for height, materials used, etc. You can find some great information in this article by Stable Management.

When looking for footing for your round pen, don’t hesitate to give us a call for dust-free footing with great performance!

Top 10 Blog Posts

May 17, 2017

Top 10 Arena Footing and Stall BeddingWe have had our blog up and running again for a solid year. It has been a year full of a large variety in challenges associated with arena footing, arena installations, and stall bedding along with barn tips, and stories of happy customers. Let’s take a look at the 10 most popular posts to date on our blog, in reverse order.

#10: Are Your Stalls Ready for Winter? A few steps that you can take to ensure your horse remains dry and comfortable all winter long.

#9: East-West Arena Construction. Our largest dealer located in Little Falls, MA is an expert in building arenas and installing our footing.

#8: Footing for an Outdoor Arena. Finding the correct footing for an outdoor arena can be tough, we have a few things to look for when choosing footing for your outdoor arena.

#7: Options for Horse Stall Bedding. The options for stall bedding are endless. Here you can see four of the most popular options.

#6: Picking up Manure in Horse Arenas. There’s a reason we tell our customers to remove manure from your footing!

#5: Biggest Mistakes when Installing an Outdoor Arena. We’ve seen some disasters over the years from installing arenas correctly. Here’s the top problems we see.

#4: Rubber vs. Foam Mattress… Which Mattress Material is Ideal For Your Stalls? See the benefits and drawbacks of solid rubber mats vs. our foam mattresses.

#3: Retaining Boards in Arenas. Take a look at the importance of retaining boards in your outdoor arena.

#2: Barn Hacks for your Barn. Running a barn is hard work, here are a few barn hacks to make your life at the barn easier.

#1: Flaking out on Magnesium Chloride Flakes. Magnesium Chloride flakes are a popular option to fight dust, here are a few downfalls of using them.

Bonding with your Horse

May 17, 2017

Have you ever had an instant bond with a horse? Maybe you’ve had a horse that you’ve had since he was born, so he’s never lost trust in people. Or maybe you have a horse that is very distant and you have to work everyday to get the horse to trust you. Creating a connection with a horse will ensure that your horse will try his hardest for you whether you are in the ring, or going on a trail ride with a dicey situation. Here are a couple tips to increasing the bonding with your horse.

  • Groom your horse. For me, I could groom horses all day long. It not only is a stress reliever for horses but for me too! Horses groom each other in their natural habitat to bond within the heard. It is the same if you groom your horse. Find the areas your horse love getting scratched. They will appreciate it and come to enjoy grooming time with you.
  • Massage your horse. In addition to grooming, learn the basics of equine massage. Any type of form of therapeutic massages or T-touch (moving your fingers in small circular motions) can make your horse relax and enjoy his time with you. Some horses will even lean into you, when you massage a spot that needs work.
  • Don’t just go to the barn for work. Although our schedules may be busy, don’t only go to the barn and work your horse. Take a day out of your scheduled barn visits to just spend relaxing time with your horse. Bring him out to a lush area of grass they normBonding with your horseally can’t get to or sit in the pasture with him and just enjoy each other’s company. I love to read a book while relaxing in the pasture. You can also groom them while you’re there too!
  • Learn to understand your horse’s signals. Learn the different noises they like to make. Observe his facial expressions, how he is holding his head, and tail and watch his ears. I can always tell my horse is relaxed when he puts his head down. When my horse is agitated, he always swishes his tail. Learn what body language your horse has when he’s upset or relaxed or happy.

It could take a few days to earn trust from a new horse, or you could get a horse like me, where it takes months to earn his trust. But once you earn the trust of a horse, you have a friend for life.

How do you bond with your horse?

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!

East-West Arena Construction

June 16, 2016
East-west arena construction horse arena IGK Equestrian footing installation

A gorgeous arena with footing installed by East-West Arena Construction

IGK Equestrian has dealers all over the country. These dealers have all installed our footings in various settings. Our biggest dealer is

Mike Waidlich from East-West Arena Construction, located in Millers Falls, MA. Over the past few years, Mike has been building and installing many arenas with our dust-free footings. I wanted to catch up with Mike and ask him a few important questions about the excavation and installation process so that others can better understand it:

How do you choose an appropriate arena site, for both an indoor and outdoor arena? What do you look for?

“The best site for both an indoor and outdoor arena is a place on the property that is elevated above the surrounding land with places for water run off. The better the site, the less excavation work is needed to complete the project. This varies from site to site and is one of the most important parts to quoting a project.”

Do you need to excavate a site?

“For new facilities there is always some excavation work that needs to be done. Usually this involves removing the topsoil and grading the natural sub-base layer.”

What type of fill do you use for the sub-base and base?

“At places with good natural material, we can use the existing material as our sub base. At places that are wet or need to be elevated to promote drainage, we use either a screened bank run gravel or in some cases processed gravel to build the site up. This may vary based on pricing and availability.  For the base, we usually use stone dust. The material is usually 1/4″ and smaller in size. It compacts well and seals out any rocks or gravel beneath it from coming up into the footing.”

What is the best drainage design to use for an indoor vs. an outdoor arena?

“Outdoor arenas need to be elevated above the surrounding land and also pitched in order to get the water to run off the arena surface. With wax coated footing like IGK, we usually use a half percent slope or six inches of pitch over a hundred feet. Depending on arena size, we use one plane or a crowned center. Indoor arenas should be elevated and have good drainage around the outside of the building so water is not able to flow inside.”

What is your opinion of the grid system vs. stone dust for an arena base? Is one system better in an outdoor vs. an indoor arena?

“In my opinion stone dust is the better option. The cost is significantly less and I haven’t seen much of a difference in performance or longevity.”

How do you install the footing layer?

“We grade every layer with precision laser guided equipment. I use a Level-Best grading box on a tracked skid steer. We set the desired pitch with a laser and remote receiver and the machine automatically adjusts the cutting edge of the blade to cut the slope. We’re accurate to within a quarter inch. We install the footing with this equipment as well.”

Why do you/ your customers choose IGK Equestrian’s Footing?

“We’ve been very happy with the products from IGK. For our customers, the low maintenance is very desirable. There are no irrigation or watering routines needed. For a lot of facilities who don’t have someone to do that maintenance, IGK dust free footing is the perfect solution. The mixture of sand, fiber and wax is just right. I like that it’s consistently the same product because it comes straight from the source in NY. Good sand is a hard to thing to find in many areas and IGK takes the guess work out.”

What has been the feedback from customers about IGK Equestrian’s Footing?

“We’ve had a great response to the footing. Since we started offering it to our product line it is consistently the most desired product we offer. Our customers who have purchased it from us are thrilled with the results.”

How do you like installing IGK Equestrian’s footing?

“The fact that it comes pre blended and ready to be installed saves us a lot of time. I like having the option to ship in bulk or by the bulk bags because some sites are difficult to access.”

How long have you been doing excavation work?

“I grew up on a farm with extended family (aunts and uncles) in the dairy business. I’ve been running trucks and heavy equipment since I was tall enough to reach the pedals. After college I started in the trucking business. We hauled fertilizer to farms, landscapers and lawn care companies throughout the northeast. I slowly started buying heavy equipment and doing small jobs on the side. In 2011 hurricane Irene came through our area and we had record flooding; which eroded farm land and river banks through our area. I spent the next 8 months working to repair hundreds of acres of land; which propelled me into the excavation market. As far as the arena work goes, my wife Naomi has been a life long equestrian and convinced me to try installing horse arenas as a side market. One thing led to another and now we have a consistent arena building business.”

To contact East-West Arena Construction for a quote or for more information, check out their website: http://www.eastwest-construction.com or take a look at some of their beautiful arenas on their Facebook Page!

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!

Why Our Footing Cannot Be Mixed With Your Footing

February 1, 2016

Around this time of the year, customers are planning their spring barn projects causing our number of inquiries to rise; along with how many questions we get about our footings. Recently, we’ve noticed a few popular questions come up, with the most popular being: “what do I do with my old footing? Can yours be mixed in?”

Our footing is manufactured in a specific mixing facility in Upstate NY. This allows for us to control all aspects of the environment that the mixture isArena Footing cannot be mixed,  being created in. If we did not so closely monitor the manufacturing process, the footing could end up with particles in the footing that create dust, or an incorrect type of sand in the footing, which could cause the footing to compact. We have kept the same formula for our footing since we started in 2004, and do not want to alter it in anyway.

With our footing being manufactured in such a specific way, there is not an alternate approach for making our footing such our footing to be mixed in with what is currently in your arena. If you have a current arena with footing, it will have to be completely removed in order to install our products. The most common approach for removing footing is to hire a contractor that has worked with horse arenas before. It is important to check references before the contractor starts work. The footing has to be removed in such a way that it does not damage the base. More than likely, a bit of base work will have to be done before adding our dust-free footing.

We love all of the questions that we get asked and if you have any questions I may have no answered in our blogs, let me know!

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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