Your riding arena is a big investment, so keeping it safe and comfortable for your horses is an important part of your farm routine. Read on for practical advice on riding arena maintenance and how the Millcreek Arena Spin Groomer can help!
A well-maintained riding arena allows your horse to perform at his peak. The best riding surfaces offer your horse just enough cushion, good traction (not too slick or uneven) and minimal dust. Ongoing upkeep of arenas is key. Riding arena maintenance needs will vary, however, depending on factors such as footing material, weather, daily use, type of riding and budget.
A good arena is typically built with three layers of materials. The bottom layer is the “sub-base” (native soil), which has been graded and leveled, then compacted with heavy equipment. The middle layer in an arena is the 4- to 6-inch “base” made of a material that is designed to compact (frequently crushed rock).
The top layer of the riding arena is the footing or riding surface, which is usually sand, wood products, rubber, stone dust, or a mixture of these materials. No matter what you use, the trick to maintaining your arena—and the footing that sits on top—is taking care of the base.
“A good base that is well-built should last you 10 years,” says George Chatigny, general manager of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (LAEC). Chatigny says that along with environment, the wrong equipment and poor maintenance will wreck your base. “An arena is only going to last a short while until you find the means to water and drag it on a regular basis,” he explains.
Watering an arena can be done with nothing more than a garden hose and a sprinkler attachment, but many companies now offer arena watering systems that do the job much more efficiently. How often you water depends on climate and frequency of use.
Dragging an arena – to move footing back where it needs to be – is best performed with a specialized piece of grooming equipment. Arena “drags” come in many designs, from simple to sophisticated. Most feature a spiky arrangement of “teeth” to spread footing around as they’re pulled by a tractor.
Some factors to consider when choosing an arena groomer are ease of use, ease of maintenance (what do you do if a “tooth” breaks?), maneuverability and adjustability for depth. The last is extremely important because you have to be careful not to touch the base when dragging. Ripping into the base causes major ruts and unevenness and unfortunately, can only be fixed by stripping out footing and re- leveling.
Aside from protecting your investment, Chatigny says, “If you have something that penetrates the surface and doesn’t break up the base, it will constantly keep the footing material from compacting, and your horses are going to find more enjoyment traveling on something that has a little bit more air, a little bit more fluffiness to it.”
Millcreek is proud to offer our Arena Spin Groomer for outstanding riding arena maintenance. Its ground-driven rotary action quickly and easily loosens, flattens and redistributes footing. High and low spots are eliminated in a single pass! The circular design lets the drag reach under obstacles such as jumps without moving them, and it doesn’t snag on fences. Need to change the depth? It’s a simple adjustment up to 5″ deep. Flame-hardened steel tines are easily replaced if necessary.
If you’ve spent the time and money to design a riding arena, take the time to perform proper riding arena maintenance and it will last longer and cost less over the long run. Also, a good riding surface will help your horse stay sounder and happier – making you happier, too!
Source: Horse Channel