As passionate equestrians, it’s safe to say building a horse arena meant spending time and money in creating a space for your four-legged pals. From finding an ideal location and using the right materials, to adhering to building codes–it’s a Herculean effort that you don’t want to go to waste.
To make the most of the horse arena you’ve built and make each training session memorable, proper maintenance is key. By now, you probably know of a few general maintenance reminders such as leveling out the surface, eliminating ruts in high traffic areas, draining the arena, and pulling out weeds before they take root. Aside from these important must-dos that you need to keep in your game plan, you also need to go down to the nitty-gritty so your horse arena can stand the test of time.
In this article, we will talk about:
- Periodic Maintenance
- Riding Surface Maintenance
- Tips for Clean & Safe Stables
- Grooming Equipment
- Caring For Added Features
- Getting Help From Fellow Equestrians
Know when to do periodic maintenance
To be able to work on efficient and effective maintenance, you need to take into consideration not just the number of horses you have, but the landscape of your arena and how often you use it as well. Keep in mind that the end goal is creating a space where your horse can perform at its best. To achieve this, you need to work on daily, weekly, and yearly maintenance must-dos.
Daily must-dos: Similar to how you keep your house clean every day, the same goes for arena tidying. This involves cleaning up footprints, keeping the surface level, and getting rid of ruts on the rail and around jumps. If you don’t practice as often with your maned pal and you only ride a few times each day, you may choose to clean up every other day.
Weekly must-dos: Whether you’ve practiced heavily, just experienced heavy rainfall, or haven’t cleaned your horse arena in a long time, you need to do deep conditioning. This involves moving around jumps, if you have them, and conditioning the take-off and landing spots.
If you used a footing additive, it’s imperative that you hand rake the corners, edges, and hard-to-reach areas of your riding surface to maintain a proper blend. These additives, such as textiles, fibers, and crumb rubber, are mixed with the sand to reduce compaction and dust, bind looseness, and improve drainage, to name a few. Each footing additive has pros that can improve the surface of your arena—textile is known for adding stability while rubber provides cushion.
Annual must-dos: Experts share that “flipping” the surface of your horse arena is a must–especially if you haven’t been able to regularly maintain your property. Doing this involves scraping up the footing above your base or base mats then flipping the sand and footing to re-blend the surface. Consider this as a yearly checkup as well. Sand can break down over a period of time. If you notice dust, it is a sign that you need to add new sand and refresh the footing additives.
Maintain the riding surface
To make horse riding training successful and enjoyable for you and your horse, you need to have a riding surface that’s in tip-top shape. Upkeep, though time-consuming, guarantees a longer lifespan for your arena and healthy horses. Let the checklist below guide you:
- Raking must be done two to three times per week–depending on how often you use your arena. It’s advisable to do raking more frequently during the rainy season and less during dry months. A quad bike is your go-to equipment to accomplish this task.
- Every three to four weeks, don’t forget to work on the corners of your arena using a hand rake to make sure it remains flat. Double up on the high traffic areas including the entries and exits.
- Check the depth of your arena to make sure it’s level every three months. You need to check around the track, on the quarter, and on the center and three-quarter lines.
- Remove weeds and organic matter such as your horse’s droppings as these can affect the surface of your horse arena.
Keep the stables clean and safe
It’s one thing to have a well-kept horse arena and another to provide a safe space where your four-legged friends can rest. A well-looked-after stable ensures not just the health of your horses, but your well-being, too.
- The first step to achieving a spotless stable is by mucking it out every day. Remove droppings and leave no room for dirt. This is beneficial for your horses’ health and factoring in the integrity of your stable, especially if it’s made of wood. Wood is prone to decay due to moisture brought about by unsanitary conditions.
- What bedding did you choose for your riding partner? If you use straw bedding, a pitchfork comes in handy when cleaning out the stable. Those who prefer shavings or a wood pellet bedding can count on a bedding fork with prongs as a cleaning buddy.
- Keep doors and windows open when cleaning to keep the area well-ventilated.
- While cleaning the beddings and giving your stable a good scrub help, allotting time for general cleaning can do wonders. On your preferred schedule, empty out your stable and clean it thoroughly. Using a shovel, remove all dirt and bedding remnants before sweeping the entire stable. Take this as an opportunity to disinfect the floors, too. Allow the space to completely dry before re-bedding and leading your horses back inside.
- Remove cobwebs from the ceiling, check on the bolts on your doors, tighten any loose screws. Accomplishing minor tasks can help you save time in the long run.
- Minimize the risk of diseases by regularly cleaning and disinfecting your stable. This is not limited to the space as you should also clean your equipment to remove remnants. Cleaning your tools lessens the risk of spreading bacteria in the stable, ensuring the health of your horses.
Invest in quality grooming equipment
Your grooming equipment can affect how efficiently you can maintain your horse arena. Aside from using rakes and quad bikes, you can also invest in an arena drag, which is an attachment that can be put on a tractor or with a tow bar to pull across a riding surface. Drags often have spikes that move the surface around.
Using a drag helps maintain the arena footing even and within proper depth. Working with a drag and a leveling blade allows you to fill in ruts and redistribute high spots.
Every horse arena is different–some are smaller while others feature different riding surfaces. At the end of the day, keep in mind that a good foundation, a well-kept riding surface, good drainage, and a clean stable are important in achieving a healthy and long-lasting horse arena.
Don’t forget to give your added features some TLC, too!
Horse arenas aren’t just for bonding with your steed, it’s also a place where you can welcome fellow horse owners and even friends for quick catch-ups. If you have a lounge area or a pocket garden in your property, maintaining it regularly must be part of your game plan as it adds to the overall appeal and cleanliness of your arena.
If you have a pocket garden, make sure you control weeds and that your plants are watered properly. Should you decide to add more plants to the space, pick low-maintenance green wonders to make upkeep easier for you. Meanwhile, those who opted to carve out lounge areas need to focus on making the area as clean and homey as possible. Keep it welcoming and bright by adding seating pieces, soft furnishings, and a few decor pieces.
You can always phone a friend
As cheesy as it may sound, it takes a village to make any endeavor work. Reach out to fellow members of the horse riding community for tips. If you’re neighbors with other equestrians, that would be a good opportunity to strike up a friendship and develop a mini-community within your neighborhood. You can exchange notes about maintaining a horse arena and caring for your riding partners. If you’re in the process of making improvements around your property, they might have go-to suppliers and contacts you can also check out. Assuming that these are trusted service providers and purveyors by your fellow equestrians, chances are, you can depend on these people, too.
Don’t hesitate to do minor improvements if you believe that it’s essential to your space. Remember, maintaining a horse arena regularly not only gives you and your riding partner a safe space where you can practice riding, it also saves you from spending on costly repairs in the future.