ARENA : MENAGE : SCHOOL
We asked Jocelyn Riley, Managing Director of Equestrian Direct Surfaces for her views on arena construction and maintenance. Alongside her business, Jocelyn also runs a busy yard of event horses so well constructed arena surfaces requiring little maintenance are essential for such a busy lifestyle. Here she shares some of her top tips:
Ground Rules for Construction
The location of your arena is important, you need somewhere with convenient access for your horses, i.e.: near the stables and also for the wagons to deliver the materials. It will be more cost effective if you can take artic vehicles on to your property. You will need planning permission for a new arena, we would advise to contact your local planning department and discuss with them.Movie Rings (2017)
Ideally on a naturally well-draining area if possible, however we don’t always have that option so if your land is very wet/poor draining you need to allocate for more extensive drainage. Getting the drainage and base right at this stage is vitally important to prevent puddling and surface movements/riding deep.
Once the drainage and base of hardcore or stone has been put in place you will need a membrane between the base and your chosen surface. Good quality sand with a synthetic topping or fibre are the most popular options. The correct size and shape of sand particles is very important for your drainage so do obtain from a reputable source specialising in equestrian use.
Flexiride, composed of synthetic textile and polymer materials with cushioning foam, is one of most versatile all-weather surfaces designed to sit on top of good quality sand or down as an all-in-one surface and is very easy to maintain. Fibres added to sand will stabilise the sand and can be beneficial in drier areas as they retain the surfaces moisture content. Ensure that the arena is level and the depth of the surface is consistent throughout.
Correct research and advice before you start your build is advised, purchase from a well-established company with a good reputation. Always obtain quotations, samples and guaranteed timescales from any prospective suppliers.
Maintaining Arena Performance
The after-care and maintenance of your equine arena is extremely important to ensure a level, compact and even surface and to enhance the performance and longevity of your investment. It will also lower the risk of bone and joint related injuries in horses.
The correct maintenance for your arena surface will vary depending on the material used, weather, type and amount of use along with budget for maintenance. How often an arena surface is used determines the frequency of its maintenance, but irrespective of whether you use it once a month or twice a day, it is a vital task.
Overtime, surfaces can become uneven and loose or even hard and compact, and this has the potential for major health implications for your horse if arena maintenance is not carried out.
For quick and easy maintenance you can simply use a Junior Harrow pulled by small tractor or a quad bike to level your arena. How often this needs doing will depend on how much the arena is used.
A harrow which has passive tines on one side and aggressive tines on the other allows for maintenance to be varied depending on the needs of the surface.
If you don’t have the budget to buy fancy equipment and machinery a simple hand rake will do the job. This will help to level any tracks or holes and can be used to rake the surface away from the sides of the arena where it is most likely to build up. However there is a down side to doing the job by hand… you spend more time raking the surface than you actually spend riding on it!
Maintaining your arena may also mean that you need to rejuvenate the existing surface. Over time surfaces can become compact and hard and will start to hold more water, using a rotivator can help break up the compaction and aerate the surface.
On the other hand surfaces which are deep and loose would benefit from adding binding fibres which will help tighten it up. Once these fibres are added they will need to be worked into the existing surface also using a rotivator.
Adding more fibres and additives will require more regular maintenance and may require adding water to the surface to provide a secure footing. Surfaces with added binding fibres require conditioning rather than aggressive levelling.
The Equilevel makes arena maintenance quick and easy. This one piece of equipment can replace three and can have a water tank and spray heads fitted. The track clearer at the front of the machinery pulls the surface into the leveller. Two rows of small tines condition the surface to the required depth whilst the levelling bar smooths over the surface. At the back a latticed roller leaves the surface level.
Sand and Rubber Surfaces
Although the market place for equestrian surfaces has advanced from traditional sand and rubber arenas many people still use these kinds of surfaces and maintenance is still a must.
For these types of surfaces a simple flat back leveller which can be pulled around the arena similar to a harrow will suit. Again if you choose a large rake can be used to carry out the same job. Surfaces will need levelling over time especially around the edges where tracks start to form, some more often than others depending on how much it is used.
All surfaces should regularly have droppings removed and any weeds pulled; the sooner you can do it the easier it is to stay on top of it.
For more information or a free quote, contact Equestrian Direct on 01564 794020 or visit www.equestriandirectltd.co.uk