Has Your Arena Been Drowning In Rain this Winter? 

Your riding arena is one of the most substantial and most valuable investments that you will make at your facility. Good footing is key to providing proper drainage, concussion absorption, stability and traction. Most well planned arenas started out this way, however keeping them functioning optimally is the challenge, especially if they see high traffic or if you have an outdoor arena that must hold up to the exposure of varying conditions and inclement weather such as heavy rain. 

Keeping your arena and footing safe and comfortable for your horses and riders should be an indispensable part of your facility planning and maintenance schedule. 

Here are 5 expert tips to get you through the rainy season in top form:

5. The Base

First and foremost, determine if your base layer is in good shape. Determining whether the foundation of your arena is adequate, may require enlisting a professional to examine if your base needs work. If your base is only in need of minor repairs, you could pull the footing back and fill in the areas with new base material. If you are doing it yourself, renting a compactor is an option to get the base solid, then coat the edges of any holes with a sealant so they won’t crack or split once they get wet. Always consult with an arena building expert within your area, who can asses your situation and make sure your base is solid before making the investment to add more footing. The base of indoor arenas needs to be completely level, while outdoor arenas need to have a slight grade to allow for run off. Whatever the case, the base layer must be graded and compacted. 

4. Drainage

Arenas that are too deep or bogged down in certain areas indicate that there is a drainage issue. Improper  drainage can be the result of a poorly constructed base that was not properly graded when your arena was built. A quick fix can be to regularly rake in and pull the edges of your arena to allow any excess water to escape along the side. The slope of a well engineered arena will vary from one half to a one percent grade, to measure the appropriate grade needed for your arena, measure the rise divided by the run and multiple by 100. If water is pooling in your arena, that is evidence that you have a faulty grade. If you are in an area that contends with heavy rain, or rapid showers, less slope is desirable, so that materials don’t wash away. If your arena has good drainage and milder rain, more slope may be required. Strategically installing drains around the outside of your arena can help with drainage problems. Or if you find that water is draining out of the arena with nowhere to go, causing it to pool, installing drains to give the water an outlet, can improve your situation. 

3. Water Absorption

Adding materials to the footing to increase water absorption might also help with the problem as well. Premium footing from ReitenRight goes a long way in absorbing the moisture from your riding arena. The unique material structure of ReitenRight draws in and retains moisture while promoting improved drainage for greater weight during heavy rainfall and even high winds.

2. Harrowing  

One of the most common issues with poor footing is that people don’t drag their arenas often enough. It is recommended that an arena is harrowed everyday, before anyone rides on it. This level of regularity is just as important at a smaller facility with only a few horses being ridden on it per day to a high traffic boarding/training facility that sees multiple horses daily. Harrowing areas of your arena that see more repetitive riding will want to be harrowed more regularly and establishing a dragging patten that helps redistribute top material more evenly is also key.

1. Top Layer

Once all the work is complete, the goal is to keep the top layer loose and evenly distributed over the entire arena surface. The more frequent you are in maintaing the top layer, the longer your base will last and stay in good shape. The top of your arena surface is what you must be mainly concerned with on a day to day basis. It should be worked enough that a horse will not penetrate through and damage the base. You must make the top layer a priority and do what it takes to keep it consistent. 

If you build your arena right in the first place, hopefully you can avoid any major repairs or costly mistakes down the road. The most important thing that you can do to stay on top of your arena maintenance is to do routine check and not ignore any problems that may occur. 

The soundness, well-being and safety of your horses and riders depend on it.