How to Properly Maintain Arena Footing
Daily Arena Dragging and Leveling
During the first week after installation of geotextile arena footing, we recommend maintaining your arena footing blend by watering and rolling the arena surface daily. Afterward, for daily maintenance, simply water and harrow the horse arena footing with an appropriate arena drag. The arena drag should have coil tines, with the tines set no deeper than 1 inch. The coil tines will keep blending the geotextiles with the horse arena sand while covering the hoof imprints.
The top 1 inch of the horse arena footing should be loose and not compacted. This is so the horse’s foot can slide slightly into the horse footing when it lands to avoid any front leg jamming. Showgrounds typically keep their riding arena surfaces super tight and grippy for best performance and time scores. But, your arena footing at home, where you train daily, should be more giving! Make sure that your footing allows the horse’s foot to slide into the arena surface. This is very important for the soundness of your sport horses (jumping and dressage). For more detailed info on the biomechanics of the horse and the effects of horse arena footings, we refer to the White Paper.
Even watering throughout the horse arena is essential. Water is the binder for the sand grains. You can control the level of firmness and looseness of your horse arena footing with the adapted amount of water. More water keeps the surface firm, less water results in a looser arena footing.
How much should you water? In hot climates, we prefer watering once daily, with sufficient moisture going down to the bottom of your arena footing rather than watering slightly 3 times a day. You will achieve a much better arena surface this way. The moisture below stabilizes the horse footing and the top inch loosens up from evaporation. If you watered slightly three times a day, you would merely be watering the top 1 inch to keep the dust down. But, the arena footing would never achieve it’s desired level of stability further below.
What is the Best Equipment for Watering?
We recommend our Platz-Max Rain arena drag with the water tank, a pulled water wagon, or overhead sprinklers. Alternatively, there is underground watering irrigation like the HIT Active Aqua System. With this system, you have maximum control over the tightness or softness of the footing, which is achievable through moisture content. The HIT Active Aqua System allows for customization. You can make the surface to be tighter when top level riders are jumping, and looser for daily practice jumps and dressage. The sub-surface irrigation works with the capillary effect of the sand. Combined with our FSGeoTEX arena footing blend for stability and extreme cushioning to reduce impact firmness, it allows the horse’s foot to slide into the footing without compromising traction. We consider this type of horse arena footing the ideal with respect to the biomechanics of the horse.