In part 2 of our series on the effects of arena footings on the soundness and performance of your horse, we examine the impact of uneven arena footing. Let’s take a look at the above photo and what it means for the horse.

The picture shows a horse traveling straight on a very uneven sand/dirt surface. Note that the right fore leg (when viewed from the front) is avoiding landing unevenly on the higher side of the surface. As a result, he is adjusting his lower limb inwards with a torque. Repetitive exercise on uneven horse arena footing like this one shown will cause such limb torque with a temporary lack of balance and associated improper use of muscle action. This eventually results in soreness and lameness. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), any sudden change of surface integrity may predispose to lameness. Therefore, proper arena surface for your discipline and arena maintenance are key.

Recommendations: To eliminate uneven arena footing issues, level out sand/dirt footing in your riding arena or on your track so that it is not deeper than 4 inches throughout. Water the arena footing daily to eliminate dust. Ideally, upgrade to a nice silica sand and geotextile fiber arena footing for long-term, good results.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our series, where we will take a look at when arena base construction goes wrong, and how it impacts your horse’s performance and health.