Although some lockdown restrictions are now gradually being lifted, and training yards are being granted permission to begin preparations for reopening, a lot of equestrians are still using this time in lockdown to work their horses on a yard or arena at home where possible.
At Equestrian Surfaces, we are regularly asked for tips and guidance on arena surface maintenance. Why is surface maintenance so important? And what can you do to ensure your surface is performing at optimum?
We’ve compiled a short guide on surface maintenance which intends to cover all bases. However, our team are on hand to answer any questions and queries you may have via the live chat facility, email or telephone, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Why is surface maintenance so important?
Carrying out regular maintenance work on your arena surface is key to keep it performing at an optimal level and prolonging its lifespan. In addition, ensuring your surface is in top shape will help to keep your horse performing well, promoting soundness and ensuring security in landing and through turns.
Find out more about horse footfall patterns and how arena surfaces can impact your horse’s performance here.
How often should I carry out maintenance works on my riding surface?
Different types of surface require different levels and methods of maintenance, but the key thing to remember is that all types of surface require a regular maintenance routine.
Setting a maintenance routine into place as soon as your surface has been laid is the best way to protect your investment and ensure its longevity.
The method and frequency of the maintenance work you should adopt will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the type of surface you have (i.e. waxed or non-waxed), the purpose and regularity of use, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor surface.
How to maintain a waxed riding surface
Waxed surfaces are a popular choice with many riders, including for larger equestrian centres and riding schools as well as home yards, owing to their durability and their ease of maintenance, requiring little to no irrigation. The wax content in their makeup also offers binding and adhesive qualities which will help to keep your surface dust-free.
Although a waxed surface may generally be easier to maintain than a surface with no, or a very low, wax content, it will still require regular maintenance if you are to ensure it continues to perform well in the long-term. If not properly maintained, a wax surface is likely to become over-compacted, resulting in a reduction in its shock-absorbance levels which in turn will leave your horse more vulnerable to injury.
You will need to keep your surface light and even in order to provide a steady and supportive footing for your horse. It’s a good idea to grade your surface regularly in order to prevent it from become too compacted and ensure high levels of shock absorbance, support and energy return are retained.
How to maintain a non-waxed riding surface
When compared with a waxed surface, non-waxed riding surfaces do have increased maintenance requirements; however, they also offer a low-cost, economical alternative which does not compromise on quality or performance.
It’s important to monitor the condition of your surface regularly, as non-waxed surfaces are more likely to be affected by changes in climate. You should be prepared to increase your maintenance routine when the climate is especially hot and dry, or cold and wet.
Regular irrigation and grading will be required, particularly in hot and dry weather, to manage the moisture levels within the surface and keep it performing at its best.
How soon should I carry out maintenance works after my surface has been laid?
When it comes to surface maintenance, the earlier you can introduce a regime, the better. Operating a daily maintenance programme in the first few months of your surface being laid will enable you to become familiar with your surface and how it’s affected by different weathers. It will also allow you to learn the impact of your horse’s hooves on your surface, and to monitor any areas that are prone to heavier footfall and therefore more wear, such as the entrance(s), tracks and the centre line.
At Equestrian Surfaces, we offer a range of Trackmaster surface graders, which are available in different sizes, including 1.5m, 2.3m, or a custom size. We can even match the colour of your grader to your other maintenance equipment. Get in touch to find out more about our graders and the range of maintenance packages that we offer, or click here to see our surface range.