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Keep your equestrian surface perfect, even in the rain!
As we transition from summer into autumn here in the UK, the weather can be quite unpredictable. While rain may not be every rider’s favourite, at Equestrian Surfaces, we’re here to tell you it’s not all doom and gloom.
Rain offers its own set of benefits, especially for equestrian surfaces that can dry out and harden, posing safety risks. However, despite these upsides, wet conditions do require a little extra maintenance to keep your training ground in top shape.
Let’s take a closer look…
How heavy rain affects your surface:
- Uneven surface
- Reduced traction
While a little natural moisture is essential to keep your surface from drying out, a sudden and heavy downpour can quickly turn a reliable surface into a slippery or muddy challenge.
When a heavy downpour occurs, it can lead to uneven areas of surface, creating hollows and ridges in the riding arena. If these uneven areas are left unattended, they can hold water, resulting in puddles that could be troublesome for you and your horse.
How to ensure your surface is maintained after rainfall:
Firstly and perhaps most crucially, is to make sure that you have adequate drainage systems in place. Consider, is it worth having invested in a premium riding surface if the corners have been cut when it comes to drainage?
If you’ve been lucky enough to have your surface installed by the Equestrian Surfaces team, you’ll know that we prioritise creating robust drainage systems that can withstand even the harshest of rainfalls.
These systems will be found underneath your base layer of membrane, where you will typically find a main carrier drainage channel, with other drain pipes branching off from the side ( a herringbone drainage system). This will be complemented by a layer of drainage stone (we use washed limestone or granite) that further helps drive excess water away from your surface.
Drainage systems serve three purposes:
- Provide a firm and stable base
- Allow excess water to pass through freely
- Store excess water until it can be dispersed
If your surface has inadequate drainage systems in place, you’re going to struggle with getting rid of your waterlogged surface, and regardless of how frequently you grade your surface, it will become extremely difficult to ride on.
Assuming that your drainage systems are in good working order, you’re in a much better position to make the most of this late summer rainfall. In this instance – your grader is your best friend.
After a downpour, it’s advisable to grade deeper into your surface than you typically might. This approach not only counteracts potential compaction and irregularities within your surface but it also helps excess moisture evaporate faster.
For those with sand and fibre surfaces, rainfall is even more of an opportunity rather than a hindrance. The moisture helps to mix separated fibres back into the sand, making your surface more consistent. Unlike in dry summer conditions, where you might want to retain moisture, the goal now is to redistribute it effectively.
Grading serves a dual purpose: it not only helps to dry out a waterlogged surface but also sustains your existing drainage system and maintains overall surface quality.
Benefits of grading deeply after rainfall:
- Helps your surface dry out faster (if it is waterlogged)
- Supports the rest of your drainage system
- Keeps your surface in good condition
What is grading?
Grading refers to the practice of smoothing out your surface. Regardless of the weather, regular grading using a high-quality Trackmaster grader will extend the lifespan of your surface and ensure a safer and more comfortable ride for both you and your horse.
3. Regular surface inspection
Finally, it is always a good idea to carry out regular surface inspections. These don’t need to be too technical or require any special equipment. However, by regularly checking your surface for debris, such as leaves, flower petals, seeds or blossom – you’ll reduce the likelihood of your drainage systems becoming blocked and inefficient. This is critical to the longevity of your surface and essential for maintaining top condition.
In addition to removing foliage from your surface, inspections give you the opportunity to measure the depth of your surface. This allows you to check for any vast inconsistencies throughout the surface that may cause hollows or ridges that encourage water to collect.
So there we have it – while rain can bring challenges – being proactive about surface maintenance during and after a downpour can ensure your arena remains resilient and reliable, regardless of the weather conditions!
Need a hand maintaining your surface this summer?
At Equestrian Surfaces, we offer a range of quality maintenance solutions to help keep your surface free from excess water and support your drainage systems. For bespoke advice and guidance, give us a call on 01282 834 870 or drop us a message here.
PS. Curious to see if you’re making the most commonly made surface maintenance mistakes? Check out our previous blog here!