How to care for your riding arena surface
No equestrian surface will be maintenance free. However, some riding arena surfaces require more maintenance than others. Whether this is watering to prevent the surface from becoming deep or whether it is regular grading to keep the surface level, you should expect to spend a certain amount of time keeping your surface in good riding condition.
Here we answer some key questions on the topic of arena maintenance.
My surface is drying out on top but is retaining water down below, should I harrow it to bring the wet surface to the top?
Bringing moist sand from lower down in the surface to the top can be a good short-term fix. However, in the longer term this might cause a problem with the stability of the surface as you will break down and loosen the base.
A better solution would be watering the arena surface and grading normally to ensure a consistent surface.
My arena freezes in the winter. Should I harrow the surface to break up the compaction?
No. Harrowing the surface will dig the frost deeper into the surface and it will take longer to thaw.
Will grading my arena make a difference to the way it rides?
Yes. Rolling an arena firm will result in a harder and faster surface, whereas grading the surface to be looser and fluffier on top will give a softer and spongier surface.
Your intended use will ultimately define how you should prepare and maintain your surface.
Will a waxed surface be easier to maintain?
All surfaces require a certain degree of maintenance however, waxed surfaces generally require less watering maintenance as they retain their moisture more.
What else should I do to look after my surface?
Apart from having the correct maintenance equipment to make the surface rides exactly how you want it to, removing muck from the arena daily is essential. We are surprised that clients invest heavily in the best arena and then not look after it. Removing the muck from the arena should be like checking oil on your car.
Do I need a tow-hitch or 3-point linkage to pull my maintenance equipment?
This is down to personal preference, and finances.
A gator or mule is generally a more cost effective but gives less flexibility in terms of adjusting the maintenance equipment.
When using a tractor with three-point linkage you have the benefit of adjusting the maintenance equipment, both rollers and tines, more precisely to exactly how you want your surface to ride.