Footing Depth

Footing depth is always a tricky question. The depth of the footing really depends on what you plan on doing in your horse arena. I’ve had customers call saying they want 5 inches of footing in their arena. That’s a big no no. You don’t want to have your arena footing so deep that your horse is struggling through it; which is often seen in deep sand arenas. I have rode in arenas where I skip around a whole section of the arena because the footing is so deep and my horse constantly trips through it.footing depth

Typically when we quote customers with our dust-free footing, we start with a minimum depth of 3.5 inches. This depth is great for ground work, walk trot canter, and dressage. If there is any jumping happening in the arena, we bump the depth up to 4 inches. The 4 inches is only recommended for lower level jumping. Grand prix style jumping should have 4.5 to 5 inches of footing in order to properly support the horse when taking off and landing. However, these depths only work with our footing, not with sand.

Our TruStride arena footing has been installed at depths around 9 inches before on Thoroughbred training tracks. It does not give riders a “deep” feeling when riding at deeper footing depths. The deeper depth gives the horse more cushion when performing extraneous activities. For other disciplines such as barrel racing and poles we recommend 4 inches for the horses to be able to dig in and get around the obstacles. Reiners typically prefer 5 inches of sand in order to get the proper slide in their arenas.

Every customer that we quote, we find out what type of riding they do in their arena as well as how many horses they expect per day, and based on that we can recommend a footing that would be the perfect match for their arena. Contact us today to get a quote for our dust-free arena footing for your arena!

Footing That Won’t Freeze

You’ve finally found a footing that won’t freeze!! Finding an arena footing that can handle a wide range of temperatures is hard. One of the most common questions is “does your footing freeze in the winter?” The quick answer to that is no, it doesn’t freeze in the winter, colder temps can bring on a stiffening to the footing, but it doesn’t freeze!Horse Arena Footing Freeze

Being located in Upstate NY in the Finger Lakes Region, we had to create a product that could withstand our harsh, snowy winters, as well as, be able to handle the temperatures across most of the country. We created this footing with all of these obstacles in mind. When choosing what polymer we wanted to use as a binder and dust suppressant for our footing, we chose wax because of the ability to handle the broad range of temperatures. Wax can withstand temperatures as high as 90-100˚F degrees and can go as cold as negative temperatures which means footing that won’t freeze.

Footing typically freezes with increased moisture in the footing. With traditional sand, water particles constantly sit inside the footing layer, especially when drainage is not ideal in an arena. Once the temperature hits 32˚F, these water particles will freeze in your footing, and your sand will become hard. It makes it seem like your entire footing layer is frozen, when it is the water particles in that layer. When our footing is installed correctly, 85% of rainfall will actually wick right off of the footing surface because of the wax. Only around 15% of moisture will be absorbed through the footing. With the proper base, the small amount that does go down into the footing drains straight down to the base and out of the footing.

Although there will be some moisture in our footing in an outdoor arena, the footing will not give you the “frozen” feel that sand often does in cold temperatures. The footing may be a bit stiffer than in warmer temperatures, but this will not affect your horse’s performance on the footing! Our footing allows your horse to train longer and harder than any other footing, and you will be spending much less time on maintaining it! Oh and don’t forget you’ve finally found footing that won’t freeze!!

Let IGK Equestrian know, how do you prevent your footing from freezing?

Finding a Contractor

Contractor’s are the manpower behind building arenas. They are the ones that can make or break an arena installation. Finding a reputable contractor is a crucial part to equestrian dream installation. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when searching for a contractor to install your base and footing for your arena.

  1. Do lots of research. Who in your area has installed a horse arena before? Who have your friends used to install their arenas? Do they have experience in installing a horse arena??You may have a friend that recommends a specific company and you can go with that person, if not, go to #2.
  2. Get a bid for your arena project from a few different companies. This will allow you to see if someone is hiking up the price. You can compare the prices and what time frame they think they will be able to get the work done.
  3. Check references on contractors. Ask if you could speak with a past customer of theirs. If the customer liked their work, they are typically more than willing to speak with someone about their experience. If possible, see if you can go and visit an arena that this contractor has installed. Look to see if there are any low or high spots. A proper arena should not have any standing water or big change in elevation.
  4. If you are happy with the contractor research you have done, book the contractor and get a time frame of when your project will be started and completed!

Finding a contractor that you like will make your arena project run much smoother. Most contractors are willing to come back to your arena every few years to regrade it and check to make sure all components are still performing correctly. Have fun in your horse arena project!

Let IGK Equestrian know what contractor you used to build your horse arena!!

Extend Life of Arena

Everyone wants to extend the life of their arena. There are many ways to extend life of arena, to get the most out of it, for as long as you can. The want to spend money up front, and not have to spend money again on the arena for years to come, although it sounds nice, is not realistic.

Grooming your footing is one way to extend life of arena: Routinely grooming your footing can significantly extend the life of your arena. Almost all horse show organizations now have rules to groom between so many riders. Grooming every 4-7 riders, breaks up the footing and can considerably reduce the injuries to a horse and rider in an arena. If there are clumps, or deep and shallow spots in the arena, it can cause injury to the horse for the inconsistency in the footing. Dragging prevents ruts against the wall and the surface compacting in the corner. Continuing to regulate your grooming is a great way to keep your footing looking great, and performing great!

Picking up organic material is another way to extend life of arena: I have been to barns where horses are constantly turned out both in indoor arenas and outdoor arenas. Although this space is nice to let a horse run around, horses shouldn’t be kept in this space for long periods of time by themselves. Manure and urine lead to a decline in your footing. Once manure gets into your footing and breaks down, this creates organic material in your footing, which then creates airborne dust. Manure should be picked up before it can be worked into the footing, and horses should not be left in an arena for long periods of time. In addition to manure in the footing, horses should never be fed hay in the arenas. Hay also can easily get broken down in the footing, which again creates dust.

Premium footing is an investment for all equestrian facilities. TruStride™LiteStride™5K Ranch™, and Equi-Blend™ are the only footings on the market, which use recycled components and require no more than regular maintenance. Regular maintenance includes arena grooming and most importantly following the rule of picking up after your horses and not turning them in your arena. Keeping these simple rules in mind when concerning your arena can significantly extend life of arena footing and the base.

Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing

Let’s talk about barrel racing. Barrel racing is a huge sport where we are located in Central NY. I have lots of friends that race, and many times multiple days a week. If you don’t know the point of barrel racing, let me break it down for you! The horse and rider are timed for how fast they can get around the barrels. They run through a gate where the timer starts, run around one barrel on the left or right side of the ring, then run across the ring to the other, then to the end of the ring to loop around the last barrel and race for home! It is such a fun sport to watch!

Barrel racing is a sport that demands a lot from the footing. The fast acceleration and explosive turns are what makes up barrel racing. The horse needs grip to do all of these fast, tight turns. The wrong footing conditions can cause catastrophic injuries to barrel horses. It can’t be too slippery and it can’t be too hard, or too stable. Some riders like a deep footing, others like a more solid ground. A ground that isn’t firm enough can contribute to soft tissue injuries, and a ground that is too hard can lead to bone injuries.

When building an arena, we recommend 3-4 inches of a large aggregate stone, a layer of geotextile fabric, and 3-4 inches of a compacted stone dust for the base. This base will allow for water to properly drain from the arena. The footing would go directly on top of the compacted stone dust. With barrel racing, we normally recommend 4 inches of either 

TruStride™ or LiteStride™. The recommended base, combined with the arena footing, provides the perfect grip and support that is needed to barrel race. The base has the solid foundation that the footing needs, and the footing is not too deep and not to shallow, so that the horses can dig their hooves in to quickly turn around barrels.

If you ever get the chance to attend a barrel race I encourage you to do so! Watch the footing while they race, and how the horse’s body reacts to turning around the corner and running for home. Is the footing too slippery? Is it too deep? Is it too shallow?

Let IGK Equestrian know, What would you recommend, after reading this blog, on how the footing should react?

Attached Arenas Create Dust in Barn

Building or renovating a barn can be fun, but also very time consuming. You’ll want to design a barn that promotes good health for both humans and horses in the barn! Attached arenas can create arena dust which could potentially be harmful!!

Although building your barn with an attached arena sounds like an ideal situation, it could severely affect your horses’ health. An article from The HORSE takes a look at Indoor Arena Dust and the damage it causes to horse and rider. The air quality was tested in four different indoor arenas, each with a different barn layout. They noted that the dust levels were highest in the arena that was in the same building as the stalls.

The arena dust can easily migrate to the stalls, as the dust from the stall bedding as well as hay, can increase the dust levels. Many local barns have been building arenas, with stalls lining the inside of the arenas. This can be the worst combination if the traditional sand is used. With the stalls being located in the arena, the horses in the stalls are breathing as much dust in as the horse doing the riding. Dust is not only harmful to your horses but to you too. It can cause many bronchitis issues as well as sinus infection.

Instead of worrying about dust from your arena migrating into your barn, install a footing that is completely dust-free. Our dust-free footing products will relieve the headache of dust levels being high all over your barn. Not only will you never have to water your arena again, but you’re also providing your horse with the best product for them to train on that will properly cushion their every hoof fall.

Transitioning our Topcover

Since the start of our mattress system journey almost 20 years ago, there have been many changes in the industry. Let’s give you a bit of background on our company! IGK Equestrian, LLC is a family owned business, which has a parent company: North Brook Farms, Inc.

Here is our story:

More than 20 years ago, the Kyle family ran a dairy farm milking 350 head on their 800-acre farm in central New York. Their veterinarian advised them to make their cows more comfortable, since well-rested cows produce more milk. So the Kyles decided to make the cows’ bedding softer and more enticing by incorporating recycled rubber. The Kyles and their three sons scouted out local tire recapping shops for discarded tire buffings, packed them into stalls, and covered them with an industrial fabric. The cows readily laid down in their stalls, milk production soared and other farmers took notice.

Hunter Harrison 037When they saw how fast the cow mattresses took off, they decided to also produce horse stall mattress systems. They started with the rubber filled mattresses, then transitioned to the foam mattresses, which is currently used. Also over the past years, the Kyle’s and the rest of the employees at IGK Equestrian has studied and tested many different topcovers.

We have gotten feedback from many potential customers over the past few years that people would like
a more economical SmartStall™ mattress system. Here at IGK Equestrian, we take all feedback very seriously. Due to the feedback we have received, we currently are in a transition period with our topcover. We are trying to find a topcover that would lower the cost of the mattress system, but would still perform under a horse the way we want it to.

The new topcover is currently in the testing phase in the new product development cycle. Although we are very excited to be rolling out a new product in the future, we do not want to rush this process in anyway. The durability and the lifespan of the product under a horse is our top priority and we want to be sure that this topcover performs in the correct way. At this time, we are hoping to have the product available for purchase in late Spring 2017- Summer 2017.

From all of us here at IGK Equestrian, we thank you for your patience as we find a topcover that will be the right fit for our customers. When the product is available for purchase we will be adding it to our website, as well as writing blogs about it and advertising it. Be sure to keep checking back in a few months to see when we will be offering the new economical mattress system!

 

 

How Does Your Arena Handle a Rain Storm?

One of the first questions I ask when discussing an arena during heavy rain is, “How does your arena handle a rain storm?”. Unpredictable weather conditions will forever be a curse in certain parts of the world, especially when it comes to the equestrian industry. Don’t you hate when the weather ruins your riding schedule? Ever remember a time when you were excited to work your horse when Saturday came. Well Saturday came, along with a huge rainstorm; which then put the outdoor arena out of commission for Saturday & Sunday. 

There are a few simple steps you can take to decrease the chances of ending up in a muddy or washed out arena. Location is a huge play on how your arena will handle rain. If you have the luxury of designing your own outdoor arena, be sure to choose a spot that is on higher ground and away from where your barn rain will drain. Adequate base and drainage play a crucial part in draining the arena during heavy periods of rain. When building the arena, install 3-4 inches of larger aggregate stone on the very bottom, then 3-4 inches of compacted stone dust with a 2% crown, and finish with 3-4 inches of footing with a 2% crown. The crown will allow for water to drain off of the surface much better. Pressure treated retaining boards rests on top of the large aggregate stone and outside the fence posts. Retaining boards will help your footing from migrating off of the arena when the water also drains off. Perimeter or curtain drains should run around all sides of the arena around 4-6 buried; the large aggregate stone should also surround the perimeter drains. Below you can see a side view of the base in an outdoor arena.

Footing Side View

Having regular sand in your arena makes it even harder to ride after rain. The sand is easily washed out, and can easily migrate out of your arena. Our dust-free footings are great for both indoor and outdoor arenas. When confronted with water, the wax in the footing blend actually wicks the water off of the surface. Around 80% of the rain is wicked off the surface and the footing only absorbs about 20% of the rainfall. Our customers have given us feedback that they can ride as soon as the rain stops. They don’t have to give their arena time to finish draining the rest of the water. Don’t postpone your scheduled workout again! Choose a footing that can handle heavy rains like those from IGK Equestrian !!

Let IGK Equestrian know how does your arena handle a rain storm?

Benefits of a Round Pen

The benefits of a round pen for you and your horse. Round pens are very versatile and create a controlled environment where you can evaluate, train, and bond with your horse.

The last time that I went with a friend to buy a horse, the barn had a round pen. We were ecstatic! Bringing a horse into a round pen is a great area to evaluate the horse. You can free lunge the horse through the gaits to see how they move without anyone having control. This allows for full movement. It can be determined by watching the horse if they are lame, have behavioral or physical issues. Free lunging will let you see the horse’s natural abilities.Benefits of a round pen

A round pen can also be used as a good place to train a horse. One of my favorite exercise is to despook in the round pen. Have him walk over a tarp or poles. This way if he does spook, he can’t get far away from the object and can’t hide in the corner of an arena. It also is a great area to bring him in to free lunge before a ride. Free lunging before a ride, his muscles will warm up and get all of the “kinks” out before you ride.

Last but not least, it is a great place to bond with your horse. A round pen provides a non-threatening area. The horse can run around in circles until he has calmed down and realized that you are not a threat. He also will be able to focus on you and the commands you are asking of him. Spending time on ground manners, grooming and saddling in the round pen can strengthen your bond together, all while doing this in a safe space for your horse.

There are plenty of companies that sell round pens, you can purchase them, as well as create your own. There are lots of recommendations for height, materials used, etc. You can find some great information in this article by Stable Management.

When looking for footing for your round pen, don’t hesitate to give IGK Equestrian a call for dust-free footing with great performance!

Geotextile Fabric

I always talk about how important the base of the arena is. If you install the base incorrectly, you could spend large amounts of money trying to fix it later down the road. One layer in the base that is often overlooked is the geotextile fabric. There are two different types of geotextile fabric: woven and non-woven fabric.

Woven geotextile fabric is a bit cheaper of an option that is created by actually weaving individual threads on a loom. Woven geotextile is strong, and pretty stiff. It is primarily used for steepened slopes, retaining walls, wind erosion, or for cushion. The downfalls of woven geotextile fabric are that it can be easily opened by angular aggregate and does not drain well.

Non-woven fabric is created when the material is bonded with chemicals or with heat to create the consistent surface. This fabric is created for ideal filtration and drainage. It is mostly used for erosion control, separating layers, or drainage fabric. Non-woven fabric is a bit more expensive than woven, and is slightly thinner but can be made at different thicknesses or can be reinforced.

Non-woven geotextile fabricWhen explaining the ideal base that you need for your arena, we always recommend 2-3 inches of large aggregate stone, a layer of geotextile fabric to separate the stone layers, 2-3 inches of crushed stone on top of the fabric, and your footing directly on top of your compacted crushed stone. The geotextile fabric that should be used is a non-woven fabric. This allows for all water to be able to move freely through your base, so that you don’t have any type of water buildup in your base, leading to water buildup in your footing. The reason we also recommend non-woven is because it is stronger than the woven fabric in that the large aggregate stones can’t break through. This ensures that you don’t have stones migrating up into your footing.

 

We love to help people who are planning their arenas. If you have any questions about what we recommend for your base construction, please feel free to give us a call!