Expensive Now, Worth It Over Time

     

When it comes to talking about footing, these conversations are cut short as soon as the individual hears the price of our products. After hearing the price, the conversation ends very quickly. We don’t get a chance to explain to the customer that yes, our footing is expensive, but it will save money in the long run and it is more than worth it.

Longevity: Our oldest arena is 13 years old and going strong! That is not seen with regular sand arenas. Traditional sand will need to be replenished often, while our footing has a long life ahead of it. If the cost and savings isn’t proven to be worth it over 13 years I’d be surprised!!

Maintenance: Time spent maintaining the arena is significantly reduced if time is money than that savings is worth it alone!! TruStride™ and LiteStride™ both have fiber in the footings, making them much more stable than traditional sand. The stability in the footing leads to less tracks when riding and much less time spent on grooming. In addition to the footing being more stable, it also is dust-free. Say goodbye to your long days watering your arena to fight dust; and say hello to more time spent riding in your arena!

Supplements: By providing a cushioning surface to work your horse on, hoof and joint pain will be greatly reduced as well as give some relief to your horses’ bones, tendons and ligaments. Joint supplements will no longer be needed when riding on this cushioning surface!

Farrier Costs: Farrier costs will also lower by having an arena with a consistent surface. By not working you horse on abrasive material or an unstable ground, hoof injuries will be greatly reduced.

Although the price of the footing is higher than sand, the longevity and many benefits of having our dust-free footing make up for higher costs over time. If you’re interested in visiting a barn with our footing installed, just let us know! With over 350 installations across the US and Canada, there are many to choose from!

Ultimate Arena Guide

Over the years we have answered numerous questions about how to build an arena from start to finish. You can imagine how lengthy that conversation or phone call can be. For this reason, we decided to build The Ultimate Arena Guide that has everything you need to know about building an arena! There are seven categories on our Arena Guide website. I can break them down to show you what topics are in each section.

Base Information: This section talks about, well the base. It takes a look at stone sizes, characteristics you need for your geotextile layer, what equipment is needed for installing the base, how drainage should be added, and the difference between an indoor base and an outdoor base.

Installation: The Installation category focuses on how to remove old footing and how to dispose of it, how your footing should be installed, andUltimate Arena Guide delivery costs and options.

Footing: Sand is the main components of 95% of the arenas in the world. The footing category explains every aspect of sand from the sieve analysis to shape of the sand. It also explains additives, different coatings, longevity, replenishment, and what footing is best for certain riding disciplines.

Maintenance: Maintaining an arena is just as important as building the arena. This section explains the different types of groomers and relative prices for each.

Arena Dust: Dust can be dangerous for both the horse and rider to inhale. Coatings that help or stop dust are specifically explained in this category.

Water: If you decide to fight dust with water instead of coatings, the Water category explains sprinkler systems, evaporation, and the correct moisture level to achieve maximum performance.

Additional Things to Consider: There are a few odds and ends that go into this section such as insurance for your contractors, what to ask about MSDS Sheets, and consulting for your facility.

We’d love for you to check out our Ultimate Arena Guide, and feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

Cost of Maintaining a Sand Arena

Maintaining an arena is not always easy. Depending on how much traffic you get a day on your riding ring, you could potentially be grooming it every few days. I want to take a look at the cost of maintaining a sand arena.

For this price breakdown, we are going to assume the following scenario: you have an average 66 x 130 indoor arena with 5 horses a day on the footing. With 5 horses a day, you will have to drag every other day from the ruts and holes that appear. You own a newer compact diesel tractor that has 40hp and a 5ft arena groomer. It takes you 45 minutes to groom your arena from start to finish. You ride year round in your indoor arena.

If you groom your arena for 45 minutes every other day, it equals out to spending 8,213 minutes or 137 hours a year grooming your arena. If you are paying a farm hand to do the work, say minimum wage, (here in New York, minimum wage is $9) you would spend $1,232 paying your farm hand to groom the arena. On top of the time and wages to groom the arena, you also have to pay for gas for the tractor to groom the arena. For your newer (5 year old) compact diesel tractor to work this arena all year with diesel fuel at $2.40/gallon; you would spend $493 per year. Total grooming maintenance per year for your sand arena: $1,725.

IMG_2358Now that number is just looking at grooming the footing. The other issue you deal with in any sand arena is dust. We can take a look at both watering your arena and using Magnesium Chloride Flakes, which seem to be the other popular options. You could get a sprinkler system installed, which is thousands of dollars up front, but then you are still using hundreds of gallons every time you water your footing. Another option is to hand water your arena with just a long hose. Again you are using hundreds of gallons of water to accomplish this, but then you are spending roughly an hour watering the arena. You would have to hand water it every four days, and if you pay a farm hand to do that it would be $821 in wages a year. If you have a well you have to be conscious about how much water you use so that your well doesn’t go dry, and if you have city water, you have to pay per 1000 gallons you use; which can add up pretty fast if you’re constantly watering an arena. Many people use Magnesium chloride flakes to fight dust in their arenas.  Magnesium chloride flakes are roughly $20/bag. For your 66×130 arena, you would need two pallets, or 96 bags; totaling in $1,920 for your arena. These would have to spread and then mixed into your footing. Magnesium Chloride has to be continually added to your arena, therefore forcing you to spend more money all the time to fight the dust.

Instead of worrying about the cost of maintaining a sand arena, switch to an arena footing that will never have to be watered and will remain dust-free! You not only save lots of time and money not worrying about your footing being watered, but you also save on maintenance. We have many customers say that they only have to drag once a month! The sand, fibers and wax create a stable surface that supports your horse in every stride it takes, while not moving too much to the point where holes and ruts are created. Although synthetic footings are pricier up front, but you will save both time and money over time as our footing continues to out perform traditional sand footing.

Arena Etiquette

I grew up riding outside with my friends down trails, across field, everywhere. Then one day I found myself leasing a horse in a local barn, where I now had to ride in an arena with multiple people, and had no idea about arena etiquette. I quickly learned that ring etiquette is very important! Let’s take a look at some of the main riding ring rules at most arenas.

  • Be courteous when you ride with others. Everyone is at different riding levels.
  • Slower riders should stay to the inside of the arena, while faster pace riders should stay on the outside of the arena.Horse Arena 019
  • Try to ride the same direction around the arena, but if for some reason you have to pass by riders, the rule is left shoulder to left shoulder when passing another rider.
  • Mount and dismount your horse out of the way in the center of the arena, not on the rail where everyone is riding.
  • Cue your horse quietly and away from other horses. You know exactly how your horse needs to be cued, but another horse could be very responsive and you could end up cuing another rider’s horse, which could cause problems.
  • If you need to stop your horse, be sure to move out of the path of riders and into the center of the arena before your stop.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. If a rider falls of his/her horse, stop your horse immediately and dismount. If you are closest to the rider that has fallen, see if they are hurt.

Most barns have arena rules posted, before you ride, check with your barn manager on what their specific riding rules are. Follow the rules and have fun riding!

Does your arena have any additional arena riding rule?

How Long Does Your Footing Last? Part 2

Last week I talked about our most popular question: “how long does yourIMG_0897 arena footing last?” We talked about how the sand particle plays a huge role in the longevity of your arena footing. Today we’re going to talk about the different additives you can have in your footing and how those play into the longevity of the footing.

As I’ve spoke about in blog posts before, we spent a lot of time finding the perfect ingredients for our footing. When it comes to additives for your footing, there are vast options. Let’s start with fibers that can be added to the footing. Fiber is divided into the natural or synthetic fiber categories. Examples of natural fibers are burlap and cotton, and synthetic fibers can be nylon or polypropylene. Fibers interweave with each other and create a web-like surface, which then creates a stable and consistent footing. Fiber is mixed in with sand footing and should not be used alone. We use a mix of both nylon and polypropylene. Depending on the footing, they are normally ¼”-1.5” long. Fiber is a major factor in extending the life of your arena footing. If you choose to use a natural fiber, the fibers will break down much faster than a synthetic fiber and will need to be replenished. By choosing a synthetic fiber, we added stability to our footing, but also increased the longevity.

In order to keep our footing dust free, we coat all components of our footing in wax. Not only does the wax make our footing dust free, but it also increases the life of the footing. There are lots of other options that are usined in footings to coat the material to keep it dust free, both natural and synthetic, but nothing seems to last as long as wax. Our oldest footing is 14 years old and is still going strong! Wax does not break down and decompose like other binders.

Choosing one of our footings not only saves you time and money spent on fighting dust and the amount of labor it takes to maintain a normal arena footing, but also ensures a footing that will last year after year. We worked hard to find the perfect materials to give you the perfect arena footing!

How Long Does Your Footing Last? Part 1

We had a great show at the New York State Farm Show this past week. Shows really give me an opportunity to educate many barn owners, trainers, and riders about our footing. They get the chance to stick their hands in it and get a feel for the different properties of each footing. When I go to shows I always pay close attention to the different questions that I’m asked. The most popular question at this show was “how long does your dust-free arena footing last?” Footing longevity is our most popular questions!

The longevity of footing really comes down to the components of it. Let’s take a look at the sand this week. You have no idea how different sand particles can be until you start comparing them. We have looked at sand from all over the world! The size, shape, and mineral composition are the most important properties when it comes to sand for horse arenas.

Mineral composition is going to be the most important. Basically, this is how hard or soft your sand is. For a horse arena you need something that is very hard and can take the pounding of hooves on it. If you choose too soft of a material, it will break down into very fine particles and create dust in your arena. Choosing a hard sand particle is the first and most important thing when it comes to the longevity of the footing.

Arena Footing Sand
Sand particles under a microscope

The particle shape is the next most important. The shape of the sand plays an important part in the way the arena footing will perform. If you choose a rounded particle, it will create an unstable surface because these particles tend to roll. But if you choose an angular or subangular sand, it will lock together creating a more stable surface. You want your sand to lock together to create the stable surface but you don’t want them to lock too tightly together; this could potentially create a very hard, concrete like surface.

Lastly, you can take a look at choosing between clean/washed sand or unwashed sand. If you just get sand from a pit, it could contain a lot of silt, clay or organic material. All of these materials are the components that make up dust in your arena. Some barn owners decide not to clean their sand because they believe that the sand will move more if it doesn’t have all of the impurities holding it down. You will have to decide if you’d rather use clean sand or uncleaned sand.

Sand is a huge factor in how long your arena footing will last. We specifically looked for years for the perfect sand that we wanted to use in our footing. We found one that is very hard, has the right shape to it, and has no organic material in it. By using this specific sand we have created the perfect formula for our dust-free footing. Next week we can take a look at the specific additives in our footing and how that truly affects the breakdown of the arena over time!

How did you decide on what sand to use in your arena?

 

 

Deep Sand in Your Horse Arena

Have ever tried to run on the beach? Not on the wet sand near the water, but in the dry, deep sand in your arenadeeper sand? You have to struggle just to walk through it; running is even harder! Horses struggle just as much through deep sand. Having deep sand in your horse arena can be potentially dangerous for your horse.

Sand is the most popular footing and is relatively inexpensive. The issue is that you want it deep enough to give your horse traction and provide cushion, but you don’t want it to be so deep to the point where your horse is struggling through it. Sand should only be about two inches deep in your arena. If you are practicing reining, or something else along those lines, you may want it a little bit deeper but not by much. There should not be one-inch deep horse prints in the footing after riding, and the sand should never cover the hoof while standing in the arena.

Deep sand in your arena can lead to various injuries, but almost all of these injuries have to do with the tendons and muscles in your horse’s legs. They can develop wind puffs, or fluid filled swellings, which are almost always chronic, strains and sprains in the legs, which can consist of either just a strain or a complete rupture of a tendon, and lastly a pulled shoulder or hindquarter. Pay close attention to your horse and their actions. If he seems to be sweating more or seems to be working harder, he could possibly have a strained muscle in his legs.

Instead of having to worry about if your deep sand in your arena is going to injure your horse, put one of our dust-free footings in your arena. The fiber in our footings creates a web-like surface allowing for your horse to spring off the surface and not sink into the footing. The lattice-like footing also eliminates tracking in your arenas so you will never see those deep horse footprints in your sand again!

Do Your Research Before You Build!

Researching horse arenas is your very first step in building one. And then do more research; and then even more. I always suggest looking at forums, such as Chronofhorse.com and seeing what problems others are having with their arenas, and see what they did wrong or how they fixed it. It’s important to be aware of potential issues if the arena is not installed correctly from the beginning.

One major problem I always see on forums is that horses are “punching” through the footing to the base. Most of the time when this occurs, it is from an incorrect installation of a base. A base for your arena should consist of compacted subsoil, then 3-4 inches of large aggregate stone, followed by a geotextile fabric, and then 3-4 inches of compacted limestone with your footing on top. Clay should absolutely not be used as a base material. Your base will take a beating from riding on top of the footing. If you use clay as your base, it will eventually break down from the beating and from constant moisture. When the clay breaks down, you will have uneven spots in your arena where the clay has collapsed, and dust from the smaller particles.

IMG_2185
A second issue that I see a lot in forums is standing water in your outdoor arena. This can be caused from a few things. Your base needs to be slightly crowned so that water moves to the outside of your arena. On the outside of your arena, buried about six inches deep should be perforated drains that run the perimeter of your arena. These drains will carry water away from your arena so that your arena does not hold water. It is very important to make sure your outdoor arena has drainage, even if the arena is located in a higher section of your property.

Lastly, I see a lot of issues with dust. Everyone has different ways to fight dust in their arena, whether it be watering the arena daily, adding different kinds of salts, or trying different sands. I’ve seen everything from pond sand, to river sand, to pool sand; but no matter what type of sand if it is not coated, you’re going to have dust. Our dust-free arena footings are all 100% dust-free. Our footings consist of silica sand, different additives based on what type of footing you choose such as fiber and rubber granules, and then both the sand and additives are coated in wax. The wax acts as a binder to hold all of the products together, and also coats the sand so that you will never have any dust! Choosing a footing that is dust-free is much more cost effective than fighting dust, year after year. Add one of our dust-free footings to your arena, and enjoy it for years to come!

Did you do research before you built your arena?

 

 

Why Mixing Equestrian Footing Is Not Okay!!

Around this time of the year, many equestrian customers are planning their spring barn projects causing our number of inquiries to rise; along with how many questions we get about our footings. Recently, we’ve noticed a few popular questions come up, with the most popular being: “Is mixing equestrian footing okay?” or “what do I do with my old equestrian footing? Can yours be mixed in?”

Our equestrian footing is manufactured in a specific mixing facility in Upstate NY. This allows for us to control all aspects of the environment that the mixture isArena Footing cannot be mixed, being created in. If we did not so closely monitor the manufacturing process, the equestrian footing could end up with particles that create dust, or an incorrect type of sand in the footing, which could cause the footing to compact. We have kept the same formula for our equestrian footing since we started in 2004, and do not want to alter it in anyway.

With our equestrian footing being manufactured in such a specific way, there is not an alternate approach. Mixing equestrian footing that is old with our new dustless footing is not okay! If you have a current arena with equestrian footing, it will have to be completely removed in order to install our new dust-free equestrian footing products. The most common approach for removing old equestrian footing is to hire a contractor that has worked with horse arenas before. It is important to check references before the contractor starts work. The equestrian footing has to be removed in such a way that it does not damage the base of the arena. An attempt at mixing equestrian footing that is old and new is another way the base could be damaged. More than likely, a bit of base work will have to be done before adding our dust-free equestrian footing.

We love all of the questions that we get asked and if you have any questions I may have no answered in our blogs, let me know!

 

Horse Barn Pet Peeves

We all have big pet peeves. And when it comes to horses, we are no different. I’m sure everyone has at least one thing at your horse barn that either a horse, or another person does that can just drive you insane. We all have at least one horse barn pet peeve!

I always follow a few different blogs about horses on the internet, and I recently saw one with a lot of comments from many horse people, voicing their opinions on what their biggest pet peeves at the barn are. Some things that other people do that can get on our nerves are:

  • Other boarders “borrowing” supplies from people, and then those supplies not getting put back where they were to begin with.
  • Halters getting left on one crosstie, and then dropped to the floor.
  • Leaving manure in wash stalls.horse barn pet peeves
  • A boarder feeding treats to other boarder’s horses without permission.

A few things that our horses do that drive us nuts are:

  • Pooping as soon as you finish mucking and bedding the stall. The worst!
  • Pawing when they want to be fed or for attention.
  • Rubbing their teeth together for attention, or towards another horse.
  • Urinating when on cross ties.
  • Pooping in their water bucket.

Some of these things can make me grit my teeth and get my blood boiling. I think my biggest pet peeve of all time is when a horse poops while someone is riding in the indoor, and instead of picking up the manure after they are done riding, they leave it there. When you leave manure in your arena, you’re adding organic compounds to your footing. Dust is created from your sand particles breaking down, and the different organic matter in your footing also breaking down. Leaving manure, or hay, or bedding in your arena will make your battle with dust, that much harder. No matter what footing you have in your arena, you should always pick up your manure!

Do you have any horse barn pet peeves?