Why Add Fibers to Arena Footing?

Many customers call about adding fibers to arena footing, they want to change their arena footing to increase comfortability for both the horse and rider, with out purchasing a whole new footing. These customers call and want to talk about footing additives. A few options for footing additives are fibers, rubber, or wood. Today we are going to talk about adding fibers to arena footing.

There are a few different characteristics to look at when thinking of adding fibers to arena footing. The first is what type of fibers you are looking to add, natural fibers or synthetic fibers. Natural fibers consist of burlap or cotton, while synthetic fibers can be either nylon or polypropylene. Natural fibers typically break down faster than synthetic fibers. Natural fibers will work the same way in the footing as synthetic fibers, but you have to keep in mind that you will have to replace the natural fibers after a few years.

Fibers can be tricky for horse arenas. When used correctly, the footing will have the wanted outcome. However, when the footing and fibers are not cared for properly you can end up with a mess. Fibers in your arena footing have to constantly have moisture in order for the fibers to stay integrated. The moisture level should be 20-25 %. If the footing dries out, the fibers will work their way up to the top of the footing. When the fibers are on top of the footing, and not integrated, the footing will no longer have the stability that it does when they are integrated. Another issue with the fiber on top of the footing is the fibers blowing away if you’re arena is outdoors. Nothing is worse than seeing your fibers (aka your money you spent) blowing across your farm. You could use a rake to try to rake the fibers back into your footing. Be sure that you are raking multiple ways to really work them in. 

As mentioned, fibers can be a great option as long as you take the time to keep them integrated and keep moisture in your footing. IGK Equestrian use to sell SoftShoe, which was a synthetic fiber product that customers could buy. We have discovered that customers are much more happy with a full footing solution.

TruStride™,  LiteStride™, Equi-Blend™, and 5K Ranch™ takes the worry away from the customer. You don’t have to worry about the moisture content of the footing or if the footing will always remain the same consistency. If you are interested in our products, or would like to see a sample of our products please visit http://igkequestrian.com/request-info/ page and let us know!

Wood Chip Arena Footing

Wood chip arena’s are common when discussing a cheaper footing installation in the beginning a horse arena’s life. Typically in wood chip arena’s, a layer of 1-2” of wood chips are added to the top of the ground and used as footing. Wood chips are soft and can absorb water so the thought is that they can cushion the horse and hold water in order to aid with dust. Although these are great hopes for the footing, wood chips turn out to be more problematic than anything.

Time for change when considering wood chip arena’s!! People who are building a brand new barn or arena, people who are having problems with drainage, and people who want to fix their current arena footing situation with an additive. Now we have an efficient solution, we don’t sell additives, or wood chips, we sell the whole footing package already mixed. To install our footing, the old arena footing would have to be completely removed. However, I can at least point some people in the right direction if they want to just add something to their arena without completely pulling the old footing. The majority of the most recent calls I’ve been getting are barn owners having problems with their wood chip footing.

The most common complaint is how fast the chips break down. In order to keep up with the fast deterioration pace of the wood chips, more must be added every year. When the wood gets wet it causes it to start to decompose and break into smaller pieces. Although the wood can hold a good amount of moisture, this is what causes it to break down. Once it breaks into smaller pieces; this is what creates the dust again in the arena. In addition to the constantly adding more chips to a wood chip arena, it really does not provide adequate cushion for the horse because they are constantly
“punching” through the chips to the ground close beneath. Wood chips can also get stuck in the hooves of horses as well. Anything stuck in the hooves while riding is uncomfortable for the horse.

Most of the wood chip arena calls I get are questions about what can be added to wood chips to give the arena a different feel. Unfortunately, if you add sand to it, it will give a deep feeling, and adding fiber or rubber will not help the characteristics of the wood chips either. Usually the only solution for wood chip arenas is to add more wood chips, or completely remove them and add another footing material to your horse arena.

Skip the worry about your horse arena footing by purchasing our dust-free footing. Cut your maintenance time on your arena, more than half, save time and money on maintaining your horse arena! Email us today for a quote for your arena.

Introducing Children to Horses

Introducing children to horses is always and interesting topic!! I have a big family. I’ve met families much, much bigger than mine. With more than 50 close relatives that I see very often, I would consider my family to be very involved with one another. With a big family, comes lots of kids. When you are the only one in the family with horses, introducing the children to horses on your farm can be a challenge. Knowing you have horses will always make people want to come visit to see the horses or ask to ride. Let’s take a look at how I introduce children horses on my farm:

Most importantly, before you allow the introducing of children to horses, make sure you go over all horse safety rules. Any child, any age, must know the proper precautions to follow when around horses. Explain to him or her how large horses are and how they hurt us without even realizing it. Show them where they should or shouldn’t stand when approaching a horse. The horse cannot see them at all moments, and that is why it is so important to never walk behind the horse. Be sure to let the child know not to run around and yell and scream at the barn because it can scare the horses. It might be best to explain all of the safety rules before you get to the horse barn because the child may lose focus once in the barn from excitement.

Once you’ve explained the safety precautions to the child or children, bring the horse out and introduce him or her to the children in a soft and calm manner. I brought my horse out and had my cousin walk up slowly and let the horse sniff her. Of course I gave my cousin a little treat to give the horse, it makes him warm up to people very fast. Who doesn’t love treats??!!

After I introduced the children to horses, I brought my favorite horse in the barn and put him on cross ties. I went over all of the different grooming tools for the horse and how to use each one. She really enjoyed learning the different brushes and helping to groom my horse.

Now was the time to tack up, since the whole reason she was there was to ride my horse! I explained each step I was doing as I tacked my horse up. The names of all of the parts of the saddle were explained, bridle, etc. She had lots of questions so I took things slowly to help her understand everything. Before we brought my horse outside, I got her helmet snugged on her head. Always start the first ride with the child wearing a helmet, so that good helmet wearing habits are started at an early age.

For the first ride, I had a friend walk beside my cousin in the saddle and myself leading my horse. She was a little nervous but we both assured her she was doing great. She loved it and did not want to get off! After walking like this for a long time, we helped her to get off and had her help walk the horse back to the barn.

Once on the cross ties, I started to take off my horse’s tack, and again explain all of the parts and pieces. I explained to her that we have to groom the horse before and after the ride. And of course finished with her giving my horse a treat before we brought him back out to his pasture.

Following these same steps are great ways to introduce a child to your horse. If the child continues to show interest in horses, that may be the time to look into lessons. Ask around where others have brought their children for lessons and if they would recommend it. Or bring your child to a horse show to show them what it’s all about. Introducing kids to horses is so much fun, and it opens the next generation to the love that we have for our horses.

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!



Bonding with your Horse

Have you ever had an instant bond with a horse? Maybe you’ve had a horse that you’ve had since he was born, so he’s never lost trust in people. Or maybe you have a horse that is very distant and you have to work everyday to get the horse to trust you. Creating a connection with a horse will ensure that your horse will try his hardest for you whether you are in the ring, or going on a trail ride with a dicey situation. Here are a couple tips to increasing the bonding with your horse.

  • Groom your horse. For me, I could groom horses all day long. It not only is a stress reliever for horses but for me too! Horses groom each other in their natural habitat to bond within the heard. It is the same if you groom your horse. Find the areas your horse love getting scratched. They will appreciate it and come to enjoy grooming time with you.
  • Massage your horse. In addition to grooming, learn the basics of equine massage. Any type of form of therapeutic massages or T-touch (moving your fingers in small circular motions) can make your horse relax and enjoy his time with you. Some horses will even lean into you, when you massage a spot that needs work.
  • Don’t just go to the barn for work. Although our schedules may be busy, don’t only go to the barn and work your horse. Take a day out of your scheduled barn visits to just spend relaxing time with your horse. Bring him out to a lush area of grass they normBonding with your horseally can’t get to or sit in the pasture with him and just enjoy each other’s company. I love to read a book while relaxing in the pasture. You can also groom them while you’re there too!
  • Learn to understand your horse’s signals. Learn the different noises they like to make. Observe his facial expressions, how he is holding his head, and tail and watch his ears. I can always tell my horse is relaxed when he puts his head down. When my horse is agitated, he always swishes his tail. Learn what body language your horse has when he’s upset or relaxed or happy.

It could take a few days to earn trust from a new horse, or you could get a horse like me, where it takes months to earn his trust. But once you earn the trust of a horse, you have a friend for life.

How do you bond with your horse?



Keeping Horses Cool During Hot Weather

The summer hasn’t technically started yet but the heat is climbing steadily here in Upstate NY. Always be sure to do everything you can to keep your horse cool and comfortable this summer. Here are a few tips:

  • Provide shade. If your horse is outside in the paddock for the hotter part of the day, make sure there is provided shade. A run- in shed wouldhorse-1328890_1920 be the best option, but trees can also be a source of shade.
  • Choose Cooler Turnout Times. A lot of barns around here turn their horses out at night. If you don’t have the option to turn the horses out at night, then turn them out early in the morning or later in the day.
  • Create Airflow. If you are able to keep the horses in the barn doing the day, be sure that air is flowing through the barn and the horses are
    getting air in their stalls. Fans are a great source to help with airflow, but be sure that they are in a position where no horses can get ahold of cords and plugs.
  • Adjust your Riding Schedule. Try riding early in the morning or late at night. The temperature will be the lowest during these times of day.

Always check for signs of heat stress such as increased heart rate and respiration rates, profuse sweating, or droopy ears. If there are signs of heat stress, call your vet and hose your horse off with water and immediately remove the water with a sweat scraper while you wait for your vet to arrive. We all look forward to summer riding, just be sure to keep your horse comfortable this summer!

Do you turn your horses out at night or during the day in summer?

SmartStall Vs. Rubber Filled Mattress

You all know by now that I like to write my blogs based on questions I get when talking to customers. Lately I’ve been asked a lot what the difference is between a rubber filled mattress and our SmartStall™ Mattress. In order to explain the difference, first I’ll tell you a bit about the history of our company.

IGK Equestrian, LLC is the child company of North Brook Farms, INC. Twenty years ago, Peter and Carolyn Kyle (owners of North Brook Farms, INC and IGK Equestrian LLC) were dairy farmers 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.

They started the business by making these rubber filled mattresses. Over time we realized there were a few things about the rubber mattresses that we didn’t love. The first thing, that was very apparent was that the rubber filled cells, which were about 4ft x 5ft, were very heavy; weighing about 130 pounds! Both the manufacture process of these mattresses and the installation process were very labor intensive. During the installation process, the mattresses had to be pulled off of a pallet, carried to where they were getting laid down and then maneuvered so that they were laying correctly. Everyone’s arms were aching by the time the installation was completed! The second major downfall of these mattresses that we noticed is over time the rubber inside the cells compact. After being under an animal for a long duration, the rubber will nestle down in the cells of the mattress, where the various sizes and pieces of rubber fit together like a puzzle, and become hard. Having this mattress compact over time and become hard defeats the purpose of a comfort mattress for your animal. When we realized that the rubber filled mattresses did this, we decided to switch our systems to a foamSmartStall™ Foam Horse Mattress System mattress.

We have been using foam in our SmartStall™ for over 10 years now. Our foam has been tested over time and has shown less than 1% compaction over a ten-year period. The foam is a lot less heavy than a traditional rubber filled mattress and has proven to provide comfort time and time again both in the dairy and horse industry! Your horse will be much more comfortable in their stall for years to come with a SmartStall™System than a rubber filled mattress system!





Dyna’s Story- Navicular Syndrome

Cindy & Dyna

I love my job. Mostly because I love horses, and get to look at gorgeous barns, pretty horses, and I get to talk to horse people all day. But talking to someone who loves an animal as much as you do is probably my favorite part about my job. Selling the products that we sell at IGK Equestrian, I get to talk to lots of horse people! Last week I had a local woman, Cindy, call me who had heard about our mattress system, from a friend who has our mattresses in her dairy barn! She was so excited about our SmartStall™ Mattresses that she drove out that day to the office to take a look at our product. She told me how she has two horses, and that one of them has Navicular Syndrome. I immediately fell in love with her story and her horse. I wanted to do everything I could to help out “Dyna”! Here is her story:

“Dyna found me in 2006 at the age of 8. She had been a show horse in many types of events from jumping to western pleasure to a lesson horse by the time I met her. I knew I was purchasing a “lame” horse but to what degree was unknown and by then the bond was formed. I wanted her no matter what! We discovered her navicular at the time of purchase with a routine vet check. After X-rays and many vet appointments and farrier trials with new shoes consisting of rim pads and egg bars along with medication and joint 12980514_944201222343187_1139237171_nsupplements she has been comfortable until this past winter.Knowing that she could become more “ouchy” over time and with age I tried to think of continual ways to keep her comfortable. A friend of mine suggested your product. I researched it online and thought it would be the perfect remedy. The mattresses were installed right away (in both of my horse’s stalls) and I have seen instant relief in how Dyna walks out of her stall and overall movement. I am so grateful and thankful to have found IGK Equestrian. Dyna is a “family member” and I want her to be as comfortable and happy as possible. I love he

SmartStall™ Horse Mattress System
Dyna checking out her new SmartStall™!



Cindy also owns Dyna’s son Riley. Riley is sound and she wants to keep him sound so she figured putting a mattress in Riley’s stall would be a great way to do that. I love hearing stories like this and how much our

SmartStall™ Mattress can help. I have heard so many accounts about horses no longer limping out of their stall, or seeing more shavings on the horse’s body everyday because they’re constantly lying down on the SmartStall™. I’m so glad that we could help Dyna feel much more comfortable! If you have any questions and would like to know how our SmartStall™ Mattress System can benefit your horse, don’t hesitate to give me a call!









Stall Rest

At some point when owning a horse you may go through a time period where your horse needs to be put on stall rest. Your horse could be put on stall rest after an injury, surgery, or show fatigue. If he is used to getting worked daily or turned out daily, it may be a big change for him to be cooped up in his stall all day. I pulled together a few tips to help you both stay sane during stall rest.

  • Stall Rest RecoveryLocation, location, location. If your horse is in his stall all day, keep him in a stall in a high traffic area and not in the corner of the barn. If he’s in a high traffic area he can watch what’s going on around him. Ask everyone in the barn just to stop and say hi to him so that he isn’t lonely. Along with being in a good location, give him a stall where he can see other horses, or one where he may have a window to see outside. Once again this gives him something to do while he’s in his stall.
  • Keep him on a schedule. Take him out a few times a day to groom him. Many horses find this relaxing. Check with your vet, and see if he can go on short walks or can be hand grazed. Bringing him outside a few times a day for short periods of time instead of being outside for one long period of time. Breaking up his day in the stall will help him tremendously.
  • Try out some stall toys to entertain your horse. There are lots of toys at tack shops that you can take advantage of. A slow feeder/treat dispenser can occupy a horse for horse. Some of you may even add large sized stuffed animals attached to their stall door. No matter what toys you decide on, be sure that there is no way that the horse can injure itself by playing with it. If you tie up a toy or stuffed animal, double-check that there are no loops where a horse could potential get their hoof caught in.
  • Keep his mind stimulated. This would be a great time to teach him a few tricks. Many trainers like to use a clicker to train their horses. Work with him for five minutes, several times a day to teach him some simple tricks.

Stall rest doesn’t have to be a nightmare for both of you. Always check with your vet on what your horse can and cannot do. The most important thing is that your horse is comfortable in his stall while on stall rest. Having a mattress system with memory form and a waterproof topcover would be the perfect way for your horse to spend lots of time in the stall. The SmartStall™ system will make him comfortable while he recuperates in his stall!

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!