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Let’s Go Ridin’ – for Apr. 16, 2009

For many, riding season is just around the corner, hopefully. And for us equine enthusiasts, that means it’s time to saddle up and get riding. Perhaps you have been doing a little contemplating and dreaming over the cold winter months about constructing a riding arena, indoors or outside. Here are a few pointers which may help you along deciding on what ground surface to use.

If you were to ask any horseman riding performance horses in a wide variety of disciplines, one thing he or she would probably agree on is the base of the arena; it must be good footing and good drainage. If the base isn’t there, it won’t really matter what you cover it with, it simply will not work.

Ground with good footing has to have give when the hoof lands on it, but must also keep the foot stable. Landing in hard ground sends the shock back up the horse’s leg. Sometimes finding the right combination can be tricky.

The soil in your arena must be considered also. Now depending on what discipline the arena will most often be used for will also help in knowing the kind of material you will need for good preparation of ground.

Sand in the pen gives more grip and yes even sand comes in different forms. Coarse grains are often used in outdoor pens and are less likely to blow in strong winds. The finer sand works well indoors. Angulated granules are better than round granules for both types of arenas because they make the footing more solid. The depth of the sand again depends on the discipline, but generally a depth of six to 10 inches will give your horse the proper cushion.

Materials like topsoil, wood chips, and rubber products, such as shredded tires, offer more of a cushion base and are popular for events such as jumping.

Check out what is available in your area and what materials or combinations would work best for your arena. Proper preparation of ground means safety for yourself and your horse, and less chance of being grounded.

Till next time, stay in the saddle, and never say whoa in a bad spot!

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