Equestrians are a funny species. Our horses eat the highest quality organic feed while we settle for generic mac and cheese. Our horses wear custom-made shoes while our own paddock boots are held together with duct tape. Our horses receive chiropractic care, massage therapy, and PEMF treatments as we nurse our own aches and pains with ibuprofen. Yet when it comes to arena footing, many equestrians deal with less-than-ideal conditions—too deep, too hard, too dusty—because they believe that better quality options are simply out of their financial grasp.
What would you say if we told you that, for less than the cost of a nice saddle, you could significantly improve your footing and riding arena? Whether you have the “wrong sand,” drainage issues, or struggle with maintenance, there are affordable corrections to most common arena footing problems. In fact, with the help of the experts at Premier Equestrian, hundreds of small-scale, home-based equestrians have found solutions to their arena footing challenges—riders just like you.
Here are five ways Premier Equestrian can help you economically achieve the best riding surface and arena possible.
1. Get a Free Sand Report & Footing Consultation
Bring us your problems, and we will offer solutions. Whether your arena is too dry, too deep, too hard, or simply just “not right,” we will listen to your concerns, consider your budget, and conduct a FREE sand analysis to help you find the best footing for your specific needs.
2. Upgrade Your Grooming Program
The truth is that many common challenges with arena footing can be resolved with better attention to routine grooming and moisture control (more on wet footing vs dry footing later). We’ll be honest here—one of the best investments you can make for your home arena is purchasing a high-quality arena drag. Premier Equestrian sells arena drags and groomers in a range of price points, and several models can be towed with just an ATV/UTV. (Find out why your DIY groomer is not the best option.)
Once you have your drag, check out our guide to Arena Maintenance Basics and our Best Tips and Tricks for Arena Dragging to learn how to maximize the benefit of your new purchase. And one other important note: when you buy a groomer from Premier Equestrian, you will receive regular emails with our “quick tips” for arena maintenance. Once you are a part of the Premier Equestrian family, you will always be part of the family!
3. Maximize Moisture Control
When it comes to water and riding arenas, the difference between good footing and bad footing boils down to two common problems: too much or too little moisture. While some moisture-related challenges are harder (and more expensive) to fix than others, many common issues can be addressed with additives such as magnesium chloride, Premier Hydro-Keep or Slow Dust. These products each work in unique ways to capture naturally occurring moisture, helping to minimize dust, and reducing the need for supplemental watering by as much as 50%. And the best part is that, depending on the size of your arena, hydration control additives may cost as little as just a few hundred dollars to get the perfect, balanced dry footing.
For larger arenas or those with more serious moisture challenges, the Premier Equestrian Water Wagon may be a viable solution. Capable of holding 550 gallons, the Water Wagon can be towed by your truck or compact tractor to help apply water evenly over the entire arena surface. Additional features include the ability to fully drain and clean the interior as well as an automatic shut off valve that prevents you from overfilling the wagon. The Water Wagon can be used for a variety of other purposes on the farm and represents a long-term investment for property maintenance.
Check out this summary of arena moisture control options ranging from most basic to most sophisticated!
4. Improve Cushion and Stability
Good footing must have four essential qualities in equal proportions: firmness, cushion, rebound/responsiveness, and grip. Two of the most common complaints we hear about footing are that it is either too hard or too soft/deep. We know these problems are more than just an annoyance; over time, horses riding on bad footing can develop career-limiting lameness and unsoundness.
The good news is that Premier Equestrian carries several products that can be mixed with the sand already in your arena to resolve these common issues. When combined with regular grooming and moisture management, footing additives can stabilize loose footing, deep sand or help to break up hard, packed surfaces.
Perhaps one of our most popular (and economical) additives for improving sand footing is ArenaAid. This custom blend of nylon and polyester fibers not only retains moisture and reduces dust, but it also can improve the quality of almost any sand arena. If you have loose footing that is too deep or too soft, ArenaAid gives your footing structure by trapping loose, rolling particles of sand, like the same way roots hold grass in place on your lawn. For hard, unyielding footing, ArenaAid provides space between the sand particles and reduces compaction. This non-toxic, non-allergenic material is competitively priced and is used in arenas across the country.
5. Build a Better Arena
Premier Equestrian offers an array of indoor and outdoor Arena Construction Plans. Given that most independent contractors will have limited experience with riding arena construction, our plans will guide a licensed professional through the exact process required. Our plans include technical drawings, cover all aspects of the building process, and often can even be submitted to meet permitting requirements. Plus, when you buy a plan, you and your contractor will also have access to the Premier Equestrian Source Materials Library. Do it the right way from the ground up with a Premier Equestrian design!
When you invest in good footing for your arena, you are investing in you and your horse’s future. A well-maintained arena with the correct additives will more than pay for itself with helping to prevent lameness issues and more pleasant hours spent in the saddle. So, if you think you can’t afford good footing, think again. Your horse will thank you!
About the author
Christina Keim is a professional equestrian and writer based at Cold Moon Farm in Rochester, NH. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a barn manager, head groom, riding instructor, and collegiate equestrian team coach. In 2015, she founded Cold Moon Farm with the mission to promote sustainable living, conservation, and the highest standards of compassionate horsemanship.