Your arena leveller is your best maintenance tool to care for the surface.
Growth in the number of equestrian sport participants and financial turnover has led to increased demand for arena surfaces to be high performance and safer for the horses.
Equestrian arena surfaces are a major investment for horse owners, riding schools, competition venues and other facility types and many equestrians face the difficult challenges of finding the "best arena surface for their needs". How well any surface works will also depend on the way it is cared for:
1. A leveller keeps an even distribution of material across the arena
The arena surface can become uneven as a result of sports such as dressage (track around the outside), jumping (compaction around jumps) and carriage driving (wheel marks).
WHY is this important? Inconsistent surface levels mean that the properties of the materials (such as sand and fibre) will be different across the arena. The risk of injury to the horses is increased and performance of the surface is reduced.
How does a leveller help? Tines and rollers (or blades) are used in combination to level an arena surface. When set up correctly, the tines and rollers work the high spots in the surface and skip over the lower areas. After a couple of passes (depending on severity) the tines and roller move material into lower spots hence levelling the arena. A side blade is also used around the perimeter of the arena to safely pull in the material around the edge.
2. Maintains the mixture of different materials
For example, components such as sand and fibre do not separate.
WHY is this important? If this happens the surface loses its intended properties which will, in turn, reduce performance.
How does a leveller help? Tines help fold and mix surface components together and rollers lightly press materials together on the surface.
3. Prevents compacting of the top layer
Particularly around high traffic areas such as entrances, exits and around the perimeter of the arena.
WHY is this important? Older or badly maintained surfaces are more susceptible to a "crust" forming in or below the top layer. The effect of a "crust" on the surface properties is huge such as reduced traction, grip, soundness, cushioning and responsiveness. These factors not only increase the risk of injury to the horses' musculature but also the risk of slipping and falling on the surface.
How does a leveller help? Tines can break up a "crust" in the surface without damaging the membrane when set correctly.
Other factors that affect the arena surface:
There are many other factors that affect the performance of an arena surface such as moisture, material quality, drainage and environmental factors that will be covered in another article. All reasons and opinions are a result of 20 years of work on arena surfaces with the ArenaMate levellers.
Tip - there is no such thing as a maintenance-free arena!