At ABI, we understand that getting your arena footing right can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks, too hard is not good, too soft is all wrong, but then there is just right. When all of you think about a “just right” arena or the “perfect footing,” what do you guys think of?
I picture a freshly drug big beautiful arena. But more importantly, I imagine having a consistent smooth ride. At ABI, we like to consider the technical version of “just right footing” to be shock absorbing but firm enough to support the hoof and resist for push-off.
The next question we have to think of is: “What details allow you to have a good ride that will keep your horse safe?”. The answer is depth and consistency. To be specific, the depth of footing and consistency is crucial to the quality ride your horse is able to deliver. These inconsistencies will allow your horse to learn to anticipate, and it will have a negative impact.
Have you ever stepped in a hole or slipped on something you didn’t see coming? It probably was physically jarring to your neck and back. The more you tense yourself up, the more likely it is you strain your muscles. Mentally, you likely find yourself looking down the rest of the day, anticipating something to happen. Imagine it happening in the same spot every time you walked by. Eventually, you will learn to walk more carefully and be on the lookout to prevent injury. This is a learned response that naturally occurs with both people and horses to protect themselves from injury.
If your horse is used to working on inconsistent footing, he has learned to anticipate possible injury and will hold back on your ride to try and protect himself. If you take the time to fix the footing, you have nearly eliminated distraction and hesitation.
Whether you have an arena in your back pasture, a round pen, or even an indoor, it is crucial to break compaction up and apply moisture. No matter how big or small your arena is, the right tools are necessary for properly preparing it. The first thing you will need to do is pick a tow vehicle. After picking what tow vehicle will work with your operation, choose a drag that can level, rip, decompact and move footing. These tools can come in all sizes and still leave that signature ABI finish!
Let ABI help make an easy fix for you and your horse and get that “just right” footing. Your horse has more important things to pay attention to in the arena than inconsistent footing, give him an advantage and keep him sound by fixing your ride from the ground up.