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December 18, 2018
If you’re training up a performance horse, then wintertime equine exercise is a must. But no matter how determined you are to fit in a ride, if your ring’s footing is frozen then you may do more harm than good. Prevention is key, and the following strategies can help you to keep your footing safe and usable even in the frostiest winter temperatures.
Proper drainage is an obvious way to keep an outdoor ring from freezing, since the water in your footing is what causes it to freeze together. Drainage starts with your ring’s location: If you position your ring in an area where the surrounding land slopes down to the ring, you’ll always be fighting drainage issues. Instead, try to locate your ring on higher ground, where you won’t have to deal with water runoff.
The construction of the ring will also affect its drainage capabilities. You’ll need to carefully select a base that not only offers the right foundation for your footing, but that is also capable of draining away large amounts of water (depending on your climate). Proper grading will help to direct water out to the sides of the ring, rather than letting it pool in the middle or corners.
If an existing ring has drainage issues, you can fix them with a number of different techniques. Installing French drains around the outside of the ring can help to channel water away. Some barn owners also opt to install Geotextile fabric underneath their footing to further help with drainage.
For indoor arenas, magnesium chloride can help prevent freezing by pulling moisture from the air and footing and reducing the temperature at which your footing will start to freeze. Magnesium chloride is affordable and fairly easy to use, but water will wash it away so it won't solve outdoor drainage problems.
You should be aware that magnesium chloride can dry out your horse’s hooves, so it’s a good idea to wipe them off after a workout.
Stay disciplined about dragging your ring footing, especially in the winter. Regular dragging can help to promote proper drainage, while also breaking up any footing that may be beginning to freeze. Try to drag your arena weekly at a minimum; higher-use arenas will need more frequent dragging. It’s best to drag your arena before the ruts from horse traffic around the rail occur.
If your current arena footing isn’t ideal, you can improve it with additives. Adding crumb rubber or fibers to footing can help to reduce frequency of freezing. Plus, these additives can enhance your footing without the expense of needing to replace it.
Keeping your performance horse fit in the winter can be a challenge, especially if you live in a location that experiences harsh winter weather. Feeding your horse Un-Lock can help to prevent tying up, speed recovery and make wintertime workouts better for your horse.
Learn more about Un-Lock and what it can do for your horse today.
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