People who are passionate about riding would understandably want to spend more time on their horses than on a riding arena’s upkeep. Still, it’s important to choose the right materials to maintain an arena in tip-top shape for a long time.
For years now, rubber mulch has become a popular choice as horse footing, thanks to the many benefits it offers. Let’s take a look at some specific ones as described by ranch owners and riding enthusiasts.
Superior dust control
One of the biggest concerns among horse owners is the presence of dust that comes with a hard clay ground or sand infill. A dusty arena can be dangerous for you and your horse especially in hot weather. Breathing in too much dust can cause serious lung ailments for both horse and rider.
Wetting it down is one solution, but it could also cause injuries for your horse (more on this later). Using a sprinkler or hosing system for watering the arena will also mean huge water bills. An effective preventive measure would be to select an infill that doesn’t create dust in the first place - for instance, a rubber mulch footing is practically dust-free and won’t need to be watered down for any reason.
Virtually no maintenance
Infill maintenance can be a hassle with organic material like sand, wood chips, straw, or pine needles. Aside from dealing with the dust and dirt that go with them, they make a general mess after a ride, or even with a slight breeze blowing them about. They have to be smoothed down for reuse, which means frequently. With rubber mulch footing, the upkeep is definitely lesser. Depending on the number of horses, some arena keepers claim to having a pristine, maintenance-free track and barn coverage for over a year. You won’t have to worry about the presence of weeds, fungi, or pests, too - especially termites, which are scary things to have in a wooden barn!
Reliable shock absorbency
More than one rider described their first time to ride on a rubber mulch arena as “It feels like my horse is wearing running shoes!” The innate springiness of rubber protects the delicate ankles of horses, as well as their hooves, and can actually improve their performance. With the right depth, rubber mulch also provides reliable shock absorption for riders during a fall.
Lessens injuries for both horse and rider
A hard clay footing is prone to cracks in hot weather, and can become virtual mud pits during the rainy season. In both instances, your horse’s feet can suffer, and your back and legs can take a beating, as well. A hard uneven ground can also wreak havoc on a rider’s spine, neck, and hips. Watering it down as maintenance can give the arena slippery spots, which is highly dangerous for both you and your horse.
Rubber mulch has become a much-favored infill material for playgrounds, too - so much so that the White House chose it for their official playground. In case of falls, trips, or other accidents, a rubber mulch horse arena offers more protection than any other infill material.
So it sounds like a rubber mulch horse arena is a really good idea, doesn’t it? There is one con brought up by many riding enthusiasts, though.
Could cost more, initially
...and the infill cost is directly proportional to the size of the arena. It’s true that you’re going to have to pony up (pun intended!) more money for the initial purchase and installation. However, weighing the cost versus the long-term benefits, safety pros, and minimal upkeep of a rubber mulch arena will show you just how much you will be saving in the long run.