How to Protect your Arena Footing From Rain
Horse Arena Protection
Article from Covermaster
Is your equestrian business disrupted by rain? As you know, a short downpour can make a riding arena unusable for several days,
resulting in canceled lessons or training clinics and requires rescheduling of events, or worse, lost revenue because the riding arena cannot
be used. Furthermore, riding on a wet arena can be unsafe for the horses, and can cause damage to the footing and sub-base, which can be costly to repair.
Brand new arenas are very expensive and require a lot of planning to make sure they are done right. They should be built with a slight
grade, with perimeter drainage to ensure rain water flows away from the arena. If an arena is not being properly maintained over the
years it will deteriorate faster than a well maintained arena. Over time, the sub-base will start to breakdown from years of rain and riding
while still too wet and it will no longer provide optimal drainage. There are new innovative footing solutions that can help with moisture
management in an arena and will significantly reduce water build up, as long at the sub-base is still good and the grading is suitable. Still,
many arenas still need time after the rain to allow them to dry enough before they can be reopened.
A good arena maintenance program includes daily dragging of the footing to keep it even and safe. Typically, when a stable owner
anticipates rain in the forecast, they like to drag and seal the arena before the rain starts. Having an uneven arena surface when it rains can
cause puddles and these take longer to evaporate, and can saturate the footing and sub-base. Dragging the arena creates a nice flat
surface to reduce pooling and allows the water to slowly drain away so it takes less time to dry. This is important in reducing the down
time in the arena after the rain, but the problem in most cases is the barn staff need to drag the arena before they go home, although the
rain is not anticipated until the middle of the night. This means the arena is off-limits for afternoon and evening riding actives, although the
weather is perfectly fine. So not only are you losing time after the rain, you are also losing time prior to the rain.
Having an indoor arena seems like a good solution for keeping a dry arena throughout the year. In most cases an indoor riding arena is
unattainable for many stable owners. The cost can be in the access of $200,000 plus, and requires special permits and approvals. Yes,
it would be great to have a place to ride when it rains, but when the weather is great, I think most would prefer to ride outdoors.
Recently, stable owners, trainers and barn managers are using an innovative solution from Covermaster Inc, the leader in sport surface
protection. Since 1969, Covermaster has been providing Sport Surface protection solution to athletic facilities for many different sports.
Similar to a baseball infield Raincover that is pulled out for rain delay, the same concept works extremely well for an equestrian riding
arena. Over the last 15 years Covermaster has being making Equestrian Arena Raincovers in all different shapes and sizes. Word has
slowly spread that this solution significantly reduces the arena down time when rain was in the forecast.
There is the question about how stable owners could manage such a large tarp, especially with only a few people available to help install
or remove it. Originally a full arena tarp needed to be folded up several time and then rolled up on a large PVC pipe to uncover the
arena. This worked well but often took a few extra people to manage. Most recently Covermaster has introduced the new TarpMate
Air inflatable roller, a large, custom-made vinyl tube that is inflated with a standard portable leaf blower. With the TarpMate Air
rollers, a Covermaster Arena Footing Raincover can easily be installed and removed by only a few people. The TarpMate Air roller
can be manufacture to the same width of the raincover, and rolls from one end of the area to the other in-between the arena fencing. The
advantage of the longer roller is that the tarp requires minimal folding, depending on the size and shape of the arena. A dressage court is
20m x 60m. (65' x 197') so a one piece tarp about the same size can easily be rolled up on a 65' roller without the need to fold the tarp.
This reduces time, energy and wear and tear on the cover. Custom size tarps and rollers can be made for any size arena. Larger arenas may require two sections of tarp for easier handling.
When you anticipate weeks of rainy weather, just leave the roller inflated and ready to use at the end of the arena. When the forecast is
clear and the raincover is not needed, just deflate the roller and cover together, and bundle the entire system up for storage. After a
rainstorm, the tarp can rolled up, and the excess water will flow away from the arena, leaving a dry, workable riding surface. The other
benefit of having a Covermaster Equestrian Arena Raincover is the added time you get before the rain, as there is no need to seal an
arena earlier in the day which can affect the evening scheduled events. You can continue to use your arena up until the point is starts to
rain. Simply roll the cover out over the arena just before you anticipate the start of the rain. This process is fairly easy and can be done
with very little effort by the last few people to leave the barn for the night.
After the rain stops, or early next morning when the skies are clear, you will need a few people to slowly roll up the cover, as the excess
rainwater flows off to the sides of the arena. This reduces down time and allows riders to get their horses back into the arena soon after
the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. Or when riders or maintenance staff arrive the next morning, they can remove the raincover to
reveal a dry surface which they can drive on and drag without any concerns of puddles.
Covermaster raincover systems are being used in facilities in many regions. Custom covers have been made for dressage, jumping, reining
and rodeo arenas, as well as for round lunging pens. Thomas Bell from Covermaster said the feedback has been great. “I have many
users in California, Colorado and Oregon who report that they are able to start riding on their arena right away after the rain," he said.
"Others have said that with the TarpMate Air roller, they can get the cover rolled out with only two people." One customer has stated that she has unrolled the tarp on her own.
Kristina Harrison is a member of the United States Equestrian Team and a USDF Gold Medal dressage rider and trainer was one of the
early adopters of the Covermaster Equestrian Arena Raincover system. She is a very supportive customer who has high praise for the
Covermaster system. When asked if she would recommend the Covermaster system, Kristina said “the cover works great and I have
no problem talking with people about it. I'm happy to do so as you took great care of me … and I believe in the product.”
A Covermaster Riding Arena Raincover is an economical alternative to building an indoor riding arena at a fraction of the cost and time.
It is a great solution for arenas that are not performing like new. It is the best way to protect the arena footing from the delays caused by
rain to keep your riding lesson, trainers and boarding customer happy.
An equestrian arena raincover will give your equestrian business an advantage over facilities that are still dealing with rain delays. The
added benefit is extending the life of your arena between extensive and expensive renovations.