DIY Horse Arena Maintenance You Can Perform Yourself

horse arena maintenance

A horse arena is often the first place many riders begin laying the foundations for their horse’s training and are essential in preparing your horse for upcoming shows.

Your arena maintenance and the state it leaves your arena in can make or break the quality of training each rider can perform. This is especially true when you’ve forgotten to include some essential steps in your routine, potentially leading to a dangerous riding environment.

While it can be a large undertaking, arena maintenance is vital in providing a high-quality, safe experience for each horse that walks into the arena.

Keep reading to discover the essential elements you should be including in your regular arena maintenance routine.

Why is Horse Arena Maintenance Important?

Whether your arena experiences heavy use or it only supports a small community of riders, your arena will require regular maintenance.

Arena maintenance is about more than keeping your arena looking nice. A well-cared-for arena ensures both the horses and their owners are safe every time they use it.

There are three main reasons your arena maintenance is essential.

Level Footing

Without proper maintenance, your arena will develop a range of shallow and deep areas, becoming a hazard for training horses.

As the footing shifts during each use, it may become less stable for the next rider, potentially becoming dangerous if they’re working on a training discipline that requires predictable stability.

Minimizes Dust

One of the largest hazards of an unmaintained arena is a high rate of dust entering the air as horses are training.

As horses work through a session, they’re breathing heavily, and if they’re surrounded by dust from an unmaintained arena, they’re breathing those particles in. This can result in serious respiratory issues over time.

Protects Your Arena Base

Your horse arena maintenance also ensures there is a minimal risk of damage being done to your arena base.

If you fail to properly maintain your arena and your base is damaged, you’ll need to remove the footing and repair or completely replace the base, which can be an expensive process.

Furthermore, if your base is damaged and pieces begin mixing with your footing material, you can risk injuring a horse during their session.

5 Horse Arena Maintenance Steps You Can Do Yourself

Maintaining your arena doesn’t have to be a difficult task, and many steps can easily be performed by yourself or your staff with the right equipment.

1. Grooming

Each time your arena is being used, the footing is being pushed around, shifting under the horses as they move around the arena.

Dragging your arena with a harrow helps break up clumped or packed footing, redistributing it and levelling out your arena again.

How often you need to drag your arena will heavily depend on how much traffic it experiences each day, as well as the type of riding that’s being done in it.

For example, if your arena is being used for jumping, your footing will quickly become dispersed as the horse lands after each jump.

On the other hand, if it’s being used for flatwork, like dressage, your dragging requirements should reflect that. Consider focusing more heavily on the rail of the arena to avoid divots forming on the outside edge.

In general, if your horse arena is seeing heavy traffic, ideally, you should be dragging your arena once a day.

For slower days with more gentle work being done, two or three times a week should be sufficient.

2. Watering

Keeping dust at bay is essential in maintaining the safety of your arena, and watering your footing is an important aspect of that.

Your watering needs will vary based on what additives you use, your climate, and how much traffic your arena is experiencing.

With the drastic temperature fluctuations in Ontario, you may find your arena requires a different watering schedule each season.

For example, in dry summers, your arena will require more frequent watering than it would during the middle of winter.

Keep in mind that sand and fibre footings are susceptible to frost during the winter months. During this time, if your arena is going long periods without use, including an arena cover to protect it may be worth considering.

An easy way to check the moisture level of your footing is by simply picking up a handful of it. As you close your fist, if dust forms or it won’t stick together, it’s too dry. If it forms a tight or muddy ball, then it’s too wet.

You’ll want it to be able to form into a ball but still crumble in your hand.

3. Repair Holes or Divots

While dragging your arena will relevel the surface at the end of each day, throughout each session, there may be holes and divots that form.

This is especially true if there are areas experiencing more impact than others, such as around jumps.

After each training session, quickly go around the arena and repair any sections that have been heavily used by raking or shovelling the footing.

This will ensure that there are no areas that are particularly damaged when the next rider enters the arena, ensuring both them and their horse can have an enjoyable, safe session.

4. Keep it Clean

Your horse arena should always be meticulously cleaned, ensuring each rider is walking into a clean arena ready for them to train.

Picking up any organic matter, like manure, right away is essential in maintaining your arena. If these are left behind and are stepped on they’ll mix with the sand, not only quickly compromising its quality but also creating dust.

Another step many arenas include is ensuring each horse enters the arena with clean feet. This ensures no mud, manure, or small stones end up in the sand during their session.

Additionally, your riders should pick their horse’s feet prior to leaving the arena to minimize the loss of footing.

5. Inspect and Maintain Your Footing

As your horse arena is being used, the sand and your chosen additives will slowly break down, losing their form.

As mentioned above, smooth, uniform footing is essential, and if it’s no longer able to maintain its stability, it’s time to replace it.

The good news is that this won’t have to be done too frequently, well-maintained sand can often last a few years before needing to be replaced.

Horse Arena Maintenance Schedule

How often your arena requires maintenance will depend on a few different aspects. While some arenas will require rigorous maintenance routines, others may not.

Some things that influence your horse arena maintenance schedule include:

  • How often your arena is being used
  • The kind of work your arena is being used for each day
  • The temperature and air quality


Daily maintenance is where you’ll be able to make the most difference, greatly minimizing the work needed in the future.

Taking small steps to actively care for your horse arena each day will make your deep conditioning days easier and keep it looking its best every day.

Each day, you’ll want to take a few steps to maintain your arena, such as

  • Drag your arena at least once a day using a harrow, like our Equine Bridge Harrow.

Try to do this right away in the morning before the first training session. If you have more than nine or ten horses using your arena, include a second drag to keep the ground level for the afternoon riders.

  • Check your footing’s moisture using the above-mentioned method. If it’s too dry, water the arena as necessary.
  • Remove any organic matter from your arena regularly throughout the day. This will keep your footing clean and minimize any bacteria forming over time.


Each week, you’ll want to perform a few extra steps to give your horse arena a deeper clean. This helps extend the longevity of your footing and keep it in optimal condition throughout each week.

Set aside one day a week to prepare your arena and perform these conditioning steps.

  • Relocate any training items, such as barrels or jumps. This will help ensure your arena is being used evenly, and you’ll minimize the risk of uneven surfaces forming over time.
  • Rake and remix the footing around the heavily used areas, such as where the barrels were or the landing area in front of the jumps.
  • Perform a deeper rake to fully remix your sand and additives.
  • For any narrow spaces in your arena that your large machinery can’t reach, use a hand rake to treat those sections.

Note: While dragging your arena daily is essential when it’s being used each day, if there are weeks where it’s gone unused, you’ll want to ensure you still drag it at least once a week.


Throughout each year, the footing of your arena will slowly settle into place, becoming more compact.

This is simply the natural result of using your arena. Flipping your footing helps combat this.

Essentially, flipping is the act of scraping the footing off of your arena base and flipping it to remix all your components together again.

During this process, take the time to inspect your footing material and determine if new sand needs to be added or if you should consider including a new dose of additives.

Horse Arena Maintenance Equipment in Rockwood, Ontario

Using high-quality equipment can make your horse arena maintenance routine easy, keeping both your riders and their horses healthy and happy.

At System Equine, we’re passionate about bringing quality experiences to every horse owner. With our wide range of arena accessories to meet all your grooming needs, you’ll be sure to find everything you need to keep your arena in exceptional condition.

Visit our showroom, or contact us today to learn more.

Author: impdigital

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Ends March 31, 2024 at 11:59PM