We all want the best for our equine companions. Whether you are competing in a three-day event, you are an amateur show jumper or a leisure rider, we all want our horses to be in the best possible health. We will do anything to make sure they are kept happy and healthy. Strict barn management and excellent husbandry are simple ways in which you can improve your horses’ health and well-being.
Firstly, look at your horses’ environment. Where do they spend most of their time? Where do they exercise? Do you do most of your schooling in a sand arena? A dusty school can cause problems for both humans and horses. You want your horse to be able to perform to the best of their ability and excess dust can get in the way of that. Dust can cause legitimate health and performance issues, so you should take steps to prevent your arena from becoming dusty. The more you ride in a school, the more dust the horse will kick up, which results in dust particles floating in the air.
Humans and horses alike will breathe in this dusty air, which can exacerbate and cause breathing problems. While this occurs in outdoor arenas, air quality considerations are important for indoor arenas too - where there is not as much air circulation. Dusty arenas will prevent horses and riders from performing to their full potential. Top tips for reducing dust in your arena: While it is nearly impossible to completely eradicate dust from an equine arena, you can take some steps to reduce it:
One of the most common solutions to a dusty arena is simply increasing the amount of water that you use. It is almost impossible to completely eradicate dust by just watering your arena, but you can decrease the amount.
The best way to make sure that your entire arena gets a good rinse is with a sprinkler system as opposed to just using a hose. With a watering system designed for arenas, it is easier to ensure that you soak the whole area without overwatering any section.
However, there is such a thing as too much water. Too much moisture in the footing will cause sloppy footing, preventing the horses from getting the grip that they need.
In addition to putting more water on your footing, you can add salts that suppress dust. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are the two most common additive salts. Assuming that the air already has some moisture in it, both can absorb water from their surroundings.
Some people choose to have almost entirely synthetic footing as a way to combat dust and to maintain control of composition. Most arena owners, however, choose to simply add some synthetic materials to their footing. There are plenty of dust control products on the market.
For instance, some arena owners use textile fibres (a.k.a. Eurofelt). Usually made from recycled fibres such as polyester and blends, they do a good job of reducing dust when mixed with arena sand by absorbing water and maintaining moisture content.
Unless your barn is extremely well ventilated, your horse is probably better off outdoors! A poorly ventilated barn can be damp and dusty, which can lead to respiratory problems, and will also get too hot in the summer. Stabled horses are always exposed to a higher level of dust in their environment compared to horses living outdoors. Even if a barn is well ventilated, there is more dust trapped in an enclosure. Proper ventilation is extremely crucial to respiratory health.