Riding arenas for show jumping and dressage are specialised sports surfaces. A quality arena requires careful planning to ensure good drainage, extensive excavation, trucking in hard fill like limestone or granite for the base layer, and deciding on the right top layer. It’s a substantial investment for horse owners.
Horse arenas are becoming increasingly popular in the Mornington Peninsula area. Irrigation specialist Andrew McConnell of Peninsula Pro Irrigation specialises in irrigation for horse arenas and explains the challenge they face.
“A sand and fibre top layer is popular for horse arenas in the local area. It’s an extra investment, but some of these riders are competing at an international level, and riding very valuable horses, so they go the extra mile to ensure they’re training on top quality surfaces. The sand and fibre surface is not only more even and stable, but it also reduces the risk of injury to the horse and rider.”
“You have to keep a sand and fibre arena surface moist at all times. It makes the surface more consistent, cushions the horses’ footfall, and helps prevent sand and dust blowing in the horse and rider’s eyes. But of course, we can’t apply too much water, as that can create its own issues, so horse arenas require their own specialised irrigation approach.”
Earlier this year Andrew and his team installed irrigation for riding arenas in Balnarring and Moorooduc. He explains, “Uniform water application is critical. When a horse goes over a jump it has to land on a consistent surface. So, when we water, we aim for a uniform, gentle coverage to give an even footing and keep dust down.”
The Balnarring arena is indoors, with one side of the arena covered and the other open to the afternoon sun. This poses its own challenges as the side that catches the sun dries out faster. Andrew installed eight Hunter G885 rotors. The slow precipitation rate of these sprinklers allows moisture to sink in gradually, and Hunter’s reliable uniformity gives even coverage. Each sprinkler is individually controlled. The corner sprinklers have a different time pattern, and the sprinklers on the sunny side are programmed to compensate for the additional exposure.
The Moorooduc arena is outdoors on a site exposed to wind and weather. Here Andrew installed six Hunter G995 Electric valve-in-head Golf Rotors, and an ACC99D 2-wire Decoder system. With a long-range throw up to 29.6 metres, the G995 sprinklers are mounted on the fence surrounding the arena and configured to cover the entire space evenly.
Andrew chose the Hunter sprinkler range because it offers exceptional uniformity for a great, economical price. “When you’re watering every day, you want to keep your irrigation costs down. Hunter’s economical water use, and durable parts make damping down riding arenas a cost-effective exercise.”
Andrew checks in regularly with his horse arena clients to make sure their sprinkler settings are working out for them, guiding them through seasonal adjustments to their controller programming.
He values the support he gets from the Nelson Australia team, saying “I’ve known Steve Radford from Nelson for over 25 years. The Nelson guys are all good. They supply on time. They always let me know straightaway if there are any issues with my order. If I have any special requirements, they’re good at giving advice. When new products come out, they’re great at letting us know and showing us what they can do. We’ve a great working relationship.”
The Nelson Australia team are experienced irrigation experts. We’re happy to visit meet with your clients on site, understand their requirements, and explore irrigation options with you. If you need irrigation advice for horse arenas, we’re here to help.