Different Events Require Different Ground Conditions

Finding a happy medium on an arena footing that appeals to multiple disciplines can be challenging. However, Dunn says good ground can work for more than one discipline.

“A lot of times I’ve heard that stock contractors don’t like barrel racing dirt,” Dunn said. “That’s not true. Stock contractors like what we consider fast ground. They don’t want their roughstock getting bogged down with deep ground. You can still go in and tear that ground up, get rid of that hard pan and then with adequate moisture, put it back together with a firm feel to it.”

When barrel racers have to share an arena with other horse show events, it can get a bit tricky.

“Reiners want more of that hard pan underneath and almost pure sand on top,” Dunn said. “They want that ground to give. They want those horses to be able to set and slide. Each discipline requires somewhat different ground.”

Thornton says proper tools are needed to convert ground that has a hardpan and loose sand on top to safe ground for barrel racers. Sometimes the arena crew will need to dig deep to loosen the hardpan and mix the clay with the sand on top. This step is very important to ensure that barrel racers don’t slip and broadside in the arena.

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