Methods to prevent erosion and regulate water runoff in a riding arena for horses

When we plan the layout of our horse properties, we cannot ignore the significance of the shape of the land. Particularly when we are dealing with rough ground, slopes, hills, and valleys, further design deliberations need to be taken into account because the contour of the ground has an apparent effect on the flow of energy in our system!! 

If you are operating horses on a hilly property, you sure have encountered the consequence of this on water flow, soil condition, and grass cover. Erosion and run-off are major problems on horse properties. While soil erosion may be more apparent on hillier or smaller properties with higher stocking density, flatter and larger properties are not exempted.

Soil erosion can be a slow procedure that continues somewhat unnoticed or can happen at an alarming rate, inducing serious loss of topsoil. Soil compaction, low organic matter, loss of soil structure, poor internal drainage, salinization, and soil acidity problems are other severe soil degradation situations that can speed up the soil erosion process. In the case of horse properties that deal with big grazing animals, compaction is generally the main reason for soil erosion and soil degradation.

Knowledge of the contours and shape of the land.

If you want to operate with natural patterns and prevent erosion you must accustom yourself to a contour map of your property. A contour map is exemplified with contour lines, which show valleys and hills, and the steepness of slants. The contour interval of a contour map is the disparity in elevation between successive contour lines. From these contours, an understanding of the general terrain and slant can be determined. The steeper and lengthier the slope of a field, the higher the risk for erosion.

Soil erosion by water expansions as the slope length increases due to the tremendous accumulation of runoff. The merger of small fields into bigger ones often results in longer slope lengths with expanded erosion potential, due to the increased acceleration of water, which authorizes a greater degree of scouring (carrying capacity for sediment). 

Therefore it’s important that if you are dealing with a hilly property and/or a lot of water run-off that you work as much as possible on contour lines and integrate methods such as keyline design (plowing), swale design, and contour vegetation planting/mulching and fencing to deter erosion.

Contour plowing and Keyline planning (plowing)

Contour plowing or contour agriculture is the farming practice of plowing and/or planting across a slant following its elevation contour lines. These contour lines create a water break which lessens the formation of rills and ravines during times of heavy water run-off; which is the main reason for topsoil loss and soil erosion. 

The water break also permits more time for the water to settle into the soil. In contour plowing, the troughs made by the plow run perpendicular rather than parallel to slopes, normally resulting in creases that curve around the land and are level. This procedure is also known for preventing tillage deterioration. Tillage erosion is the soil movement and erosion induced by tilling a given plot of land.

An identical practice is contour bunding where stones are positioned around the contours of slopes. Soil erosion prevention practices such as this can drastically lessen negative effects associated with soil erosion such as less crop productivity, worsened water quality, lower effective reservoir water levels, flooding, and habitat destruction. Contour farming is evaluated as an active form of endurable agriculture.

Vegetation/ Planting 

The simplest and most extensively natural way to stave off erosion is through planting vegetation. Plants establish root procedures, which Alise soil and stave off soil erosion. Having greenery such as shrubs and trees will help govern soil erosion and forested steep slopes also warm the cool evening air to create a thermal belt. 

When water runs downhill, it will inscribe its watercourses and gullies, washing away the soil in the procedure. Trees, vegetation, and groundcovers soak up the flow of the water, and by developing a buffer between the flowing water and the soil, they govern the problem of soil erosion. That is why it’s also crucial to think in terms of ground/ grass cover for your field areas. 

Geotextile and geocells

Utilizing geotextiles Fabric is an adequate way because it also stabilizes soil. When accustomed in conjunction with thriving vegetation, it is even more useful. Geotextiles Fabric are filter materials that are utilized to stabilize loose soil and boost stability from wind and water erosion. Made from synthetic and natural fibers, geotextiles benefit in the filtering, separation, and drainage of water from the soil. Geotextiles Fabric can be woven, non-woven, or knitted.  

All these various fabric compositions are suitable and can be utilized in various applications. Geocell/matting has numerous applications; slope protection, horse sacrifice regions, tracks, roads, livestock/horses water points, ditches, ponds/dam walls, etc.


These solutions to control water run-off can be utilized in combination to prevent and manage soil erosion in various areas on your horse property. The structures and materials you select to utilize will largely rely on the shape of your land, your budget, and property design ideas. For example, if you are intending on fencing regions for your horses’ pastures or plant trees/shrubs, use contours for placement. 

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