If you've ever tried to run in mud you know what your horse feels when he works in footing that is too deep for his purpose. Forget about the gushy feeling of mud between your toes and focus on the fatigue in your muscles.... That's what your horse feels. So what can you do to fix it? Try these suggestions:
~ Know your arena base. This could be compacted limestone, clay, or just plain ground. Whatever the material learn if the base is still solid, or if it has become loose, adding to the depth of the footing in the arena. If you find that the base is no longer solid your next steps might require correcting the base first, then looking at if the remaining footing depth separately. You would be amazed to know that many deep arenas also have poor bases under the footing. Mix the base material with the actual footing and you've found the cause for this tendon straining combination.
~ Know the material. If you are putting in new footing research how the footing reacts over time. As certain materials breakdown they may also create a slippery, deep feel when in use. Look for traction in your footing that comes from the particle shape and size, not always from how much or how little is in your arena. Once you know how the arena material wears you can add/remove the correct amounts of footing to keep the depth required for your discipline.
~ Know your Arena Equipment. There's nothing worse than overusing arena equipment and working up the footing to an unhealthy depth. If you are using a deep drag to loosen the packed footing check the settings. Often times overworked arenas will either become too deep or too hard, so keep in mind what the footing needs on that day might not be the same as in the past. Pay close attention to patterns and use of your equipment to make sure you're not creating the issue all on your own.
Seems like common sense stuff, but when do we honestly look at our equipment as more than just an attachment for the tractor?!? Paying attention to these things will help save you $$$ in the long run!