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View Full Version : Arena footing... compaction?



VanEq
Jun. 29, 2010, 01:07 PM
I board at a teeny-tiny private barn-- only 6 horses, including my 2 mares. The owners are great guys and quite horse-knowledgeable but they are cowboys. I am the only person on the property who rides (the other horses are either babies or seniors). The owners are "resurrecting" an old arena, they have cleared it out and brought in truckloads of hogfuel for footing. The surface was already flat and drained well (used to be sand) but hasn't been used in many years.

They have spread out the hogfuel and expected me to be thrilled, but when I went out to longe my mare last night I was frustrated at how loose the footing is. It just slides all over the place when you put your foot down. I have no idea what to do to compact it, make it tighter so you are walking more ON it than THROUGH it-- can anyone help?

Do realize that since it isn't MY arena, I'm limited. For example, I cannot change their choice of footing. So I need suggestions on how to best work with what I have...

Thanks!

VanEq
Jul. 4, 2010, 02:09 AM
No one?

copper1
Jul. 4, 2010, 08:18 AM
Let them take a horse out on it and have it fall down a time or two and that may help them along!

MistyBlue
Jul. 4, 2010, 08:55 AM
Is it sand footing?
If it's that slippery, there's a good chance it's river sand. (or whatever it's called near you, some areas have different names for sand types)
River sand is like little round beads. It's very soft underfoot but since they're all little rounded grains they slide away from each other on impact and can be slippery.
If it is river sand, you can't compact it at all. It would be like trying to compact marbles.
Only thing I could think of for that would be to add a lot of angular sand and hope it locks a bit better. I'm no footing/sand guru though. Maybe someone else has a better idea?

Equibrit
Jul. 4, 2010, 09:03 AM
Is it sand footing?


No.


IThe owners are "resurrecting" an old arena, they have cleared it out and brought in truckloads of hogfuel for footing. The surface was already flat and drained well (used to be sand) but hasn't been used in many years.
Thanks!

tuppysmom
Jul. 4, 2010, 09:31 AM
Is there any way to water the footing?

atlatl
Jul. 4, 2010, 09:58 AM
I have no idea what hogfuel is, so can't help there.

I do have an idea of what it's like to board somewhere that doesn't have good footing. Several of us came up with the solution of arranging with the BO for us to buy the footing we liked. No cost to the BO. Yes, it was expensive, but not as much as my horse was.

If there's not a big demand; we were 5 boarders at a place with close to 100 horses, there's little motivation for the BO to ante up the money. Also, it would have resulted in a board increase for the rest of time.

If you really can't stand it, and you're the primary user, offer to fix it yourself. If you don't want to spend the money, then maybe it's time to look for a different barn.

Equibrit
Jul. 4, 2010, 11:33 AM
Hogfuel; http://www.laneforestproducts.com/products/index.php?product_id=7

Rent a chipper ?

molliwog
Jul. 4, 2010, 12:25 PM
Unfortunately I'm not optomistic for you. it only works well if it is frequently maintained by raking and has a good base underneath. And your assessment that the surface needs to be "tight" is correct. You don't want to drag it, because the intent is that you ride on top of the surface, rather than in it. The only truly nice hogsfuel arenas I've ever seen are at Devonwood, and I am betting it takes time and $$ to maintain them. I believe they actually roll their arenas, and perhaps someone familiar with how they maintain them could comment.

The quality of the material is highly variable. Hogsfuel is often slick, even on top of a good arena base base. Sometimes it will get a little better after it starts to break down a bit, and you'll have a brief period where it's actually a nice surface. But since it's organic, it will continue to break down until it becomes undesirably deep and eventually turns to mud unless you scrape it off and replace frequently. And it is better surface when it is wet, but not TOO wet. And that in itself can drive you crazy. This means that it needs water in the summer.

I've also observed that the material often has more "spring" to it than is really desirable. Between that and the slickness factor, I think it makes some horses more prone to soft tissue injuries.

It gets used a lot here in the PNW because it's comparatively cheap and plentiful. Almost all of the major show facilities here in the Seattle area seem to be phasing out its use as they can afford to replace their hogsfuel arenas with all-weather sand arenas.

Honestly, if my only riding option was a hogsfuel arena like the one you have described, I would move.

judybigredpony
Jul. 4, 2010, 12:28 PM
Hog Fuel is an unprocessed mix of barks and wood fiber. The size of the material varies, but is large enough to take a long time to break down.

frisky
Jul. 4, 2010, 05:24 PM
And your assessment that the surface needs to be "tight" is correct. You don't want to drag it, because the intent is that you ride on top of the surface, rather than in it.

Sometimes it will get a little better after it starts to break down a bit, and you'll have a brief period where it's actually a nice surface.

And it is better surface when it is wet, but not TOO wet. And that in itself can drive you crazy. This means that it needs water in the summer.

I think it makes some horses more prone to soft tissue injuries.


I ride in barns that have hogsfuel. I really like it, but it can be problematic (just like sand) and I always groan and dread new footing. So far, I haven't seen any good ideas on compacting it besides riding on the thing. It's usually miserable.

The last time we got hogsfuel, my bm insisted that it was a good idea to have the hogsfuel groomed every day to mix it up. Bad idea. This made the footing deep and hard to ride through.

Another arena at my barn got new footing last summer. There were five major soft tissue injuries over the winter. I think the footing is too deep and gives too much resistance on the leg.

Be careful and ride slowly!

mpsbarnmanager
Jul. 5, 2010, 02:05 PM
Wow I don't understand why anyone would want to use what seems like mulch for arena footing. If drainage is an issue, I would suggest a 50/50 mix of course,angular sand and bluestone (aka stone dust) over a well graded, crowned base for drainage. Of course you would not do that to someone elses property, so I would say its time to move if you want to be able to work your horses.

Calvincrowe
Jul. 5, 2010, 03:25 PM
Can you wet it thoroughly? If so, then get it quite wet and drive on it. Seriously, get your car or truck and slowly drive all around it, compact the base and the footing. You need to mash the wood fibers together, forming a mat that is springy, but tightly matted together.

Do you know if it has a high cedar content? Are there large chunks in it? If it's cedar, it will last longer and tie tightly together. Remove as many large pieces as you can, then wet, and "roll" it with a tractor, car or truck.

We had to use a car to smoosh the new cedar footing in our indoor, as the tractor was unavailable, and the footing came in. We wet the sand underlayer, put in the footing, and then wet it down and drove on it. Works great. You'll need to do that again, as it dries out.

Watermark Farm
Jul. 5, 2010, 08:02 PM
This will help you understand footing dynamics better. It's a great article!

http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/ub038.pdf.

molliwog
Jul. 6, 2010, 12:58 AM
Wow I don't understand why anyone would want to use what seems like mulch for arena footing. If drainage is an issue, I would suggest a 50/50 mix of course,angular sand and bluestone (aka stone dust) over a well graded, crowned base for drainage. Of course you would not do that to someone elses property, so I would say its time to move if you want to be able to work your horses.

Stonedust isn't commonly found here in the PNW. Thus, the use of materials that are available, like hogsfuel. Much, much cheaper than sand. And with the rain here, many (not all) arenas need to be sloped rather than crowned.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jul. 6, 2010, 11:58 AM
Used to ride in an arena with similar footing. It is a disaster if wet. VERY slippery. It was in an indoor and was 5 years old (at least) when I rode on it, so it actually was a pretty decent footing. Only a couple inches deep at most.

If I didn't like footing I would move.

VanEq
Jul. 7, 2010, 06:40 PM
Thanks for the thoughts everyone! I will see what I can do. Hogfuel is very common around here, especially for outdoor arenas-- in fact the barn I moved FROM used it in both their outdoors (a dressage arena and a jumping arena) and they both had beautiful footing that drained quickly. Wish I knew how they did it! :)

Calvincrowe
Jul. 7, 2010, 07:35 PM
VanEq- They did it by spending thousands of dollars on the sub-base! Drainage is built, using French drains, pipe, tons of graduated gravel, geotextile cloth and grading to create a permeable layer of stone that water passes into. It does not sit with the wood footing, rotting it. There is a very nice barn down here in the PDX area with a lovely outdoor made that way. The footing was the cheapest part!

Is this an outdoor? My suggestion of my previous post stands: get it wet, drive on it. If you have a tractor and landscape roller (heavy, weighted thingy) it would work, too. Sadly, if the hogsfuel is too angular (big, coarse pieces of wood), it will always be slick.