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View Full Version : Building an Arena



knightrider
May. 24, 2011, 09:17 PM
So...what is your idea arena size? And what can you get away with if you trailer to a trainer's farm or off the property once a week or so? Also with the price of gas, any cost estimates of building an arena in NoVa? The property has several very flat spots perfect for an arena..essentially take off the top layer and you have pretty flat areas for the arena so not a lot of grading...would then just need bluestone base and hopefully sand...although the sand may have to come next year since I'll have some fencing costs to cover as well as the arena...

Any recommendations for someone to do the arena? Thanks.

MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 09:44 PM
What ever your budget is, throw it out the window.

There is no such thing as "just scraping off the top layer". You will have to have it graded. Unless you have already put a lasar on it to know it is FLAT and where and how much it drops for drainage.

You may need a geofabric put down before you put in the base.
Base needs to be 9 inches or so. In layers, and wet down before it is rolled. Be sure it is very very well compacted. If the trucks that bring the footing in damage the base, the base is not correctly compacted.
And put french drains around the edge.
Figure out if you want it crowned or a sl drop or what for drainage.

My arena is 20 x 60. And the other one is 20 x 40, from where we had to redo all the grading the contractors screwed up.

Giood luck.

KBC
May. 24, 2011, 09:47 PM
Subbing because I've been promised an arena this year, I want to see all the hints and tips a well.

JB
May. 24, 2011, 10:15 PM
As said, what looks flat may not be properly "flat" or sloped at all - it may very well dip slightly in the middle which would be deadly for a ring. If it looks "flat", then at least your cost of grading is minimized but it's *certainly* not eliminated. You really want a motor grader for this so the grade is 100% correct.

Mine is 100x180 and I wouldn't want it any smaller for schooling jumps. It doesn't need to be so large you can school a whole course, but you need to be able to set a couple of lines of at least 4 strides so you can work on a variety of exercises.

Desert Topaz
May. 25, 2011, 09:17 AM
When I had my arena area flattened last year the guy who did it for me, a horseman himself, said that this is a big project, so I might as well do it the size I want from the beginning. So, I have a 100X200 and it works quite nicely. All I could do was the flattening and I thought it was pretty flat... turns out there was a 10 foot difference between one end and the other. Now I'm craving footing, but there are several projects in the way before that can come about. I ended up not fencing it, since the pony and I event, and we have far too much fun jumping up and down the banks and hills in and out of the arena. :D

Personal Champ
May. 25, 2011, 10:23 AM
I am doing my own, well DH is, LOL.

We have the equipment - backhoe, laser, mini excavator, and dump trucks - so cost there is none other than fuel. Our property is fairly flat with a natural 1-2% slope, lucked out there.

I am putting in a 60x100. I trailer out for lessons, and have a jump field set up in my also-flat pasture. The "ring" is only for when the weather doesn't cooperate - like when it rains so the grass is slick. Also for winter fooling around on the flat.

carolprudm
May. 25, 2011, 11:34 AM
I "Thought" we had a flat spot, turns out it dropped several feet end to end and a foot or so across.

Large bluestone dressage arena cost $17000 and I still need to add sand and fiber, probably another $5K.

I am VERY glad I insisted that we wait until after a good rain before adding the sand because we had some drainage issues. The excavator just left, now we wait for rain to see if it's right

JackSprats Mom
May. 25, 2011, 09:21 PM
I thought my area was flat, there was a 10 ft difference, I was quoted 5k to come in grade, do base and add sand, then when they realized the area wasn't flat enough they said it would cost 9k to even the area.

I ended up with an arena that has a fair grade to it (as I wasn't putting another 9k into it). While the areana actually now works fine we initially had HEAVY rain which washed all the top sand off the arena down to the bottom making one end too deep to ride in.

Thankfully we have our own back hoe and I think this summer (if we ever get one) I'll dig it down, make it flat and redo it.

But to answer your actual quesion I made a standard dressage arena (198 by 60 something)

judybigredpony
May. 26, 2011, 08:41 AM
Holy Moley, I got mine after all the excavation w/ blue stone, sand (after 1 year to let settle) and fenced all for about $12,000.

Local guy did excavation and leveling, no geo fab or 9 inches of what ever, stone dust and we rolled and crowned. Rode on it for 1 full year until it fully compacted and settles. Re graded touched up the swale on one side to catch run off, added 2 inches contractor sand then fenced.

Before you freak out, have you soil composition checked. We have good top soil but are on a granite ledge so we drain well and not alot of nasty sticky clay.
Get the conservation people out from the extension office they will have maps.

We have a less is more and are under 200x100.

JB
May. 26, 2011, 10:22 AM
All I could do was the flattening and I thought it was pretty flat... turns out there was a 10 foot difference between one end and the other


I "Thought" we had a flat spot, turns out it dropped several feet end to end and a foot or so across.


I thought my area was flat, there was a 10 ft difference
LOL, exactly! Lots of property looks pretty "flat", but when you traverse 100' or 200', the drop can actually be pretty substantial. I knew my spot wasn't "flat", but I thought maybe 2-3' difference. It was more like 8-10'.


Holy Moley, I got mine after all the excavation w/ blue stone, sand (after 1 year to let settle) and fenced all for about $12,000.

Local guy did excavation and leveling, no geo fab or 9 inches of what ever, stone dust and we rolled and crowned. Rode on it for 1 full year until it fully compacted and settles. Re graded touched up the swale on one side to catch run off, added 2 inches contractor sand then fenced.

Before you freak out, have you soil composition checked. We have good top soil but are on a granite ledge so we drain well and not alot of nasty sticky clay.
Get the conservation people out from the extension office they will have maps.


You're right, there is a big difference in what has to be done based on what's under the topsoil. I am nothing but red clay, as deep as you want to dig, so there was no choice but to put down a good heavy layer of tamped and vibrated and rolled sub-base, after doing the same to the clay. Otherwise, even if just doing that to the clay, the top footing would, in short order, be sucked into the clay if there was any riding on it while damp.

If you have nice firm but well-draining soil, then you might easily get away with grading and just putting in the top footing.

mitchfromtimco
May. 26, 2011, 10:51 AM
@knightrider

I work for a fence and equine supply company, if you want an attractive and durable fence around your arena, I would go with something like Centaur's cenflex, on woodguard posts. It's a little pricey but you will literally never have to touch it again...it lasts FOREVER. anyhow our price would be about 4.50 a foot plus the shipping and depending on the options but thats pretty standard. if you want more info shoot me an email

mitch@timcohorseandfarmsupply.com

knightrider
May. 27, 2011, 05:50 AM
Thanks everyone for the responses...I kind of figured that whatever my initial thoughts were that I would have to double that figure....seems to be the way it works...you start out thinking x and it costs double x by the time you factor xyz in to the equation...lol

carolprudm
May. 27, 2011, 06:45 AM
Holy Moley, I got mine after all the excavation w/ blue stone, sand (after 1 year to let settle) and fenced all for about $12,000.

.

Unfortunately the cost of diesel has impacted the cost of building an arena along with hay and grain and just about everything else

S1969
May. 27, 2011, 07:05 AM
It really depends on what you are building over. We too have thick red clay as far as you want to dig....not a lot of shortcuts in that case. Which is why my arena is only 80x100. :(

But we used to ride at a barn that literally just dumped sand on the ground outside and had a very useable 100x200 or so area. Not entirely flat, not entirely weatherproof. I'm not even sure they had it graded. But it must have been some really well-draining soil. And for what it cost.....pretty useful.

Unprovoked92
May. 27, 2011, 07:27 AM
Our ring is 80x160. I originally was hoping for 100x150+ but the lay of the land made that impossible. Between grading, base (6" pug mix), fencing (self installed 2 rail split rail with kick boards), retaining wall in one corner, and footing (3/4 manufactured sand 1/4 blue stone). We started mid November and finished mid March (darn weather). About $25,000 for the whole thing. And worth every penny!!

USDF has a great book called Under Foot. It was my bible during arena construction.

Fancy That
May. 27, 2011, 02:09 PM
Our current arena is the top flat part of our pasture. THat's it. Works for us OKAY, but it's not ideal.

We are thinking of just adding sand, very similar to what you describe below.

I'm not obsessive about having a "flat" arena as far as training...if I can jog and walk and run on varied terrain, so can my horse.

Here's our arena currently - this is just a dragged portion of the pasture. It naturally slopes perfect for drainage, but it is just our natural dirt/earth....simply disced/raked regularly.

http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk150/elaineshickman/Twin%20Oaks%20Ranch/DSC01353.jpg
http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk150/elaineshickman/Twin%20Oaks%20Ranch/DSC01357.jpg
http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk150/elaineshickman/Twin%20Oaks%20Ranch/Arena.jpg
http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk150/elaineshickman/Twin%20Oaks%20Ranch/DSC01410_cropped.jpg
http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk150/elaineshickman/Horses%20June%202009/DSC01782.jpg

It's not soft in the summer, so we'd like to add sand. I know our clay will suck it up eventually, but I think that is better than nothing.

And no - can't afford a REAL arena. We aren't "serious" enough to justify that cost.


It really depends on what you are building over. We too have thick red clay as far as you want to dig....not a lot of shortcuts in that case. Which is why my arena is only 80x100. :(

But we used to ride at a barn that literally just dumped sand on the ground outside and had a very useable 100x200 or so area. Not entirely flat, not entirely weatherproof. I'm not even sure they had it graded. But it must have been some really well-draining soil. And for what it cost.....pretty useful.