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View Full Version : Don't like my new footing - now what?



Second Fiddle Farm
Jul. 27, 2011, 10:35 PM
I recently had some repairs done on my arena, and the contractor who did the job suggested that I integrate some loose bluestone into my existing 1" of washed sand to provide more cushion for the base without adding depth. The job is finished and I am not happy with the footing result - way too much bluestone for my liking that seems to be sitting on top of the sand layer, even though he mixed it for hours with a big implement. It is very abrasive to the horses' feet right now and I just don't like the feel in general. I am wishing I had just added another 1/2" of sand but I was afraid of too deep footing. I am definitely calling the contractor tomorrow to discuss this, but in the mean time has anyone put footing down that didn't work out and have it partially or totally removed? For those who have dealt with bluestone/sand mix, am I just panicking prematurely...does it take a while to integrate?

mickeydoodle
Jul. 27, 2011, 11:08 PM
Bluestone cannot give any "cushion" to the footing. It only adds depth, and if wet then dried, it can become concrete. It will not really incorporate, merely break down itself and the sand with time. (it is hard and coarse, rubbing together it produces dust)

Have you thought about a little bit of rubber and/or felt with your sand?

Second Fiddle Farm
Jul. 28, 2011, 07:40 AM
By cushion he meant protection for the underlying base. The sand was shearing so that sometimes a hoof would make contact with the base. I probably just should have added a little more sand, but like I say I was afraid to make it too deep. As for fiber, I have heard mixed reviews about putting it in an outdoor arena. I am also on a budget.

airhorse
Jul. 28, 2011, 09:29 AM
The larger granules will always come to the top, just like cereal in the box. The only way the addition of a "base" material would have been effective is to have stripped the sand and compacted the new base prior to adding the sand back.

Second Fiddle Farm
Jul. 28, 2011, 09:36 AM
The larger granules will always come to the top, just like cereal in the box. The only way the addition of a "base" material would have been effective is to have stripped the sand and compacted the new base prior to adding the sand back.

I think I did not make myself clear. He did not add bluestone into the sand as some substitute for a good base. The base is 6" of compacted bluestone; he added loose bluestone into the existing top sand layer to create a footing mix of sand/bluestone. He actually did strip the sand back and repair/recompact the base in the one area I was having problems. My problem is that I am finding I do not like riding on bluestone/sand.

airhorse
Jul. 28, 2011, 09:56 AM
Well, the bluestone is going to continually float to the top. Not sure how much cushion that is going to add unless you work the footing frequently.

mpsbarnmanager
Jul. 28, 2011, 10:44 AM
Add rubber

MeghanDACVA
Jul. 28, 2011, 05:48 PM
Ditto on add rubber.
My arena is equal parts sand (mostly concrete sand), bluestone and rubber. Maybe I am doing something different but the bluestone (called screenings here in OK) don't come to the top. If you pick up a shovel full of the footing, it is pretty evenly mixed thru out. It isn't ridden in nearly as much as it should be (just me) and so we also don't have to work it very often. But either way, the mix is evenly mixed.

When we put it down we started with the sand then the bluestone. DH mixed it with the frontend loader, back and forth, back and forth. It mixed well. When we added the rubber we did the same thing.

Again, I have no idea what we did or do differently.

As for the sand/bluestone mix...I like it. The bluestone gives it some grip and breaks up the sand. It will turn to concrete if you have a lot of bluestone in it but the sand tends to break that up too so it isn't nearly as bad as straight bluestone.

Watermark Farm
Jul. 29, 2011, 02:17 PM
This is a great publication on arenas and footing dynamics and might help you figure out why this particular blend is not working for you. You need a mixture of particle sizes/shapes in footing for best results.

I wish I'd read this when I installed my own footing!

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

Twiliath
Jul. 31, 2011, 06:29 AM
OP, are you saying that your total footing depth is 1 inch? That's not nearly enough. You need at least 2.5 inches of footing. Maybe you just need more sand to increase it to 2.5 inches. You could go slowly and add 1/2 inch at a time.

S1969
Jul. 31, 2011, 06:59 AM
OP, are you saying that your total footing depth is 1 inch? That's not nearly enough. You need at least 2.5 inches of footing. Maybe you just need more sand to increase it to 2.5 inches. You could go slowly and add 1/2 inch at a time.

That was my thought...perhaps an inch of sand felt softer than an inch (1.5) or so of sand + bluestone, but it still doesn't seem like enough. No wonder your horses were punching through to the base.

I'd increase the sand by another two inches or so....agree that going slow is a good idea, but still...seems like you need lots more unless you're driving instead of riding.

Schiffon
Aug. 1, 2011, 11:00 PM
OP, are you saying that your total footing depth is 1 inch? That's not nearly enough. You need at least 2.5 inches of footing. Maybe you just need more sand to increase it to 2.5 inches. You could go slowly and add 1/2 inch at a time.

And when the quarry calculates how much it will take to give you 1/2 inch, order only 60-75% of that!

BeeHoney
Aug. 1, 2011, 11:31 PM
On one hand, the particle size and shape of loose bluestone can be very beneficial to footing. If you used a round sand (like river sand), the angular shape of the bluestone particles may be beneficial to your footing mix to decrease "rolling" of the footing particles under the horses' hooves.

OTOH, bluestone will break down and form dust more quickly than quartz sand, so that isn't so great. If you have a watering system, no prob.

As far as abrasiveness to feet, unless the particles are very large--like rocks--an angular quartz sand (not river sand) is going to be more abrasive so I wouldn't worry about that aspect.

Depth of footing is tricky. Calculating and purchasing the right amount is tricky. Perfectly reasonable to start with 1" and go from there, but perhaps when you added the bluestone more bluestone than you intended got mixed in. If I were in your shoes I'd give it some time and ride on your arena in different conditions to fully evaluate the situation. Then, make a decision to either pull some off and add more sand, or just add rubber, or pull some off and then add rubber.

Lucassb
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:03 PM
We have a rubber/sand mix in one of our outdoor rings and it is fantastic to ride on... might be worth looking into adding some rubber to what you have.

Good luck. Getting footing right can be difficult.

katarine
Aug. 2, 2011, 05:24 PM
You have ONE inch of sand? And you mixed BS into that? You need more sand than that.

ToTheNines
Aug. 2, 2011, 06:06 PM
Not sure I am recommending this because I just put it in, but I recently added a mixture of compost and granite sand, 50/50. It was expensive -- $400 for a 13 yard truckload, but I just added it to places where the sand was thinning. So far I love it.

However, it has not been rained on yet (we are in a horrible drought). But the wind here would blow rubber away, and I wanted something with some "purchase". Sand gets so slippery.

Has anyone tried just plain old dirt mixed with sand?

BeeHoney
Aug. 3, 2011, 09:03 AM
Dirt mixed with sand and then watered and groomed carefully can make reasonably nice footing. Many old show rings used to be a mixture of sand, clay and a little bluestone that was then watered and dragged. The problem is that if it is too wet it may not drain well enough and it has to be watered enough to make it all "stick" together and not be dusty.

Typically any organic material will break down and lose its original properties and cause dust, this is why organic materials are not typically first choices for arena footing.

Sand type and quality are important. A round sand will be slippery as the particles "roll" underfoot. An angular sand will offer better traction and stability. Having a good moisture level helps with the quality of sand footing as well.

asb_own_me
Aug. 3, 2011, 10:24 AM
You have ONE inch of sand? And you mixed BS into that? You need more sand than that.

I know what you meant, but this was still funny to read!

Plumcreek
Aug. 4, 2011, 11:10 AM
Make sure the rubber is very small crumb - as close to the sand size as possible, or it will just sift to the surface and float away in the rains. You can find the small crumb by contacting sports field contractors, who add this size rubber to grass playing fields for longevity.