View Full Version : FOOTING QUESTION: Ever used 1/4" minus in footing?

Jul. 11, 2012, 08:34 PM
After a year of redoing a botched base for my "all weather" outdoor, we are ready to add footing. Being in the PNW (although far south with less rain than the north), drainage and traction are key, and I have put down one inch of 1/4" minus (watered and lightly compacted) prior to tomorrow's two inches of course sand. I am hoping that the 1/4 minus will help prevent the horses from punching through the sand to the base. I figure that the 1/4" minus and the sand will mix a bit, which I think/hope should work well for sharp drainage.

I have heard of at least one event barn in the Portland area which uses only 1/4" minus as the sole footing...Any one with personal experience/tips? I have an arena rascal, so I can set the depth of "fluffing" very precisely. What I am paranoid about is the base. I am not totally confident that it is going to be hard enough, and I don't want the horses to punch into it.

(base is 6" of 4" rock, over geotextile cloth, compacted. Then 4-6" of Decomposed Granite, compacted) The slope is 1& 1/2%...crowned at the centerline with a 1% slope the long way from end to end.

Any advise regarding "breaking in" new arenas, or reviews of riding surfaces with some 1/4" minus in them would be much appreciated!!!

Jul. 11, 2012, 08:42 PM
mine is "quarter by fines' (same thing) - but I am in hot and dry AL...I think you'd need to have it compacted- we rented a small one and compacted the first 2" or so, I honestly don't recall, then put more on top that is loose. I need now to add sand and mix it in. I wouldn't jump on it, it's too hard for that. It is perfectly fine for flat work without it. You can't get the fluff factor you can with sand added.

Don't know that I helped ;)

Jul. 11, 2012, 08:44 PM
I suspect the whole question would be more comprehensible and garner more answers were the spelling more accurate. I figured out "course "to be coarse. What minus is ---? Giving advise is difficult , perhaps you want advice.

Jul. 11, 2012, 09:09 PM
I am in the PNW, and I have an outdoor that is 6" shale, packed and rolled, 6" 1/4 minus,packed and rolled, and 2" concrete sand. It has been in for about 10 years now, and is now needing more sand. It was never too deep, despite the seemingly large quantities of 1/4 minus. I have never had a problem with the shale coming up, unless a horse went to pawing in a corner or something. It is pretty wet in the winter where I am, so I made sure I built it up, so the 1/4 minus did not go out of sight. Mine is not very deep at the moment, but that is fine with me since I have gaited horses, and too deep makes them trotty : ) I would say it does require dragging and watering in the summer so it doesn't get too hard. Over the years, mine has areas that tend to puddle somewhat, I haven't figured out how to relevel it with the equipment that I have. However, it is never muddy, and is ridable year round.
I have used 1/4 minus for other areas all by itself, but my intent was to get it to pack for paddocks and gateways. It has done that pretty well if I put down a sufficient amount. I personally love the stuff, I call it poor mans pavement. I have it as a base in my stalls under the mats, have it in my barn aisles, just about anywhere I want to stay out of the mud.

Jul. 11, 2012, 10:48 PM
I suspect the whole question would be more comprehensible and garner more answers were the spelling more accurate. I figured out "course "to be coarse. What minus is ---? Giving advise is difficult , perhaps you want advice.

You may need to change your underwear. You're crabby.

Jul. 11, 2012, 10:52 PM
Thank you, muleygirl, that is exactly the sort of information I was interested in. I hope that the 1/4 minus will compact and act as a bit of a buffer between horse and base. I can add more sand and work the surface as needed to keep it soft enough.

Merrygoround: Glad to have given you give you the oppertunitie to be critikal without offering any usefull informatin. Silly me, I never thought that forgetting to use spell check could render my subject uninteligable... At least I perovided you an obviousley needed service :)

Jul. 12, 2012, 11:30 AM
If this is what you mean by 1/4" minus then yes, we have it in our arena. http://www.acmesand.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/MCHT.jpg

I know names change regionally thus the picture to make sure we're talking about the same thing. :)

We're in the desert and don't need the same kind of base you do, and ours is just on top of the natural dirt/clay on the ground here. The arena has a slightly larger slope than the "ideal" which means water doesn't have a chance to puddle and I have yet to have a day I couldn't ride in it. As a bonus, both riding horses hooves have improved drastically on this footing. My farrier loves us for using it. It's not harder, but it has less spring than other footing - my horse had a bruise and is wimpy about them, and we moved him home after getting the arena finished while he was recovering. He went from barely able to walk where he was, to happy to move around on the 1/4" minus the same day. He just loves the footing. He has more spring away from home, but for a dressage horse that's a good thing! I wouldn't jump *high* on this footing, but think it's totally acceptable for lower jumping. As with any footing change, of course I recommend easing the horses into it because any kind of change affects them differently.

Jul. 12, 2012, 02:12 PM
I would think it should be fine.

Jul. 12, 2012, 02:18 PM
You may need to change your underwear. You're crabby.

You get that way when you are older and fond of precision.

I know-why am I dealing with horses and horsepeople then?

Jul. 12, 2012, 03:06 PM
I guess it would depend on the angulation of the particles of the 1/4 minus (and yes I do know what that is) ie: what "breed" of material is it? The 1/4 minus refers to the particle sizes, but is it angular or smooth/round particles? For instance, river sand that has particles of 1/4" or less is going to be a lot more "roll-y" and won't compact very well because it has been in the bottom of a river and water would have eroded the particles to be very smooth and round. But limestone or granite of 1/4" down size typically has been man made into that size, and will have sharp angles that will lock into each other and compact like concrete. For a base, that's what you want. The sand you put on top of it should be more fine, but still angular, so there's some grip for the horse, but the particle sizes are more uniform and contain some silt, and therefore won't compact so easily.

I would think if it's a coarse, angular material like lime or granite, it will compact just as you hope for. As far as people riding on the 1/4 minus, it's doable, but you would have to really stay on top of grooming that top layer to keep it loose and not letting it compact. It's better to get something finer for your top dressing/footing IMO, so that you don't run into a danger of it getting too hard and causing problems for your horse.

As you can see, I've done a lot of research--I'm putting an arena in at my place very soon!

Jul. 12, 2012, 03:46 PM
Do you have the (deep?) sub base, then the 1/4 minus as the base, and then you want the ridable footing? Am I picturing that right?

If so, I would have the base more than 1". "lightly compacted" will be eaten into the first time the horse slides to a stop, or does a racehorse start and digs the toes in. It's not so much the mixing with the sand that's the issue, but the fact that you'll be creating little pockets in the 1/4 minus to hold a wee bit more water, then a bit more, then a bit more, then allowing the foot in that spot to hit the sub base.

Jul. 12, 2012, 05:14 PM
Thanks, every one. The 1/4 minus is sharply angular, and is on top of the base, which is a total of 8+ inches (4" of 4" compacted rock, then 4-6" compacted decomposed granite) I am okay with the 1/4" minus mixing with the sand some, it isn't really supposed to be a base, more of a sand amendment which I hope stays primarily between sand and base.

Thoroughbred in Color
Jul. 12, 2012, 06:56 PM
I suspect the whole question would be more comprehensible and garner more answers were the spelling more accurate. I figured out "course "to be coarse. What minus is ---? Giving advise is difficult , perhaps you want advice.

1/4 minus is the size of the rock. It means that the rock will be 1/4" or less. Size (3/4, 1/2, 1/4, etc.) minus is the industry standard term for gravel sizing.