The arena was at one time sand, it was built up high and crowned before sand was put in. The property owner at some point planted bermuda grass on top of the sand. We moved in last year in January and I was excited to see that when it poured, the rain just flowed off the arena and I could ride right away. Unfortunately, we are in Texas and basically had no rain since that rain last January so the grass has suffered and is sparse, which has left the ground harder than I like. There is still a tad bit of sand under the grass so I decided to drag the outer edge 4 feet wide all the way around to make a sandy dirt track to ride on and see if i liked it before doing the whole thing. My guy definitly liked it better and was lighter on his feet. Well, we had rain last night and the sandy mix is more like a muddy sand mix and I am afraid that if i did the whole ring i would have to remove the grass and some of the footing before I could replace it all with sand. The inner part with the sparse grass could be ridden on almost right after the rain but the track will now have to dry out to drag. I am trying to be cost effective since we are renting and do not own the property.
My thoughts are
a) leave the outer track as a sanded track but add more actual sand and leave the center part grass. This would give me a softer outer ring to use plus an inner ring that could be ridden on soon after raining. The center grass part is about 60 ft wide and about 150 long. with a 4 foot wide sandy track around the edge
If I did this, HAS ANYONE USED WINTER RYE GRASS SEED TO KEEP GRASS IN THEIR TURF ARENA DURING WINTER MONTHS? IF SO HOW DOES IT HOLD UP?
b) remove the rest of the grass and add sand to the arena.
would cost alot more and not sure if I would need to remove the old sand/dirt mix first or just add sand on top of it once the grass is out.
I guess my main question is....... Does winter rye work well to fluff up a turf arena during the winter?
Black Jack, when we bought our place I was in basically the same situation you're in. The previous owner had an area where whe lunged, and it was a sandy circle track with the rest of the area grass (bahia). Our area is sandy soil. I saw what was there and envisioned a dressage arena with nice sandy footing. I really didn't want grass-although I guess mowing and dragging would need to be done with the same frequency, no grass was my preference. DH dragged it, raked it, worked it, box-bladed it, and after a LOT of work it's now a useable standard size dressage "arena". I thought I would need to add sand or some other footing to it, but it seems to be fine. It isn't 100% level, but I notice that only when I drag it, not at all when riding. We do drag it after it rains, as the top layer gets rather hard it it's not worked in. It drains very, very well even after prolonged rain. It does tend to be somewhat dusty after a long time without rain, but overall I couldn't be happier with it. I don't guess this answered your main question, but it does let you know you might be able to clear it and not worry aobut planting grass.
Thanks for the response. The thing i am afraid of is that my test area aka, oustide track that I removed the grass from and dragged has turned to a muddy mess now that it has rained. I am worried that the soil/sand mix in the entire arena will get like that every time it rains. I may try mixing some sand into the outside track to see how it is after the next rain and decide if i want to do the entire arena that way.
I don't think winter rye is hardy enough to ride on all the time, but you could experiment in an area. Predictions are that Texas wont get much rain (drought thru to next spring I believe) so most the time your ring should be good. Sadly, when it does rain it will be a couple inches in an hour,then done so it sounds like your part grass area will keep draining into your track area.
I had a bermuda ring in a different state and it got lumpy and uneven over time. We ended up rolling it at one point (like at a golf course). That ring did get winter rye seed tossed down but it was patchy and didnt take hard use.. again Not in Texas... and we did water and fertilize that ring all year to keep the grass.
"The Desire to Win is worthless without the Desire to Prepare"
It's a "KILT". If I wore something underneath, it would be a "SKIRT".