We need to create a small area with no grass. After reading many posts, felt a dirt/sand mixture (loam) was our best option. This will be pony outdoor run so do not want all sand since she will be eating out here (although in a hay net and we will put rubber mats beneath it).
However, can't seem to find loam locally (don't really want to try to get into creating a mix ourselves. My husband came up with the idea of rubber mats, but I'm afraid they'd be too slippery. does anyone have any ideas? now he's coming up with astro turf, but wondering if she would eat it . It looks like there are alot of different rubber mat type products on the market. I also saw some pavers. Stall Skins website has a section on installing them outdoors, but then finishes it with saying to add some shavings (which we would not be able to do since this is not a covered area.
I have mats for a 12 x 16 pen. They aren't to slippery even in the snow and ice, but water will settle into the mating edges of the mats and combined with urine and manure it's a little yucky. We have large stone underneath so it does drain but it isn't perfect.
If you are going to create a dry lot and import the footing, get the gravel. Any dirt at all is just the basis for mud.
I have crushed limestone in my runs and love it, it makes a nice firm base, and doesn't get too soft or mucky in the rainy weather. It does tend to mix into the dirt underneath gradually so I end up having to add to it every 4 or 5 years, but i'd go with it again if I had it to do over!
I guess the mats won't work then, thanks. Is the limestone/stone dust type material harder than regular ground when it's been out there for awhile? I know it can be packed down hard. She has foundered so don't want it to be any harder than normal ground, but I suppose we can put her in soft -ride boots to make her more comfortable if needed.
After a hard rain, the area outside the 4 stall doors to the sacrifice paddocks used to be muddy mess. So, just outside the stalls in my sacrifice paddocks for about 20-30+' both beyond the stall doors and toward the end of the paddocks my excavation man scrapped the top layer of dirt, put down a layer of #2 stone and then topped with stone dust. Usually every yr I add another truckload of stone dust because when I run the snowblower outside their stalls in that area, I always go a bit too deep and take a lot of the stone dust. I'm guessing the work was done maybe 12-15 or more yrs ago. I hang hay nets on the barn in the winter and some of the hay falls down over the stone dust and the horses eat it off the ground and no one had died yet!
Now, my sacrifice paddocks slope away from the barn for drainage and the entire size is about 110' X 110' and they are side by side.
Back in my day, we didn't have as many warning labels because people weren't so dang stupid!
You could try mats along the entry/exits of the paddocks. Crushed limestone or granite, or pea gravel would be a good option - you could add rubber if you think it is too hard on feet.
If water isn't an issue, you could have AstroTurf over a stable base then add pea gravel and/or rubber on top of that but personally, I'd keep the hay up or in a tub. Texas A & M has this type of footing in their riding/evaluation covered arena but I don't see why it wouldn't work for a stable, well draining turnout.
I would say that the stonedust / screenings are SLIGHTLY harder than normal ground, when dry. They're not a lot harder though, and still have give to them, i'd rather have my horse on those than on straight gravel for sure.