The farm I board my mare is a western barn, great care, horse is fat and happy, she is a hunter. Jumping is not an option, the footing isn't suitable, not an issue we trailer out for lessons. The issue I have the arena is rocky, the barn owner has removed the big ones, but there are still plenty of small rocks. Horse has shoes all around, if we do anything more than walk I feel a complete change in her way of going, shortened stride, less willingness to use her back end. Not sure if its a traction issue or a pain issue. The western pleasure horses ride in it all day without an issue, although the move a lot different. The question is, would an easy boot help, can they be used with shoes or are there any other suggestions. I am going to pack her hooves with magic cushion to see if that helps this weekend.
I am working on clearing some land to ride on, but the reality it wont be done till next year.
How many rocks is "plenty"? Many places with arenas that aren't perfect have regular rock-picking patrols, usually manned by young students with buckets. There is no simple way, unfortunately. Manual labor still has a place in the world.
I used to pay my son and the neighbor kid a nickel a rock in my 1/2 acre sand paddock. They earned probably a total of $20 between them and after a couple of sessions a) they were tired of it but b) the rocks were pretty much gone.
Well, you either have to pick them up somehow, or you have to create a new base for the arena and bring in all new footing to put on top of your new base. Picking them up is obviously going to be cheaper.
Picking them up doesn't have to be a manual exercise...I have heard of people using a potato harvester to get rocks out. If you're in farm land, you might be able to find someone you could pay to come out with the equipment.
I suppose you could also try booting the horse, or shoeing with pads to see if protecting the sole helps.