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DIY arena Comments please

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  • DIY arena Comments please

    We hope to break ground on my new small dressage arena this friday.

    The plan is to use our 50 horse Kubota with front end loader to remove the topsoil then add crushed bluestone, compact it with the tractor and add 2 inches of sand.

    I an thinking of using our ample supply of old 4 x 4 fence posts for a marginthen making a perimeter "fence" of cinder blocks and more 4 x 4's.

    The whole area will be enclosed in 4 rail vinyl. I hope to add synthetic fibers in the fall.

    The area is at the highest point on our property, possibly the highest point in Spotsylvania, so I'm not worried about drainage.

    We have a landscape rake to pull behind the 26 horse Kubota to maintain it.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

  • #2
    You might want to do this in steps. Clear off the land, check with a transit for flatness, or build in drainage angle. Then lay some geotextile fabric, then your stone. Stone will probably need a roller, tractor is not going to do that good a packing for you. Not sure what you have under the stone for base to settle onto. Fabric should prevent LOSING the bluestone into dirt. Again check the levelness or angle of drainage before the equipment is gone. Even being on top of a hill, doesn't mean you didn't dig out a depression and that will cause water collection in your ring. Maybe some drain tile across with stone over, to insure dry base.

    Then if it was mine, I would leave the stone exposed, let it weather for quite a while and use it. You may be quite surprised at how much the stone settles, even with being packed. Will settle even more if you skip the roller hire.

    When weather has worked on the base, you have ridden on it, then check with transit again for level, and add your sandy topping. I would put down more than 2 inches, level it up. Then using the ring, see how the sand moves. Two inches is not much, especially if it flows into low spots, washes off the stone base. If you just put down 2 inches, I bet it is mostly gone down into the stone base, washed off, in a real short time. You won't need that rake, there won't be any sand left to smooth out!

    Only having a 2" sand top, will mean your rake is going to be lifting the stone up, because trying to keep the rake down enough for the sand, is going to dig in the tines bring up stone, when surface is not exactly flat under tractor. No margin for error.

    I know you don't want deep going in top sand, but plan to get more sand in when the first load has settled into position with weather and usage. It won't be the depth you want then. I would order a LOT of extra sand in your original order, most of cost is trucking anyway. Better to pay for FULL, big trucks of sand now, than pay almost as much for a partial load of sand later. Put your extra sand on a tarp or some of that geotextile fabric, save the sand for later filling of low spots, leveling up to the depth you want.

    Not much better gift from your SO, than a big pile of sand or dirt! You can have so much fun playing with your mudless 'sandbox ring' all year around! He has fun playing with the machines to move the sand, so sand is really a CARING gift to the Horse Woman!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Yup, fave gifts I get are loads of sand, dirt, crush or stone.

      Is there a possibility of your footing washing off your surface? High spots are great for drainage, but can sometimes make you lose footing. And footing is expensive.

      Also even if on a high spot you'll probably want to either grade it at a very slight slant or else crown it a bit so whatever rain/snow falls onto the surface runs off instead of pools.

      Getting the stuff to level and grade it right helps a whole lot too. Eyeballing it isn't easy.

      It''s exciting putting one in though...as much fun as it is and as good for the horse as it is to get out of a ring and work in the great natural outdoors...it's great to have a groomed surface for working and fine tuning in!
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!
      ...Belefonte

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
        Yup, fave gifts I get are loads of sand, dirt, crush or stone.
        Ayuh. I got stonedust for my birthday again this year.
        And I'm quite pleased with it!
        "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

        ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          The area has a slight slope across the short side.
          I am very lucky because the local quarry has the material we need and it's only about 15 miles away.

          FWIW we did the pad for our barn.

          This will be a private arena, no boarders, just one horse a day
          I wasn't always a Smurf
          Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
          "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
          The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

          Comment


          • #6
            That's the best kind of arena...the kind you don't have to share!
            Less wear and tear too.

            Ghazzu...I even get excited when other people are getting a tri-axel delivery. I drive by one and always crane my neck trying to see what's in the dumper and then envy who ever it is getting that lovely load of _____.
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!
            ...Belefonte

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Misty Blue
              That's the best kind of arena...the kind you don't have to share!
              Less wear and tear too
              So true. Only 2 horses a day in my ring, and would you believe it, I can actually see some wear & tear on the outside track near the fence all the way round.
              I'm trying to pay more attention to alternate riding outside & inside track type of thing.

              Anyone else has more wear on the outside track.
              I think it's the cantering that somehow loosened the compressed screeningsbase underneath the sand & rubber footing and now some of those screenings mixed with the actual footing and when digging in in some areas I can feel the stone base underneath.
              I wonder it that's something one has to take into consideration when building a ring.

              Comment


              • #8
                One really easy thing to do is, after removing the topsoil and leveling your base, wait for it to rain before doing anything else. Where it collects and the run-off patterns will show you where it's not quite level, and you can flag those areas to fix before putting down the geotextile and stone dust.
                ---------------------------

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  RAIN????WHAT'S THAT?????

                  We have had the warmest and driest June on record and July looks to be heading that way
                  I wasn't always a Smurf
                  Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                  "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                  The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the area is relatively flat I don't think you should remove the top soil and grass. I would knock off the high spots but leave as much as you can undisturbed as possible. For the same reasons why building codes insist when digging foundation footings or a pool that the base surface is "undisturbed" and naturally firm so the footing does not settle in back filled low spots. And no matter how good you are with a small tractor and loader it is not nearly as easy as it looks. I would then kill off the grass with roundup. Then go with the the ground fabric as suggested by Goodhors along with the other good advise. Prepping the base is a very important step otherwise it will become a maintenance nightmare I promise you, got that T-shirt. If you want it to last you may need at least a 4" base and this should be sufficient if the area is like most of Virginia and have mostly a clay subsoil. When you lay the stone base it will have to be compacted otherwise the top footing will work is way into it in short order. You can rent a power tapper but an area this large is going to beat you up pretty good with that. If you have the $$ rent a compact riding roller that you add water to the rollers for weight. Lay the base about 1" at a time and roll each layer. Then you might be able to get away with just a 2" footing. Granted the finished arena will stand several inches proud of the surrounding arena if you can life with that other wise you will have 2 options, bring in back fill and slop it away or dig out the entire area to the depth of the finished surface. This will be A LOT of dirt to be moved with a small tractor and a loader that is most likely rated for under 2 tons. Make sure you have a weight box on the rear of the tractor. And if you have to move all of this dirt to a dumping area without a dump truck it is going to take a long time. Just dig a hole with a shovel 1' x 1' x 6" deep and you will have an idea of how much dirt you are going to have haul away and then do the math. Talk to the people at the quarry I have found they can give great advise on how deep the base should be and how much and what kind of base material you will need for your area. There are great construction blogs that you can go to where I am sure this has been covered. It would also be worth getting a contractor to look at it and quote you. But make note of what they say needs to be done and then you have a professional plan if you choose to do it your self. Again if you have the $$ it would be well worth to have a pro prepare the base and then you can do the rest. This is a lot bigger and harder job then it looks. Again if not done right the first time you will not be happy with the results and will be adding fill for the rest of its life. And nothing is worse then to have inconstant footing, firm in some areas soggy or loose in others.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      so I'm not worried about drainage
                      A lot is left unsaid in your post. Someone else mentioned the transit level. If you are not familiar with using this tool, get someone who is and make sure your slopes are correct to shed water from the ring. Not sure if a 50 HP tractor is big enough for the landscaping- we hired a D6 or D9 Catapillar( I am dyslexic and can't remember which it was but it was a huge honking bulldozer! and it only took him a few hours) to come and flatten what we thought was a flat area already for our ring, until we started to shoot the levels and realized we would've ended up with a bunch of interconnected puddles in a rain storm if we'd done it ourselves. And yes, we are the high point of the land and the flat area was already a gentle slope that naturally drains to one corner, but within the ring area, it was not level enough. And still we put in curtain and perimeter drains to provide us with footing that is useable in all sorts of weather.
                      We also rented a remote control vibrating tamper to level our stone base- you don't have to ride on it. You stand or sit around with a beer at the side of the ring and watch it do its thing without shaking your molars out as you remote drive it around. its cool.
                      "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Totally agree with Goodhors! Very good plan, lots of good suggestions by all. Also when you use that geotextile fabric it should keep grass and weeds from coming up. My ring has a bluestone base but no fabric and we still get weeds/grass.
                        http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fentre...24774504235082

                        http://fentressfieldsequestriancenter.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Call Luck Stone. They know what materials you need for riding rings. I made my riding ring myself and it's pretty much all-weather. I put the bluestone down, left it for the winter, added sand and have a great ring. b

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Yup, we are only about 10 miles from Luck's, keeps the delivery cost down
                            I wasn't always a Smurf
                            Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have the same problem. Lots of grass and weeds coming up through the bluestone. How do you get rid of them? I try to drag often and spray, but the weeds are winning. sigh...

                              Oh, and I would LOVE it if someone gave me a couple loads of bluestone!

                              One day my vet said to me, what is that big hill in your pasture? I said, that's my pile of dirt! She said, what do you need a pile of dirt for? I said, how much time do you have? Everyone can use a good pile of dirt! So many uses. This pile was part of the topsoil that they scraped off for my arena.

                              Carol, I would also recommend doing it in stages and leaving the bluestone as your footing for a year or so. See how it goes, drainage, amount, etc. once you put the sand on, impossible to change the base. My bluestone has been my footing for over a year and I need MORE before I put the sand on (also need to take care of the weed issue). So I wish someone would give me a few loads for my birthday. Actually, I have been waiting until I "sell a horse or 2" but I think I need another plan...

                              Originally posted by mpsbarnmanager View Post
                              Totally agree with Goodhors! Very good plan, lots of good suggestions by all. Also when you use that geotextile fabric it should keep grass and weeds from coming up. My ring has a bluestone base but no fabric and we still get weeds/grass.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                If you use just bluestone do you compact all of it, or compact a base and add an inch or so on top?
                                I wasn't always a Smurf
                                Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  [QUOTE=gumtree;4999520]If the area is relatively flat I don't think you should remove the top soil and grass. I would knock off the high spots but leave as much as you can undisturbed as possible. For the same reasons why building codes insist when digging foundation footings or a pool that the base surface is "undisturbed" and naturally firm so the footing does not settle in back filled low spots. And no matter how good you are with a small tractor and loader it is not nearly as easy as it looks. I would then kill off the grass with roundup. Then go with the the ground fabric as suggested by Goodhors

                                  We are building an arena right now and the contractor removed most of the grass and moved the top soil. I'd like to do the fabric, but he did not dig down very deep. I read where you need to go down 6-8 inches. Then fabric, then rock. So it looks like I have to kill the grass and then start with my bluestone.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The reason I suggested confirming with rain is that, as your equipment gets smaller, the less easy it is to create a uniformly smooth and flat surface. A bulldozer with built-in laser leveling can do a pretty good job. Smaller equipment, like bobcats and tractors, are going to leave a wavier surface. The low points will trap water (if and when it ever rains) leaving the overlying base in those areas much more prone to damage. In general, if you have less than 6-8 inches of base material and it's waterlogged, a hoof can punch through (which is where the geotextile helps a lot, since it'll keep the base from mixing with the underlying material and being lost).

                                    The bluestone would be your base (or crushed limestone or whatever you're using under the sand). The base should be well-compacted before using the ring, especially if your sub-base (native ground) is at all wet, such as in winter/spring. You can either wet and compact base material with a garden hose and a roller/heavy equipment, or you can let it sit for several months to a year.
                                    ---------------------------

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      How do you plan to compact your arena evenly with this small tractor? Are you planning on using some kind of roller? I know where I live, this wouldn't work well. My husband is a really skilled equipment operator (and I'm not too bad at this myself, either) and we decided this part would be really tough to do with our John Deere 970. And we didn't want to leave the base just sit for a year until we added the footing.

                                      In our area, at least, a uniform grade (Cat with a laser level) and good compaction of the base (we paid an excavator with a compactor to do this) were absolutely crucial to success. Otherwise I'd really worry that you'll have high and low spots, as other posters have noted, and soft spots, which can be miserable in terms of keeping your horse sound.

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