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Building new arena on a budget...need advice!

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  • Building new arena on a budget...need advice!

    I recently bought some acreage with a house and built a barn, turnout, etc. I put in a dressage court that has worked out pretty well, and the fence just got finished for my 125x200 jump ring. The issue I’m running into is that the area where the new ring is is incredibly rocky. (WAY worse than the area where my dressage ring is) The graded pad is packed and level, but there’s still so many rocks. I know if I don’t put down some kind of base, the rocks will just keep coming out of the ground for the rest of eternity. The problem is, where I live, my options are super limited. I can’t just bring in some stone dust. It would cost me a bazillion dollars. I’ve got the budget for the proper washed mortar sand for the start of the footing, but I don’t know what to put down first. In a perfect world, I’d spend a bazillion dollars and put fabric and geo grid and all that nonsense. But I can’t. Does anyone have any experience dealing with putting in an arena over incredibly rocky ground? Bonus points if you were also broke from building a barn when you gained said experience. Send help please!

  • #2
    My arena is super rocky. It is just tilled up native dirt. We ran a harley rake through it and removed most of the bigger rocks that way, but there are still a gazillion smaller rocks, with more coming up after every rain or freeze....
    What I do is walk around with a wheelbarrow and a fine toothed manure fork and sift them right out if the sand. Labor intensive for sure, but like you, I am broke from remodeling our barn...

    Spoke with some horse people in my area though that have put down as little as 1” of the 1/4 minus and they say that keeps the rocks from coming through... Geotex seems like it would be a nightmare if it caught on my drag or something 😬

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Sburns View Post
      I recently bought some acreage with a house and built a barn, turnout, etc. I put in a dressage court that has worked out pretty well, and the fence just got finished for my 125x200 jump ring. The issue I’m running into is that the area where the new ring is is incredibly rocky. (WAY worse than the area where my dressage ring is) The graded pad is packed and level, but there’s still so many rocks. I know if I don’t put down some kind of base, the rocks will just keep coming out of the ground for the rest of eternity. The problem is, where I live, my options are super limited. I can’t just bring in some stone dust. It would cost me a bazillion dollars. I’ve got the budget for the proper washed mortar sand for the start of the footing, but I don’t know what to put down first. In a perfect world, I’d spend a bazillion dollars and put fabric and geo grid and all that nonsense. But I can’t. Does anyone have any experience dealing with putting in an arena over incredibly rocky ground? Bonus points if you were also broke from building a barn when you gained said experience. Send help please!
      Our area is very rocky. I have had three arenas installed (two outdoor, one indoor). I would NOT recommend building an arena without a proper base. The rocks will come up and mix with your footing and it will be costly to fix.

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      • #4
        Geocloth is not that expensive and if it saves even one "redo" down the road it will have more than paid for itself.

        But while geocloth works well to prevent loss of gravel, I don't know if it would work the other way 'round (as a "shield" against surfacing rocks). You'd have to ask the manufacturer or some installer about that. You use some terms that suggest you are not in the U.S. If you are, then contact your County Extension Agent and Soil Conservation office and ask them about possible solutions. If you are not in the U.S. then find out what similar organizations might be working in your area.

        Good luck in your project!

        G.
        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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        • #5
          Patience pays off. Don't rush putting in that arena and skimp on it as a result of finances.

          When I built mine, almost 15 years ago now, a friend had been through the process a year or two earlier. Her advice: Put down a good packed base and let it sit for a year so that any heaving can occur if its going to.(We're in the upper midwest where frost heaves are a normal occurrence.) Then build your fence or indoor arena around/over the base and add footing material.

          It kills you to sit there and look at that base for a year, but I'm so glad I did take the time and money to do it right. It has held up fantastically. We are literally in the township's gravel mining district, so surely would have had plenty of rocks working their way up. (We haul 5 gallon buckets out of our veggie garden regularly, so they are there.) With the proper base and firm packing, I have had NO problems and only very occasionally a small rock here and there. Neither of us used geotextile, so can't comment on that. For us the properly packed stone dust base is fine.

          Waiting that year or two will also give you time to save up for the cost to do it right. We built our place over about 4 years (house included). It was and still is soooo worth it.

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