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Can I get some advice? - New INDOOR and footing

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    Can I get some advice? - New INDOOR and footing

    The overall cost of my project - barn, indoor, fencing, all weather footing, etc has me pretty much realizing I must give up on my dream of waxed sand synthetic footing (TravelBright)...(just got a bid). Since I do not want the maintenance of watering, that leaves me with mag chloride, right?

    So what are my next best options for dust free, excellent footing? A combo of excellent sand, some dirt, crumb rubber and mag chloride?

    I'm open to doing and paying for a footing consult with a general arena specialist - was thinking of Kiser, or someone like that.

    I have secured an excavator who has done many arenas in the area and has a laser level, insists on doing limestone screening base of 10" and compacting with a vibrating roller and spraying with water as he's compacting.... to get it perfect. He comes with an excellent reputation.

    I want footing with give, push off, and very little dust.

    Advice and opinions greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by PaddockWood; Sep. 4, 2019, 02:50 PM.

    IME, your contractor is absolutely right. You have someone who knows his stuff! It's worth it make sure you have an excellent base.

    When we build our indoor 10+ years ago, a friend who had built one recently told me to spend the time and money to have a good base done. I am so glad I listened. I didn't have a huge budget, put most of it into the base, and went with just sand footing.

    The local gravel pit is down the road and they were very helpful in giving me material samples to look at. The yard manager was also a horseman and the business had done outdoor arenas for a large horse show facility in our area. IIR, I ended up with 2NS angular sand. It is very important that it is angular as that is what helps it "knit" together so the hooves get a good purchase on it. Washed or beach sand will be way to slick.

    Before the first winter I put a fair amount to mag chloride (00-150# in my 62x132 if I remember right) on it and lightly mixed it in. Watered lightly and it was good for almost the whole winter. When we got a thaw in February, watered again and was good for a long time. I dragged when needed, even if it wasn't watered every time. I did water a bit more regularly in the summer, but that mag CL pulls a lot of moisture out of the air.

    In succeeding years, I needed to add less and less Mag CL and now I am at the point where I don't even add any some years.

    Watering is not a big deal. I got one of those tripod sprinkler that can do about a 75 ft circle. Set it in one half. Clean a stall, move to the other half, clean another stall and that is about all it takes. How often depends on how dry or rainy it's been, how much humidity is in the air, and how much the big arena door is open. Air seems to be driest in the winter, so I grab any chance to that I get up here in the frozen north. We thought eventually we'd run irrigation tubing along the top edge of the arena sides and add sprinkler heads, so I could just flip the faucet on when I wanted, but the current set-up has been so easy that we never bothered.

    I looked at several of the fancy footings you mentioned and also found they were over my budget. I have yet to regret not using them. Aforementioned friend did you crumb rubber in her arena and I can't say I find hers any nicer to ride in than what I have. Also consider when it comes time to replace footing years from now, crumb rubber is a a toxic waste disposal headache. I don't want to go there. Things don't always have to be pricey to do a very good job.


      My arena has a clay base, 2 " of sand and crumb rubber. I have had this footing for 30 years. I add either calcium or sodium chloride every other year when it is really cold and the moisture freezes. I never drag the arena only rake the outside track by hand.

      Every trainer and border that has used my arena commented on how much they like the footing. When I first rode in it, it felt like my horse was wearing sneakers.


        Another vote for your excavator.

        The guy who did my barn & attached indoor was the Michelangelo of Base.
        He took longer to get the base leveled & compacted to his satisfaction than it did for the barn builder to put up the structures!
        He admitted no horse experience, but talked to a friend of his who bred & trained & brought me samples of the sand from his indoor for approval.
        15yrs later, I appreciate his work.
        I am the sole Rider here but my hayguy stores loaded wagons in the indoor (always leaving me at least 2/3 to ride in) & uses a small tractor to pull them in & out.
        Footing is in good shape despite the abuse.

        Dust was a problem the first few years, but watering with a hose before I rode kept it down & now it is negligible.
        I have never added mag or anything else.
        I used to jump in there - never over 2'6" - and now ride Dressage.
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          I purchased a farm with small indoor this summer. The footing was sand sand and more sand. It was unlevel and DEEP. Watering only helped a minor amount. We just finished (Like this weekend) the footing rehab project. Pulled out 10" of sand (and other material-rubble, grass roots in some places). Laser leveled, compacted what was there, added 6" of screenings, levelling and compacting as loads came in. Compacted some more. Then a couple inches of the good sand, levelled and compacted, and a few more inches of sand on top of that for the actual footing. I've not ridden on it but can already tell just having that solid and level base is a huge, huge improvement. I will definitely add mag flakes before winter.


            Original Poster

            fjordmom - thank you! for all that information and your experience. I'll go get samples from the recommended quarries and talk with them. A question..... What do you mean about the Mag Chloride taking up moisture out of the air in the summer? How did that affect things - for good or bad?

            Cat Tap - I rode on an arena with rubber years ago and I could feel it through my horse's body. Hearing your very positive experience and obviously getting a really good rubber product that has not caused problems. I've read several other posters talking about respiratory issues and rubber bits getting on things and it through me off.

            2DogsFarm - thanks again for your thoughtful reply. You're another one with great footing that is sand only and it's going well.

            2Below - thank you and yes, like you, I'd become very clear that having the very best base was most important. How is your footing feeling? Have you ridden on it?


              Mag Chloride will tend to draw moisture to itself much like table salt does if left in a humid environment. (Mag Chloride is after all just another salt.) It's not like it draws so much to make it truly wet, just enough that the footing isn't constantly dusty or needing to be watered. On more humid days you can observe that it has drawn a bit of moisture on the surface of the footing. When the horse walks in it, you will notice the footing underneath is drier in appearance, yet not truly dusty.

              You will still have to water occasionally, based on your use and weather conditions. I've never found it needed anything like constant deep watering. I actually try to water as little as I can, but enough to avoid a dusty arena. If you over-water, you'll actually wash the Mag down deeper into the footing and the base. Then it doesn't do it's job as well and you will need to apply it more often. It's a bit of trial and error balancing act in the first couple years, but once you figure out what works for you, keeping the status quo is eventually quite easy.

              In the depth of our upper midwest winter, when the humidity is very low (think February) it is often quite dry as there is not enough moisture in the air. If we get the usual thaw of a day or two, I will water lightly and then drag. The Mag keeps the footing from freezing and is enough to keep the footing a nice non-dusty consistency.

              It's a bit hard to describe in words, but once you see it in action, it's easy to notice.


                OP- I've ridden just a little on our renewed footing. I was concerned too much sand was brought back in, and still have that concern. I need to drag it and maybe add some water and see what it's like. Even so,l having a firm and level base has already improved it 90%. If I have to take a little sand off the top that's not the worst problem. This is when I'm glad it's a small arena!


                  Originally posted by 2Below View Post
                  OP- I've ridden just a little on our renewed footing. I was concerned too much sand was brought back in, and still have that concern. I need to drag it and maybe add some water and see what it's like. Even so,l having a firm and level base has already improved it 90%. If I have to take a little sand off the top that's not the worst problem. This is when I'm glad it's a small arena!
                  It seems difficult for people to believe that more than 2 inches of sand is too much. When I first got my arena I ordered 2".but it looked like a lot more. I tried to ride but it felt like we were riding through snow drifts and within a very short time the horse and I were tired. I was angry and called the contractor to remove some of the sand. At the advice of a friend I added the rubber. We never had any issues with smell or respiratory problems. The only negative was that when I first watered it some of the footing stuck to your boots and horses' feet. I no longer water it at all. The chloride which I apply occasionally keeps the dust down without watering.


                    Definitely get sand with some fines. The pits will try to sell you on the washed sand, but it's slippery. The good thing is the sand with some fines is actually a less desirable product and usually cheaper. I have travel light in my indoor but sand in my outdoor and it's a great surface. I never water it but do drag it from time to time. It's not dusty, but might be if it were inside. The rain throughout the summer is enough to keep it from being dusty.


                      I’ve had sand for 17 years in my indoor. This year I added Truflex fiber and I’m very happy. I did have professionally installed. It stabilized my 2 1/2 inches of sand but still fills up the hoof and is very nice to ride on.

                      the Truflex footing has substantially cut down on how much watering I do (a ten minute sprinkle will keep it moist for three days with doors open) and I find the footing to stay much more level with less maintenance. I have a heavy traffic ring (about 20 horses a day) and if I wanted could go prob a whole week without raking it.

                      I have always used mag chloride which is wonderful. I add about 20 bags of the flaked kind in fall... usually good all year.

                      * Truflex recommended more fiber then I ended up needing by 1 1/2 bundles. So happy I had it professionally installed ($2,200) and mixed with my existing sand otherwise would have been too much and a big mess! Cost was under 3k for 5 bundles. Rake is Drag N Fly and it was most expensive aspect at 3,500.

                      * Indoor is 72’x144’


                        Original Poster

                        Guyot - do you mean TruTex? Thanks for your post too.


                          PaddockWood yes sorry! Evidently not enough coffee!!


                            Original Poster

                            Guyot What a great start to my Sunday to read your post! I was just told about Trutex and thought "this is too good to be true." Did you do investigating as to the quality and longevity of the fibers? That was my next mission. What investigating did you do before buying?

                            Oh, and LOVE your farm and philosophy. If you were near me I wouldn't build - wouldn't need to - just come board with you! I SO believe in lots of turnout, hacking out for cross training, and working in the arena on great footing. Your post inspires me in the midst of a barn building experience that has me taking CBD oil due to the frustrations and delays. So thank you!


                              Originally posted by Cat Tap View Post

                              It seems difficult for people to believe that more than 2 inches of sand is too much. When I first got my arena I ordered 2".but it looked like a lot more. I tried to ride but it felt like we were riding through snow drifts and within a very short time the horse and I were tired. I was angry and called the contractor to remove some of the sand. At the advice of a friend I added the rubber. We never had any issues with smell or respiratory problems. The only negative was that when I first watered it some of the footing stuck to your boots and horses' feet. I no longer water it at all. The chloride which I apply occasionally keeps the dust down without watering.
                              Yes exactly! I don't know how many times I told my husband and equipment operator-"I don't want it deep!". But I was away teaching the day the sand was brought in and it was about 3/4 of the way complete when I got back. But it rides pretty good. I have a source for a Euro felt style material that I may end up adding so it's good to hear you've been happy with the rubber.


                                Original Poster

                                2Below Can you share your source of Euro felt? I'm working to figure out what works for the most reasonable price.