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How to Fix Dead Arena Sand?

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  • How to Fix Dead Arena Sand?

    We have an outdoor arena approx. 250' x 120' in size. It has a clay base (we brought the clay in and let it sit for 6 months to "cure") with river sand topping (we also have pea gravel mixed in with the sand to help drainage). We ride 3 horses a day (both jumping and flat work) 5 days a week in the arena. It gets dragged at least 2x a week. We have been riding in it for 4 years.

    The issue is that the footing seems dead. I'm not really sure how to describe "dead" but I think most of the folks on this forum know what I mean. We've added a bit of sand only once and have lost some over time. We do not have a watering system.

    We just got back from WEG and the footing there was fabulous but at $6/sq. ft. it is out of our price range. I guess I'm wondering how to re-vitalize our footing. All thoughts, suggestions and past experiences will be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    I think you need a watering system. The BO at our place had to buy a big watering tank last year because she just had too many boarders/horses using the arena and it was killing it. The tank is dragged behind the tractor.

    Last night 3 of us rode in there, and it hadn't been watered in a week (arena should be watered daily!) and it was like riding on hard dead ground and it felt like a desert storm!
    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
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    • #3
      I think a watering system (something on my to-do list also!) and maybe adding some rubber would go a long way in helping. My arena is great after we get 1/10-2/10 an inch of rain. But, doesn't take long for it to dry out and become unpleasant to ride in. :-(


      • #4
        Water! It does help.


        • Original Poster

          OK, water. Anybody have any suggestions on what works best? We are on a well so pressure might not be as high as it could be. Also, there are the "sprinkler" kind of things that folks use (they are attached every 2 or 3 posts) and there are the hose on the mechanical rolling thingy and then there are the big tanks on trailers that the tractor has to haul around. I'd really like to hear what works and what doesn't work. Lastly, I assume that installing a watering system is less expensive that stripping off the current sand and installing some kind of synthetic/sand mix (like Otto, which is being used at WEG)?


          • #6
            Originally posted by tlw View Post
            OK, water. Anybody have any suggestions on what works best? We are on a well so pressure might not be as high as it could be. Also, there are the "sprinkler" kind of things that folks use (they are attached every 2 or 3 posts) and there are the hose on the mechanical rolling thingy and then there are the big tanks on trailers that the tractor has to haul around. I'd really like to hear what works and what doesn't work. Lastly, I assume that installing a watering system is less expensive that stripping off the current sand and installing some kind of synthetic/sand mix (like Otto, which is being used at WEG)?
            You didn't do the calculation when someone said that Otto is $6 per square foot, did you That is $180,000 for your size, so yeah, you can do watering for less than that!

            I think the main things with the Otto system are the rubber grid underneath that is squishy in itself and I've hear also have cup shapes that help hold water. Other than that, you can put textile from premier or elsewhere and/or rubber into your sand without scraping it off and starting over. Rubber for your size arena would probably be in the $5-10k range, unless you go with some local non-equine specialty sources which is risky. Not sure how much the textile from premier is.

            Do not waste your money on a tank on a trailer. Even the pricey Kiser drags with a 500 gal tank will not make a dent in an arena your size, then you have to wait around while your slow old well pump fills the tank to make another run.

            You need a lot of water to change the consistency of sand footing, more than simply for dust control. In my 70 x 200 indoor, I have a tank/pump/overhead sprinkler that puts 300 gallons on in 90 seconds and even if done once daily, it gets somewhat dry and shifty by evening. Multiply that by your larger arena and increased wind and sun outdoors and you'll see it is daunting. Sprinkling by hand is too labor intensive - when I bought my indoor sprinkler, I figured it paid for itself in labor in about 3-5 years. You could look for an old water tank truck, esp if you are handy with keeping something like that working. Also look into water retaining additives for the sand - some people swear by MgCl and there are proprietary products for this as well.


            • #7
              My plan here has always been to add rubber to the sand when it starts to get dead. But we're 7 years into my arena's life span (3-5 horses a day 7 days a week and 4-5 time-a-week dragging) and the footing is still great. Could have something to do with our much....er...."moister" weather

              I would consider adding some sort of addition to your sand whether it's a felt-type additive or a rubber additive. An arena person (there are a couple on this board) could probably tell you which additive would be most cost effective and work the best for your climate.
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