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Rocky Footing: WWYD?

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  • Rocky Footing: WWYD?

    Allow me to preface this by saying that I'm no footing expert, and I'm not entirely sure how much of this (if any) can be fixed/maintained with proper grooming.

    I moved my mare to a new barn in November, and I love it there. Big, gorgeous stalls, lots of turn out with pasture buddies, lots of trails nearby, great care. There is also a large sand ring that, while slightly deep in some places (nothing to be overly concerned about, plus they drag/level it regularly), has pretty nice footing. Except when it rains.

    When it rains, and after it rains, it seems to be rocks galore. And not just a rock here or there, but ROCKY. The thing is, it never seems to be a problem except around rainy bouts.

    My mare is a 3-y-o WB, and I just recently backed her. She has about 5 rides in, and due to my work constraints, she will only be ridden about once a week all summer. Come fall, however, I would like start riding her a little more consistently and start some actual training on her, and I'm a little concerned about the rocks.

    So my question to you COTHers is, essentially, what would you do?

    Is this a problem that can be kept under control with regular dragging/levelling and rock picking? Perhaps with extra attention after it rains?

    Or will this always be a problem, and warrant me looking for a new facility?

    I really appreciate any input/advice on this. I would hate to leave this barn as I really love it there and really enjoy the barn owners, but I also want what's best for my horse, and I don't want her coming up lame with a stone bruise every other week.


  • #2
    Tell the barn owners to quit planting rock seeds, then they will stop sprouting after a rain.

    What type of soil is their naturally? I am wondering if the rocks are coming up out of their footing/base or if they have a naturally sandy soil that they used for their footing.

    When rocks sprout in my outdoor arena, I use a metal rake to gather them in piles, then take them out to more suitable locations. This takes effort, but isn't too bad if you can have some help from other boarders.

    If the rocks are coming up from the base though, this will be a perpetual cycle and wouldn't be worth it, I would only bother trying to clear out the rocks if I knew there was a finite amount.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


    • #3
      The rocks are probably coming up from the base, when the rain essentially "washes away" the sand.. (but not really)

      To fix it the BO would have to re-do the base in the arena.


      • #4
        Can you put boots on your mare when you ride? She is so young so I woudn't put shoes on her...

        The other option I can see is to redo the arena and that will be very expensive....


        • Original Poster

          To be honest, I'm not even sure they put any kind of base down. The ring was essentially built for their little girl to ride in, and while it's nice and large and has good footing to play around it, I'm worried about doing heavy duty work in it all the time. I'm not sure it's a ring that was strategically planned.

          I'm not overly concerned right now as I am not doing anything labour intensive with my mare, but I do worry about it come fall when I plan on actually starting some training with her.

          I never thought about using boots - would that be a viable option? She is barefoot right now and I would like to keep it that was as long as possible (as long as her feet are holding up well with her work level).

          If I do need to leave... I'm not sure how to do that politely. They are really nice, great people and I would hate to say that I'm leaving because their ring is too rocky. *sigh*


          • #6
            OK, I have a similar issue in my ring at home. The footing is fine when the weather is good, but when is rains, you can feel the rocks through the footing. We excavated the ring, and I knew that this would be an issue. We did the best that we could with the $$ that we had. I do not ride when the footing is lousy. Over time, my footing is becoming my sub-base, and I am installing a stone dust base. When that is done, I will level, and then put some sand on top. For your situation, I would not ride in the ring while the footing is wet enough to feel the rocks.


            • #7
              My "ring" is very casual at the moment...just natually sandy (and also rocky) soil with a temporary fence around it so I have something level-ish and fenced to school in until I can afford the $10k or so it will take to put in a proper ring here.

              Even so I just rake it about every other week or after it rains (not that that happens much here ) and it isn't a problem. I school from green bean to about 3rd level dressage. I feel like much higher than that it might start being a problem, but for the horses I have things are fine. I ride 5-6 horses a day in it and it is fine.

              All of my horses are barefoot, but I also only keep them pastured and my pastures are rocky so it isn't a problem. If your horse is living on soft ground most of the time then some form of hoof protection may be necessary.
              exploring the relationship between horse and human


              • #8
                Boots are certainly a viable option. Two seasons ago I fox hunted my hunter pleasure/dressage horse. He was barefoot at the time and the terrain was extremely rocky. I put boots on all four feet and he went happy without problem. This is a horse that has pancake feet so he get ouchy rather easily. The boots protected his feet.