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Homemade Outdoor Arena...suggestions?

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  • Homemade Outdoor Arena...suggestions?

    So my fiance is finishing up leveling off our backyard for a small outdoor riding ring. Will be used for lunging & flatwork.

    I've been doing research about the appropriate base & footing, but would like suggestions from CoTHer's about what to do!

    It's not a big area....110'x60' (takes up most of the area behind our barn before hitting the edge of the woods, so that's as big as we can make it). What makes the best base? Stonedust, crusher, etc? And how thick should we go? Our soil is pretty rocky underneath & tough, not soft or sandy.

    Also, I didn't realize there was so many types of sand out there. What type of sand makes the best horse footing? Is 3" typically a sufficient amount of footing (3" seems to be what I've been finding in online articles).

    Any knowledge or experience that anybody can share would be appreciated!
    <3 Vinnie <3
    Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred

  • #2
    Base: Depending on your soil you may need more than just compacted stone dust. However, I am not one to ask on that part.
    For stonedust though, you need a hard packed surface first. Which I assume you have already.
    Then start laying the stone dust. Lay about 3-4 inches, level it how ever you want the crown/slope, water it, compact it. Repeat.
    When it is done it should be as hard as asphalt. Really. If you had the compaction measured (there is a tool to do it but it is expensive, etc) it should be the same number as that for highway asphalt. A red-neck way to know this is to drive on it and turn the wheels sharp, etc. You should not be able to damage it.

    And yes Virginia, there are alot of sands!! The ideal sand is an angular sand. Meaning river sand, which is round, is not anywhere near the ideal. Cheap? Yes. Ideal? No. Actually it should be the bottom of the list, ie "better than nothing at all". Concrete sand, also called C-33, is what most people use, if they can afford it. It has virtually no fines in it so it is not dusty and will "last longer" since it will take longer for it break down enough to develope dust. If you can't swing concrete sand (when I did my arena river sand was $1/ton, concrete sand was $6/ton), go with washed sand. Do NOT use mortar sand. It has lots of fines in it and is very variable in particle size.

    Go to you your local sand pit/quarry/whatever and tell one of the GUYS what you want and why. Most of the times they will be tickled to death to take you out to the piles and show them to you, tell you all about them, etc. (Sort of like impressing the lady :-) ) Then take some samples home and play with them to get the feel of them.

    THEN when you arrange to get it hauled be extra darned sure they are bringing the sand you wanted! Be there when each and every truck arrives. Have your sample of the sand you picked and compare it to what is in the truck BEFORE THEY DUMP IT. If you aren't sure (even if the driver tells you it is the same but it looks different to you) have him show you the weigh ticket which should show which type of sand they loaded. It should be the same type as you picked. Which means you need to be sure you wrote on your sample bags what the names of each one is!! If it is not the right sand, send it back. Do NOT be bullied or intimidated into taking what they brought. You may get sob stories about how inconvienent it is, expensive it is to make another trip, etc. Not your fault. They did not bring what you ordered. Not your problem. Not your financial responsibilty for the fuel or time for the screw up either.

    Also, you are paying for sand/stone dust by the ton. WET material weighs more than dry material. Don't pay for water!! It can't be bone dry but it shouldn't be WET.

    Remember, once it is dumped, getting it OUT is a real time and money expense.

    Oh, there is more than cost of material too. There will be a haul charge too. So there is one price for the material, another for the driver's time and fuel. Know what you are paying for, ie how much for which one.


    • #3
      USDF has a nifty little booklet about building arenas and footing. All you ever wanted to know. I gave it to my excavator and am just waiting for him to have time to build it!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the tips!!
        <3 Vinnie <3
        Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred