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Footing for new riding ring?

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  • Footing for new riding ring?

    Hi there,

    I'm building a riding ring at my little farm, and wanted to get some suggestions for what I need to use.

    Do I need to put some kind of base down before the arena sand? Possibly a gravel or something, on top of the dirt, and then the arena sand?

    Also, how deep do I need to have the sand? How deep is too deep?


  • #2
    The USDF has a booklet called "Under Foot" that explains all of this:

    ... and Patrick


    • Original Poster

      Thank you for that resource. Sounds like a very comprehensive guide to arena building.


      • #4
        How you build your arena will have a lot to do with your soil/climate and how you intend to use it. In the right areas, you could literally throw sand down on the ground and ride on it for years. At my house that would be lost to 10' of sticky, sucking clay within hours. (And we know it's at least 10' deep from when we buried a horse on the farm; 10 feet down and still heavy clay without encountering a single rock.)

        My arena has a full underdrain system and 18" of drainage stone underneath it, but that would be a huge waste if you have naturally draining sand. I know of several H/J barns within 15 miles of my house that literally just threw sand down outside and can use it heavily most of the year. Just depends on what is there to begin with.

        The USDF book is a great resource but do not underestimate a contractor who knows your area/climate/soil, even if only to give you suggestions for a DIY project.


        • #5
          "Riding arena material selection" from University of Penn. This is a GREAT reference!



          • Original Poster

            Thanks. I live in GA, so clay is a massive issue here, too.

            I have a contractor who is building my barn and arena, and he was pretty much just going to put sand down on top of the newly graded area, hence my original post.

            Thanks to everyone who responded!


            • #7
              I'm in Southern CA, so things might be different here. I put in a ring this past summer in the middle of my big horse field. I'm the only person using the ring, so it's not going to have heavy use. Ended up not putting down a base. Did major grading & leveling, then brought in truckloads of dirt to pack down, rolled it, then brought in sand. I'm really paranoid about having too deep of footing so ended up with between 2 - 2 1/2 inches of washed concrete sand. Will take a few more months for it to pack down correctly (for once, I'm hoping for heavy rains) but so far it's great. To be on the safe side, I water & drag it every time I ride to keep it "harder."
              R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

              Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sorelle Farms View Post
                I have a contractor who is building my barn and arena, and he was pretty much just going to put sand down on top of the newly graded area, hence my original post.
                I wouldn't do it. At least in our area, it is just too wet for much of the year and the horses can be nearly knee deep in the soft clay in the pasture. If I threw sand on top of it, the sand would just get worked into the clay and disappear. If your area is dry, then it might not be as much of an issue, but since the materials are the most expensive part of the project, I'd be loathe to lose them in the muck!

                Ask around and see if you can find someone who has built a small arena, and go check it out. Better safe than sorry; we had to re-do part of our barn driveway because of poor materials recommended by the contractor and it stinks to have to watch something you paid for get bulldozed away.


                • #9
                  That is how most rings are done here in Ga, red clay is the base, then M10 and river sand. Your builder is correct.
                  We put 3-4 of M10 and 1-2 river sand. I thought it was alittle too deep for my taste at first but then it packed in a bit and is perfect.


                  • Original Poster

                    Summit Springs: Thanks. I was looking for someone to tell me how much of a base to put down underneath the sand.

                    Appreciate it!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Summit Springs Farm View Post
                      That is how most rings are done here in Ga, red clay is the base, then M10 and river sand. Your builder is correct.
                      We put 3-4 of M10 and 1-2 river sand. I thought it was alittle too deep for my taste at first but then it packed in a bit and is perfect.
                      The OP said sand on top of the 'graded' area. Do you not need to compact the base first (usually with a heavy roller) in that area?
                      ... and Patrick