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What type of arena footing?

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  • What type of arena footing?

    I need to finally fix up my ring. Been threatening for 2 years now and it's time to pull the trigger. I've been hesitating mostly because I'm afraid to make a choice that I end up not liking and then having to live with it because I can't afford to re-do it.

    So. I have a great bluestone base over clay. The bluestone is only 1-2" deep and I do ride on it sometimes (great right after heavy rains!). It gets way too hard to ride on when it's dry out for any length of time, but I like riding in the field too, so it's been working fine so far. It drains like a champ--ZERO standing water even with heavy rain as well as minimal loss of the bluestone from run-off, so I think I just need to add a substrate to the top.

    Sand? If so what kind? How much?
    More bluestone?

    I can't do the fancy geo-textile additives--probably not crushed rubber either, unless that's way cheaper than it used to be.

    So--what do you have that you love for your ring? It's just me and 2 horses, I want something good for the horses but it doesn't have to be fancy. Bonus points if you know someone in theTriangle NC area to work with.

    Thanks!!
    From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

  • #2
    I like washed concrete sand. A lot of people use masonry sand.
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    • #3
      I vote for angular sand.

      I have ridden in an indoor with fancy (and expensive) fiber footing. The owner kept bragging it cost $75k. Every time after I finished riding, my face was coated with a thin film of some grit....even when well watered.

      I would not go for fiber footing. My experience got me wondering about the health effects of these little fibers floating around. If they were on my face, I figured I had breathed them in.
      Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
      Alfred A. Montapert

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      • #4
        The real fine sand properly watered is a great footing for most we may do with horses.
        If overwatered, it tends to pack and pancake.
        If not watered enough, it can become dusty.
        That sand is better for indoors, where the wind won't be drying it and blowing it away so easily.

        That is what we have in our covered arena.
        Several weeks ago we had a whole day of terrible winds, steady over 50 and gusting to 101 at times.
        We lost some of that sand, about two truckloads worth, even with protection low down, that just was not enough in that kind of wind.
        It is easy to replace, but unnecessary extra expense and work.
        I can't imagine what those winds would have done to that footing in an outside arena, unless it has solid sides several feet up and even then, it would leave some sand drifts behind.

        We hurried to overwater it and that stopped the blowing, but you can't water enough if the wind blows like that long enough.

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        • #5
          I was going to suggest a fiber mix over your current set up. I had something similar - M10 over clay - when we moved in and after we did some expansion of the arena, we put in a top layer and it's lovely to ride on. You may want to get some quotes just to see if it will work for you; I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as expensive as I had expected.
          **********
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          -PaulaEdwina

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          • #6
            My horses go best in a sand-fiber mix. I would definitely do a type of sand if you are not looking to add in fiber. I have not had the best experienced with rubber mixed in but the arena was overwatered at the time and detrimentally deep.

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            • #7
              I have coarse washed sand and I love it. 6-10 horses a day 7 days a week and we jump big often. I have to top it off every 3-5 years, but overall I have zero complaints.
              __________________________________
              Flying F Sport Horses
              Horses in the NW

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              • #8
                If you can get rubber pieces in the same size as your bluestone, that will last a LONG, LONG time. Did my ring 15 - 16 years ago, bluestone with rubber and it's still just as good as when I put in the ring. The rubber will float a bit with HEAVY rains but pull it back in and rake, just as good as new. And MUCH softer to land in if you do take a tumble (not that I would KNOW that ). If you plan to stay in your current place for a long time, may in the end be as cheap or cheaper than having to add sand every few years.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                  I like washed concrete sand. A lot of people use masonry sand.
                  Be aware if you go with masonry sand, it is very dusty when dry. You will need the ability to water it.

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for the advice so far. My ignorance is showing but was is the difference between angular, washed concrete, and masonry sands? I don’t have irrigation set up at the moment, since I can ride the field s if the ring is hard or dry. But the spigot is not far from the ring, so I could do hoses and movable sprinklers if necessary.

                    I could also also just add more bluestone fines and make that footing deeper.

                    Any my advice on how much (inches deep) to start considering I basically am just starting with a good base?
                    From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Also voting for sand, start with 2".

                      This is a pretty good resource for your other questions, also discusses the challenges of bluestone / stonedust:

                      https://extension.psu.edu/riding-are...and-management

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by limptoad View Post
                        Also voting for sand, start with 2".

                        This is a pretty good resource for your other questions, also discusses the challenges of bluestone / stonedust:

                        https://extension.psu.edu/riding-are...and-management
                        I would never use the geotextile layer that Penn State recommends.

                        Invariably for some reason, there will be a time when you punch thru the various layers and expose the geotextile. At this point, it becomes a hazard to get a shoe caught in the material and you will have to excavate down to that layer and redo it.

                        My suggestion is to have the various layers well compacted before adding your top layer. If there is any problem where you punch thru the top layer, then you only need to do a local repair.

                        Here is another resource. It is a company that is a subsidiary of a quarry and provides description of the various materials.
                        http://www.equestrianfooting.com/
                        Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                        Alfred A. Montapert

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Those were great websites—thanks!!
                          From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I did a washed concrete sand with the fiber footing called TruTex. We love ours so far, but we are in southern California. We did (for us) get a significant amount of rain, and we did very well with the footing and it really helped us mix it in. Installed it December 27th.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pony Fixer View Post
                              Thanks for the advice so far. My ignorance is showing but was is the difference between angular, washed concrete, and masonry sands? I don’t have irrigation set up at the moment, since I can ride the field s if the ring is hard or dry. But the spigot is not far from the ring, so I could do hoses and movable sprinklers if necessary.

                              I could also also just add more bluestone fines and make that footing deeper.

                              Any my advice on how much (inches deep) to start considering I basically am just starting with a good base?
                              Angular refers to the shape of the sand particles. Concrete sand is sub-angular to angular. Masonry is typically round to sub-angular. Usually sub-angular to angular is preferred, because some sands that are too round are too slippery; the particles never compact together, so there is too much movement of the sand under the foot. Angular sands compact over time, which is part of why you have to drag arenas regularly. Although masonry is not as angular as concrete sand, IME it was the preferred footing with the barns I rode at in Ohio. If using concrete sand, it is important that you used washed concrete sand, because unwashed will contain far too many fines and will compact very hard over time and you won't be able to drag it loose.

                              These materials also vary greatly across the country. I don't recall the masonry arenas being any dustier than the other arenas. Any sand footing will need watered periodically.
                              Last edited by mmeqcenter; May. 8, 2019, 01:45 PM.
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by pluvinel View Post

                                I would never use the geotextile layer that Penn State recommends.

                                Invariably for some reason, there will be a time when you punch thru the various layers and expose the geotextile. At this point, it becomes a hazard to get a shoe caught in the material and you will have to excavate down to that layer and redo it.

                                My suggestion is to have the various layers well compacted before adding your top layer. If there is any problem where you punch thru the top layer, then you only need to do a local repair.

                                Here is another resource. It is a company that is a subsidiary of a quarry and provides description of the various materials.
                                http://www.equestrianfooting.com/


                                I assume the OP is not considering doing a geotextile layer since they are on a budget and already have a bit of base down, so it may be a moot point, but yes for non-commercial facilities with thin layers of base and footing, and very basic watering and dragging systems, I completely agree on avoiding a geotextile layer.

                                I also personally don't like adding organic products like wood to my footing, but I know its the norm for some disciplines. For me, it's just too variable in how it degrades over time. So I don't necessarily agree with their sawdust suggestion either.

                                Thought to be fair, the Penn State resource did not "recommend" a geotextile layer. It merely included on its diagram as an "optional" layer. I think they would be remiss to not acknowledge that some arenas are constructed with a geotextile layer between sub-base and base. For a commercial-grade ring with 6" base under 3-4" of footing, a properly calibrated irrigation system or water wagon and an adjustable drag attachment - if you're not only getting down to the base but all the way -through- it to the geotextile, you're doing something very very wrong and your footing has likely been a hazard for some time.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by pluvinel View Post

                                  I would never use the geotextile layer that Penn State recommends.

                                  Invariably for some reason, there will be a time when you punch thru the various layers and expose the geotextile. At this point, it becomes a hazard to get a shoe caught in the material and you will have to excavate down to that layer and redo it.

                                  My suggestion is to have the various layers well compacted before adding your top layer. If there is any problem where you punch thru the top layer, then you only need to do a local repair.

                                  Here is another resource. It is a company that is a subsidiary of a quarry and provides description of the various materials.
                                  http://www.equestrianfooting.com/
                                  I've been lucky enough to have built two arenas for personal use, both with geotextile between soil and base, and never had a problem. The current arena I'm only in the second year with, but the prior arena I used for almost 20 years. Both arenas had 6+ inches of compacted base, then footing on top. Something would have to go really wrong to get to the fabric, and in 20+ years it has never happened.
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                                  • #18
                                    Last year I got some rubber for my indoor & outdoor. I like it a lot because it won't deteriorate. The indoor had "eurofelt" from when that was popular after the 2004 Olympics in Greece. Great stuff so when I needed to revitalize my indoor it was unavailable so I got 'tennis shoe" shreds. I forget what it was called but the rubber bits were OK but the fabric parts left dust bunnies that are still emerging. Blech. So this time I decided to get something that won't go away.

                                    Last found this place that sold me 22T for about $325/ T. About half the price of all the "horse footing" places. Correspond with the people there and they will give you discounted prices. I got enough for 1" for my indoor and 1" for my outdoor. There's a calculator at this link.

                                    https://rubbermulch.com/products/bla...iant=396901421

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                                    • #19
                                      It depends on whether it is a private arena, or commercial (ie more use), weather variations (ie will it get blown away, or washed away), and what is local to you. A bargain surface isn't a bargain surface if you pay twice its cost in transport.

                                      I'm in New Zealand and have crushed shell and sand for my private arena (occasionally hired by others). It is exceptionally low maintenance and to groom it, I just drag a gate behind my small tractor.

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                                      • #20
                                        Wanna know a secrete about all this new fancy textile footing?

                                        It makes horses lame.

                                        I figured this out last year after lessoning in it for 2 months and going to a few venues that were equipped with it. My mare said...eff this sh*+.

                                        I provided feed back to one of our venues because they asked for rider input. They sent my email to the actual company. The COMPANY EMAILED ME DIRECTLY and told me my theories were correct and the fancy footings ARE NOT made to be ridden in daily.
                                        They are made for venues so that when/if heavy rainfall occurs the show can go on.

                                        My education is in biomechanics.
                                        These synthetic footings cause the horse's foot to stick rather than slide and put a ton of torque on the soft tissues especially collateral ligs.

                                        I don't know how high jumpers don't break legs.

                                        grass, dirt or sand for me.

                                        If the arena has to be drug with a roller and not an actual drag... that's the red flag.
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                                        Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

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