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Sawdust, fibre or rubber to fix a deep sand arena?

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  • Sawdust, fibre or rubber to fix a deep sand arena?

    Hi guys,
    long time lurker first-time poster here!

    We have moved into a new place that we are renting and have found out after we signed the contract that the arena is heavy and boggy. The base is made out of big and small stones/rocks and has river sand put ontop. We had the arena lasered to find out what the problem is because removing some of the surface didn't help. It turns out the base is uneven along the whole arena, which is causing some areas to be much deeper than others, so although the top of the surface is level, underneath it isn't. To fix properly will cost around the $30,000 mark. The arena contractor we got recommended there is another solution to fixing it which should make it last about 10 years. He recommended either adding fibre, sawdust or rubber to the top of it/or mixing it in, which will suspend the horse better.

    Has anyone had a similar situation where they used one of these surfaces with sand and found it compacted the surface? I'm trying to work out what my options are and get it right the first time as it is still going to cost around $8000 to fix it this way.

    Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!!
    Last edited by jjhorse; Sep. 30, 2019, 12:18 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by jjhorse View Post
    Hi guys,
    long time lurker first-time poster here!

    We have moved into a new place that we are renting and have found out after we signed the contract that the arena is heavy and boggy. The base is made out of big and small stones/rocks and has river sand put ontop. We had the arena lasered to find out what the problem is because removing some of the surface didn't help. It turns out the base is uneven along the whole arena, which is causing some areas to be much deeper than others, so although the top of the surface is level, underneath it isn't. To fix properly will cost around the $30,000 mark. The arena contractor we got recommended there is another solution to fixing it which should make it last about 10 years. He recommended either adding fibre, sawdust or rubber to the top of it/or mixing it in, which will suspend the horse better.

    Has anyone had a similar situation where they used one of these surfaces with sand and found it compacted the surface? I'm trying to work out what my options are and get it right the first time as it is still going to cost around $8000 to fix it this way.

    Any recommendations are greatly appreciated!!
    You need to fix the base. I know it isn't what you want to hear, but it is the bottom line. It is tempting to consider lower cost solutions. But if your base is mucked up, you won't get very far treating the footing. You could have gold plated footing, but if the base is subpar, your issues will persist.

    Personally, I would never add sawdust to footing. It will break down and become very dusty very quickly, unless you are watering a lot, in which case the sawdust will be slippery.

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    • #3
      ^ This.You need to fix the base. You'll essentially be throwing away money with temporary fixes.

      This happened at a stable I boarded at in one of their small arenas. They did everything but fix the base, and the footing still sucked no matter what they threw at it. Sometimes it seemed better for a few weeks, but that was it.

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      • #4
        I third fixing the base, you need stone dust wet and packed down.
        Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

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        • #5
          30,000 seems a little high - how big is the arena. You need to first scrape off the footing to see the base. Then add stone dust/clay that is wet and rolled and wet and rolled and wet and rolled. The original footing can be screened and re laid I suppose. You could rent a lot of the necessary equipment yourselves if you are at all handy. Vibratory rollers are both fun and boring and it really doesn't take a whiz to run one.
          www.settlementfarm.us

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          • #6
            I agree that fixing the base is the only way to really solve the problem, but I understand why OP doesn't want to do that on a rented property.

            I second not adding sawdust because it will break down into dust quickly and cause whole new problems. I have rubber and I love it but don't think it would help your problem. I've seen fiber added to deep footing and it does help, but it obviously won't solve the unevenness issue. Nothing will other than fixing the base.

            Can you or your contractor scrape the footing away from the low spots, fill them with base materials, and compact it? I'd try that as an intermediate option before redoing the whole base.
            Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm: http://thesmallhorsefarm.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              Sorry, but without fixing the base, you are spending $8K for nothing. The arena will still be uneven and dangerous. I've had arenas put in for $30K. Your estimate is not off, since they have to remove the footing, fix the base, and add the footing back. River sand is not the best option. You might still not like your footing. How long are you renting this place for? Unfortunately, installing good footing is a huge expense, and this is the result if its not done well.

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              • #8
                $8k sounds like a better bargain ... until a horse gets injured and you rack up a couple thousand more in vet bills and still have footing you can't trust.

                Any chance the facility owner would be willing to contribute to the cost of fixing the arena base? I'm guessing no, considering that it wasn't done well the first time, but it's the kind of big expensive project that only makes sense if you have a long-term stake in the facility.

                Having maintained arenas with fiber and rubber mixes, and having done a bit of riding in one that had coarse sawdust added, I really don't see how adding any of those materials would remedy the unevenness you describe, unfortunately.

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                • #9
                  This might or might not help, my arenas base is deeper in some areas, more shallow in others. I am looking at adding fiber to it as sometimes, depending on the issue, fiber can help level it out. I would contact fiber companies to see if they can offer advice. Try to reach out to 3-4 different suppliers, as not all fiber is equal. I took footing out, I added rubber crumb, and now I am hopeful that fiber will really bring it together to make it the best I can with out fixing the base. If it’s deep and uneven, rubber will not help. Although it added bounce to my footing it’s still deep in areas and shallow in others.

                  Trust me, if money wasn’t an issue, I would fix the base. I am looking into Tru Tex footing in Indiana. Hopefully I can add it by early winter after doing a few other arena repairs.

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                  • #10
                    Couldn't you use a grass arena or pasture instead? That is a lot of money to invest for a rental.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Why all the hate on sawdust? I have had sand and sawdust mixed for 25 years and I love it. Mag chloride every couple of years, top dress every couple of years. Not dusty and not slippery.
                      Rubber is actually hazardous waste if you need to dispose of it and your mortgage and insurance companies may give you the side eye if they know about it.
                      www.settlementfarm.us

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dotneko View Post
                        Why all the hate on sawdust? I have had sand and sawdust mixed for 25 years and I love it. Mag chloride every couple of years, top dress every couple of years. Not dusty and not slippery.
                        Rubber is actually hazardous waste if you need to dispose of it and your mortgage and insurance companies may give you the side eye if they know about it.
                        exactly...my indoor is green sawdust, masons sand and mag chloride. I add sawdust once in a while!
                        Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

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                        • #13
                          I have heard some fibers such as Trutex will fix a deep arena. You can look into that and have someone come out and give you an estimate.

                          http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                          • #14
                            I wanted to add that the property I purchased had an outdoor arena, It was compacted clay and sand with rock underneath and it can rain 7 inches and I can ride on it the next day, but it was unlevel due to years of neglect. I was quoted 10k to fix it.

                            We ended up ordering 4 truck loads of dusty 12 over time, spread and leveled it on our own. It still holds a bit of water but it's suitable for what I need. What made it easier on us is that the dusty 12 will compact themselves, and the arena didn't have any footing in it. What also helped was every time we tore the base it helped break it up and drain better.
                            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                            • #15
                              A lot depends upon exactly how many horses are going to be in the arena every day. Are we talking 1 to 2 horses or 10 to 20? With 1 to 2 horses you might be able to get away with a cheaper option. But with a lot of horses ( and different people with different expectations and different horses with different issues ) you will have a harder time finding a solution for cheaper.
                              "Friend" me !

                              http://www.facebook.com/isabeau.solace

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                                A lot depends upon exactly how many horses are going to be in the arena every day. Are we talking 1 to 2 horses or 10 to 20? With 1 to 2 horses you might be able to get away with a cheaper option. But with a lot of horses ( and different people with different expectations and different horses with different issues ) you will have a harder time finding a solution for cheaper.
                                This. I have my horses at home. Last year, when I bought the place. I paid someone $20k to fix the base and add footing (the prior owners were riding on base--compacted granite crusher fines, from a professional jumping arena that was put in by the owners before them and the original footing was all gone). The footing company took two weeks and put in several more inches of crushers and I paid for a water truck and they watered and compacted with a sheep's foot. laser leveled and put in a grade. Then we added 3 inches of washed arena sand to the base (angular sand--three inches was a little deep but the wind really blows here). Over the (REALLY BAD) winter the subbase clay heaved up through the compacted granite fines base at the south end. The footing company came back and dug up my arena for another two weeks and supposedly fixed it. What they did wrong in the first place is not rip everything out and start over because my arena was 12 years old and, over time, the subbase will shift, so the base was actually thinner at the south end due to the subbase shifting under the original base. It rides great now and the sand has leveled down to two inches and I am ready to add something to it, but I don't want to add rubber (toxic waste) if there is a chance that it might heave again. I am very interested in the fiber, but am concerned that, without rubber, it will be hard. The sand I have is wonderful to ride on, so I might just add sand and trench a hydrant in so that I can water it. The fiber is intriguing because it might keep the sand from blowing away and might also address any issues if the footing company still didn't 100% fix the problem. I would be hard pressed to fix someone else's arena if I was boarding, because it is SO expensive, but what's the point of having horses if you can't ride them?

                                If it was more than me riding on this, I might see any flaws much earlier than I did. I groom after every ride. You will see the flaws much quicker with lots of people riding in it if your fix doesn't work.

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