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arena footing

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  • arena footing

    I have a good clay base with some ordinary gravel mixed in.
    It is settled and packed.

    Now I am ready to put something on top.

    Any thoughts on what size gravel to use? I am thinking 'pea-gravel' about 3/8 round.

    We have access to sand but i think sand is too heavy for dressage.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    If the stuff you are calling pea gravel is the stuff we call pea gravel


    It's like putting down a bed of small marbles. You need something that will knit together but not pack solid.

    My arena is 2 1/2 inches of VDOT A sand plus GGT over compacted bluestone.

    Good free pub
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


    • #3
      My is clay based with pea gravel with about 3 in of sand on top. A little deeper than I'd like but works well. I think 2 1/2 would be nice
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


      • #4
        NO to straight pea gravel. It's great to mix with sand to improve drainage and keep sand from packing down too fast, but make sure you get the tiny "birds eye" pea gravel and even better, get the "waste birds eye" version, which is more fractured and angular and has a variety of particle sizes.

        My contractor-installed footing contains way too much birdseye pea gravel and there is too much roll, not enough purchase. A very expensive mistake that I will be correcting next spring.

        This is a great publication that will help you understand arena footing dynamics. In short you need a mixture of particles sizes and shapes, and not a lot of round stuff.


        • #5
          1" bluestone dust, then 1 1/2 -2" of construction (angular) sand.

          If it's an indoor, you could then a 1/2" of hard rock maple shavings to keep it light and hold moisture. NOT...if it's an outdoor.

          Whatever you do, don't guess. Get it right or you will have made an expensive mistake and regret it if you have to live with it. This happens to people.

          I have indoor and outdoor...held many clinics and a lot of riding over the years, so I'm passing on what worked for me, my horses and trainers very, very well.

          Good luck.
          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


          • #6
            Oh...since you say you have gravel mixed in your base be sure it is very packed. There is no gravel in mine.

            When your arena is done, because of that gravel in the base, I'd me mighty careful (if you use a york rake or spin-groomer to maintain it) that you don't ever hit that base -- or you'll be digging up gravel that will eventually wind up in your footing.
            www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
            "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
            Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


            • #7
              Pea gravel is not good. Had a friend that used that + sand and it dug into the base, loosening the compaction until the gravel base came up through the footing. It was a disaster and she had to redo everything! Another friend was talked into adding a layer of washed angular rock (no fines) between their compacted base and the footing and that was also a disaster. Expensive lessons learned. Anything that won't compact well as a base, or footing that may interfere with a good base's compaction like pea gravel, will not work well because things break up and mix.

              In our arena, we have a 6" base of 1/4" minus, that was super compacted. Our footing on top is a sand rubber mix which is fantastic. I love it. Our harrow is an ABR arena rascal with a profile blade that slides over the top of the base. It was pricey but well worth it. We have had no problems so far after several years of use. Yay!
              Work - feed - ride - shovel poop - repeat.


              • #8
                Yes...it's all about the base in the end.

                Clearly, having the footing on top of it that is smooth and rounded does not only not provided and grip, it has a shearing affect...like riding on small marbles.

                I have rubber and sand on a great base in my round pen(because the work in there is short, in tighter circles and typically with younger growing horses. But I chose NOT to use rubber in the indoor and outdoor because I sometimes use them for turnout when we are snowed in and I can't get horses back to pasture that may be a dangerous sheet of ice. 25 years later.

                Don't want them eating hay off of it and ingesting it.

                Later, it was revealed by others in dressage work the rubber combo, no matter how nice it is, is that when horses only work in it then get to a show and hit a surface that is less "forgiving", they can really struggle and come up lame later.

                Horses feet and legs NEED some compression for good bone and tendon health...too soft for too long can create other problems later on.

                Sort of like wearing tennies all day, then putting on flats. The trick is to find the in-between and I've found bluestone, angular sand and a bit of hardrock maple shaving to be the best of all worlds for long term leg and joint health for hard working horses.
                www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                • Original Poster

                  Great information here thank you so much!


                  • #10
                    My instructor has an indoor and outdoor with the carpet fibers and kiln dried sand mix. Like riding on air.
                    Expensive though.


                    • #11
                      The pea gravel I have has mixed in some with the sand. I say pea gravel it may not be. But it's some type of rock that's very tiny. It doesn't effect riding or cause any issues in the past almost 5 years. The rock stuff was there when we bought this place and I added the sand. Was told by arena builders of ga that built it originally to do. So idk haven't had any problems. But it is only missing mainly where the sand has raout some and thinned before I put down wood around it.

                      Here is the footing through most of the ring

                      My main issues i keeping the grass out of it since it use to be a hay field under it ughh
                      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole