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Your outdoor ring - how'd you do it?

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  • Your outdoor ring - how'd you do it?

    Hi all,
    I am looking into building an outdoor ring - a dream for a very long time. I want to be sure it is done correctly. Experienced excavators are coming this week for estimates.

    The USDF ring-building book "Under Foot" was recommended and I am awaiting it's arrival. However, being eventers, we often use our rings for dressage and jumping.

    How did you calculate your footing for dressage and jumping use? Amount of "give/compression", grade, and top layers? I hope to use the rubber footing as the very final, top layer - preferring the larger rubber pieces to the very small chips. But, what about the layers just below this that will compress and must provide "give" for the right amount of concussion absorption? How did you determine what is the right amount of give?

    This is being done on a budget. Any money saving tips would be really appreciated. Thank you!

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  • #2
    I don't know where your located, but I used a wonderful guy in New Jersey, Shane Doyle, and know he does arenas up and down the east coast. And has consulted on a few others that were farther away. I think he is a bit expensive but worth every penny as I have had a couple of friends try to 'save' $$ and have another excavator come in who 'does' riding arenas, the mess they made... Then had to have my guy come and in and fix the mess anyway. Cost them soooo much more!

    Anyway, I think the reason that my guy is good is he understands drainage and how to compact many layers. Not to mention that he RIDES!! So he really gets it, understands what we are looking for and what type of wear and tare ( okay so wear and tare don't look like there spelled right to me but not coming up on spell check, sorry, but I hope you get the idea! ) He's done a lot of arenas, both indoors and outdoors in my area for eventers, dressage, and private farms and they have all held up really well. Mine has been in use for going on 6 years now with LOTS of traffic... I love it and still get compliments on how the footing is holding up!

    If your close and or interested in contacting him PM me for his #. Good luck!


    • Original Poster

      Thank you! I am located in NH.

      I have sent you a PM.

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      • #4
        Caution - most important parts of outdoor ring construction are (1) drainage and (2) base. While top layers are certainly important, they won't work unless drainage and base are correct.


        • #5
          Hi there,

          There are a lot of factors to take into consideration that will be specific with your location and materials available. I'd go around to various barns in your area and find ones with arenas you like. Ask them what materials they used for the base and footing and who they had do the work.

          I have a 100 x 260 arena. It's in an location where a crown would not have been advisable, so it has a slope across the shortside. It is 10 inches lower on one side than the other. You don't notice this riding on it. The purpose is so that it drains well.

          First we leveled the existing area/material. Compacted that. Then added 7 inches of gravel base and compacted that. Then added 4 inches of limestone screenings and compacted those. They did not pack as well as we would have liked so we did not add anything else.

          The plan was for the limestone to be a "cap" on the gravel to help prevent any rocks coming up into the footing. But we did not want to add anything since the limestone screenings weren't staying HARD.

          They will eventually compact more and then we have plans to add one inch of rubber.. but actually.. as it is now the arena is very nice! The limestone screenings make really great footing and the drainage is wonderful. The nice things about the limestone is that it's not slide-y and while it offers some cushion it does also "stick together" so it is somewhat firm under the horse but still offers some give.
          Last edited by VCT; Oct. 5, 2009, 11:20 AM. Reason: typo
          2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


          • #6
            The first and most important thing I did was ask the farmer who was familar with the farm where the best drained place was and listen to him! After that we removed top soil, compacted the subsoil, laid down geotextile fabric then added several inches of #8 stone (fist-sized), then 8" of stone dust. I was not happy with this as the stone dust turned to soup every time it rained, so we added another 4" of 12's (3/8 limestone chips) and regraded to work the dust & chips together. That worked like a charm, I recompacted with a big honkin' road roller. We rode on that for several months until it got really hard (I thought it would take longer than it did) then added about 2" of sand. I added 2 more tri-axles of sand this spring.

            I can ride on mine after a deluge (and have). It may have puddles on the surface, but the base is always excellent & it drains quickly.

            I saved a lot of money on mine by doing the engineering myself, hiring an independent guy to come & do the grade work and running the compactor myself. I kept a close eye on the guy I hired, not because he wasn't doing a good job, but because it is easier to fix a mis-communication in the early stages than when the thing is done!

            Good luck, it's a big investment, but really worth it.