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Ideal Saddle Seat Arena Footing


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#1 Jrchloe

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:05 PM

For our discipline what is considered ideal footing and how would you describe it in detail? What materials usually give the best results for what we want? Are the conditions similar to ideal dressage, jumping or reining footing? I have heard we want a springy surface but what does that really mean? If you were to plan an arena what would be the best way to do so for our horses, like what is the base, mid, then top layer, etc?

#2 Three Day Ranch

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:17 PM

sand and rubber crumbles (tire or sneaker whichever) are what my saddleseat trainer prefers.
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#3 Jrchloe

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:34 PM

Yes but how deep is it? What is the base? What is the ratio of sand to rubber? How is it taken care of?

#4 lkirby

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 01:56 PM

It depends on whether this is an indoor or outdoor riding arena. For an outdoor riding arena you need to have the arena properly sloped with drainage channels leading towards a dry sump in the middle. An indoor arena won't need to have the drainage channels or dry sump.

The underlying base should be composed of at least two inches (2") of small crushed stones that has been properly compacted. Over that underlying base you will place a geo-fabric that will allow any standing water to drain out, but will keep out dust. On top of that you want to place at least three inches (3") of good quality sand mixed with ground rubber shreds. The mix of sand to rubber can be from 50/50 up to 66/33. You will want to gradually add in another one inch (1") of composted manure, which is also cushions very well.

You want to keep the arena footing lightly sprayed to keep down dust. The arena footing must be periodically dragged to keep high/low spots from occurring and to keep the sand/rubber/composted manure mixed.

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#5 Jrchloe

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:17 PM

With rubber mulch being the best what other kind of mixtures would be good? Could you angle the ring to drain outward instead of inward especially if it was elevated if it is an outdoor arena?

#6 lkirby

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:30 PM

Yes, angling the arena so that any water drains out of the sides is also very good. However, I like arenas where the sides next to the ring dry the quickest.

The problem with using only rubber mulch is that it must be coarsely ground because it is fairly lightweight and can blow away from outdoor arenas in high winds. And then you have to keep adding more rubber mulch to the arena.

I personally like the sand/rubber/composted manure mixture, that I recommended, because it does cushion very well, yet still has enough traction in both wet and dry conditions. Also, both the sand and composted manure binds to the rubber mulch and weighs it down enough to keep it from blowing away in high winds. So you end up have to constantly add less material to your arena.

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#7 Jrchloe

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 02:34 PM

lkirby you are always so helpful biggrin.gif. It is very wet where I live (FLA for 345 days a year with >=70% humidity) so would that mixture dry pretty fast? I know my old barn used sea shells to help with drainage but with the rubber not absorbing any water would that be unnessicary?

Since rubber mulch is so expensive could using wood mulch with sand mixture with the compost be just as good quality footing?

#8 lkirby

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Posted 24 October 2008 - 03:23 PM

QUOTE
lkirby you are always so helpful . It is very wet where I live (FLA for 345 days a year with >=70% humidity) so would that mixture dry pretty fast? I know my old barn used sea shells to help with drainage but with the rubber not absorbing any water would that be unnessicary?

Since rubber mulch is so expensive could using wood mulch with sand mixture with the compost be just as good quality footing?


Thank you very much, Jrchoe. When I was living in New Mexico, I deliberately added in some composted manure into my arena sand mixture as I wanted to keep some moisture in the footing for my horse's hooves in what was otherwise a very dry climate. My outside arena only got really wet during the summer monsoon season (July & August ) and during the winter from the snowstorms, which melted immediately afterrwards. But with good sunshine, my outside arena would dry completely in two days as any water drained down into my dry sump in the middle.

If it as a wet as you are describing in Florida, then you would definitely not want to add in either the composted manure or the wood mulch, which will eventually breakdown to dust, to the sand & rubber arena footing mixture as both the composted manure and wood mulch will retain lots of moisture. Your old barn probably used the sea shells as an underlying base in the same way as I recommended using my small crushed stones to allow any water to drain away rapidly.

Since you are located in very wet, tropical Florida, I would very seriously recommend that you put down at least four inches (4") [instead of two inches] of small crushed stones as a properly prepared underlying base with a geo-fabric cover on top. And then place on top of that at least four inches (4") of 50/50 equal parts of good sand & coarsely ground rubber crumbles to give the best type of arena footing that will shed water away rapidly, stay dry under most conditions and provide a very good cushion for your horse's feet.

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Lorna G. Kirby, PE
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#9 Jrchloe

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 10:58 AM

Oh thank you. Yes FL is ssssooooo humid. Would you use the same depth in a round pen?

#10 lkirby

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:40 AM

Yes, you definitely want to keep the very same depth of footing in both the arena and in the round pen. Do build as large a round pen as you can with the round pen's diameter not less that sixty feet (60') across. I would also recommend that you get a cover/roof over the round pen, if possible.

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Lorna G. Kirby, PE

When you have gone through fire, you won't fade in the sun!!