This article is taken from
experience, not from books etc. It is written to save you money. Like
I have done the 'hard yards' so hope this will benefit you.
I'm in Tassie we are getting quotes for a 60 x 20m arena.
We are at the confused point with several quotes all around the same
price with very different things in them.
The area for the arena needs building up at one end and cutting out at
Would appreciate some advice on what is what... below are the quotes and
some info we have received so far....
Includes: Excavator hire
20mm clean metal
240m 90 slotted pipe
Sock for 90mm pipe 240m of
Geo cloth top of drainage trenches
With sand $26 818 (Including GST)
(Ok background... this bloke came recommended ... but they all seem too!
he wanted to put drainage around the outside ... underneath and the 3
levels of base).
Excavate marked out area to form levels
Supply & lay ag drain on top side of arena
Supply & lay 100mm road base, grade and level surface
Supply & lay 100mm red gravel, grade and level surface
Roll & compact surface in preparation for arena sand
Supply & lay arena sand grade and level surface
$23 880 (Including GST)
(Highly recommended and has done arenas at our local state equestrian
centre.. the best ones according to coaches... sand he quoted was a
cheaper sort more likely to blow away so I need to check up with him
whether its washed river sand.. he said it was an arena mix sand but
just not as heavy as some people have windy areas... we are quite
sheltered where we are)
Removal of 4 large trees
20 tonne excavator hire 40 hours $6400
Bob cat hire 16hours $1200
Roller hire 24hours $1312
4 tonne excavator hire 24hours $1880
Supply of Culvert pipe x1 $350
sub total $12256.20 (including GST)
Sub base gravel 152m3 @ 100mm thick before compaction
Crushed red gravel 152m3 @ 100mm thick before compaction
APPROX TOTAL QUOTE 3: $26984.20
(Told Sand approx $6000 but he was still waiting to hear back at this
stage, I presume removal of trees is included in the previous quotes but
this is a point I will be confirming)
I tried to get 4 quotes but never heard back from one despite much
“nagging” so gave up. I have several more numbers I can call for
additional quotes but am keen to make start before Chrissy.
Thank you for your time,
Never get quotes for the whole
construction of an arena for it will cost you much money and you will
lose all opportunity to save Thousands, which this article will do for
You should basically be sub contracting
your own arena and selecting the Machinery based on your on going
investigations of your own Terrain and Land. Now look at the quotes
above and compare them against my Work last Week at my new Home, which
all up cost me $880 and was finished in 3.5 Hours.
SIZES OF ARENA
The Olympic Size and preferred by
serious Horse Trainers of the English persuasion, is 60 x 20 Metres. The
alternative and used by those with lack of Room and many in the EU for
Indoor facilities, is 40x 20 Metres.
SELECTION OF EQUIPMENT
and knowing your Terrain and Soil.
You never know what is under the surface
so the Golden Rule is to always get the Big Machinery in. Stay away from
'BobCats' I own a new Bobcat and it won't be used on this arena.
This is what I recommend.
First get in a Big Grader, equipped
with a Laser Leveling device. Just in case it can do the Lot. This
may do the entire job inside 3 Hours but if not, you will then know
what you are Dealing with. The money won't be wasted.
There isn't much that that the Large Bull
Dozers can't sort out fast as they come with Rippers and as you see on
my arena, can even dig out these.
will soon know, like in 15 minutes, if you are the unluckiest People on
the Planet, if Rock is too prolific for the Bull Dozer.
Straight away then you will go to the 8
Tonne Excavator or bigger.
That will shift most everything but if the Rock is so bad and you so
insistent, this machine can put on a Rock Breaker attachment and break
the rock up first. Highly unlikely though in most cases.
So in 3.5 Hours, including a Grader and
then the Bull Dozer and a total of $880, I have this, ready for a base.
There is mine. Waste of time other than landscaping after
and tricking up. Get the Trucks to Run the Gravel out and let the Grader
do the rest with the Laser Level.
So then you are ready for a Base. I never
worry about two types of bases as you will read lower and I put a much
thicker base down than all of these quotes. I can afford it because I go
for the cheapest and roughest Road Base possible as it all goes down
I don't get Rollers in either. The Earth
Moving Machinery and Trucks do most of that anyway. Then water and my F
Truck if I need.
Just to prove that a Base can be
any sized aggregate :) here is my latest site, for me new round pen.
Over this will go 20mm doll rubble, then Sand. Dirt (clean fill) over
the edge to hide the view and for Planting and you can guarantee no
You will note that there
are 4 so called 'large Trees' to be removed. Much is made about Tree
Removal in this New Age Uni Trained World. Let me tell you, they are
Baby Trees and there is not a Saw required. The Bulldozer will remove
them and push them aside, inside 15 Minutes. So let's not get carried
away but thus proving once again, saving money with the larger, more
FILL OR CUT
always go for fill, it is cheaper but sometimes you have to Cut, like my
current Site. I cut down to Bed Rock but still needed to raise one end
and one side to match the levels. So Fill was searched for and today we
Now I could have a
Front end Loader or even a Bobcat to spread these heaps as they are soft
and east but tomorrow, the Grader comes in and will not only knock that
over but keep the levels right, ending with a decision as to whether we
need extra Truck loads fill or if we have enough for you never want too
I am dead against DRAINS. Particularly drains
on the Hillside end of an arena but both are a waste of time and
money. They invariably catch Water and ensure the dampness of that
side of your arena. To put a Drain on the lower side of an arena is
just silly. You are always better off listening to Nature and
allowing Water to run off away down Hill in the same manner as it
did throughout History. That is what the Water Table likes.
I do not have drains on the other side below this Batter.
Wherever Water lays, Mosquitoes Breed. These
in turn bring great risk to your Horses and especially these Days,
Ross River Virus, Hendra Virus, Murray Valley Encephalitis and more,
can all be passed on via these insects. Yet another reason not to
have Drains around the Place. Incidentally, Water Tanks around Horse
Stables should all have a desert spoon of Kerosene on top of them!
The base is the most important
part of any arena or Round Pen. Mostly, people think or get told that
they have to put down the most expensive blue metal, normally 20 dol
rubble, but this is not the case.
It does not matter what stone or
rubble you use as your base and it also doesn't matter how rough it is
or how large the rocks are really. I have built magnificent arenas that
have had rocks up to 300mm in truck loads of gravel but it all goes down
flat when driven over, graded or rolled. You can therefore go to the
Quarry and by the reject rubble for a fraction of the cost.
One of the arenas that I have at
the moment was in fact built totally for free by using my experience as
a Heavy Dozer driver in another life. You too can do this. Go to your
nearest subdivision and look for the building site that has hit
limestone, shale or similar. Approach the truck driver and he will
almost tear your arm off to accept the offer of you taking the
approximate 300 tones that comes out of an average house site if on a
slope. Beneath my show jumping arena are rocks the size of small cars in
fact. Limestone goes down beautifully and sets like a rock. (pardon the
Recycled bitumen. Watch your local
Highways Dept crew. When they dig up a road, ask for the bitumen. It
goes down fantastically. Never mind the big bits. It does not matter at
The thickness of an arena base
should never be less than 150mm but preferably 300mm. If you are on flat
ground, you can have the base as thick as you like and you should lift
the arena up as high as possible. Then you can have the top shaped to
each side in a slight dome for water run off in every direction.
On flat ground and dryer areas
that are not prone to flooding, shell grit can be used as a base and a
surface as it forms its own base and goes hard beneath the surface. This
is why it needs harrowing from time to time. Not to be attempted in a
high rainfall area though.
Shell Grit, whilst making
a fantastic base whilst riding on it, is better being later covered with
Sand for every time you pick up manure, you will kill your Plants and
paddocks with the Salt Content. I prefer Sand, for Paddock improvement
when the Manure is composted and for Riding on.
Alternatives for a Sub Base, say over rough rock, ashphalt, shale or
whatever else You find, are dolomite fines, 20mm rubble with plenty of
fines in it to make it go down hard like cement.
In some cases, a sub base is not
necessary at all. If the Bull Dozer finds a base of say SHALE, or
LIMESTONE, or BLUESTONE or other, you may not even need a Base
(providing the arena base is above ground level and will drain.
This is the most important consideration and the base is
the most important part of that. You must have a fall and that should
slope away to where your water drainage direction will be. There should
be ideally about 1% fall. As I said above, if on flat ground, the arena
must be lifted and domed slightly by the grader when preparing for the
Arena Builders love Plastic agricultural drainage pipes
that can be installed
beneath the arena and run out each side but I have not had much success
with them. They block up. A total waste of money. Nothing beats a proper, naturally draining
arena. 1 degree in two directions. Across from side to side and one way
from end end on the diagonal to the lowest point of your Land.
One must take into account the relevant water and
drainage regulations for your area and a lot of constructions must not
be within certain distances from water courses.
Watch these Council 'wet
behind the Ears University Trained Morons' who know nothing. They now
are measuring Banks and if found to be 43 Degrees, will make you redo it
and cost a squillion.
Agricultural Drains cause
more trouble than they are worth!! and cost money. You don't need them
Remember, if the base is good and
the fall is correct, the water runs off OVER THE TOP of the base, NOT
There are many:
Wood Chips are dangerous, white ants love them, they
rot, get water logged, do not drain and horses fall on such arenas
regularly. Don't ever use one! It does not matter if they are hard wood
or soft wood. Hardwood are dangerous on the legs of the horse due to
Shell grit is quite expensive but good. More dusty than
sand and also more sun glare. Shell grit should be harrowed at least once
a month, to stop it packing down and causing leg problems with horses.
I prefer the right sand. You can get darker colours
which do not reflect, it is softer on horses legs, more so than
shell grit. It does not pack down like shell grit does and doesn't need
harrowing as much. The sand that you choose must be washed enough that
it does not have a high clay content otherwise it will not drain.
Quartzite sand is sand crushed fine from rock. The most
water resistant of all but expensive and more abrasive on horses
Shredded rubber. Very hot if outside, nice to ride on
but I am not a fan.
Winery castings of the grape bunches. The woody
sections. Again, cheap, soft but rot and not a nice look.
Custom made surfaces include sand, sawdust, salt,
woodchip and all kinds of combinations. Mainly used for indoors and are
all ok. Soft, less dusty etc. Advice should be taken on that one.
There was a fashion of
having a carpet liner beneath an arena. Didn't work so don't try it.
Find your local sandy suburb.
Every time you see a truck driving out of that suburb, run him off the
road, and..... If it is sand, "follow me"
Carton of Beer later and he is yours :)
Want lawn around your arena?
Follow the trucks. City folk are always getting rid of lawn and with it
comes their topsoil at $100 per tonne for free. Yay.
The retaining timber, to keep the surface from falling
out of the arena, can be all manner of things. Popular is the timber
called 'Permapine' and usually they are 2.4 metres x 300mm x 50mm. Looks
lovely, lasts a reasonable amount of time but I am not a fan of the
product. Horses eat it if they get near it, I have seen white ants in it
and it cracks and weathers far worse than the other treated pine called
'Creosote' That is stronger, white ants don't like it and horses don't
eat it. Wear gloves and eye
Creosote timber as the permapine above
Dry stone walls. Here again, watch your building sites.
I got 500 tone of it out of one site. It was valued at $85 per tone.
Truckies have to pay stupid prices to get rid of anything with rock in
it. (see the photo's and weap)
Brick walls which should have cement and rounded curves
or a rounded brick on top for safety of horses.
Large logs made out of tree trunks or telephone
poles......and so on.
I suppose money dictates this but
whatever you use, it is a good idea to put your posts in at an angle of
about 5 degree to the outside. This will stop a rider having their legs
hit on the rails if the horse gets too close, which is often the case.
Just make up a wooden template which you use with a spirit level held
against the post and so you get the same angle on the post each time.
Looks good then.
Borderline Plastic wire. (It is not wire and there is no
wire in it. Do not put any strand closer than 750mm from the ground. Two
strands is ok. I would have 3, set at 300mm apart from the top.
The height should be approx 1.2m from surface to top of
Place the rails on the inside of the posts for
Counter sink the bolt heads inside the inside of the
posts with the nuts on the outside of the arena.
Creosote rails and post look fantastic and have the
benefits as explained above. You cannot paint it though.
White painted hardwood is find with Hardwood Posts or
Galvanized square tube 50mm is good too or whatever
suits you really. Minimum 2.5mm wall thickness though. 100 x 50mm.
and it can be other things of
SHOULD THEY BE FENCES?
Most certainly they should. For
the following reasons:
Negligence at Law
The Training of the Horse
The replication of Show
To ride your corners well
and the Fence is handy for
training...like Leg Yielding.
It is amazing how much earth moving work you will
have to do if you start dealing with slopes. A slight hill could cause the
removal of up to 3 metres cut into the hill to level you off. This costs
plenty. Rather than attempt this, allow your local trucks to dump clean
fill and fill up the low area. Strike a deal with them that they knock it
over for you after, which they all will as it saves them at least $3 per
tone in dumping costs and up to $700 per truck load if there are any
rocks over 90cm in the load, as dictated by the 'Rock Police' at your
local dump. Normally named Barney Rubble.
It does not really matter what is in those loads
either as it all goes down and rock is good not bad. Organize your
fall going away from the hill. I have seen arenas built with the fall to
the hill and a drain cut around the hill side and it has been a disaster.
The entire arena had to be re-done.
Remember that the fall should only be ever so slight
otherwise it will detrimentally effect your riding and your water run off
will happen too quickly and therefore take sand with it in a heavy rain.
You only want water trickling across an arena. From memory, I think it is
about 1 degree that you are after.
Base: 60 x 20 metre arena..................150 tone
Base 40 x 20 metre arena....................100 tone
between 100mm to 150mm depending on
Sand, which differs in all Districts. (Must be well washed with low Clay
content. Water must run out below the sand and over hte base. Get a
Bucket of Sand, create a hole with your hands and fill with water. The
water must not Pool and stay, it must run through, preferably like the
Beach Sand or Sand Hills has a High
Salt content which dries Hooves and kills surrounding plants and grass.
Same with Shellgrit.
60 x 20 metre .........150 cubic metres
40 x 20 metre..........100 cubic metres
There is between 8 and 9 cubic metres in a 15 tone
Due to litigation these days, the arena
should be fenced if other people are going to be riding in it. It also
should have a gate and that should be sited in a location to allow
tractors and trucks to enter in the future. The gate should not be obvious
to horses as this can give learner riders' problems in the future
AGGREGATE BENEATH SAND SURFACE
I have had emails from a lot of people lately
regarding being advised to place 300mm of large aggregate (rock 50mm)
beneath the sand surface. This is a waste of a couple of thousand dollars
and the horse will eventually dig the stone into your sand. City Folk
The 50mm or the 20ml gravel, never welds together into a surface and
always retains looseness. Therefore, a waste of money for both. 20
dolomite rubble however, same sized aggregate though, is different. The
fines and every other size, goes down like bitumen and creates a surface
beneath your surface. The hoof may dent it but you won't suffer the
damage of pure aggregate mixing up with your sand. So either rough as
guts road base or the flash '20 dol Rubble' or equivalent. I prefer the
click on photo's to enlarge
New Stable Site with Fill
All Rock out of a House Site
at Spring Hill ()
Our Dressage Arena
Show Jump Arena Retainer Wall holding fill. All rock from a house
site. Silly Boy, he went and purchased bricks hahaha
Once again, scour your Housing Development Sites
until you find where they have hit rock, shale or limestone. The heavier
rock can go below, the shale second and the limestone on top. Then you
only need 50mm of 20 dol rubble or 20mm gravel and you have it.
If you are cutting a road in around a hill face,
do not cut it so that the water falls back towards the hill and runs along
between the road the the hill face as a drain. Cut the fall sideways with
about 2 degrees fall to over the edge of the hill. This also saves you the
time, expense and on-going cleaning of the under road water culverts.
Domed roads look nice. They do not work like the
sideways falling cut when hills are involved.
So in my opinion, no arena should cost
more than $15,000 and mine cost $15,000. (paying for Earth Movers)
$125,000 Project. Cost $15,000.
ANOTHER ONE OF MINE
Free Rocks off a House Site of a City Person :)
beneath this arena is 20 Truck Loads of Rocks the size of Mini Minors.
another one of ours
This one is built higher than the ground with a drain down the left and
INDOOR ARENA see lower on Page
We found your very informative website on Google, and wondered if you
could lend your expert opinion on the problem we our having with our new
arena. It was intended to be an all-weather arena (40 x 20m) suitable
for dressage and jumping.
We engaged an experienced contractor, who specializes in just horse
arenas, and claims to have built about 50 of them, including some very
Our arena has just been finished - it took almost a year to finish,
mainly due to continued rainfall.
We typically get over 2 metres of rain a year here (in New Zealand),
which the constructor was well aware of.
The arena base is slightly raised above the surrounding land, and a clay
base was created.
We understand that a slope was created, so that the water would drain in
one direction (to one side).
Then large stones/aggregate was laid over that (not sure what depth),
then a layer of 'crusher dust' was put over that.
No heavy rollers were used, only a traxcavator, which we questioned at
No drainage pipes were used within the arena surface, only around two
sides, to collect and take away the water.
The other two sides drain straight into a natural culvert that runs
through our land.
We have had EQ2 equestrian sand laid on top, about 60 tonnes/80 cubic
It had only been down a week and we had to call the contractor back as
the horses were 'double slipping', we think due to the variable sand
depth and loose base. He came back with a tractor and levelled out the
sand, and said 'the base is as hard as it's going to get'.
If you remove the sand you can dig up the crusher dust layer with your
We have had some rain here over the last couple of days (over 20mm) and
the surface is now flooded.
The sand is like porridge to walk on.
We have spoken to our contractor and he is telling us that we are
expecting miracles i.e. for an all-weather arena to drain, and acutally
be usable in wet weather!
You see, we are just silly Brits who emigrated to NZ about 20 months
My wife competes, trains horses, teaches and has ridden on more arenas
than our contractor has built (but not here in NZ).
Please see attached photos of our sad-looking 'all-weather arena'.
Our land is such that this arena is the only place my wife (Debbie) can
Wev'e had our two horses over a year and they have hardly been ridden,
so you can imagine her disappointment.
Any help or suggestions you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
Poor you Andy. I would think silly New Zealander rather than silly Brits
:) He is supposed to be the expert and he has basically built you a Dam
in the lowest part of your property and then you have fenced it in :(
I am afraid you are in a pickle. A serious one. If my property, I would
be re-locating the arena completely but you probably cannot. You
therefore only have one option. Get rid of the blue stuff and replace it
with at least 600mm of Heavy Road Base Rubble, as rough as guts (pardon
my uncouth Australian talk in front of the Brits :) and it it had stones
up to 300mm in it I would be pleased. It has to be then rolled. NO FINES
ON TOP, just the sand. Then your water should flow beneath the sand and
off the arena but that Fence down to ground level in that location is
causing an entrapment of the water. Agricultural Pipes DO NOT
WORK.!!!!!!! That is City Slicker stuff. In that location and with that
amount of rainfall, tell me where Agricultural Pipes are going to take
the Water hahahaa. Best of Luck. My sympathies. I suspect your wife may
have influenced the location??? If neither of you did, you may have a
case against him for an experienced and Local Contractor armed with
Local Knowledge should have known that this would not and could not
Hi Lyn. Normally, deep prints means nothing as
Sand is supposed to do this. There are deep prints all over our
arena right now. However, Sand Dunes may be your problems, which is
highly unusual during these times of environmental controls. (No
clay content at all)
I spoke to a Friend who has done a lot of
research on this as they have an Indoor. Hee is what they say.
Just been out checking poo for sand, after treating Indy and Cav the
new horse. No joy yet, when should I start to see any sand? At the
moment it looks good.
Regarding your New Zealand enquiry, dune sand is just full of silica
and as you know this does not absorb any water it just runs off, she
doesn’t say how deep it is, but if the base has been done correctly
I would remove all but 40mm of the sand and add a water absorbing
shaving or sawdust eg redgum or any equivalent. We are about to add
softfall to our arena as we have removed the excess of deep redgum
shavings that had broken down to dust!!!! She probably should add
some sand with some clay as well. It will have to be watered as with
any arena indoor for dust suppression, and this is where she must
have something that will provide water absorption without the slip.
Not many people are happy with their arena surfaces, but many put
down $20k surfaces of the textile one, and of course they are not
going to bag it after spending that much money, or maybe a horse
they have spent that much money on. He He.
If she does go for a wood additive she must make sure it will not
cause lung problems for horse or rider when constantly being
dampened, and the chip or shaving needs to be smallish no great big
lumps. As you know Rob has looked into a variety of surfaces and we
feel they all have a major downfall. To top our arena in 40mm of
softfall will only cost me $1500 delivered by our lovely friends at
Garden Grove. Any thoughts John let me know, my lightbulb is
flashing on this constantly. Rubber gives headaches according to
coaches, soiltex is expensive and very thick in the first year, and
you can’t tell me it would be emitting healthy breathing air with
manmade products included in it.
I would add that HARDWOOD sawdust should be
used NOT soft Wood. You would have plenty of that in New Zealand.
Hi John,hope alls well in victor,I have a question regarding our
arena,its so close to being finished and our excitement is huge We
have a big issue with wind up here and I'm concerned as to how much
is gonna blow away and wondered would it be safe to use tin fencing
around bottom of arena fencing about 500 high or higher if better if
it was capped so no sharp exsposed edge ??? I also am trying to keep
sheep out as I like them in the paddock at times as well for weed
control.If this is not suitable can you suggest a cost effective way
around it. P.S any news with bella Regards Rachel
Absolutely not Rachael. Use nice looking light
green shade cloth stretched and affixed along and up about 2 foot.
I have read your article on building a horse arena with interest. I
am currently building mine. I wondered if you could offer me some
I have so far built a 20 x 70 m pad built with a bulldozer (big
trees and rocks needed to be moved) it is carved out of the side of
a hill and slopes away from the hill with a open drain at the bottom
of the batter to catch any water coming off the batter. The pad sits
above the drain by about 200m on the batter side and about 1.5m on
the fill side. It is made up of rocks and clay from about 10cm in
size down to fines.
I am in a quandary as to whether I need to use any sub base as the
base that's that makes up the current pad could act as the sub base.
I have a pile of similar material excavated from the house site
thats been sitting there for about 4 years and was going to use that
for the sub base but wondered whether there was much point putting
more of the same stuff on the pad. The only difference might be that
there would be less fines as they would have been washed from at
least the surface of the pile. In your article you said you could
use stone or rubble, limestone, shale or similar. But I wasn't sure
whether clay rocks and fines are OK and whether the fines are OK. I
have the same stuff on my driveway and it has set hard. It becomes a
bit boggy where water and some clay sediment sits. Clearly good
drainage is important and I have a quote for a grader to grade the
arena pad so there is no spots where water can sit at all. However I
dont want to find that when I have put the sand down that it really
did need more rock or rock that was not clay.
So I guess my question is:
have you used or experienced arenas built with clay rock and fines
for the sub base?
is there a proportion of rock to fines that should be used for the
sub base? Or rather is there a proportion that shouldn't be used
Any help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
Yes Wendy, Clay content of any description is a
No No!. Be very careful. Do a Puddle Test in a Bowl and see how the
material reacts with water. I suspect as you said, it will go soft on
top. That equals water retention.
The other thing I find puzzling. A drain at the
lower side of the arena when it is already down hill that way. That is a
typical City Slicker Earth Moving idea. Drains hold Water and stop water
going away. Therefore, your arena on that side will never be as dry as
if the moisture was just allowed to slide down the Hill, Why create more
work and expense. Next he may want Pipes in there hahahaha.
Just got some questions regarding my riding arena.
I had an area 25m x 65m levelled 6+ years ago. It is runs along the
top of a slope. A large bull dozer and grader was used. They dug out
one side and used that to build up the other side, all our natural,
fine, dusty, light sandy soil. They never found any hard base or
rock, although the dug down 3 metres all they found was more sand!
Why would they dig down 3
Metres unless the Cut had to be so deep??? If they did it just in
search of they are idiots.
At the time we were moving, renovating a house and had limited
funds. All I wanted was a flat, dry area to ride. Drainage is
excellent, I have never had water sitting on my arena, even after
100mm of rain. My arena has never been too wet to ride.
BUT My surface is too soft, everyone told me with time, weather,
rain, it would pack back down and settle, but it hasn’t. It’s like
riding in the soft sand at the beach. The horses sink in anywhere
from 6 to 12 inches depending on how wet it is, size of horse, speed
etc, there are holes from the horses hooves 6 – 12 inches deep. When
riding we can’t get balance, rythym as the surface is so uneven. My
husband used to harrow it to even out the surface, that made it more
uniformly soft but also dug up the sections that were starting to
settle. As this is our normal soil, we have been trying to grow
grass on it to hold it together , we have some patches but this just
adds to the inconsistent surface.
My arena is only used by my daughter and myself, probably up to 10
times per week. We do not have big, flash expensive horses but 4
little harder arabs, arab x’s and are training up to max Medium
dressage with my daughter jumping to 1m. We can not afford to spend
a lot of money. Usually we just float the horses down to the local
PC grounds to practise our dressage but it’s a pain to have an arena
and it not be useable.
I was thinking that we probably need to have some of the surface
removed, a firm base put down, then some heavier sand put on top.
Your opinion would be much appreciated.
would arise due to not having base. It is rare to see an arena
without a base that works well all of the time. Regards
I have some more ‘therapy’ for you.
I live in West Gippsland – 15 minutes up the road from Tonimbuk,
where you held your recent Victorian clinic (which I really enjoyed
and learned a lot from!)
I have 2 problems that I would like your advice on.
We have had enough rain here over the last couple of years to float
the ark, and our new dream property (owned it for 3 years and very
fast becoming more of a nightmare) has become very water logged – we
are mostly on solid clay and I think we might be sitting on top of
an underground lake!!!!!$@@$#$!. We are struggling to keep our
beautiful horses (3 Friesians and an OTT Thoroughbred) out of the
muck. As it doesn’t look like there is going to be any let up in the
weather anytime soon, we are getting desperate.
We have tried using sand
(they call it a ‘road base’ type) in gateways and sheds but this is
just getting trampled in. We have considered some of the new
ground stabilising products – plastic type grids, but these are not
cost effective and not very practical for large areas. We thought a
‘pipe laying sand’ might work better – this is slightly more
granular with less fines (we’ve used it in our round yard) – but
because of the terrain and the RAIN we think that this will just
wash away. We are madly digging drains left, right and centre to try
and give our horses a ‘dry’ place to stand but we seem to be
fighting a losing battle. What other type of bases can we try?
Unless we can find some way of at least giving our horses a couple
of dry spots, agistment off the property will be our only option and
this would be very difficult, logistically and financially for us.
Sell the property and buy
a new one, or..
In such an area, Horses
need to be at least Stabled during the Night, and...
fix some safe areas as you
have been trying to do....or
Build some Yards to remove
Horses off your Paddocks during Winter as your Property clearly
cannot support such.
As you may
have read in my two articles about the
arena and the
forget all the other suggestions by new age Yuppy University Trained
Salesmen, they won't work. Sand cannot work nor can the other
things. Only ROAD BASE RUBBLE UP TO 300MM diameter. and at least
300mm above paddock level.
One of the Friesians is a 2 ½ year old colt. We ‘stuffed up’ and
didn’t handle him properly as a foal (found out about you a bit too
late!) We have finally managed to get a decent round yard built
(thanks to some of the advice on your website) despite the RAIN.
I have had the colt in the round yard on 2 occasions and have
realised that I am in way over my head. Although he is not
aggressive, he has become very arrogant and bossy (as colts do) and
I am neither confident enough nor experienced enough to deal with
him. I don’t want to do the wrong thing by this horse (any more than
I already have), nor do I want to get myself killed. Do you know of
anyone in this local area who would be willing to come out to our
property and handle him for us? We would like to be able to
confidently handle him – lead him, tie him up, hobble him etc. It is
very difficult to find someone who you know will do the ‘right’
thing by your horse.
Having read some of your recent blogs, I realise that you probably
think I am a negligent unimaginative person who doesn’t really care
for my horses – but I do care, and I hope that I am open minded
enough to learn from my mistakes and from people who know better
than me - that is why I am E-mailing you!
Once again Cat, this is where
the Leg Restraints brings the Amatuer into the Professional World.
Get into that Round Pen and simply install some hobbles on him or a
front leg strap and lead him around for a bit. You just watch the
I am over recommending People
as they continually let me down and most lack PROFESSIONALISM.
At our new Property, we have
wonderful Sand Yards and the paddocks are locked up and Seeded right
now......BUT......the Horses were in Stables last Night due to the
ARENA CONSTRUCTIONS PROBLEMS
Hi John I am hoping you can help solve a problem I have with my
indoor arena .I live in the Noosa area Queensland 2 years ago my
property was wiped out with the floods and it has taken me that long
to get my property back to normal its been a hard long slog.Any how
the last restoration is the indoor arena and I seem to be surrounded
by idiots who claim they know what they are doing but so far its
been a mess up.I thought the job would only take a week but so far
its been 6.The story is the arena was an out door for many years
(30) I put a roof on it everything was fine until the floods to cut
a long story short I decided to get rid of the old sand because the
stones from the road base had gone right through it was no good for
the horses and whilst training I could feel underneath from the base
that there pot holes forming.I got a bobcat in and had all the old
sand removed the bobcat man didn't know what he was doing although
he told me he knew what to do I guess you have herd it all before ?I
feel the base is still good for something that was put down 30 years
ago very solid of course the level is up and down but no one can
tell me how to level it up with the existing base I need to know
what base I can put down before the new sand goes in.Every one seems
to be so keen on crusher dust I don't like the idea maybe the
crusher dust can go on top of the base once it is finished but I
still don't like that idea the old sand has been sitting on the old
base all this time so why wont it work the same again anyhow I would
appreciate some advice you can give me because I'm at my wits end as
to where to turn next these so called experts are driving me crazy
sincerely Carol of Noosa
I would think in Your area, the going over the existing base with
ROAD BASE to level it and to LIFT THE HEIGHT for protection from
water and water run off, would be smart. Then, once that is done
(which will put You in no different position than you are now
anyway,) You can assess how that Base went down and the likelihood
or not of hooves getting through Your sand and mixing larger stones
or not. Then you may decide on dolomite FINES which if mixed in,
won't matter as some mix it in on purpose, to stop blowing. The key
is the rolling nd watering. The Road base will be cheaper. Get a
small Grader in with a Laser on it if possible and Bobcat to do the
two ends where Grader may not be able to manoeuvre???? Small Grader.
ASHPHALT FOR ARENA BASE
Hi John & Linda,
Looking forward to catching up with Linda and
the gorgeous Cappo on your next visit to Joyce’s ..
Finally got the other half going to put in an
arena. Had to compromise the size and go for 20x 40mtr, I suppose
it’s better than I have now which is nothing lol.
I have attached a pic of intended site for
arena, orange hats and run along the fence line. Plan of having a
wooden post and rail fence and ground border 200mm high, will also
have shade cloth run along the wire boundary fence and entry point
In relation to the base I have been
investigating around the local area and I may have come across an
asphalt road being ripped in the next few weeks.
My question is? Would this asphalt be suitable
for a base? I have been told it will be smaller pieces, I assume
that I would need 100 tonne as per your constructing a dressage
Although it’s tinder dry here, believe it or
not the front of the property does hold water near power poles along
the front near the trees. The intended arena site does not flood, it
has only a 3 degree slope from the driveway to front, so just want
to make sure we construct it correctly.
Appreciate your feedback
Ashphalt is fine PROVIDING IT HAS ANOTHER
100mm of a road base or fines over it. It is not fine without that
for the it starts to come up into the Sand.
Hi there Mr and Mrs HP, Hope your both well. Do you have an opinion or
advice please on Sand vs Shell Grit for yards ? I hate the dust of shell
grit, will sand not be so dusty? My yards are on a slope, will I need to
put a base down before I put in the sand or shell grit ? Thanks so much
for your time, Anne.
We have had Shell Grit and won't use it again. It goes down too hard, it
is too abrasive on Hooves, it dries them out more, it goes hard, it
forms it's own base, it is expensive and it kills all Your Gardens and
Paddocks after composting :) You always have to have bases on an arena
but if you have an existing shell grit arena, that is the base. Regards
Hi I have been reading your articles on
constructing an arena. Are you able to tell me what surface is best to use
on a very sandy soil. Obviously we would get a top layer of soil taken off
and levelled. Are you able to give me some advice on building with
affordability also. Cheers Alli Madill
surface is SAND, then You may get away with only leveling such and riding
to see how you go. Make your decision later then.
However, if You
are REMOVING Sand to LEVEL and You get down to some other type of
material, that isn't suitable or will hold water, YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE A
I've been reading your post about building arenas. After getting
quotes between $45,000 to $75,00 we have decided to build it
ourselves and are in the process of doing so. The paddock we are
building it in is uneven so we are currently getting 250 tonne
of clean fill delivered from a earthmover. My Dad has worked out
levels with a dumpy level and once the base has been leveled I
wanted to know what you're suggestions are of base and surface.
We are thinking:
- 300mm of 20 dol rubble leveled and rolled
- 150mm of sand
Is the 300mm of rubble enough to make a base?
The 20 mm rubble of course is the most expensive route and I would
get Dad to scout around YOur District and see if there is any old rough
roadbase material laying around, which would save you a lot.
Then.........over the top of that, you would want 100mm of fines
(here Dolomite fines), to save when the horse puts a hoof through the
sand and may bring up a larger rock.
but if just sing the 20 dol rubble, there are two trains of thought.
100mm of fines over that as I said but in my case, I didn;t but you do
get the odd up to 20mm stones through the sand (which doesn;t bother us)
but the perfectionist Dressage Queens with their big Bank Accounts, have
the fines over the 20 dol rubble as well
Beneath my show jumping arena, I have rocks off
a Building Site
and then the top 60mm is simple SHALE out of a building site.
ROUND YARD CONSTRUCTION
Hi John, I have recently moved to a new property and I have
started to put in a round yard base. My daughter pointed me
in your websites direction and the constructing a dressage
arena page and it was very informative. I have the 15m dia
base down and it has a fall of about 150mm. I would like
your opinion on the material I have used and if it is
suitable. It is 20mm crushed concrete and has a good mix of
fines through it. In laying it I have ended up with patches
that appear lacking in the fines. My intension is to spread
some dry sand and cement mix over it and rake it in and then
run a whacker plate over it to compact it prior to putting
the topping in. I have attached pictures of the material in
question. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards Adrian
I am of the belief that Crushed Cement, in all of it's
forms, is unsuitable to be allowed near the underside of the
Sand topping, because of the reasons you see in the photos.
The Product does not weld and in fact cannot. It's fine for
base, PROVIDING it is topped to prevent mixing. Dolomite
Rubble and Road Base Rubbles, ( limestone) have a softness
to them and do weld to adjacent stones and go down much
harder. When and if a few get mixed into the Sand, doesn't
matter. as they also have more round edges, not sharp like
Therefore, I would not be going the cement route either.
Simply top this with 100mm of Dolomite Fines. Then, if
Hooves get through the Sand, you get this.
Hey John - quick Arena
question... Neighbour is an earthworks guy and is about to
start but have 2 options for rubble - standard quarry rubble
at $24 a tonne delivered (need 150 tonne) or a place at
lower light that uses rubbish from Adelaide kerbing for $14
a tonne delivered this stuff they apparently crush
themselves and is old cement with a bit of dirt etc mixed
in.... apparently after the rubble goes down he does a layer
of dolomite sand and rolls it to keep rubble down and sand
goes on top - from your experience do you think the cheaper
one will be suitable? Cheers
You would need the Earth Mover, to guarantee the fact, that
his efforts to adequately and securely protect the recycled
concrete from the sand, are successful, because the cheaper
Products does NOT bind together like a road base. It always
So fine to use PROVIDING the over base is adequate to stop
hooves entering the concrete layer.
If this is not a job that is a favor, I would give those
requirements in writing.