Footing for a "Arena" - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Footing for a "Arena"

I currently have a dirt sacrifice paddock that I also use as a training area. I'm attempting to upgrade it as much as possible with minimal money input (more important horse upgrades are needed first).

Right now the dirt is hard packed and I'm wondering if it would increase the footing appreciably to rototill the ground. I think it would be better for the horses to work on, but I haven't seen an all dirt "arena" before. I'll be working barrels, low jumps, lunging, etc. Basically all around training type scenarios. Oh and any idea on the depth I should rototill it to?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 04:10 PM
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The barn where we ride has an outdoor arena that is all dirt. They till it once a week and it is very soft. It's very level too, so the water doesn't pool up in any one spot. It does get dusty though, in the summer dry months.


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post #3 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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Cool, I was asking around, but no one could tell me if it would be better than the hard packed dirt currently there. Logically I was thinking "yeah" but I wanted more opinions before putting the work in.
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 04:40 PM
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When you think about gaming and rodeos, they plow the dirt in the arena after every few competitors. We watched a high school rodeo a few weeks ago and they plowed the barrel pattern between every 7 riders, and the entire arena between events.


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post #5 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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See most of the ones I've been at are sand or a sand/dirt mix, so I just wasn't quite sure. Now I just need to find a rototiller big enough!
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 05:02 PM
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At the barn we ride at they have a tiller on their tractor, but I've also seen people buy an implement for a quad or something and use that.


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post #7 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 05:36 PM
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I've seen the tillers on the backs of tractors used to keep an arena fluffy. It also help to dry it out faster after a rain. Some friends of mine use dirt and dried horse manure. It makes a nice fluffy footing, but be careful, it can be slick when its wet.
I'm too cheap to buy a tiller and just use a drag harrow behind my 4 wheeler. It doesn't go deep but it does soften the footing.
Drag harrow-


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post #8 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes View Post
See most of the ones I've been at are sand or a sand/dirt mix, so I just wasn't quite sure. Now I just need to find a rototiller big enough!
You might be better off asking a farmer to run a disc over it once or twice. I have a small disc I use but once in awhile I impose on a farmer for big stuff.


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post #9 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 10:11 PM Thread Starter
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That's my next step.

I spoke with my farmer friend earlier and he might be able to find me some "free" sand to help lighten it up. He said that I definitely need something heavy duty to break it up this time due to the soil (really heavy black dirt), but that I should probably be able to maintain it with a harrow/rake or my garden rototiller for the rest of the year. But I didn't even think about asking him to disk it for me. Thanks!

I know it's going to be slick when wet, but it's already really slick so honestly I don't think I can get any worse. When I was a kid we would use the paddock as a slip n slide after a rain because it was better than greased plastic, LOL! Basically when it's wet I ride on the road otherwise everything is like ice. The soil is great because it's so fertile, but once in awhile I really wish for some nice sandy stuff.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-14-2010, 10:20 PM
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Depends where you are and your climate/rain fall. Here a dirt arena would be awful because we hardly get rain therefore it would be too hard-packed to ride in by May - tillered or not. Also is there a lot of rocks?

Side note: Our arena is a sand mix, and to level it all we used is our ATV and drag a railroad tie weighed down with a tire behind. It works. It's not 'deep' but a decent leveller.
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