Arena Guidance

I am looking for some input on my new arena. I have reached out to several companies to have someone come and design my arena base/ footing but no one is in my area so I am on my own to some degree.
I am building a 100 by 150 area. It will be used for flatwork and some jumping. Nothing extensive and I do not want to use it for western gaming.
The land I am building on was cleared last summer and the water table is high. The land is all sand, dirty sand but still sand, for 200ft down. All online advice has you digging down to the base under the top soil and then adding a base such on top. I just have sand and water. I have actually had more sand brought in last year before running out of time (before winter). The level has come up a ways but it is still puddling a fair bit so I know I will need more height. Now, if my base is thick enough that might be okay… or maybe I need more sand fill first. The fill sand is also a dirty sand, same stuff as was already there.
I have sourced clean sand but I am not sure what to do as far as my base.
In my paddock, I have larger rocks for a base, packed, and then fines on-top which is packing pretty well. Its nice and dry.
I have the same set up in my round pen but it was put in by hand and so not packed well. The rocks are all coming up from underneath and it will need redoing.
My thoughts have been, thus-far, should I basically do it the same as my paddock (packed) and then add some sand on top? or just the rocks and then sand?
My contractor (for the house) said just put the nice sand on the existing sand because its relatively well packed… but I would rather get some advise on the best course of action from someone who is familiar with horse’s effect on the arena. It is too pricy to have to completely redo within a year.
Thanks in advance!!

I think there’s a book on creating great arena footing --but don’t recall the title --sorry. I think your size is too small --consider minimum 100 x 200 if you are going to do jumping. Otherwise, I think you’ll find turns across the arena difficult. I do flat and straight line jumping in a 196x 66 dressage arena --so I know it can be less than smooth to try a figure 8 course --and I have smaller horses! We always took the jumps out of the dressage ring and put them in the pasture for the Eventing horses who were massive. It seems to me 300x300 is not uncommon for a jumping area --based on off-site shows we’ve been to.

Under Foot is the name of the book :slight_smile:

Unfortunately this is all the space I have, but I have been riding and doing courses in an 80 by 100 for the last 3 years so it seems huge to me haha. It’s just for fun, I dont show English.

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100x150 is perfectly fine for schooling over fences, IMO. I don’t do a lot of coursework at home, though, mainly specific exercises.

I am in Florida and on sand, idk how deep the sand goes but I know it goes at least 3’ (from digging fence post holes). So, digging to a “natural base” is also not possible for me.
I have not had the fortune of putting in a sand arena yet. But when I discussed with an arena builder, he said he puts six inches of a compacted base on top of the natural sand and they hold up great. Base meaning compacted clay (popular here but no thanks for me!) or limerock. Idk about large stones.

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My trainer lives in a sandy area and at least one of her arenas doesn’t have a compacted stone base, just clean sand surrounded by railroad ties. It doesn’t drain well, even after she spent $$$$ to have French drains installed. If you can afford it (and as you said it’s cheaper to do it right the first time than to redo it later), I would recommend a decent base of compacted fines. I don’t know if you also need large rocks underneath (my wonderful arena doesn’t have any but my soil is completely different).

You’ll want the base graded to allow for drainage. This could be a constant slope or a crown along the centerline. My arena is crowned and it drains much better than others I ride in that have a constant slope, but there may be other factors too.

A good contractor with experience building arenas is really key. If your local guys are willing, maybe they can consult with someone remotely on the details?

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Thank you!! So like limestone fines do you think? This is similar to the crusher fines I have access to I believe. I may also be able to get limestone fines themselves.

If you are going to put in a proper, graded base, it will usually be made out of whatever they use for road base in your area. In Florida that may be crushed limestone. Here in Georgia it is M10 (crushed granite).

If you can’t find an arena contractor, find out who builds roads – it’s the same skill set.

(Just don’t let them advise on what to use for footing, their job is to make things hard and smooth, which is not what you want for the top bits!)

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Thanks this is helpful! Its looking like either the same thing as in my paddock, with clean sand on-top, is best, or just the fines with the sand on top. I will further research.
I think I will have him slope it away from the paddock, which is right beside. It may not drain quite as well as crowning the middle but I have concerns about it draining into the paddock.
And then maybe railroad ties to hold the footing in best I can?
I am very rural so unfortunately I am on my own in this. Closest company I have found to do this is 9 hours away.
Maybe I should move :thinking: lol

Oh! Good idea. I had not thought of that. I know a company that does the roads. I will try them!