Help! Arena sand additive advice? GGT vs. granite dust

We installed a new arena (110’ X 200’) a few months ago and are having trouble with the sand that was installed. Our horses are sliding all over the place. Here is what we had installed:

  1. 4 inches of top soil was removed and the underlying clay was compacted and laser graded.
  2. A textile fabric was put down over the clay.
  3. 3 inches of m89 was put down as our base. It was compacted and laser graded.
  4. 4 inches of quarried sand (NOT manufactured sand, dark red in color, angular in shape) was put down and laser graded.
    The problem: We are a private hunter jumper barn and our horses are going straight through the sand to the m89 base as they are trotting/cantering/jumping. Turns are even worse, as the horses’ hind legs literally slide out from under them. We are unsure how to fix it, especially since we blew our budget on the original install. We have considered removing two inches of the sand and replacing it with m10 to add stability to the shearing motion, but aren’t sure it would make it stable enough. We have also considered adding the geo-textile sand additives. Does anyone have any experience with this problem or any other options that we could consider?

It may be best to post this in the Forum “Around the Farm”. Also, there are some other threads you may be able to search on footing and arena fill and construction.

I am confused why is the textile at the bottom?? I know that usually the seperating layer is directly under the Sand??

I am confused why is the textile at the bottom?? I know that usually the seperating layer is directly under the Sand??[/QUOTE]I think that’s done to provide a barrier between clay soil and the base.

You put the textile over the compacted soil, but under the base. Otherwise if they dig through the sand layer, say sliding around a turn at the canter, they will rip up the textile (which would be a nightmare to fix). So dirt, textile, compacted base then sand. :slight_smile: FWIW, USDF still has the best booklet I know of on this called Under Foot.

OP, that is a weird issue since you used angular sand. My friend had an issue with horse’s slipping in her indoor, man-made angular granite sand on top of compacted stone dust (it was like concrete–very well compacted base), and she added rubber or Nike. She may have added a carpet-type thing too–I can’t recall. I do know it helped.

Another friend has the same exact sand with no issues on a compacted clay base (irony there, guess which arena cost more). I theorize that a little of the clay got worked into the sand and is binding it together. She did run into problems when they oversaturated the arena (putting down liquid calcium chloride for dust control) and the horses were hitting the base and almost wiping out (that was me almost wiping out, btw–very scary). That issue went away when it dried out in a couple weeks. She doesn’t really need a different base, since it is a private, minimally used indoor and not subject to rain.

Now I know they shouldn’t hit the base either way, but it seemed to me like that was the problem both arenas had. I think horse’s hit the tip of the base more than we suspect. I know that goes against everything you read and how it is supposed to work, but I’m not sure what else explains it.

Don’t know if that info is helpful or not. I think you will end up adding something that will bind–have you talked to distributors for GGT or any of the similar products? I know what type of sand you use is a big deal.

I’m sure you are frustrated. It sounds like it should be a very good installation. Hopefully others have ideas. What does your arena installer say?

My husband got the bright idea to put textile over bank run and under 4-6 inches of sand in our small indoor. The textile prevented the sand from ever knitting together. It was like ball bearings on ice. We had to take it out. On the up side, it was down long enough to let the compacted bank run base harden.

Is the textile preventing the m89 from knitting to form a base?

This sounds a bit odd.

Was your sand washed sand ? The fact that your sand is ‘dark red’ could indicates that it contains a lot of clay? Pit run? Or is not mostly quartz sand? Is there not a good range of sand grain sizes? 4" is pretty deep without a stiffener in the mix to slow the hoof as it digs down. Squeeze a handful of your footing when damp and see if it makes a firm ball (too much clay) or makes a semi-ball that can be shook loose in your hand (correct), or makes no ball at all (no cohesion).

Manufactured sand could help stiffen up the footing, or very small crumb rubber could bridge the sand grains, and provide more resistance.

This sounds a bit odd.

4" is pretty deep without a stiffener in the mix to slow the hoof as it digs down. [/QUOTE]

That is a really excellent point. Both the arenas I mentioned were in the 2.5" to 3" sand range.

I was thinking 4" was pretty deep too.

Thanks for the information, everyone. Plumcreek, I’m fairly certain that the sand is unwashed, but I’ll have to check. When wet, it does compact into a ball, but will break apart pretty easily. SmartAlex, that is an interesting point about the textile fabric under the base. I fear that our m89 base isn’t compacting like concrete, either, which is compounding the sand problem. We chose the m89 over the m10/granite dust so that it would allow for better drainage. We didn’t realize that it wouldn’t compact as well. On the flip side, the arena drains beautifully!

Long story short, my original contractor is working with us and is testing out the GGT fabric on the sand to see if it will make a difference. Not sure how that will effect my pocket book, though.