Help! Need advice on fixing arena footing.

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?

I would talk to your sand supplier , and see what suggestions they may make. So much of this depends on what is available locally.

If you could get some manufactured sand/lime screenings in there it would add grip. Not an arena expert though.

I added this to my sand in my new indoor ( about 4 inches of fine angular sand) and its working very well. Provides traction, and stability under their feet for jumping, but still soft and forgiving. Worth looking into :slight_smile:

Thanks, LeapOfFaith. Our original contractor is looking into that exact product for us, so your post gives me hope! It is so discouraging to spend that kind of money, try to do it right, and then have something that doesn’t work! Just out of curiosity, what do you use to drag your indoor? Did you have to use something different when you added the textile additive?

I think you have way too much sand, not enough base. For hunter jumper, the recommended base is 6~8". Even for dressage where no jumping is involved, it is recommended to be 4", and you have only 3". For footing, 4" is very deep. No wonder your horses have difficulty coping it. If you cannot redo your base, I will at least remove half of the footing.

I agree with Gloria. I’d consider taking out sand first before adding in GGT which will add to your cost and can also be difficult to get “just right”. When I first installed my arenas, I did my dressage arena with 2" and the jumping with 3". The jumping arena was too deep, but was able to make it useable for a session or two by watering and dragging it as if you were sealing it - flat drag, no teeth, basically compacting it as best as possible.

Maybe you could even divide the arena in half and just take out two inches on half and try riding on it. The hoof shouldn’t have to rotate too much to find grip which can happen when sand is too deep. Good luck and hope it’s an easy fix!

This is probably of little help, but when I had too much footing installed in my indoor…we started taking it out on our own. I was very very careful not to take out too much. We would take some out, ride for a few weeks…decide how it was, and take out more. I also talked to a large footing specialist, that sells all of the fancy footing additives…and they had really good ideas for the issue I was having. I personally would consider getting and paying for a basic consultation from someone that really knows horse arenas. There is an Irish draught horse breeder out in Washington that helped me, and I was so grateful he took the time to give suggestions as well. I want to say arena rehab specialist, and they stand a stallion named Manu Forti Touch Down. It’s on google :slight_smile:

I know how frustrating it can be, when it’s not right.

Think about the beach. You can ride your horse on FEET of sand because it’s compacted, wet, and has the right mix of fines to coarse particles. The goal is to have footing where the hoof prints don’t punch through the footing more than 1.5" at the toe.

Take several clear glasses and put equal amounts of sand from different parts of your arena in them, add water, and stir up. Let them settle in a sunny window. Once they’ve settled, you can analyze your ratio of fines to coarse. They’ll be in layers. I was told to do 70% coarse to 30% fines with the silica sand I got for my arena. I went 3" but wish I’d gone for more like 2.
Mostly coarse footing can feel deep because it’s loose. You should start by removing half your footing. That should firm it up a lot. Then figure out what you need to put in to get that 70/30 mix.

I researched extensively before building my arena. As someone above said - 6-8" base for jumping with 2" of coarse sand. I was terrified of adding too much footing because according to my research it is very difficult to remove excess, and much easier to add small amounts.

I would definitely remove footing rather than add anything to it. 4" is much too deep.