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Low Water Arena Footing

So I’m building an outdoor arena and trying to do so without breaking the bank…I have what I thought was a reasonable budget, but realizing how much GGT and other sand blends still need to be watered, my plan A is falling apart. At $8 a square foot for water free footing it is looking less and less like I’m going to be able to build at all. I simply can’t do $100,000+ just for footing…not to mention the base cost on top of it. I’m located in California, and water is a HUGE issue. Any ideas on what people have/do for dust control would be greatly appreciated! Am I really just out of luck if I can’t water daily or don’t have roughly $200k for a ring? I need it to be safe for jumping up to about 3’6, and only 2-3 horses a day on it, max. I’m hoping to build 100 x 200, roughly.

I have a straight M10 arena and dust is not to bad. Obviously there is still some, but If I water it twice a month the dust is super low. Good Luck!

Thank you for the suggestion, I’ll have to look into it :slight_smile:
Anybody know anything about beamclay? It doesn’t look too horribly expensive, but I’ve never heard of it.

I just use sand and rarely have any dust. Coarser sand in the outside ring . Important to not ever add any wood products such as sawdust as that will create dust

Start with washed sand. Then as sand breaks down into finer particles, add dust suppressant. We are planning to use ArenaKleen. Not cheap, but better option than watering.

Sounds like sand is popular…even with something to control the dust, do you find the footing to be too “loose”? The arena that I have now–not really an arena, just river sand thrown down over a compacted and leveled clay base–is WAY too slippery, but I’m guessing that’s because what the previous property owners put down was not the correct sand.What types of sand are you using, if you don’t mind me asking?
Thank you all for the suggestions! I was really disheartened when I heard the $$$ for the water free stuff. I knew the base was going to be expensive, but I wasn’t planning on the top footing being four times what I was quoted for the base!

Yeah. River sand is round and will be slippery (or loose). What you want is angular sand, or more specifically, man-made sand, or crushed sand. Ours is crushed granite. We just have several semi-loads of such sand delivered and sprayed at our arena. It is not slippery at all. The problem may be the transportation, as that was our issue as well. Virtually all quarries close to us have river sand and we have to truck in the crushed sand from a couple of hours away, and that add substantially to the cost. Nevertheless, still much cheaper than GGT.

Also, there is a proper mixture of particles. You will need to provide the quarry with the spec you need. They may, or may not have what you want, so you just need to pick the closest one. If you want to, send me a PM, and I can send you the mixture recommended, and what ultimately used for our sand. We ended up getting coarser sand than the recommendation because of availability.

I use a supplier who has golf bunker sand. It’s angular and not slippery. Mine gets a little cuppier than I’d like but the horses don’t seem to have a problem with it.

Most places in California have sand rings, and when water is dear, it is just dusty. You’ll start with a washed, angular sand, which helps. As the sand wears, you’ll get dust. But it beats not having footing.

There will be times when water is more doable than others. Just look forward to those times.

I have no water footing in my indoor and it is amazing. I didn’t want to water in my indoor since in the winter the humidity goes into your building and ultimately ruins the building. It was less than the price that you quoted above (I think I was about 3.5$/ft2) and the majority of the cost was shipping since it was manufactured on the other side of the country. It came pre-mixed in huge bags by rail which we trucked to the farm and unloaded and spread. It is perfect footing. Not too stiff/tight and very low maintenance. It is a mix of vaseline, silica sand, rubber and fibre. I often wondered if you couldn’t just buy some bulk vaseline and try to mix it yourself. Might be worth looking into.
Mine is travel light from footing first.

I’m in CA and on a well. I feel your pain. I have a 90x160 outdoor at my small farm.

My old arena footing was really great, and I removed it because I’m dumb. It never needed water and was never dusty. It was called “waste birdseye pea gravel” which is tiny, angular pea gravel. The trick is getting the waste kind. Mix it 50/50 with the small kind of rubber footing and put in a thin layer (1 to 1.5 inches). Easy to drag, good footing, drained like crazy in winter.

I put in silica sand and GGT because hey, that’s sexy and people looked at my pea gravel arena kinda funny. It’s great, too, but requires a lot of water. As in a $5k watering system. Like you, I could not justify the waxed sand.

Were I to do it again, I’d put in straight up silica sand (you need a mixture of particle sizes – mine was “dirtied up” by mixing 70% coast to 30% fines) and spray it with Mag Chlor at the start of each dry season.

I have $800 worth of Whoa Dust sitting in a box in my barn because I’m scared to put it in. Test strip was very gummy.