Sorry if I posted this thread in the wrong place. We have a 66 ft round pen, but we need help with the footing. Our round pen has been graded in such a way to direct the water runoff from the hip away from the round pen. So we don’t have any problems with drainage accept sometimes when it really wet like in the winter there will be a large puddle on the corner. Ou round pen is sitting on clay, but right now we have thick large gravel probably an inch thick ( the type they use for driveways). I want the footing to be cushioned enough so I can ride in it without causing my horse problems. So what type of footing, how deep, and do we need the gravel that is their now to be our base.
Sounds like you have a nice start to the footing. I would leave the gravel in, thinking you mean it has smaller rocks mixed in, which help drain, but not going to trip your horses going over the gravel.
You could add a bit more gravel/sand mix, again with smaller rocks, so you have a bit more cushion, but going is not deep.
Deep footing will fatigue the legs, hooves, which is where you start seeing soft tissue problems. I KNOW you see the deep footing at Trainers, shows, but it still is NOT good for the horses. YOU don’t enjoy running in deep sand, very tiring, quite quickly!
From the Farrier side of things, the best footing gives about 2 inches of cushion over a firm base. Horse hoof cuts into soft cushion, then pushes off the harder base, like horses are DESIGNED to do running naturally. There has been much discussion in the Farrier industry about footing, surfaces, what helps or hinders, actually causes injury. Deeper, soft footing is at the top of the list for injury. Horse can’t get deep enough to get a firm push-off surface, will hyper extend, fatigue will have feet flopping around to land badly. Add on someone working a horse in that for extended times, makes horse much more likely to hurt himself or have chronic issues in being NQR. Doesn’t help if someone thinks they can ride horse long enough to “wear him out” in deep going, more likely to hurt the horse with fatigue.
I have good footed horses, so having some rocks in the footing is not a problem. We drive them down the road, lots of small rocks, but not an issue with hard feet. They are USED to going on rocks, not a big deal to step on one and keep going. Not talking pea gravel, that stuff is terrible to walk or ride on! But the kind of smaller, pebble size, mixed kind of rocks found in gravel to aid drainage and provide good surface to work a horse on that is not all sand.
Not sure if you have wide boards at the bottom of your fences, but they help keep the footing INSIDE the round pen. Horses tend to spray the footing out of the pen as they move along the fence. Without the boards to pull dirt back in from, you will need to be adding footing pretty regularly.