The summer weather has everyone wanting to start working their horses outside, and get out of their indoor arenas. I get the most calls about going about outdoor arenas just around the beginning of June. When building anything, a minor mistake can lead to something very costly, and a horse arena is no different. There are many common mistakes that can be easily avoided during the construction of your arena. The following are the top mistakes that I commonly see, and a few tips to avoid these mistakes!
- Location: Drainage is one of the biggest problems that arise in outdoor arenas. When choosing a spot to build an arena, you must be sure that the arena is placed in the correct spot. The spot should have sufficient natural drainage, located on a high spot of your property, and relatively flat. Making sure that your arena is placed in the correct spot, you can avoid major drainage issues in the future.
- Improper Drainage: In addition to the location of the outdoor arena allowing for natural drainage, additional drainage also needs to be added. If no drainage is added, you can end up with a swampy footing even after a small rainfall. There should be drainage around the entire perimeter of the arena. Depending on the material of the ground, you may need to add more drainage in addition to the perimeter drainage. Every arena is going to be different; no one arena is the same.
- Wrong Base Materials: The material that the base is made up of is very important. A base made up of large rocks is the worst thing you can do for your outdoor arena for the fact that these rocks will not compact together. Many times the big rocks end up mixing in with your footing, painting a dangerous scenario if you were to train your horse and have that rock go directly into the hoof. For our footing we always suggest bigger rocks for the very bottom of the base, and small aggregate limestone on top of the bigger rocks. The limestone needs to be washed so that no dust can come from it. These small rocks will compact together once watered and rolled to create a solid base. The stone dust base should be 3-4 inches compacted and crowned. Crowned means that the middle of the arena is the highest point, and slopes slightly to the outside edges.
- Installing the footing incorrectly: No matter where you get your footing, it needs to be installed properly. Many people think they can just lay the footing down and groom it and it will be fine; which is very wrong. The most important thing for the footing is that it’s level. High or low spots for your arena can hold water, or severely hurt your horse if he/she were to step in one while training. We always suggest using a laser level to be sure that your arena is completely level. By following our Installation Video, you can be sure that you properly install our dust-free footing, and not make a costly mistake.
Be sure to plan ahead when you are brainstorming your new arena, and please feel free to give us a call at any time for our assistance!
Have you learned from any arena building mistakes?