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Building A horse Arena Don't make these Mistakes

Do it right the first time and your Horse Arena will stand up to years of use.

Mistakes in building a horse arena can be painfully costly, as anyone who has ever had to fork out for remediation work can attest.
A horse arena is a major investment for any horse owner and getting it right from the earliest planning stages is essential.
Invariably, these problems fall into one of seven categories, most of which can be traced back to fundamental design problems. So, where do most people go wrong?


MISTAKE NUMBER ONE
Location, location, location.
No-one will be surprised to learn that drainage is one of the big problems that arise in horse arena construction.  The first step in building any arena with any hope of draining adequately is to locate it in the right spot. The first issue is the natural properties of the soil. Is it stony, free-draining or sandy, or does it swing the other way, with a heavy soil type and perhaps a clay pan a foot or two down? The nature of the ground will determine how much effort will need to go in to get the water off and away from your arena.
Choose the site of your horse arena carefully.
Horse owners can win half the battle by locating their horse arena on a high point on their property, even that “high point” amounts to little more than a gentle undulation. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many arenas are built where the owner would prefer it to be, rather than letting the local geography help out as much as possible.
Successful arenas need all the help they can get, and it’s always best to work with nature, than against it. That is not to say that arenas can’t be built in less desirable low-lying areas, but expect considerably higher costs in sorting out drainage issues.


 MISTAKE NUMBER TWO
Get the drainage sorted first time round.
If you’re satisfied your location will work for you, the next step in the design process is ensuring the drainage installed will cope with the demands of the site. It is possible in some locations that you will get away with drains along the sides of the arena to carry off the water, provided the fall is right and, once the water reaches the drains, they themselves have sufficient fall to get a lot of water clear.
Think also where the water goes once it gets clear of the area. No-one wants to create a bog where previously there was none. If you’re thinking this is unlikely to happen, work out the surface area of the arena and calculate the volume of water from three or four centimetres of rain. We’re talking a lot of water.


 MISTAKE NUMBER THREE
Wrong materials.
This is a big one. Building an horse arena is not simply about finding a formula online and building it to that “recipe”. The problem is that raw materials differ from region to region. Some places are naturally blessed with an abundance of suitable river gravels, while others have softer “rotten rock” of volcanic origin.
It is highly likely that the costs of trucking the raw materials to the site of your arena will cost more than the materials themselves. With this in mind, anyone building an arena needs to assess the materials available nearby and work out which ones will get the job done.


MISTAKE NUMBER FOUR
Get the fall right.
This is pretty simple, but many people come unstuck. It’s essential to get the fall right to ensure there is no pooling on the surface. Pooling will result in soft spots and these will ultimately fail. Repairs will be messy and costly.


 MISTAKE NUMBER FIVE
Wrong top layer
There are many different materials that will suffice for a top layer. It is possible, of course, you may be opting for a commercially made product, and the manufacturer should be able to provide plenty of information on its performance.
Many people opt for some kind of sand. Like all the other materials going into an arena, each region’s sand will show different properties. Horse owners want to achieve different things with their top layer. Some want a softer, cushioning layer, while others seek a harder finish.
I believe there are several key questions a horse owner needs to ask about their top layer. First, how fine is it? Do not opt for a sand that is so fine that it runs the risk of blowing away in a windstorm.
Second, how coarse is it? Are the particles generally rounded or sharp? Too much sharp material runs the risk of being too abrasive on horses’ hooves.
There is another performance factor in assessing the right sand: its ability to allow water through. Sands which are too fine run the risk of holding water and becoming “gluggy”. The water becomes slow to drain and the arena proves unusable for days at a time after rain.


  MISTAKE NUMBER SIX
Poor maintenance
An horse arena may well set someone back the price of a new car. Why not invest some time and a little money in maintaining it?
Once built, don’t skimp on maintenance.
Get rid of the weeds before their roots penetrate into the lower layers. Harrow it regularly. The sand will have a tendency to move with the fall built on the arena.
Remember that even the most well drained arena will hold some water for a while. Show it some respect and, if it needs a few days after heavy rain to clear that water, then leave it be.
   
MISTAKE NUMBER SEVEN
Don’t skimp.
Shortcuts to save money might work, but there’s a pretty good chance you’re on the path to problems. They will always be costlier to fix than doing it right in the first place. Never skimp on drainage or short-change each layer in the construction process.

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