1 - Part 2 - Part
3 - Part
4 - Part
Part 2: Soil Evaluation and Care
2008 Cherry Hill ©
Before you even think about adding new footing to your arena
site or enhancing what is already there, you need to know the type of soil that
you are starting with. In order to learn the soil's characteristics, you
need to have the soil tested. When you sample, be sure you get a cross sample
from the entire arena. Don't dig down to the base because the soil character
will be different. Have the soil evaluated by a state university soil lab
or a private soil lab rather than by the manufacturer of one type of footing that
might have a specific interest in sales. Be wary of home-style test kits
because you must know what you are doing or you could get the wrong results and
costly decisions could be made incorrectly.
soil sample will show the organic content of the soil. Organic material
is necessary because it will provide the medium for beneficial soil microbes to
grow. Bacterial activities (including secretions) help the footing absorb
moisture and keep the soil resilient and "alive".
also receive a PSD report - Particle Size Distribution. Using a series
of sieves, an analysis is made to determine the percentage of very coarse, coarse,
medium, fine, and very fine soil particles in the sample. Soils with varying
particle sizes result in more air pockets and a more resilient effect. Fine
and very fine soils either tend to pack or to be dusty or blow away. A mixture
of medium to coarse size particles is most desirable for the surface soil of arenas.
in your soil analysis, you'll learn the mineral make-up of the soil: what percent
is sand, silt, clay and what type of sand the sample contained.
Youll need to develop and practice watering techniques
so that the footing maintains a moisture level of 8 to 12 percent. A moisture
meter like the kind you use to test hay bales can give you an idea how close you
are to maintaining this ideal.
much water? To determine the amount of water needed to control dust and
provide uniform texture, multiply the square footage of the arena by .07.
The resulting number indicates the approximate number of gallons of water needed.
To estimate how long this will take to distribute on the arena, divide the number
of gallons by 5 and the resulting number gives the number of minutes of pumping
required. The number 5 assumes an average water pressure of 40 pounds using
a 3/4 inch hose. If you have lower water pressure, decrease the number to
4. If you have higher water pressure, use the number 6.
In a 60 x 120 foot arena, there are 7,200 square feet. 7200 x .07 = 504
Divide 504 by 5 - At a rate of 5 gallons per minute coming
out of the hose, you'd have to water for 100.8 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes).
you plan your watering schedule, you need to take into consideration your water
pressure, the output of your sprinklers, and the need of your particular footing.
A common watering problem is too much moisture in the arena center and not enough
on the rail. One way you can see how much water each part of your arena
is receiving is to place tuna cans at various locations and compare their contents
after 10 minutes of sprinkling.
also must learn the water-holding capacity of your soil. Some of this can
be determined via soil testing and some must be learned using trial and error.
For example, if you water for 10 minutes, you might find it accomplishes absolutely
nothing. 20 minutes might just settle the dust....temporarily. 30
minutes might be perfect while 40 minutes might be too much and result in slippery
spots. Too much watering also results in soaking the base which results
in loss of stability.
of the best ways to determine how well your watering program is working is to
simply use a finger test. Water should penetrate through all of the surface
material before the arena is used.
Grooming Discing and harrowing are necessary to maintain the resiliency
of most arenas. However, discing too deep can destroy the base and result
in undulations in the footing. These furrow are more stressful to a horse's
legs than footing that is even but slightly hard. Also discing can cause
surface material (such as wood products, rubber products etc.) to be worked in
too deep where they aren't useful. With some footings, discing requirements
are minimal or not recommended. Harrowing might be all that is necessary.
arena maintenance should include picking up any rocks that have surfaced, removing
weeds, and hand raking trouble spots. Often it is necessary to hand rake
back into the arena the footing that gets pushed outside the track when a rail
rut is formed.
would additional footing or additives be needed?
are not the answer to all problems. However, the correct footing or additive
might solve a problem you are having. Some footings might solve one problem
but introduce another. No footing can do it all. At this point, there
is not a footing that is 100% dust free. All footings will break down over
time, some in a matter of months, some last for years.
series will continue with information on arena footings, additives, avoiding problems
and footing management.
1 - Part 2 - Part
3 - Part
4 - Part