Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Than again, maybe not

Unfortunately, watering and dragging the arena didn't solve the footing problem. It helped it a great deal, but Kaswyn was still struggling to trot through the deep spots, and there are a lot of them. Only one end, about a third, of the arena has decent depth of footing. The rest is too deep. Also, he was forced to change his length of stride depending on the footing, and that made it very difficult to tell if he was sound or not. Going off of his attitude and how the left lead canter felt when we were on the "good" footing, I have to say that he is sound. I think it would have been hard to tell just by looking at him because his stride was changing so much. I could also feel him getting a bit tight in his back in spots as he slogged through the deep sand. Not good at all.

I'm in a difficult situation. Marge is my friend, and she owns the barn. She doesn't have money to fix the footing in the arena, and I know this. The board is as low as it is because she realizes that the arena is not ideal, and there is not outdoor arena or place to put one. Marge's son has the equipment (tractors and bobcats) to take some of the sand out and level the arena, but he doesn't want to have anything to do with the barn, so Marge rarely asks him to help her out.

Susan is also my friend. At first she said she thought that the arena was deep in spots but overall it was pretty good. I told her last night that it was not and that we needed to do something. She said okay but I could tell from her reaction that she wasn't saying all she wanted to say. I said to her "Look, I think you're not telling me what you really want to say. We need to talk about this so please tell me what you think."

She said "Well I know it's deep in spots but overall it's fine."

I said "Since I've left here I've been at five different barns. I've had the opportunity to ride on good footing and bad footing. I have to say that this footing is good but it's just too deep. Both my horse and your horse were struggling to get through it."

She said "Well my horse needs to work harder so that's good."

I said "No, that's bad."

She said "I've ridden him through mud and deep stuff before and he's fine."

I said "Every day? In a training environment for 30 to 40 minutes?"

She said "Oh, well, no..."

I said "Listen, please believe that I don't want to make an issue out of this. I don't want to create problems, and I don't want to be a pain in the ass, or come in here and change everything. But the fact is I'm scared to ride my horse in there because I'm afraid he'll pull a tendon and be lame again. And I don't want to ride your horse in there and make him lame too so that you can't ride him"

Nodding, she said "Okay, I see your point. So what are we going to do?"

We have yet to decide what's best. We both think that Marge will say "The arena is fine. Leave it alone." Or "Okay, it's deep but I don't have money to fix it." Susan and I certainly don't have the money either, and to take the sand out a wheelbarrow at a time would take forever and break both of our backs. I don't mind asking Marge's son for help, but only if Marge agrees to it. But then she'd probably ask him herself.

I want to do whatever I can to get the arena fixed and I'm not opposed to doing a lot of work myself to get it done. However, I don't want to anger my friends. I don't want to get kicked out of the barn. I don't want to cause trouble. I don't want my horse to be lame again. What's the solution?


Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't know if there is a solution here that would make everyone happy. It is a tough situation maybe the best thing to do would be to have everyone involved sit down and talk it out, then maybe a solution could be found.

ponytails said...

I agree with you deep is really not good to work in day after day .I know that British Dressage did a survey of dressage arenas because so many horses had suspensory problems . They concluded that deep was bad. Perhaps you could offer to pay the son to do the work .

Anonymous said...

OH my!! I just found your blog. I too ride an Arabian in Dressage. We had footing troubles at my barn to. There is no perfect solution other than new footing. It may not be perfect but could it be laser leveled and compacted and have hogs fuel put in? I know not as good as rubber but better than what you have and some what less costly. Just remember to protect your horses legs and would it be possible to do an assement like they do in HOA's to cover osme of the costs. Good Luck and good rides!!!

dressagemom said...

Ponytails -

Paying for the son to do the work isn't really going to work for me, since I moved there to save money. If I had the money I probably would offer though.

Anon -

The footing in the arena is good, there's just too much of it and it's uneven. I'm not sure what you mean by an assesment like a Home Owner's Association. Do you mean have a boarder meeting and see if others would be willing to chip in for the cost of fixing the arena? I've thought of that, but I don't think it will work. There are only three other boarders - one just hacks her horses, the other horse is semi-retired and doesn't get ridden much, and the last horse is 33 years old and hasn't been ridden in years. I'm pretty sure they don't care about having perfect footing since what's in there is good enough for their purposes.

The Equus Ink said...

Hmm, it's a tough situation..

Maybe you, Susan and Marge can get together and slowly take some of the sand out with the wheelbarrow? I know it's back breaking work, like you said, but I when your tight on money you have to seek out other options.

Work from the end that is the deepest and focus on doing it over a period of weeks. Maybe do a few loads throughout one week. Whatever is to your ability.

BTW, when you dragged the arena did you do it with a tractor? If you did and it has a bucket, just scoop into that.

dressagemom said...

I wish I could say that I used a tractor to drag the arena. Marge's son has equipment like that but we're not allowed to use it. So I'm embarassed to say that I dragged the arena with my Explorer because it was the only thing available. It worked okay except that I couldn't really get into the corners.

Anonymous said...

Anon here again as I am not clever enough to get my name on this. SO I will just Anon in Oregon. Yes a chip in type thing. At my barn we had a tack sale foe some extra funds, and it turned out that we were able to sell spots to people. The ads ended up only costing each person around 20.00 and we raised a good amount. Bottom line you cannot risk hurting your equine buddy. Your friends will understand. I personally am very lucky to ride in Nike and polyester footing and we have very few injuries. Our board is not cheap but not awful either. It sounds like the only way for your arena to be safe is to remove the sand and have it leveled. Good luck and I will keep checking back on you to see if you come to a new resolution. Maybe its time to tour some new barns??????

EquineSpirit said...

TAG - you're it! :)

The Equus Ink said...

Hey a car can be great for dragging an arena! Seriously we don't always have a tactor on hand.

But what do you think about the wheelbarrow idea?

Any new ideas?

dressagemom said...


I'm not sure there's any other place in my area that I can currently afford that I'd be willing to board my horse. Most places are hundreds more expensive.

Equus Ink,

We might end up doing just that if we have to. Right now I'm considering trying to ask someone who I am certain knows much more about how to level an arena and get the footing in proper shape for safe riding. He's a bit of a kook but he knows his stuff. If Marge would be willing to let him come over for an assessment (hopefully free!) then we'd know which method would be the best approach.

20 meter circle of life said...

Its sounds like you are getting a plan and thats great. Good luck those arena guys can get pretty creative when needed.
And I am no longer anon in Oregon!!! You and equinemine blog have inspired me to start my own. I did it today, its not great but the techy of the fam was not home to help. Watch "20 meter circle of life" blogspot as it comes to life. Thank you for inspiring me!!!

Rising Rainbow said...

Wow, footing isn't something I'm good at. I know good footing when I see it, but haven't a clue how to achieve it. I also know how bad deep is.

I do think the idea of you all sitting down and talking about it is a good place to start. The rest of this is just spinning your wheels if the owner won't go along.

Netherfieldmom said...

Just found your blog--you're absolutely right that deep is bad. Sounds like you'll have to say to Marge: I appreciate your situation and hope you can appreciate mine. Our friendship is worth a great deal to me and so is my horse's soundness. Would you mind if I ask your son for his help?

Then what could you barter with the son? Meals for his freezer? Car washes in the summer? Is he a jerk? Maybe he'll be more forthcoming with someone besides his mum and it won't be a big deal. There's no harm in asking people politely--surely no one can be angry about that--Marge or her son.

I have found that some people just aren't used to honest communication and once someone else steps up and is open, everyone is surprised by how easy it is to do. Good luck!

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