Friday, March 07, 2008

The Arena Project - Phase Three

Phase One
Phase Two

Phase Three - Evaluation

I let two full weeks pass before I called Mr. K to come out and look at our arena. When I got a hold of him on his cell phone he was at a horse show, but he said he could come by Tuesday afternoon. I let Marge know what time he'd be coming, and she said she'd be there.

Tuesday afternoon Marge showed up about five minutes before Mr. K. They introduced themselves to each other and then Mr. K walked into the arena. He was all business, not being very talkative while he scanned the footing and kicked it around a bit. I waited a few minutes and then asked him what he thought.

He said that there was certainly enough material in the arena; too much, in fact. He said that the footing was very dry, and asked how it was watered. I said we use a hose because every sprinkler we have tried leaves puddles. He said that because it's a small arena watering by hand is not out of the question. He also started a discussion about how important it is to maintain proper moisture levels in the footing, and the best ways to achieve this. He talked about keeping the doors closed, adding magnesium chloride, using a product called Arena Rx, and adding a product that is used in greenhouses (those little white beads) to keep soil in pots moist.

Then there was a discussion about leveling the footing. He said that he could come in and level it but it would need to be maintained and dragged after that. He works his arena two or three times a week but he said it could probably do with less work if there was less riding going on. Marge told him that we have a drag that we use with an ATV, and he said that would work. The truth of that is that we stopped using the ATV when we put all the sand in because it seemed to have a hard time getting through all the footing. Gee, that should have been our first sign that it was too deep!

After looking around once more he said that we'd have to pull the material out from the corners by hand before he came to level it. He said he'd take out the extra footing and pile it outside to be used later if needed. He said that if he removed the excess footing, leveled it, and we watered and dragged it regularly then the arena would probably maintain itself reasonably well. He asked about the base, and Marge said it was clay and was leveled when the building was put up. I also commented that when we put the sand in we had to pull all of the old footing out first, and at that point the base really looked level. We didn't check it with a laser or anything, but it looked level to the eye.

Marge asked him how much it would be for him to come out and level the arena. I held my breath, not knowing how much he'd quote her and also not knowing how she'd react. He said he usually gets $300 to load his tractor up and work on an arena. She said that sounded reasonable, and asked when he thought he could do it. He said give him a month and he'd be happy to come over and fix us up. Marge told him that I'd be in contact with him, and we all headed out of the ring.

I gave him a bag of cookies as a thank you for coming by, which he really seemed to appreciate. After he left Marge and I starting talking about the meeting. She said that she really wanted to do this right, and that $300 seemed very fair to her. She also said that once he got all the extra footing out we could use the ATV to drag again, which will make it so much easier! I used my car the last time and it just doesn't get into the corners as well as a smaller vehicle. We also talked about the suggestion he had for keeping moisture in the footing, and she said that the products he suggested were too expensive so we'd just have to water by hand.

So all in all it worked out very well. I'll wait about three weeks and call him back to set up an appointment. Looks like we're in business!

Phase Three - Completed!

Next is Phase Four - Restoration!


Unknown said...

Fantastic news! Can't wait to read about you and Kaswyn back in action!

Anonymous said...

Great to hear that this phase went well! :D

I had no idea that there were things you put into the footing to help maintain moisture? That's interesting.

Dressage Mom said...

Yes, there are several you can buy. The only thing that Mr. K had used in the past was the magnesium chloride. He said that it's mixed with water to a certain concentration and then it's sprayed onto the footing. He said it works reasonably well, but the best thing to do is keep the doors closed (even in the summer!) and water often.

Rising Rainbow said...

Wow, that sounds great. I had a much bigger price tag in my mind.

Dust Down is the product we use a horse shows to help maintain moisture. It works great but only last about a year.

Anonymous said...

All the barns that I've been to, keep their arenas watered and graded everyday after it's done being used.

But I'm curious to know why is it important to keep an arena moist? Like what does it do for the horse working on it?

Is it to keep it more "bouny" for the horse, thus helping absorb shock for the tendons, joints etc?

Dressage Mom said...

Mr. K says that keeping the footing at the proper moisture content will stabilize the footing. If it's too dry the footing will be driven away from the bottom of the horse's hoof as the foot comes down. This decreases the amount of footing that's available for needed shock absorption. Footing that's too wet can get slippery or cause the footing to pack down and become very hard.

I doubt that we'll water and drag our arena two or three times a week like he does, but we're going to do the best we can.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr