Phase Four - Gradation
Amazingly, Mr. F came out today to level the arena. I had to work so Susan met him out there. I hurried out to the barn as soon as I was done at work, but when I got there he was already gone. I was amazed that he was done already, considering Susan sent me a text just before 9:00 saying that he had gotten there, and when I got there it was11:30. I thought he had about four hours of work to do. Apparently, he finished faster than he thought.
I took a walk around the arena, and what I saw did not make me happy. It looked level, but the arena wasn't dragged nicely and still had tractor tracks all over it. I was still concerned that the footing still looked too deep in some areas. And the corners - well you can see for yourself.
I expected that it would have a finished look, and be ready for watering and riding. However there was footing still shoved up against the kick boards along the sides, and there was one rather noticeable gouged out low spot near one corner.
I spent some time pulling the footing off of the kickboards, and trying to fill in the gouge. Then, since the footing hasn't been watered in weeks, I decided to water and drag the arena and see how it looked after that. After the sprinkler ran I went to start up the ATV. It would not start. This was not a surprise because Susan and I had tried to start it the day before and couldn't get it to turn over. It had been sitting out in the rain (not a smart thing to leave it in the rain, but the Sunday barn help guy left it out two weeks ago and we haven't been able to start it since) and it's very old and tempermental. So I thought I'd try and drag the arena with the riding mower. It quickly got stuck in the dry sand. So I was back to dragging with my car, which is not a good thing.
However, once the footing was watered and dragged it didn't look half bad, especially along the one wall where it was particularly bad.
I didn't wear my breeches, but I wanted to get some idea of the footing, so I groomed Kaswyn and stuck him on the lunge line for ten minutes. And I have to admit that the footing looked great under his feet. He didn't seem to be having any issues with differing depths of footing, or uphill and downhill areas. The real test will be riding him tomorrow and feeling the footing from up on his back.
I wish I could say that this was the end of the arena work, but it is not. We still have a groundhog problem which has been creating holes in the kickboards. Also, the kickboards are so old that they have warped and, in some cases, been pushed back so that nails are sticking out where they should not be. Therefore many of the kickbaords need to be replaced, which will take some time and effort.
So, while the Arena Project is not done, it's much farther than it has been, and now at least it's rideable. I'll still have to spend time watering and dragging every week, but at least now I can ride in decent footing after all that work.
Let me be clear - I'm still not happy with Mr. F. I think that he did a good job at leveling the footing, but that he rushed through the job and should have finished the corners and dragged the arena before he left. Needless to say I think he overcharged us for the amount of time that he actually spent. But what's done is done. We just won't use him again, and with proper upkeep hopefully we won't need someone to come and level it again anytime soon.
The last part (hopefully) will be Phase Five - Restoration. Probably won't happen for awhile, unfortunately. I'm not thinking about that right now though. I'm thinking about tomorrow - I get to ride my pony! Yay!!