View Full Version : Keeping arenas dry

05-06-07, 06:56 AM
Does anyone have any ideas on how to keep an outdoor arena dry and rideable during winter? I bought my place with an existing arena and it doesn't have the best surface so with the rain we're having at the moment I can't ride on it at all. Aside from resurfacing it, which is my plan when I can afford it, does anyone know what can be done to protect the arena from the weather? I am thinking some sort of cover similar to a pool cover? I don't know how practical this is but I'm willing to try anything to get me through this winter.

Suzie Q
05-06-07, 07:03 AM
I'm no help to you Charlee!!!

I just wish that I had your problems.

Oh how I wish!!!

An arena and rain. Lucky you!

05-06-07, 07:08 AM
Yeah, don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining too much.

It's just a bit sad to finally get an arena and then not be able to ride in it! On the plus side, my pasture is looking great now.

05-06-07, 07:30 AM
What surface does the arena have now?

Can you just add some sand to the top or at least on track around outside and across centre and on diagonal to get you through.

Depending on the surface adding a cover may make it sweat and actually be more slippery underneath plus not sure how you would move a cover that big let alone the cost?

05-06-07, 07:34 AM
Grading it regularly helps to some degree. Whatt is the surface?

05-06-07, 07:42 AM
I'm trying to find a post that shows how to update with piccies and then I'll post one but not having much luck with the search. Anyone point me in the right direction?

It is a sand/arenamix surface which is graded regularly. It is fine with a bit of rain but we are having a lot at the moment and it takes a week after a big downpour before I can ride in it again. It doesn't seem to have very good drainage.

05-06-07, 07:49 AM
My arena has a 300mm deep ditch all the way around it, that works great! Even if two sides are surrounded by an incline, you can still put a ditch around! Wish I had that much rain too! Where do you live?

05-06-07, 07:53 AM
What's underneath the sand?

We first did our arena on a base of compacted clay then quarter minus and sand on top (with drainage ditches running through the surface every 10m.

It turned into a massive bog. Not salvageable whatsoever.

We then had it re-surfaced with a metre of crushed sandstone, took out the drainage ditches and domed the surface instead. This works heaps better. But if I don't keep it graded it takes ages to dry out (we have very little sun on it in the winter, which doesn't help).

Depending on how big your arena is, a cover would be massively expensive and time consuming to remove before you ride. What about a roof?? (In our dreams, I'm sure).

Photos: go to www.photobucket.com create an account and upload images. Then you need to copy and paste the URL for the image in to your CH post.

05-06-07, 07:53 AM
Some soils unfortunately 'hold' the water. When this is the case unless the arena has been designed and constructed using the correct materials that allow proper drainage, some take a while to dry out.
Also, when we had ours done, it was made with a very slight dome shape in the middle to allow water to run off. You can't notice it, but it's there.
Now ours hasn't been made out of anything special - we have naturally sandy soil, so the service is quite good. But it can get rather muddy when it rains. Usually dries out the next day though. Then hubby goes over it with the spikes and its useable within a short time. Ours has the big ditch all around it as well.

Some ppl I know spent a fortune on their arena - getting several loads of different materials delivered to construct an all weather service. It does work well though, but heaps of $$$$$$$


05-06-07, 07:54 AM
Justforfun - we have those ditches too, diverts a LOT of water.

05-06-07, 07:56 AM
So this is my arena (also my first picture post!!). You can see here the amount of water collected here. It is worse in the tracks but regardless of that the whole area is wet and the sand is really mushy. My guess is that they cut out the area then just plonked sand on it so it has no proper drainage at all. Short of ripping it all off, relevelling and resurfacing including draining surfaces, I'm not sure what to do in the short term.


05-06-07, 08:03 AM
Hhmmm... that does look boggy. Looks like you are losing a lot of your sand down the hill too.

05-06-07, 08:09 AM
Yes I noticed that too, I was going to put up some boards to stop it but then I thought maybe that would hold the water in even more??

Looks like I may have to suffer this year until I can afford to redo the whole lot :(

05-06-07, 08:12 AM
Mine is just sand on compacted clay and we live on a natural run off (or in a ditch if you like) For years every time it rains ill be out there with me shovel makin sure water runs off, and also around from the higher outside edge. Its payin off.. Another 5 years and ill have the system down to a tee. Last years ditches are findable now and yes, there is a big one all around the edges. I think the key to our less than perfectly constructed arenas is to not let the water pool and stay on the surface, thus soak in and make mush. Many hours on the shovel, but its good excercise and its free. Love your grass by the way!

05-06-07, 08:18 AM
OK looks like I'll be doing some digging then :)

Someone suggested to me to mix a wood chip mix in with it as the wood chips will absorb some of the water. Is that worth doing or is that likely to make it worse?

05-06-07, 08:18 AM
Yeah my grass is looking great with the rain! Its so lovely to look out the window and see green again.

The Hunter
05-06-07, 08:20 AM
We did my arena 'on the cheap', we're on sticky clay soil and couldn't afford to put down membrane, sub surface, drainage etc. so just scraped the top 10mm off the surface and put down blue stone dust. I'm in Victoria and it's a bi product meaning that we only had to pay the cartage. It's much smaller than gravel but a bit bigger than sand and works brilliantly. I wonder if you could add some of that to your sand? It's such a shame as the setting for your arena is just beautiful.

Good luck!

05-06-07, 10:00 AM
I have tried the wood chip thing and they just got waterlogged and eventually slimy. It has been suggested that I keep pouring bales of sawdust on top, but I can see that doin the same.

05-06-07, 10:19 AM
I have heard that the wood chips can rot as well.
We had a similar problem with our arena but as we are on a hill not far from the ocean the wind tended to dry it out quite quickly.
A few months ago we got 10 FREE double semi loads of this sand mix from our local quary and i tell you its the best eva! So soft and fairly deep, and with all the rain we are having not even one puddle! We were allowed as much as we wanted and just hired a bobcat contractor to level it all out. We had an arena just like yours and we put it straight ova the top.
I dont know exactly what it is ( i think its a sandy loam kinda mix) but is holding up so well and we have had rain every day for a week. Where are you located? If you are in S.A i can give you the number. There is a waiting list but it dosent take long.
I know of quite a few peole now using it and they love it too.

05-06-07, 10:55 AM
I have a friend who has wood chip/ shavings/ sawdust and it is really dangerous. The lower layer tends to stay wet, rot and get really slippery. The top may look okay but underneath is where the problem is. We are in the process of doing one for ourselves and there will be no wood anything going on top as a surface.

05-06-07, 12:41 PM
Yes I am in SA - adelaide hills.
That surface sounds good, if you could give me the number that would be great.

After ringing around a bit today I am thinking that I will combine some drainage digging and a mix into my surface to help it.

05-06-07, 02:04 PM
No problem, have sent you a pm.

05-06-07, 02:18 PM
Hi charlee,
don't be too disheartened. Its really hard keeping arenas dry when you have this amount of rain in such a short period. We had an arena built instead of house renovations. Unfortunately, the sub surface was the local bush clay which we had no experience with. I spent 4 winters unable to use all the arena. Now that kids have moved to heavier horses we have scrapped the surface back and put in an extra 5 internal drains (on top of a 2ft fall from one corner to the other, large drains around the outside and a central drain down the guts of it.) When you have 50mm of rain a day, even this gets wet and takes a day to drain and still has some wet spots.
Looking at your photo though it looks like the fall for the arena is into the hillside rather than the outside edge. If you have a drain put in on the outside to run the water back out to the edge it might help to remove the excess.

05-06-07, 11:17 PM
There was a racehorse with your nick cobbob. I'd love to know what it means or if a place, where it is :D. really rolls off the tongue!

06-06-07, 12:54 AM
I am about to have a round yard made into my hill so need an earth mover who says he can give me an area with a 20 metre diameter flat area that I can have fenced with hardwood and then nail on the 1 metre wide rubber that I have found @ $15 a metre. The earth mover, who I have great respect for as he has done other things for me, says he will put in ag drainage on the south and west faces that are uphill and also ditch drains on these faces. I thought of having some kind of road base/ crushed gravel load on first and then the sand?

Now is the time for me to trouble shoot it as I will not be able to afford to do it twice. I live in a lush area that has a good rainfall and these hills above me cascade with water when it rains - but I will not be using the round yard when it rains - as long as it drains well ???^&*(%^&&*

What would you do? I read about the dome idea and I am sure he can do this and also a ditch drain all around the fence.

06-06-07, 02:33 AM
Hi Kevarose,

Good drainage will be important in your situation with the rubber around the perimeter of the round yard. I've found that the dirt/sand or whatever surface is in the round yard tends to build up against the edges of the rubber not allowing the water to drain. You may need to get in there with a shovel and rake occasionly and smooth out the build-up. Talk to your earthmoving contractor and explain first what you intend to do, so he can make sure its going to drain well.


06-06-07, 04:32 AM
The camber of any arena is the most important thing for drainage. If the base does not have a good camber (domed) no amount of additional topping will make the water run off it. My OH is a drainer and although well-positioned aggie drains will help with the run-off, the water has to be able to get away in the first place. When you eventually get aroung to re-doing it, I suspect you will have to scrape off the top surface and re-camber the base allowing for the 'fall' to direct the water off the surface area.

06-06-07, 02:32 PM
Thanks for this advice!