it's That Time of Year again! Although we are
lucky enough to have direct access to off road hacking,
we don't have a proper school.... the soil around here
is fairly sandy anyway, and in the summer we mark out a
schooling area on one of the fields, but now it's
getting a bit wetter we don't want to carve up what
little grazing we have!
Now, we have two options.... there is an area in front
of the muckheap where we have spread used shavings to
make a soft surface for lunging when the ground is rock
hard..... and there is a small paddock about 30m square
which is being sacrificed to the cause! The
shavings should be OK when the paddock is frozen.... but
the paddock itself is already starting to carve up, and
although the soil is sandy it's going to be a mud puddle
before too long....
Does anyone have any ideas about how we could make this
a better wet weather surface? The yard is skint,
of course - when did you ever find a livery yard that
wasn't? I was toying with the idea of
everyone chipping in to get a load of sand delivered,
but do you think that would help? And how much
sand would we need to make a difference?
lot on how many horses (ie how many hours use a week).
If it's any more than about 5 - 10 hours a week, I don't
think you'd get away with anything put proper drainage
and a proper surface.
help but I have heard that wood chippings are ok at
first but you need to keep putting fresh down for them
to be any use and it works out quite expensive.
Also the grass in the spring would have a job coming
through from under wood chippings so if it is used for
grazing in the summer then I would not recommend this.
I think you would need to invest in proper
drainage and surface if you want it to last.
Talk to your
planning authority before putting down a sand surface.
Our local planners consider that this amounts to
"development" for which planning permission is
required, and we can't get permission where we are
because the planners are happy for the fields to be used
for grazing, but not to have schooling and other
facilities installed which might subsequently be put to
If you're already a commercial yard then I imagine your
planning authority will not have any such reservations,
but you ought to check whether you need permission and
whether you're likely to get it before you go ahead.
There can be nothing worse than spending all your available money getting a load of sand in, only to be
required to take it away again!
That's sound advice..... Fortunately we already
have planning permission to install an all singing, all
dancing outdoor school! Now, if only we
could find the odd £10,000 we'd be laughing!! It's
a really frustrating chicken and egg situation.... if
the yard had a proper school, then the owners could
charge more for the livery, and afford to install a
I believe they did have a go at putting down a surface
some years ago, but because it was done on the cheap the
drainage wasn't sorted out properly and it became a
quagmire. That's the bit in front of the muckheap
which stays soft when everything else is baked/frozen!
We've put the shavings down to soak up the excess
water, but it's far too deep and slippery to use in wet
weather... works quite well in a drought, though! We
used it quite a lot this summer when the ground
elsewhere was rock hard.
Which still leaves the problem of what to do with this
small paddock.... Not too worried about spoiling the
grass in there, as it's fairly non-existent anyway!
Just want something we can walk and trot on to
keep the neds exercised.... and it will also get used
for turnout for the stabled ponies. We're in a bit
of a pickle this year because we're losing (at short
notice) the use of the big field where the ponies graze,
so we will have to keep more in stables than we would
I have a
small area of 'waste' ground (between my bottom garden
and my semi-derelict polytunnel which is also destined
for repair). It has had quite a bit of 'rubble' on
it in the past and there is a drain (ditch) across the
bottom of the garden so I've got a little man with a
grader coming to smooth it ( it will still be slightly
sloped) then I'm going to spread hardcore on top in the
hope that this will make a reasonably all-weather
turnout area (it's handy to the stables.) We're
also doing the same to an area below where the new
stables are going (WHEN I can find someone to put up the
building!!!) Don't know if it will work - but if
it does stand up to our lunatics bucking their way
around it in the winter .... I'll let you know!
I think the important things are: 1) Surface drains
above the area - to take away run-off water; and 2)
lifting the level of the ground.
I suspect if you just put sand on top the sand will
squelch in. A couple of lorry loads of hardcore
first (well rolled down) with some shavings on top might
work as long as it wasn't TOO heavily used.
tried woodchip to soak up wet to make up a pathway
to the furthest fields as it got so deep and muddy.
(it was free from someone doing a forestry work job
IT worked for a while, and whilst frosty but once
the woodchip had soaked up the wet, it ended worse
than mud, as it sank and rotted and made the muddy path every
We tried sand for inside our gates and field shelters,
but by January it had got churned up into the mud, and
did not make a lot of difference as no drains.
Whatever you put down will get
poached into the mud, unless drained, or built up and
kept in place with retaining board edges.
And if we have a winter like last year, there will be
plenty of mud.
So I would go for something that will not absorb the
water, but will help firm up the mud. If you need
somewhere for turnout - mooching about, and a bit of walk
and trot exercise, can you get any ash/fine gravel type
material. to lay on top. At least then as it gets
trodden in, it will be a firmer surface.
quite like the ash/fine gravel idea.... does anyone have
any clues about how much we would need? Or how
much it costs? Presumably I need to try a builders
local power station for ash or ring National Ash on 0800
7312865. I work for a building company and we buy ash in
20t loads for about £7.00 per tonne, but I would have
thought you will be able to have smaller loads.
funny as greys rolling in ash:
Greys ( in 20's so white grey) rolling in bright orange cheap sand in gateway!
Not mine, so quite funny.
Even funnier, new livery ignored old hand's advice and
left her light grey out in field when nearby air display
c/w Red Arrows,
With red white and blue smoke trails,
Came low over fields nearby, up wind.
Result- red, grey and blue stripey horse!
Re ash, anyone remember the old ash outdoor arena at
Wembley- what .where did they get that from?
IF you can get use of heavy tractor with bucket
attachment to move, level and bash them down,
and there are any road works nearby, see if you can
get the tarmac scalpings from when they scrape off the
old tarmac. Once rolled in, it makes a firm non-slip
Know what you mean about the chicken and egg quandary.
Our school needed to be made bigger and the surface
completely renovated for this winter as there were more
liveries and more of a focus on competing etc so
Our livery yard has done it by upping our livery since
July (VERY unpopular) and are now getting going on doing
the school. It did mean we had to kind of pay up front
for it (which is not ideal) but without doing it that
way it would never have been done.
We've had to install drainage, with hardcore and
limestone and membrane on top and then surface. I hasten
to add they've only managed to do the drainage so far so
there are a lot of complaints about the fact we've been
paying more livery for 3 months with the proviso of
having the school for winter/onset of dark nights. No
ideal solution on that front I think.
It is a quandary
that I have at the DIY yard that I manage - we
are ideally situated for loads of local people - only 1
mile from the local town - but - everyone moans because
there is no arena! BUT I can't convince the landowner to
put one in if I can't get the liveries filled - and I
can't fill the liveries until I get an arena!!!!
Do you have a local quarry? We're lucky, as Clee
Hill is only 8 miles away (transport is the expensive
killer.) You're going to need at LEAST 20 tonnes -
probably more - so builder's merchant probably not the
place to go.
You will also need a man with a machine to spread it -
and good idea to level the area first so you don't end
up wasting stone filling dips. Ideally, you should
spread coarse stone first (say up to 3 inch diameter)
and then a load of finer gravel or ash - probably 3 inch
thickness of each is about the minimum - depending on
brings us back to where we started with the sand idea!
Cos Leighton Buzzard is the sand capital of the
world.... we actually export sand to Saudi Arabia!!
And the off road riding that we have is round a
disused sand pit that has been landscaped over the last
twenty years or so.....
Which means I could get a large delivery of untreated
sand fairly cheaply, although we'd have to sift through
it to get the bits of sandstone out.... but the general
consensus seems to be that this wouldn't work unless we
had already dug out the paddock, and laid
drainage/foundations... which is going to be too
Unfortunately we don't have any stone quarries around
here, nor do we have any power stations.
National Ash, and the good news is you can buy suitable
clinker for £10 per tonne.... and the bad news is it
comes from North Yorkshire, so they'll charge another £25
per tonne to deliver it!!! And the really
frustrating thing is that the same clinker is produced
at Didcot, which is much nearer, but one of the builders
buys the whole output. So if you live 'oop North'
then you may well be able to get ash for your schools,
but I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board for this
sand might work as long as its really deep and well
compacted. I get it "as raised"
for around £7/8 delivered and dumped for gateways and
use around 17 - 20 tons per gate. The 1st one I
did is now 6 yrs old and still working.
Mine does come with big stones mixed in so you would
need to sort it but maybe you could use these as the
If you were going to try it I reckon you would need at
least 100 tons and probably more, a tractor to level it,
a way to squash it flat and a roller to keep it flat -
as soon as hooves go through it your losing the battle.