We had always planned for our arenas to get a facelift after the winter but just as we planned to go ahead, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and we had to hit the pause button on all our plans which was extremely frustrating! Nevertheless, the forward planning did mean that as soon as we were allowed, we wasted no time in cracking on as we really wanted them ready for when business got going properly again. The outdoor was completely stripped of its old surface and as there had been no proper drainage ever installed and it wasn’t really level; we had to make sure the groundworks was put right in the first place. We called on Dan Donson groundworks to carry out the levelling, drainage and base works required because he has such an excellent reputation and we knew he was good having used him for jobs previously! Having done lots of research before starting and having had the experience of having ridden on as many poor arenas as good ones we knew that the groundworks for an outdoor were pretty much the vital part. The surface can be upgraded at any point if you cannot afford a premium one initially but your base works need to be right from the start!!
The old surface being stripped back and removed!
Drainage channels being dug, ready for the terram to be laid.
Next we laid a heavy duty woven terram. We went the full monty because we knew the arena
was going to have to deal with a heavy workload.
Clean stone is then laid on top!
Craig from C B Construction installed fencing and kick boards. We decided to take the kick boards that bit higher to ensure the surface was retained and where the double gates were positioned, we had concrete kerb stones cemented in so they just sat behind the gates for safety and also to withstand the tractor keep driving over it. We also noticed on other arenas that this was often where the boards got lots of abuse with horses trudging over it and causing it to rot out. At the same time as the fencing was being erected, we were laying the non-woven geotextile layer. In the past, it was normal to sit for hours sewing the layers together but we elected to go with heavy duty specialist black tape. It cost an arm and a leg but having read various reviews and compared it to either gluing (not always reliable depending on the weather) or using a plumbers torch (though this can be risky if you’re not too sure what you’re doing which can result in burning your expensive textile) we elected for the tape. It was easy to lay and we felt that with the good weather on our side and overlapping it by well over the recommended distance we were fairly safe.We did ask Craig to secure the edges of the fabric to the bottom of the kickboards so that there was no chance of the weight from the horses causing the surface to work its way underneath. This also meant that the surface was well above so when we levelled it there was no chance of catching the terram.
The first of the surface arrives! We had decided to go with the Fibrelok Sports Premix surface as we had seen it in action over the years at another local competition venue and was always impressed with how it rode. We had also visited other venues and all the customers were extremely pleased. We wanted a Premix because we had read of issues where if the surface was not mixed correctly then the two layers would move causing it to be unstable. We didn’t want the risk of that especially as it was a commercial venue and didn’t want the hassle of having to try and mix it on site and then having to water and roll each day for two months to ensure it stayed safe under foot. Paul Dobson at Fibrelok Equestrian Products was extremely helpful and arranged for 17 loads of surface to be transported down from Doncaster!! No mean feat seeing that as lock down was eased, half the quarries and drivers were fuloughed but all credit to him he managed to organise an Exeter company to do it and at a fantastic price.
Dan works his magic to lay the surface to a level of 6 inches which will compact to the optimum ride on level of 5.
Our completed arena!! Just the lighting, dressage judges box and markers to put up!!
Having completed our outdoor, it was time for our indoor to get a pamper!!
Indoor sporting its new surface!!