Farm life

The Arena Project That Will Not End

I have only one piece of advice for any would be farm owners: either buy a place with no arena and budget to put one in or buy a place with a pristine arena. Never, ever buy a place with an arena that needs renovated. The work never ends.

When I last left off I had been raking by hand for like an eternity, ok it was closer to 20 hours but it felt like an eternity, and cashed my chips in to hire a professional. Professional came on a weekday when I was at work and dug everything up removing the big clumps as he went.

When I got home the arena looked like this

And we had a new play area for Wyatt

Yup. That’s all the garbage he took out of the arena. No way I was going to get that out by hand raking before I died. He charged us just over $1,000 and left me with an arena free of major clumps and needing some grading and smoothing work. Since our groomer does that, I didn’t really want to pay him to do it.

The next weekend I got in there with the groomer and had a semi finished arena that was smooth, but still needed some leveling work as the extra footing he added was too thick in one region and the entire rim by the fence was pretty thin.

If you look closely you can see where I piled up the extra footing and planned to move it all towards the left side of the arena where it was pretty sparse.

Except then I needed to mow the pastures and we only have one tractor which meant taking the groomer off and changing it out for the bush hog. After 10 days went past I saw that while 3/4s of the arena still looked gorgeous, the far left side from front to back was back to growing grass.

I muttered many choice words about the old owner not dragging the damn thing in six years and went about spending three hours putting round up on the grass. Two days later I went back in with the groomer to rip up the dead grass and move footing around.

Then it rained me out and it is about 90% done as of today. With thunderstorms in the forecast the rest of the week this thing won’t be getting done anytime soon. The good news is that while there are a few deep spots and thin areas, the arena is 100% rideable and since I now know every inch of t like the back of my hand it is really easy to go around the few remaining deeper areas.

I started the renovation back in March. It is now May. I won’t have it done to the point that I want it at until June. And even then I have the feeling that we will be fighting this for years until I can afford to just rip the entire thing out and have someone come in and redo it all. The biggest issue is that I don’t think it was put in correctly in the first place. There is no true “base” with drainage and gravel. The good thing is that the arena dries up very quickly and doesn’t really puddle anywhere. Even after a hard storm it is dry and rideable within a day. But the lack of a true base allows vegetation to grow pretty quickly.

I think the old owners just graded a section flat and smothered it with sand figuring nothing would grow through it all. Wrong.

But I have a working arena again and a safe place to ride. Well, minus the massive hole in the arena fence where I may have ran the bucket on the tractor through it. We won’t talk about that though.

Now if the rain could just go away until I’m back at work I could ride the new guy in there!

19 thoughts on “The Arena Project That Will Not End”

  1. Grass is a persistent thing no matter what it seems! Looks GREAT though. You’ve really put in the work and it’s evident!


  2. blargh…. the arena at isabel’s barn was never really put in correctly to start with either, and while it hadn’t gone through such neglect it definitely had issues. then when a lesson program moved in that rode in it constantly, whatever “base” there was just totally gave way. nothing is more frustrating than having an arena that *exists* but… kinda sucks haha. seems like all your hard work is paying off tho, albeit slowly. once it’s fully done it’ll look fantastic!


  3. Ours was put in correctly but damn if weeds and grass don’t just take root anyway. Poplar seedlings REALLY like our arena. I kill more baby trees…

    Yours is looking good!


  4. Yeah there was no arena on the property my parents bought, but we brought in a pro grader and he gave us the arena we have today. I completely agree with you – renovating just might be harder than doing a brand new one. It looks great though, and I think you’ll still have a blast riding Eeyore in there now!


  5. I hear you on dealing with shoddily built/made things from the previous owner!!! My barn is slowly rotting and randomly flooding b/c the people didn’t build the roof correctly or grade properly. But at least you’ve got a ring now! Even if it’s been a bit of a struggle to get it going 🙂 Hopefully the rain this week will be less than predicted but enough to keep the grass growing! Can’t wait to hear how Eeyore does for your first ride 😀


  6. It may be a lot of work, but it looks really good now. Definitely one of those save up for it projects though. Properly installed arenas are… really expensive from my research. I grew up riding with a flattened dirt area because anything else would have been too expensive. 🙂


  7. It is a process to keep it up. Most arenas are just that. Better than none! It looks lovely and there is nothing like riding over freshly groomed dirt.


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