Common Equestrian Services are paddock (or horse run) clean-out in the spring and fall to remove manure and relocate it to a common pile located elsewhere on the property, maintenance to replace eroding sand & soil and arena grooming and maintenance.
A common issue with cleaning out horse runs or paddocks is to remove the manure while removing minimal soil, sand or gravel, depending on the ground cover used. It's impossible not to take a small amount of surface material but patience and experience helps. It's fairly common for the need to replace the surface material each spring and/or fall.
Surface materials used vary by personal preference with the choices normally consisting of dirt, sand, gravel or even wood chippings. I prefer the 5/8"< Crushed Rock (washed) that allows for good drainage and holds up longer under the constant trampling by the horse. I also find it keeps their hoofs cleaner with an added benefit
of extending the time between farrier visits for trimmings. Some prefer the sand which is normally more expensive and I find that it spreads far too easily from the trampling of the horses. It normally ends up on
the edges of the horse run and has to be raked or shoveled back in. Dirt, although the least expensive and easier to come by holds too much moisture and contamination from their urine. Manure is typically not
a huge concern as it's normally scooped up regularly and piled somewhere else. This accumulation of dirt and urine are frequently the cause of infections in a horses hoof as potential in the picture at right.
Having two horses of my own and maintaining paddocks and pastures, I'm well accustomed to the needs of winter and summer clean-up and annual maintenance. Cleaning paddocks, corrals and arenas are a breeze with my mid size equipment, allowing me to access areas as small as 6' wide. I can move and pile the manure at a designated location or spread it in the field. I'm very conscience of the horses and always alert to their demeanor, working around them and their needs.
Building a riding arena isn't just a simple matter of tilling up the ground as many assume. There are multiple stages required ranging from tilling, cultivating and re-compacting. The ground must be properly prepared so the soil is finished to the right consistency for the horse and rider's safety and training. Too soft and/or deep tillage can result in an injured horse or rider.
Depending on soil type it may require amending with sand, soil or even gravel. Since arenas are constructed on level ground, proper drainage is very important. In some cases this may require the complete excavation of the arena area to allow for the addition of gravel at the base followed by a layer of geotextile fabric that allows for drainage but provides a barrier between the gravel and sand.
The biggest obstacle in building an arena is the customer's budget. It's not cheap. For most, for weekend or basic pleasure riding, working and leveling of the ground is typically sufficient and more affordable.
Please remember all the men and women who have served, those currently serving and those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Great Country!
Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
Now, while I'm no Horse Doctor (Veterinarian) or Farrier (Horse Shoeing / Trimming) I do feel the need to include a little additional information here for those who are considering buying a horse for the first time. This decision is based on past and present experience because a very large percentage of my clients were previously city slickers and had no idea of country living responsibilities before they bought that spread of land, built a big house and maybe a barn before acquiring the "farm animals" with little to no means of caring for them. If you think about it, those who are veteran country folk have no need for my services because they have the knowledge, experience and proper equipment to do it themselves. I also figure that since my equine services are primarily focused on cleaning up after horses and maintaining their personal space that I would include the anatomy of the horses hoof so the first-time horse owner might get an understanding of the complexity of the horses hoof. It's definitely not he same as buying that cute puppy that get's
house broken in a few months and only gets dirty when they dig the lawn and fields up. Caring for horses is also something many new horse owners can't do on their own. It's pritty
much a guarantee that you will need to solicit the services of a professional veterinarian and farrier.
Okay...enough digressing. It's time to move on to the business at hand. Proceed on down the page for information on more of my services and previous jobs.
Water Jump Features are highly desired but normally too costly for most potential customers to justify the expense. As seen in this construction sequence of a previous Water Jump I constructed, this customer elected to reduce the size to cut costs. This can be a cost effective method but it wall also reduce the total training area, increase the angle of entry and exit and the take away from true desired outcome of the feature.
1. Lay out and mark the the area for the feature and make the first of many cuts.
2. The base of water feature is completed. From here I begin cutting in the angle of the banks and the sheer wall for the cribbing that will eventually be back-filled to secure the log wall in place.
3. I relocated the excavated dirt to a location near the water feature to reduce the amount of clock time for the client to help keep their costs down. (The client moved the dirt pile after the completion of the project)
4/5. The cribbing is finished on wood wall portion of water feature. The cribbing is then back-filled with dirt to hold the wall in place.
Plumbing is installed for draining as needed. The initial planning and location of the water feature should take the requirement for drainage into consideration. This water feature was build in what appears to be a flat field but surveying showed a drop of approximately 2' over a 20' span. This slope dictated where the wooden wall would be that contains the drain system.
6/7. All of the angled approaches are completed and it's time to move on to back-filling the cribbing.
8. The cribbing is completed with back-filling and all plumbing installed. Now everyone pitches in and we make one last sweep to pick up any remaining rocks that could potentially penetrate and damage the liner.
9. Time to back-fill the drain and cover the drain pipe.
10. A trench has to be cut around the perimeter to tuck edges of liner in so it can be buried to prevent anything from catching the edges. Once the edges were secured it was just a matter of back-filling with dirt prior to filling with gravel.
11/12. Gravel in and job complete! Got Water?
Now let's discuss the rebuilding of these paddocks at left that definitely had it's challenges. The ground is extremely rocky with basalt and granite which made excavation a challenge for Li'' Johnny D and the smaller implements available at that time. The client's budget was very small so there was no allowance or option for heavy equipment. The goal was to excavate down to approximately 36" and back-fill with 3" drain rock, topped with 5/8"< crushed rock and sand. After hitting the big rock at about 24'-30' I had to work with what I had which in the long run saved money because it took a little less time and material. Lets look at the Construction Sequence.
One very common problem with at least 90% of the paddocks I come across is that they're not planned and constructed properly from the beginning. I hope this section will provide some useful information to educate someone who may be planning to construct a barn and build paddocks off of the horse stalls. The biggest problem is that the barn isn't elevated enough to allow for the rains, snow and urine to flow away from the barn. A good paddock should always slope away from the barn to allow for proper drainage and even have the ground amended similar to this rebuild
(featured album at left) I completed for better drainage.
The best time to do this is at the initial stages of planning and construction of the barn and
paddocks. This 2-Stall barn pictured at right as well as my own barn below, shows the proper
floor elevation and drainage needed for improved drainage. The initial slope is approximately
of the 2-Stall barn is 12" from the barn to the first post. The ground then continues to slope at a
more gradual grade to the end of the paddock. To aid in better drainage a matting as the one
shown in the picture helps tremendously. Many barns, even on proper slabs have metal siding
rusting away and wood rotting far faster than they should because of all the moisture collecting
against the barn. Even with proper planning and construction regular maintenance will still be
Many horses, like most domestic animals will not defecate and/or urinate in their living
quarters such as their stalls. They will however walk just outside the door and take care of
business there. When the horse walks in and out of that stall, and they do a lot, they pack
down the manure and urine. This constant compacting therefore builds up and expedites the
natural decomposition process of any material it stays in contact with.
My "spoiled horse" barn. I added roofing over 12' of the paddock due to the blowing snow and rain into their stalls. The runs drop approximately 20" over a 24' length.
1. Remove paddock fencing panels. ( not shown)
2. Scarify and rip up the ground to aid in excavation.
3. Excavate to approximately 30" on average.
4. Back-fill with approximately 20" of 3" drain rock. Since there is fencing separating the two paddocks and the primary drainage issue was from the center of both paddocks outwards the majority of the fill was distributed in the center and inner perimeter of the paddocks.
5. Roll and compact the drain rock prior to installing the Geotextile Liner. This liner allows for drainage but prevents the smaller gravel and sand from washing down into the drain rock.
6. Lay out the Geotextile Liner.
7. Layer with approximately 6" of 5/8"< crushed rock and compact.
8. Layer with approximately 4" of sand, grade and compact.
9. Reinstall fencing panels and let horses enjoy their new paddocks. (not shown)