Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sticker Shock

Lucy has not been comfortable working in our dressage court for the past month.  A few weeks ago, I noticed that she was a bit ouchy when walking across the gravelly road base in front of the barn.  But, she was not off at all during my lesson with Sandy last month in the cushy sand arena at Sandy's barn.

So, I asked our farrier to put shoes back on Lucy's front hooves.  He noted that her soles were super soft -- he said he could scratch them with his fingernail and to be careful with the hoof pick.  Aggressive cleaning of her feet could make those tender soles bleed.  In fact, he said, she'll be more comfortable if you leave some dirt in her feet to act as a cushion.

She's been running and playing in her pasture with her new shoes, demonstrating her floaty trot for Coyote (the chestnut QH who lives in a pasture across the road).  When he comes near the fence-line on his side of the road, she floats at full speed to our fence-line so she can flirt with him.  Sunday morning Brett and I tacked up and headed up to the dressage court to ride.  Or not.  Lucy was fine at the walk but at the trot... not so much.

When we moved into this property, we didn't add any sand to the arena.  Brett killed the weeds and groomed it aggressively.  It was okay (not great, but okay) for the first year we were there.  We've now had two winters with storms that carry sand out of the arena and into the streams.  Brett's been talking about putting up some sort of retaining wall to keep the sand from leaving but he's been so busy with other tasks that it hasn't been done yet.  I didn't want to buy sand until he had that bit done. The horses have been happy in the existing sand -- until now.  It's been at over four years since the property was owned by anyone with horses.

I asked Brett to research and order sand for the arena.  He measured the sand depth and it currently ranges from half an inch to an inch.  Everybody has a different opinion about sand depth, but I like it to be 2 to 2.5 inches.  We added sand to our arena at Aspen Meadows every few years.  It was about $500 each time.  Knowing our dressage court is more than twice the size of the arena we had before, I figured it would be a bit more than $1,000.  Wrong.  Brett went down to the sand supply place and got a quote of nearly $4,000.  Gulp. The guy was very helpful - was familiar with our arena and said he supplied the existing sand four years ago.  Brett took down the pylons at the end of the arena so the trucks could get in.

We are going to add sand.  We have to.  The first installment arrived today.

We'll add some more next week.  You know the gravel trucks you see driving around?  The ones with a big trailer of sand, pulling another trailer of sand?  (truck and trailer in truck-speak)  We need six of those double loads.  We got two today (which is all we ever needed before).  It hardly made a dent. The first load went down one side.

The second load went down the other.  There is a big open space in the middle where we will put load number three.

It took Brett all day to spread the sand and it is still too thin for riding.  We added an inch.  People ask me why I don't retire -- this is why.  I'm not willing to give up the horses so I'll be working for awhile.


  1. When we first put sand in our arena, it was actually too deep, and that can cause another batch of problems. We had some of what was in the indoor "plowed" out to the outdoor arena as I did not want any tendon problems. That sticker price is mighty hefty. Our outdoor is
    90 x 200 and after 24 years I have turned it into grass. Still have nice sand inside. You and Brett sure have been improving your property at a steady rate. Kudos.
    How is Camille doing?

  2. We have a teeny-tiiny "arena" (15m x 25m) and yeah, adding any kind of footing is $$$$! Unfortunately we can't get a big truck back in there so we do it one F-350 load at a time. Takes FOREVER!

    Hopefully the horses will appreciate all your hard work!

  3. Ouch, indeed!

    If she's having hoof quality issues, this is often really a metabolic issue showing itself in the feet. Two things I've found that can really help: zinc plus copper supplementation (I use Biotin Z for this - not the one with yucca), and chromium (which assists glucose metabolism) - I use Platinum Performance Chromium Yeast.

  4. Kate - I will research those supplements. When I bought Lucy I was told that she had tested borderline for low thyroid. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Lori - Camille continues to heal. She had a bit of setback with some infection in the wound but she is back on strong antibiotics and doing well.

  5. When the riding school program, with whom I ride, moved to a new barn a year ago, they went from a sand arena to one with sand and chewed up rubber shoes mixed in. Some of the older horses, who had been intermittently lame or hated to jump, have transformed completely, due to the better footing.It's truly amazing.
    If you need me to get you more info on who did the job etc. I'm happy to pass it along.

  6. English Rider, we had Nike footing at Aspen Meadows and it was wonderful to ride on -- but also super expensive. ...maybe someday, but its not in the budget for now.

  7. I can relate to your sand woes - though, living on an island, made entirely of sand, you'd think it would be a bargain here. Decidedly not.

    Also part of the never going to retire as long as there are horses club. ;D

  8. Wow...just shocks me how expensive that sand is. Why in the world does it cost so much? I am in the same boat as you Annette - retirement is a lovely dream...I think we're the same age (?) 55 and hoping.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.