Friday, November 18, 2011

Let the Excavating Begin and ....

Deciding to build an all weather show jumping arena was the easy part especially after the flooding rains we had at the Winona Horse Trials this spring.  After moving ALL the jumps to the dressage arenas so we could do Show Jumping my husband finally agreed that an all weather show jumping area would be useful.  Finding a location was a little more challenging.  The plan was to buy  a couple of acres from the neighbor whose land boarders ours near the stabling area and the cross country warm up but no such luck' they wouldn't part with any.  Then Dave was talking about taking the top off one of the hills in the pasture, but I nixed that one for many reasons.  So we went back to the area that my husband has been calling the new show jumping area for a few years now.   I kept telling him that it wouldn't because the area was too small and hilly and that's why we were trying to buy some land that adjoins it.  But that area was only place put the arena which would be close to the stabling, not cutting into the pasture (although we had fenced that area off for additional pasture) or Dave's precious hay fields ;)

I went back to that field and starting pacing things off to see if there was enough room for a 250' x 150' ring while still having enough room for warm up and / or derby field.  We could have enough room if we could get the ground level.  Now that was going to be the  trick.  I can remember when we used that field this spring for the Lucinda Green clinic, here first comment was it was rather hilly.  Originally we were going to build another pond to get the fill dirt but the area where we would be getting the dirt could qualify as a wetlands and it had a lot of gray clay so we decided instead to dig into the hill and push the dirt into the low spots.  Before we could do that the top soil had to be removed and it was moved to the north to level up the grass warm up area.  It became apparent that Dave's little dozer wasn't going to be able to get the job done so we had to hire someone with a bigger dozer.  It probably took about a week to move all the dirt, compact it, and move more dirt.  Unfortunately it there were some delays due to the weather.

When all the dirt was moved, compacted, and leveled it was time to start bringing in the screenings to make the base. But before we could do that, we had to make improvements to the drive to handle the heavy truckloads of base material. The guy who was suppose to haul for us canceled because he had a bigger job so we found someone else who was actually less expensive.  Unfortunately he had to fit hauling between other jobs and the weather so it's taking a lot longer than it should.  But by bring a few loads a day it gave Dave the time to spread it out with his little dozer and compact it some with his tractor. By the time he's done hauling the screenings he will have made approximately 45 trips to bring approximately 1,000 - 1,200 TONS of material just for the base!!

We're getting real itchy to get this phase of the project over so we can get it leveled so that it can settle over the winter so we can see if there are any areas that need to be tweaked before adding the sand in the spring.  We're planning on using the new ring for our spring event!

Below are some pictures of the process.  It's a little difficult to get a feel for the magnitude of this project from the pictures.

Moving topsoil
Cutting into the hill to get fill dirt
Dirt waiting to be pushed to the low end

The 'Sheep's' Foot' used for compacting
Final prep before bring in the base
Gravel added to the drive do the truck wouldn't get stuck
First load of base material
Two loads don't go very far

Time to bring in the BIG truck

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