Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Good Footing

with 3 comments

It’s the time of year again when the thawing ground turns to mud, especially in areas where the horses walk. The first couple of years after we moved here were extremely wet in the spring, so we got a thorough lesson in worst case scenarios. The best thing that came from that was a recommendation for using limestone screenings in our paddocks.

I was unsure, at first. The searches for information we conducted tended toward extensive projects involving removal of all topsoil to some significant depth, and then installing expensive plastic grids and laying down thick layers of sand or crushed stone.

We opted for the least complicated idea, as a first test. We simply spread a thick layer of limestone screenings over the existing soil. The first time it rained, I figured we had made a big mistake. The lime screenings took on the water and became like thick, wet concrete. The horses sank right down in it. If it got below freezing overnight, the endless craters of their hoof prints would create an almost unnavigable landscape until the next thaw.

All it took was added time for the screenings to cycle through being packed down by the horses and baked by the sun, to set into a firm base that could support the horse’s weight. Other than the setbacks of losing a lot of material when heavy downpours created deep rills and washed screenings away, the overall result was proving to be worthy.

We simply ordered more limestone screenings and filled in the voids. So far this year, the surface is holding. Look at the dramatic difference from the areas we haven’t covered yet:

IMG_iP1148eIMG_iP1154e.

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We definitely need to order more, as we have yet to cover the critical heavy traffic areas around, and through, gate openings. The big challenge with bringing in more loads of screenings is the damage caused by the trucks delivering the heavy weight. We need to determine the right compromise of cost per benefit. A smaller truck would do less damage, but having smaller loads delivered drives up the cost a huge amount.

I find it hard to decide how to calculate the cost of damage that the full-sized truck does. Mostly, it costs me peace of mind, as it bums me out to break up more of the asphalt or get deep compressed ruts on our land. We figure the driveway is already a lost cause, so it becomes a matter of tolerating the additional damage until we take on the project of resurfacing it. Getting rid of the deep ruts hasn’t been a piece of cake, either, and who knows what damage it is doing to roots or my buried drain tubes.

For the most part, we plan to confine dump trucks to our driveway, and we will just have to move the delivered loads to any final destinations using our tractor.

Here’s a shot of Hunter showing how nice and dry the footing is on the well-set limestone screenings up near the barn. Niiiiice.

IMG_iP1147eNo complex process of soil removal and inorganic sub-surface installation. Just limestone screenings dumped on top of the existing surface and spread out to a depth of 6-8 inches. Oh, and time. About a year of horse traffic, hot sun interspersed with soaking rain, more limestone screenings to replace what runs off, more sun, and more packing. Walaah. Good footing.

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Written by johnwhays

March 3, 2016 at 7:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. This is very encouraging!
    Perhaps I’ll try this.
    Thinking if I lay some geotextile type material first, it may stay nice, sooner…
    We only have two seasons, wet, then baking hot in summer. .. it never rains in summer months may – Oct, so I’m not sure how long it would take to set…

    aHorseForElinor

    March 3, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    • My first impression is that your baking hot summer would make quick work of solidifying the crushed limestone, especially with hooves helping to pack it. I’m sure the addition of textile won’t hurt! Go for it!

      johnwhays

      March 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      • OK, that sounds promising! I read your other posts on this, and was hesitant at first, but maybe it will work out…

        aHorseForElinor

        March 4, 2016 at 4:11 pm


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