Digging

One of my resolutions is to build an arena. I’ve been working on this for a while, since I moved in over two years ago.

When I first bought this farm, I was so thrilled that I was going to own my very own farm, that I neglected to realize something very simple. I had just bought a hillside, with zero flat land anywhere. On the day we closed, I flung open the back door to admire the view, and then realized I had a view of the valley because I lived on the top of a steep hill.

Perfect for my mountain goat breeding farm!
Perfect for fulfilling my lifelong dream of raising mountain goats!

I needed flat land. The first winter I was there, I rented a bobcat and dug into the hill. There was a learning curve of figuring out how to use the bobcat, and then there was a few drama filled days while the bobcat was stuck at the bottom of my hill, but eventually I figured out how to work it somewhat. I had to return the bobcat to the rental company after only getting to work on it for a week. I managed to dig a bit, but it was not satisfactory for a riding arena.

The horses thought it was fun though.
The horses thought it was fun though.
grass riding arena
It’s about the size of a 20 meter circle.

This was just not big enough. Over the next year, I spent more time digging, this time with my little tractor. My little tractor doesn’t have nearly the manpower of a bobcat, and progress was slow. It’s big enough now for two twenty meter circles!

I did dig it out enough to get this instagram picture though.

Life is so dramatic on instagram
Life is so dramatic on instagram

My list of complains are, a. too small, b. too rocky, c. poor footing, d. poor drainage. I need to fix all these things so I have a nice place to ride. I’m now debating my options. And an option I’ve thrown out the window entirely, I’m not digging more with my tractor. I’ve already dug for 50 hours on that thing, and the progress is too slow to keep doing that.

I could pay someone to come in and do everything. Definitely the easiest, but very expensive. I could renovate my main floor for the price of that. Probably a better investment to do that too.

I could rent a bobcat again, alternative, buy a used bobcat, as the price is (surprisingly) almost the same. And then I will have to figure out drainage, and put down footing, too. I don’t really have the background knowledge to do this, and I’d have to put so much time into it. I’ve have to figure it out, obtain my own materials, put in a drain.

I’d really just like to say “someone else do it!” and then sit back and relax while it happens around me. But… so much money.

I do like the idea of owning my own skid loader. It’s an amazing feeling to move the earth around me. You think you’re so tough earth!? Let’s see how you feel when I move you to a different spot! (I had to entertain myself somehow while digging…)

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  1. Digging is not so simple as one might think. It’s hard to make a level cut with a loader bucket on a tractor or skid loader because the tendency is for it go down into a deeper bite over distance. My wife and I are in similar situations to you; we have been on our property just over two years, there is no flat -only slopes. We want an arena. We don’t plan to do any jumping, so may just consider keeping a spot we have fenced off that isn’t exactly flat. Might be flat enough. Drainage is a big problem for us, too, so that is a consideration in everything we do.
    Good luck with your arena project. Just keep chipping away and you will always be making progress. Your horses will know you are making a place for them to have a safe, healthy place to exercise.

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