Author Topic: Best outdoor agility field material/surface?  (Read 2198 times)

Truco08

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Best outdoor agility field material/surface?
« on: June 02, 2012, 02:22:07 PM »
Soliciting opinions on outdoor agility practice field materials...
what kind of mulch?
mixed sand with mulch?
rubber mulch?

Any and all opinions and 'lessons learned' are appreciated.

TheQuestKnight

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Re: Best outdoor agility field material/surface?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2012, 05:48:52 PM »
Hi:

Of the options that you present, I would choose rubber mulch . . .

Our small agility practice area (about 4,000 square feet) is grass . . . which I prefer . . .

Groomed dirt is also a very nice surface; but mud can be a REAL nuisance . . .

Soft wood shavings/sawdust make a nice running surface; but it needs to be kept moist for running . . . and that can harbor bacteria and infectious worms . . . 

However, in the dogs' back yard/potty area, we had an area of about 400 square feet where grass would not grow; but where mud was plentiful after a rain.

I used Round-Up to kill any stray vegetation in that area; and then applied rubber mulch to an average depth of 2".  Even after a rain, the rubber mulch keeps the area pretty dog-gone dry to dogs' paws, provides good traction (the area is part of my young BC's "zoomie path") and only needs periodic maintenance to smooth it/level it out.

I have run on surfaces that have been a combination of dirt/sand with rubber mulch and those just don't seem to provide the traction or dust control that rubber mulch OVER a lightly compacted dirt surface do.

Rubber mulch is EXPENSIVE initially; but it lasts a long, long time . . .

. . . and it lets "accidents" pass through it quickly and it dries out quickly, so bacteria and parasites don't thrive in it's environment . . . the same cannot be said for "natural mulch" . . .

The rubber mulch that we have in our backyard is the "nugget mulch" type; but they've recently introduced a "shredded rubber mulch" that is a wee bit more expensive; but it's also a bit more resistant to being moved "out of place" . . .

"Natural" mulch degrades and needs frequent (yearly) additions . . . and it holds moisture, which isn't that great for a dog's area . . .

While the up-front cost of rubber mulch is high . . . amortized over it's 12 year minimum life expectancy, it really is less expensive than the natural mulch alternatives . . .

I REALLY prefer grass over anything else; but if I couldn't have grass and had the financial where-with-all, I'd convert to rubber mulch over dirt in a "New York Minute" . . .

FWIW, that's my opinion and recommendation . . . where we've used rubber mulch for various horticultural and dog-driven applications, we LOVE it!!!

Hope this helps!

Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore in OH   
Castle Camelot: Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore . . . and from The Bridge Grill & Pub,  Kali, Flurry, Promise, Chico, Romulus, Trix and Tony.

Deanna in OR

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Re: Best outdoor agility field material/surface?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2012, 10:40:14 PM »
We built our agility field a year ago (120' x 120') and looked for the best Pacific NW outdoor option. 

*Grass requires moving equipment before mowing, with fairly frequent mowing.  Plus, it would be muddy for much of our Oregon winter.

*We looked at the rubber mulches but I read some things that made me worried about the health of my dogs, spending much time on it.  Plus that was very expensive for the area we needed to cover.

*A friend used crushed granite (kind of like sand) which seems to be working OK for her agility field.

We ended up choosing cedar "hog fuel" (shredded cedar).  We edged the agility field with railroad ties, leveled it, covered it with very heavy-duty landscape cloth and put about 4-6" of the hog fuel on it.  It compacts down after 1 winter, kind of like felt, to 1" to 2" thick.  The dogs can kick it up a bit, but it is easily raked back into place.  It is moderately soft to run on, not as perfectly level as I would like, but really no worse than the dirt or sand mixtures in horse barns around here where we trial.

And the thing I really like is that it drains really well, and we can use it even in the middle of winter.  And the dogs' feet aren't even muddy!

The main downsides are needing to rake it once in a while, and we added another batch this spring to fill in the thin spots.  It is a bit of work to get it smoothed out.  Weeds can grow in it, but with the landscape cloth underneath, they are very easy to pull out.  Depending on the quality, it can have some larger wood chucks or sticks in it; we just picked those up.

When it is freshly spread, it will tend to stick to the dogs' fur a bit, but brushes out easily.  After a winter, it doesn't do that much, as the hog fuel is matted down and no longer loose.  It's not nearly as bad as the grass clippings in the lawn part of our field (as far as sticking to the dogs' fur!)

The dogs haven't had any problems with it being cedar (I know some dogs can be allergic to cedar).



Deanna L in OR
NATCH-4 Vers-NATCH-4 Willow
Bree, the agility collie in training (catching up!)

Deni

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Re: Best "indoor" agility field material/surface?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2012, 11:02:35 PM »
Along the same lines, what is the safest/best material to use indoors on top of a concrete warehouse floor?
Denise

TheQuestKnight

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Re: Best "indoor" agility field material/surface?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 08:03:00 AM »
Along the same lines, what is the safest/best material to use indoors on top of a concrete warehouse floor?

Hi Deni:

It's REALLY difficult to provide adequate cushioning over a concrete floor; but the THICK (3/4" - 1") rubber horse stall mats may be your best option . . .

I've also seen some county fair arena with concrete floors truck in 6" of topsoil; but that can get kind of messy/dusty . . . and may not be option available to you . . . 

From my point of view, the rubber horse stall mats provide acceptable traction for the EGC classes and the non-jumping NADAC classes.

Thinner rubber matting (1/4" and 3/8") is often sold in rolls that are less expensive per square foot than the horse stall mates can provide for adequate footing; but there is virtually NO cushioning . . .

Another option that may be worth experimenting with, on a SMALL scale, would be using the thinner rubber matting over "home gym/shop floor" puzzle mats similar to these http://www.walmart.com/ip/Gold-s-Gym-6-Piece-High-Impact-Flooring/11089966

We placed these flooring mats over our kitchen flooring (vinyl tile) and then put area rugs on top of the matting.  The surface of the matting isn't exceptionally durable in and of itself; but with a covering, it holds up very well and provides more cushioning than rubber stall mats alone.  The gym mats are made with some type of closed cell foam, so they retain their cushioning aspects pretty well with the use that they get in our kitchen . . .   

Based on my own experiences with our early agility kids, frequent jumping/repetitive jumping on matting over concrete takes on toll on the dogs' shoulders, elbows and wrists . . . especially noticeable when they are double-digit dogs dealing with otherwise "normal" levels of arthritis . . .

Then, there is always "field turf"; but for that, I'm guessing that you are talking MEGA-bucks . . . the matting is BIG bucks!!!  That I know with certainty . . . and I can still feel the concrete hardness under field turf, so . . .

It really comes down to a cost-risk-benefit analysis . . .

I really don't like artificial indoor surfaces; but these would be my choices of my PERSONAL "best of the worst" . . .

Best Wishes,

Al 
Castle Camelot: Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore . . . and from The Bridge Grill & Pub,  Kali, Flurry, Promise, Chico, Romulus, Trix and Tony.

sandyms

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Re: Best outdoor agility field material/surface?
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2017, 11:57:36 PM »
Current building an indoor facility, would love further information on ideal surface for dog agility.
I was told to avoid cedar as dogs can have an allergic reaction.
I have a suggestion to put down cement mix sand first (builders sand) then mix limestone sand with Soiltex, any other suggestions?