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As I swung my leg over the saddle of a chestnut quarter-horse and locked eyes with Bronco Mendenhall I thought to myself, “life is so surprising.”

I grew up with pretty typical American football exposure – my dad watched games every weekend while I played at his feet and absorbed bits and pieces of the strategy, excitement, anger, and talent of the various teams. Never in my most creative dreams did I imagine that many years later my work at a manufacturing company in Indiana would afford me the opportunity to rub shoulders with one of the most iconic college football coaches of my time: Bronco Mendenhall. But honestly, meeting him didn’t turn out to be my biggest surprise…that honor was reserved for this: discovering what Bronco was like.

The story goes like this: ABI attachments has been my place of work for just about seven years. I actually started there on the shop floor, building arena drags, water trailers, and manure spreaders. We would ship those tools all across the country and only later (when I moved into the customer service department) did I really understand the scope and power of our work equipping people to get outdoor work done.

One day in mid-June I had just pulled out of the parking lot when I got a call from upstairs. One of our long-standing factory reps had just spent close to an hour on the phone with Bronco Mendenhall. Yes, that Bronco Mendenhall (…do you think there are any others?), and he had called in to say how much he really loves the ABI tool he’s been using at his personal ranch in Virginia. Take a quick guess on how many people in this world call a company to just say, “Great job! Thanks!” I’ll give you a clue: it’s not a high number.

But even over the phone Bronco’s character and regard for excellence were evident. I called him back with a genuine curiosity about how he’s putting our tools to use. He said, (this is a Bronco paraphrase, not a quote I could ask him to sign later): “how about you come down and see for yourself?”

Fast forward three weeks and 678 miles and I’m walking around the HB3 ranch, not just Bronco’s personal home and oasis, but also the grounds for his outstandingly unique recruiting and coaching strategy. The 30-acre property is personally maintained by Bronco and his family.

As we rolled to a stop in the driveway, I immediately recognized the shape of a TR3 parked by the stables and remembered my years spending early mornings in the shop building that very tool. Bronco uses it regularly to groom his horse arena. The ABI-enthusiast in me wanted to hear him say that it’s the most valuable tool he has, but I recognized quickly that Bronco considers his most valuable tool to be his own two hands.

Every morning (and I mean *every* morning), Bronco starts his day shoveling the manure from his horse stalls. He considers the practice to be an honor, a way to set his intention for the day where he will serve with diligence and with no expectation of praise. As I walked the property with him I was struck by the natural beauty of the land and the way Bronco and his family consider it a gift they can steward.

The acreage is only a 15-minute drive from the UVA campus, (a high priority for Bronco so he can be home for family time), but feels worlds away. I thought initially that ABI was serving Bronco by equipping this man to create for himself a retreat and a joyful place of balance from his demanding work, but the more questions I asked, the more Bronco shared about the ranch being connected to UVA. The land is connected, the horses are connected.

To my delight, Bronco asked if he could show me what he meant. I’m not one to be easily intimidated, but this dairy-farm boy does not have a lick of experience with horses. But the moment I got myself in the saddle I got to experience Bronco as coach. He was…startlingly warm, firm, confident, and attentive. For a couple of hours, I had the attention of this man who spends his life not just developing football players, but developing people. Saying so may sound cliche, but I actually feel like a better man after being with him.

Bronco uses his land to do that. Every UVA recruiting candidate, player, and coaching staff member comes to his ranch and spends time with Coach on horseback. And they leave as better people.

After a surprisingly profound visit, I had eleven hours worth of driving to get back to Indiana. I was with a handful of co-workers and we debriefed our collective experience the entire way home…there wasn’t space for any silence. We had collected too many thoughts that were taking root in our own minds and hearts. I find myself in this moment wishing there were more or better words to describe the level of sincerity and depth on the HB3 ranch. I don’t have 30 acres, powerful horses, or a team of talented football players to develop…but I do have my own two hands. And my Bronco-inspired question is this: how will I use them?

Sports turf Field Managers have full-time demands managing top-notch turf throughout a regular-season schedule. Add in youth tournaments, charity events, wrestling, weddings, and the (dreaded) music concert and the scale and scope of responsibility can become a true challenge. However, concerts on baseball fields have become increasingly common in recent years and Field Managers and grounds crews absolutely must be equipped to host at least one per season. With the right baseball field maintenance equipment and planning, concerts can be turned from a night of terror and chaos into an enjoyable, gratifying challenge to really showcase a crews skills.

Element One: Pre-planning for Concert Day

When a concert date is set, an abundance of pre-planning can begin. Managing details in advance is the only way for a Field Manager to keep his/her sanity with all of the moving parts on a concert day. The pre-planning process begins by establishing communication with the General Manager of the organization and the department of Operations and Media Relations. An especially helpful tactic is to look to past events as a reference. Research the artist to determine what type and size of crowd is expected. Take special note of the type of music, which will directly impact what type of baseball field maintenance equipment is required. Rap concerts require more speakers but typically no instruments (generally an auxiliary cord is plugged into a laptop to play the music). In contrast, rock and pop concerts require grounds crew to assist in transporting equipment and instruments back and forth to the buses. Determine stage size and placement with a rough sketch for a layout of the concert. Do not overlook or undervalue the front office staff’s previous experiences; they may have prior drawings and records that will provide an excellent template to submit to the production company.

Element Two: Budget Management

ABI Force Infield Grooming

Working with a minimal budget is a challenge every minor league Field Manager faces. These limited budgets simply do not allow for full-field coverage with plastic flooring, and re-sodding deposits are just not possible for smaller events. Spending roughly $80,000 dollars every 5-7 years to get a new playing surface installed can be a stretch. So how can a Field Manager handle the inevitable wear and tear of hosting a concert? How does he/she protect a plant from getting killed for a night of loud music? A Head Groundskeeper in such a position must be willing to a) ask for assistance and b) be smart with bartering.

Typically, production companies have money set aside in their budget to cover rentals that can be charged to the concert. Renting baseball field maintenance equipment like a soil air injector to pump air back down to the roots after the grass is covered for days can do wonders. The air injector can be used before and after in all turf areas that will be impacted during a concert. Preventative as well as post-concert spraying programs are also available which can also be charged directly to the production company. If the stadium has a positive connection with their city, use that relationship to an advantage. Trading for tickets is something that is very common in MiLB and is an ideal bartering chip when managing concerts or similar events. Tickets or specials on food and drink could be exchanged for: an extra forklift, plywood to make the road to the stage, or a bike rack to corral all the fans. Local golf courses can serve as another excellent resource. If a Field Manager is truly stumped with how to overcome a specific difficulty, he/she should bear in mind the plethora of other Field Managers around the country that are willing to give advice.

Element Three: Field Considerations

After Concert

Weeks prior to an actual concert date, the management of the baseball field maintenance program for spraying and granular applications is crucial. Planning ahead to slow down the growth of the grass before the event is a usual routine for the Field Manager. Sod farms are a resource in case of an emergency and they need to be full of healthy grass to plan for the worst. Field Managers need to have additional protective measures set in place. For example, geofabrics (turf reinforcement mats) can be a cost-effective way to prevent ruts from heavy generator cables and damage from stage footings. The geofabrics will give some breathing room between the grass and any items placed on the turf for an extended period of time. Insulative, permeable fabrics are also a strong alternative to putting down a barrier right before concerts begin to deal with foot traffic and possible damage to the turf. Look for medium weight UV protected fabric that allows for the grass to breathe. The fabric provides an excellent side-benefit: crews can hugely speed up the cleaning process by rolling all the trash up inside the fabric post-concert.

Element Four: Stage Installation

Concert Setup

The stage for a concert will usually arrive at the ballpark one day prior to the show. A Field Manager should pull his/her crew aside and express specific concerns, answer questions, and provide detailed rules and expectations. Each member of the crew needs to internalize the risks: the field being able to recover quickly and be playable is key to the very livelihood of the players, the program, and the grounds crew. All specifics should be detailed, including layout, transportation, waste management, and irrigation (turn off all relevant irrigation well before the stage arrives in order to avoid a gigantic and very expensive problem). Transporting the stage should be done over plywood or stage flooring to distribute the weight more evenly. Overlapping is key with the plywood to avoid large ridges in the soil caused by such extreme weight. All irrigation heads should be marked for reference to prevent accidents, and any items left on the turf at the end of the evening must be removed to prevent further damage caused by hours of overnight pressure.

Element Five: Concert Day

Four Winds Field - Concert

Concert day is when the magic happens and begins bright and early around 6am. Grounds crew members will be overseeing turf operations as well as transporting items from tour buses to the stage. Basic overwatch to protect the field and checking for hot spots is key. For areas experiencing drought, hand watering can help keep these areas from dying. Approximately two hours before gates open, all items that will need to be on the playing surface are brought on; this is a choreographed set up with help of the front office staff using the layout planned ahead of time. When the gates are open, the grounds crew will work in shifts on the field to walk the perimeter to monitor trash cans, check on barriers, and ensure roped off areas are still secure.

Element Six: Post-concert

Four Winds Field

Post-concert is when the field crew has the most work. As concertgoers exit, assess for any clean up around the field such as trash left behind by guests and areas of special concern for turf health. Each crew member should have a detailed understanding of his/her responsibilities including waste disposal and removing fencing. Fluffing of the grass in order to stand it back up with backpack blowers can be done at this time. Standing the blades back up vertically allows the grass to dry out after being compressed to prevent damaging it further. Running an aerator, or soil air injector unit at this time will assist with healing of the grass by getting air down to the roots. Continuing to manage the stagehands from damaging the surface is imperative at this point. They will be rushing to leave and so will the rest of the staff. When all items are removed from the field, wait until the following day to assess the damage further.

Seeing everything in the daylight the following day, or in some cases just a few hours later, can show what damage has been done. Discolorations in the turf are an indication of damage and will determine what steps must be taken to repair the damage. Re-sodding areas in exceptionally bad shape, fixing edges, adjusting uneven areas of the soil have to be done before finally putting some water down. The date of the next game will be charted out and based on that timeframe, the Field Manager will implement the appropriate turf management practices. Spare green turf paint should be kept in supply in case the damage needs to be covered up for a few days as the turf heals and returns to its pre-concert form.

Coordinating and executing quality baseball field maintenance for such a major event can be challenging. However, with sufficient pre-planning, good communication, and committed hard-working staff, a Field Manager can be confident about protecting his/her pride and joy: a playable surface.

Do you remember the first time you saw someone show a reining horse?
Were you dazzled by the spin?
Surprised by the grace and preciseness of the lead change?
Shocked by the power of the slide?

Riders and trainers have been wowing audiences for years with this unique style and discipline. They understand the significance of the trust-bond between horse and rider and work tirelessly to fine-tune technique and communication in preparation for show day.

And while the rider works to build trust with his horse, there is another often-missed trust-relationship that is being fostered… the trust between horse and ground.

The signature movements that make reining so magical to watch depend on the horse trusting the substance under the arena surface that the rider can’t see but the horse can feel. Uneven footing, sporadic sub-surface compaction, and irregular moisture content are common distractions that could, at minimum, negatively impact performance and, at worst, cause harm to horse or rider. The best way to properly address horse arena maintenance concerns is to ensure a reining horse can concentrate and perform to its peak ability by properly preparing arena footing. Here are a few horse arena maintenance distractions to consider.

ABI Dragmaster Laser Grading Arena Drag

Is your arena footing level across your base?

One of the most common distractions for the reining horse is uneven footing. Reining horses cover a wide area of the show arena which means shallow spots or deep pockets won’t be able to hide when it’s time to lope or slide. These changes in footing depth and footing consistency will cause your horse to consider if the next step in the gait will be as sure as the last. This hesitation could make it difficult for you to maintain control during the pattern and ensure you’ve got your horse’s attention when it’s time for the next maneuver.

Remember the classic illustration of a flight of stairs. If all steps are the same height, you don’t have to think about them. But if every step is a different height, you’re going to slow down and measure your steps carefully. Uneven footing in your arena causes your horse the same hesitation.

A recommendation:
Make sure your arena drag has the ability to level your arena footing. Some arena leveling equipment like the ABI Dragmaster, our arena drag with water tank, offer “from the seat” control of leveling functions by utilizing your tractor’s auxiliary hydraulic system. Other drags like the TR3 E-Series utilize a floating drag-bar system that uses the weight of the tool to pull excess material on high ground to low spots. Whatever your choice, a leveling component is a must-have for the serious Reiner and great horse arena maintenance.

Shawn Flarida Reining Sliding Stop

Is your horse arena base smooth?

Remember when you were a kid and you slid across the hardwood kitchen floor in your socks? Now how many of you ever slid into an unforeseen obstacle or sticky spot on the floor? One small, unforeseen hindrance was enough to stop you in your tracks and potentially send you toppling.

If you can relate, then you have a good understanding of the need for a smooth base for your reining arena. When it’s time to slide, any rough spot, gouges, or densely compacted footing could cause unnecessary friction and prevent peak point accumulation on the slide.

A recommendation:
Find an arena drag equipped with a component that can cut under your footing along the surface of your base to clean up compaction and smooth out unwanted gashes. Such a component will keep your base nicer longer, remove hidden decompaction, and allow your horse to slide with less resistance. ABI’s patented Profile Blade that comes stock on many of ABI equine drags is ideal in this scenario.

ABI 1600 Gal. Water Trailer Arena Moisture Management

Is your arena properly watered?

Few topics on horse arena maintenance cause more disputes than how much water should be added. Tractor drivers at shows are regularly getting dizzy as trainers discuss if the footing is too wet or too dry. As a rider and trainer, you are responsible for discovering the moisture content for your arena that keeps both horse and rider safe and maximizes the performance for those showing.

Remember, the dust didn’t bother Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-Pen, but it could cause significant respiratory issues for your horse. It’s estimated that an idle horse inhales 16 gallons of air per minute and during strenuous exercise can inhale up to 600 gallons per minute. A little bit of water goes a long way in keeping the dust particles on the ground and out of your horse’s lungs.

And if preventing dusty lungs isn’t enough of a reason to motivate you to more conscientious moisture management in your arena, consider the impact on your performance. Watering footing regularly stabilizes loose and sandy footing. The objective is to keep the material moist all the way through the ground to ensure your horse has consistent purchase throughout all maneuvers.

A recommendation:
Plan ahead and plan ahead! Many arenas will require a significant amount of water a couple of days before a show to ensure the proper moisture content is achieved. As you prepare your arena or facility, make time to get that water down.

Which brings up the second plan ahead: plan to have the ability to water your arena in a uniform pattern. Sprinkler systems and hand-held hoses pump out the water, but inevitably you’ll be left with puddles here and dry bones there. Water Trailers are a great alternative that can provide a significant quantity of water dumpage and deliver those gallons in a uniform spray pattern.

It’s about magic.

If you’re reading an article about footing for reining horses you must care deeply for your horse and enjoy the excitement that comes from witnessing a reining horse in action. And that’s where our attention should be.

No one comes to a reining show to inspect the ground or watch the tractor drivers. Riders and trainers alike just want the ground to be great so they have the best opportunity to demonstrate their skill and the horse’s ability. Implementing the recommendations above will help your ground stay out of the way and highlight the innate magic that is Reining.

Efficient Manure Management Plans

As a horse or livestock owner, we all know that manure is something that just comes with the job. Whether you’re picking stalls daily, weekly, or even cleaning up pastures, you have to develop a plan of what you’re going to do with the manure once it is collected. After collection, the plan needs to include how you will store the manure, whether it be short or long term, and then how you will dispose of it when the time comes. A common manure management plan that many people practice is manure stockpiling.

On average, around 12 tons of manure and dirty bedding will be removed yearly from a horse’s stall, that is inside every day with the occasional turnout. If you have multiple horses, the amount of waste removed from your horse’s stall is a great deal. This is why an efficient stockpiling manure management plan is imperative to your farm.

So, how do you develop this stockpile manure management plan? First, you will need to find a location that is far enough away from your farm, so it will not be a nuisance to you, your borders, or close neighbors to store a large pile of manure. Ideally, this location will be on high enough ground, where tractors and manure spreaders can access it at any time of the year. It is also essential to keep this pile away from areas where floodwater can carry the water runoff to nearby waterways. This can easily pollute the water and cause harm to the environment.

Some reasons that you want to keep this stockpile of manure away from your farm and out of your pastures is to reduce the amount of pests, the odor, and the unappealing aesthetics of the pile. With stockpiling, the manure will get wet and be the perfect environment for flies and parasites to live in. You want to keep your horses and livestock away from these pests as much as possible. The odor and looks of a large decaying manure pile are unappealing to most, and many farm owners want to keep the “out of sight (and smell) out mind” mentality.

After you have decided where you will keep your manure stockpile, next is to determine how you will begin adding manure to the pile. An easy way to do this is to have a short term storage pile near your barn where it can be stored weekly. Each week, move the pile from short term storage to your stockpile. ABI recommends transferring your manure with a PTO spreader. This will allow you to take fewer trips to and from the pile, and once you reach your pile, your ABI spreader will be able to shred the manure and soiled bedding into the stockpile. The benefit of shredding the manure before adding it to your pile is breaking the clumps down to allow it to dry out and decompose much quicker.

Once your stockpile is grown in size and warm spring weather comes around, it is a great time to begin spreading your pile on your empty fields. Choosing a spreader with variable speed controls is extremely beneficial if your preferred manure management plan is stockpiling. This is because variable flow control allows the spreader to handle a broader range of manure. The consistency of your stockpile can change depending on manure type, bedding material, stage of decomposition, and weather. The ideal weather to spread in is a hot sunny day. This is because the sun and heat allow for the finely shredded manure to decompose much quicker, allowing the nutrients into the ground more quickly. With the extra nutrients added to your fields, whatever crop is intended to be planted there will flourish.

Without an efficient manure management plan and manure spreading equipment, it is hard for a farm to stay clean, pest-free, and even enjoyable to be around. Who wouldn’t want to be at a clean barn where you never want to leave? Make sure you have an effective plan in place so that it can lead to more time spent with your horses and livestock!

“Watering Down” The Truth! – Water Tanks on a Cat-I Arena Drag

Think about the last time you rode in a dusty arena. Did the dust bother you after a few minutes into your ride? The answer probably is, yes! That is because you are continually breathing in dust particles. Now think about it from your horse’s perspective, who can take in up to 600 gallons of oxygen per minute while doing strenuous activity. That is a lot of dust your horse is taking in per breath! After continuous rides in dusty arenas, your horse’s respiratory health is going to be weakened, not allowing him to perform to his best ability.

So, what are the wants and needs of the equestrian when it comes to moisture in your footing? The natural thought process is to put the two together and buy an arena drag that has a watering system installed. In theory, the customer is right; this is the best way to kill two birds with one stone. But the truth is that the reality of having a watering system on a smaller everyday drag is not possible.

The only time that a watering system on an arena drag actually works is when the arena drag is either, a pull behind drag with a frame and axel system that can hold thousands of pounds of water, like the ABI Dragmaster. The only other time is when a three-point drag has a Cat-II hitch with a substantial frame and a basket or roller on the back. Simply put, a typical Cat-I, three-point hitch arena drag, such as the ABI TR3 E- Series with water, will not work. This is because the science and physics are simply not there. Here is why it won’t work on a Cat-1, three point hitch drag:

  1. The three-point hitch on a tractor has no hydraulic downward control. Once you lower the arms of the three-point all the way down, the weight of a water tank makes it impossible to control the depth of the loosening component on the arena drag. In addition, as the water is applied to the footing, the depth of the loosening components changes while you are dragging.
  2. Water weighs 8.345 lbs. per gallon and most small three-point arena drags, with water systems, will have between 50-110 gallons on them. This adds between 417.25 – 917.95 pounds to the weight of the three- point hitch. This amount of water weight, in addition to the weight of the arena drag, often goes beyond the lift capacity of the three-point hitch and makes depth control impossible!

Let’s talk about what water does for arena footing. Watering your footing serves two purposes. The first purpose for water in the footing is what the industry calls “sheer strength” or “purchase”. Water binds the sand, clay and silt particles together to keep a horse’s footfall from sliding or rolling as they travel throughout the arena. The second purpose is dust control. Like we talked about previously, it’s not only unhealthy for you, but just as bad for your horse to be breathing in that amount of dust.

A question we get often is “How much water does it take to create a stable and dust free footing?”. The answer to that varies to numerous different things such as, if it is an indoor and outdoor arena, what type of footing, and how often it is ridden in. The technical answer to that question is moisture content needs to be between 5-8 %. These percentages are what is needed to create a quality footing with the proper amount of sheer strength and for it to be dust free.

So what if you have a backyard arena with no access to determining the percentage of moisture in your footing? Check out this awesome customer support video with a few tricks and tips to determine moisture content. Below is an idea of how much water you will need to put on your arena due to sizing and elements.

  • 120 X 80 Indoor arena: At least 500 gallons of water
  • 200 X 100 Outdoor arena: At least 1,000 – 1,500 gallons of water

So, as you can see, you simply cannot put a water tank on a Cat-I arena drag; it simply will not work! This is why a water trailer, sprinkler system, or even hosing down your footing is a much more precise way of controlling moisture management in your arena. It is so important for you and your horses health and performance to make sure moisture management is made a priority.

Profile Blades Help Create Consistent Arena Footing

What components make for a good riding arena? There are multiple different factors in regards to your footing such as: moisture, depth, and compaction that affect how well your horse works. Many times there are underlying issues below the surface of your arena, that are not visible to your eye. However, these issues will cause your horse to not be able to keep cadence and rhythm like they are trained to do. This typically happens when your horse begins to learn to shy away at areas under the top few inches of footing that are compacted and uneven. A simple answer to your problem is to install a base into your arena. However, these bases can be very costly to install. A simple way to create a faux base in your arena and clean up compaction under the surface? An ABI Profile Blade.

The next question is: “What is a profile blade?”. The simple answer to this question is a patented part of an ABI Tool that will remove compaction just above the base. This means it will remove or eliminate hidden factors underneath the surface that you cannot see.

An example many of us can relate to is when you ride when your arena is a little more wet then ideal. Most of the time, your footing material will tend to compact quicker than normal. Once your arena is dried up, you will have hard, compacted foot holes throughout the entire arena. This is a great time to engage your profile blades and ripping teeth. This is because both ground engaging parts of an ABI TR3 E Series will tear up the hard dried ground and then will continue to break up the compaction underneath the footing surface. This is when your faux base is created with your profile blades. The pressure of the drag and the blades will create compaction below the profile blades. This faux base will allow your arena footing to be one depth throughout and more consistent. If you already have a base installed in your riding arena, these profile blades can be adjusted to the desired depth above your base, and simply clean the surface of it, eliminating all compaction. 

The profile blades are a major differentiator between the ABI TR3 E Series and its competitors, such as a chain harrow. You will be able to loosen footing without creating ridges underneath the surface of your footing. Instead of ripping through footing with perpendicular teeth these profile blades slice through the footing in quarter inch increments and loosen the footing. Now with every single pass of the tractor the TR3 E Series will be loosening 100% of your hard compacted footing! This will save you an enormous amount of time on the tractor because the driver no longer has to make two or three passes over the same footing with different patterns! The profile blade cleans the base of compaction and lifts the footing material to add cushion. This will give you and your horse the cushion you need for a smooth consistent ride.

After a long winter of freezing and thawing and many trips up made by a snowplow, springtime is the perfect time to begin repairing your gravel driveway. You will need a tool that is able to rip, level, and move gravel and other driveway material. Here are some tips on how to get your driveway in perfect shape for summer! Whether you’re using a Gravel Rascal, Gravel Grader, or any other ABI driveway tool, you will be able to do all three of these things and get that signature ABI Finish.

Remove Potholes and Washouts

First, begin with lowering your scarifier teeth down to the depth you want them to rip. If using your ABI Gravel Rascal, your first pass should have the wheels of your Rascal down, to help stabilize for the initial loosening. Travel at a slow, consistent speed, allowing the tool to dig in as you travel. After each pass, raise the wheels of your Rascal until the washouts or potholes are gone. To finish off your driveway, make a few more passes with the initial set up or with just the finish rake to lightly pack the driveway. This will give you the signature ABI Finish.

Creating a Crown

What is a crown? Crowning a driveway stops water from collecting and pooling on the driveway. If you have a long stretch of flat gravel, adding a slight crown to it will prevent puddling in the middle of your drive. A proper crown will help minimize potholes and the washboard effect. The ABI Gravel Grader is a great tool to help establish a crown. The first step in creating the crown is to drag the driveway as normal. After your driveway is pothole-free, choose which side of the grader box you want to have engaged into your driveway and pin the opposite side of the grading box down. Lower the grader box, and the Gravel Grader will engage your work surface on an angle so that material will flow across the box’s blade toward the center of your drive.

Removing The Washboarding Effect

If you notice this on your driveway after grading it, fixing it is time-consuming but easy to do with your ABI Gravel Rascal. Once your material is loose, set up the Rascal in a grading position with the wheels down and remove your scarifiers. This is done by moving the finish rake to almost a 90 degree angle. Once your Rascal is set up, go at a very slow, consistent speed and perform a serpentine pattern to remove the waves. A diagram below is a good representation of the serpentine pattern you should be completing to remove the wash boarding effect. A few things that cause this washboarding effect can be sudden acceleration, or by starting and stopping. Once there is a bump that is not immediately cared for, it will continue to cause more bumps as the Rascal travels over it. Once you have finished running this pattern, you can go back over it again for the signature ABI finish.

Pass 1

Pass 1

Pass 2

Pass 2

Pass 3

Pass 3

With completing these three simple tasks and occasionally bringing in gravel, you will be able to keep your gravel driveway in perfectly smooth condition. Whether your tow vehicle is a lawn mower or an ATV/UTV, ABI has the tools to let you command your land. Make sure to keep up with ordering new wear parts through our customer service team to keep your ABI tool in great grading condition. You can do this by calling in at (877)788-7253 or going to our online store and purchasing them there!

Engineering Tomorrow Keeps the Field Playable and Safe

Case Study | ABI Attachments

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium was home of the 2019 NCAA Women’s College World Series. The stadium hosts 25 to 30 events per year.

With heads held high, UCLA celebrates its quarter-final victory over the University of Arizona in the 2019 NCAA Women’s College World Series. Following the celebration, Chuck White, field turf superintendent for USA Softball, and his grounds crew have less than 15 minutes to prepare the field at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for the upcoming Oklahoma/Oklahoma State match.

Thinking about his job, White said, “If an umpire comes out to a ball game, does his job, and you don’t know his name, he did his job.”Very rarely do people think about the groundskeepers and other behind-the-scenes staff when it comes to playing the sports they love, let alone the tools and techniques used. These groundskeepers mow the field, chalk the lines, and maintain the playing surfaces to be the safest and most playable that they can be.

For years, White and his team prepared their fields with hand rakes and drag mats and could only perform in-depth aeration and grooming work twice a year. Handling 25 to 30 events per year, White’s fields did not see the level of maintenance that he desired. This all changed when White received the new ABI Force z23s, which helped to make those 15-minute turnaround times more manageable and allowed him to perform in-depth field grooming once or more per week.

Innovation Drives Z23s

ABI Attachments was incorporated in the late 1990s as Absolute Innovations and began producing its TR3, a three-point hitch mounted drag rake, from its original facility located in Osceola, Indiana. Through a chance phone call, ABI was encouraged to exhibit the TR3 and other tools at an equestrian show marketing them for arena preparation and ‘knocked it out of the park.’ These strong sales then led to ABI moving to its current location in Mishawaka, Indiana, in 2016.

Eventually, ABI Attachments began selling some of their drags and rakes to baseball and softball field maintenance crews. Tools were selling well when in 2011 another manufacturer created a flyer featuring the Rascal, another ABI drag rake, on the rear of their own aerator machine. Through a few conversations, the ABI z18 ballfield groomer was born utilizing the aerator manufacturer’s vehicle frame and ABI’s various grooming tools. The z18 was a very good machine, but, due to the vehicle frame being provided by an outside supplier, limited design flexibility left ABI wanting.

In early 2018, ABI Attachments was at a crossroads when the z18 vehicle frame manufacturer exited the market. The ABI team met to assess its options: continue to rely on an outside frame provider or become a full vehicle OEM. The decision was made to follow the unofficial company motto: ”always be innovating.”

“The way I do business is to seek out some of the leading people in the industry and ask, ‘If you had a wish list, what would you like to see? What would you like the tool to do?’” said Kevin Keigley, owner of ABI Attachments. ABI had success with the z18 platform, but, with the need to develop a new machine looming, his engineering director took the list of requested machine upgrades and got to work.

“I had a big fear at the start of this project that I wasn’t going to find these big companies willing to work with somebody so small,” said Nate Smith, ABI’s director of product development and engineering, when speaking about contacting Hydro- Gear, a Danfoss joint venture company and a leading supplier of hydrostatic and electric drivetrains for the turf industry. Smith, a former lawn mower design engineer, spoke with David Shier, Hydro- Gear’s applications engineer. The pair discussed Smith’s requirements to build an upgraded machine that would service his ball field grooming needs and have many applications beyond. After a year of machine development, the z23s was born.

Z23s Gets the Job Done

The z23s drivetrain features a 23-hp engine, a 16cc + 16cc Hydro-Gear tandem pump, two Hydro-Gear HGM-18H piston wheel motors, and Danfoss control valves.

The z18 boasted an 18-hp engine, two 6cc Hydro-Gear pumps, and two gerotor wheel motors, but the new z23s drivetrain features a 23-hp engine, a 16cc + 16cc Hydro-Gear tandem pump, two Hydro- Gear HGM-18H piston wheel motors, and
Danfoss control valves. This upgraded drivetrain provides more drive power and more precise ground control over the previous generation. Customers can select from pneumatic drive tires or low ground compaction tweels.

While the drivetrain is the most impactful part for Hydro-Gear and Danfoss, the machine’s purpose is to use the various attachments to prepare the ground. As White stated, “Most people don’t understand that I’m working on a living, breathing surface. I’ve got to be able to manage that surface and move that material and put it back where it’s supposed to be.”

The z23s offers mid- and rear-mount attachments for deep ripping (blades and scarifiers), aerating (slit and core), grooming (VibraFlex), leveling/grading (mini-box), and finishing (Pro and Fine brooms). Unlike many competitive machines, the z23s also has a laser grading option that allows for more accurate field leveling, assisting in draining rain water, and providing a more consistent playing surface. On top of all this, the z23s also supports an optional front-mounted seed and fertilizer spreader.

While the tight maneuverability feature makes this machine the ideal solution for sports turf maintenance, it also lends possibilities beyond this market.

“We do not want to pigeon hole it. Its versatility, I think, is what makes it so unique,” commented Lindsey Paholski, ABI’s senior marketing manager. Customers continue to find unexpected ground preparation applications for the Force and its attachments in landscaping and light construction.

Added Smith, “Whether it’s for soundness of horses or safe playable baseball fields, we are trying to present the material in the best condition possible.”

For a machine that is ever evolving, customers are constantly pushing the boundaries and are happy to find a partner in ABI to make those ideas a reality.

“It just does so many things for us, and we haven’t discovered all the things that it can do for us yet. And we’re continuing to work with ABI to develop new tools,” commented White.

Smith noted, “I don’t have to know how to maintain a baseball field, I can rely on those folks; I have to listen to my customer and have them tell me ‘what do you need it to do?’” It is this type of customer partnership that supports ABI’s company principles of innovation, integrity, and service.

As mentioned on ABI’s website, “an innovative tool isn’t worth building or selling unless it helps our customers get their work done better and easier, every day, for years!”

White is living proof of the benefits that the Force has provided him and his team. “I’ve built, designed, and renovated fields, and I’ve never had one piece of equipment that impacts what I do as much as the ABI Force. One of the things that my dad told me from the very beginning, ‘You can’t do your job, and do it well, unless you have the right equipment.’ ”

I’ve built, designed, and renovated fields, and I’ve never had one piece of equipment that impacts what I do as much as the ABI Force. One of the things that my dad told me from the very beginning, ‘You can’t do your job, and do it well, unless you have the right equipment.’

— Chuck White, USA Softball Field Turf Superintendent

As published in Danfoss Solutions magazine, Volume 20 / Winter 2019/2020.

Information contained in Danfoss Solutions may be republished only with prior permission of Danfoss and always with credit to Danfoss Solutions. This publication should not take the place of appropriate technical or legal advice related to company-specific circumstances. Danfoss does not assume any liability of any kind whatsoever for the use of or reliance upon the information contained in this publication.

5 Spring Projects to Do Around Your Property

Order Wear Parts For Your ABI Equipment

Most of the time, when fall and winter weather hit, the last thing you’re thinking about is getting your equipment cleaned up, fixed, and put away like brand new. I know I worry more about getting back inside my warm house, where I can start to dethaw my hands and feet! With the warm spring weather finally here, it is a great time to get outside and start your spring clean up projects! Some of your tools are needing some simple work, whether it be greasing your bearings on your spreader or replacing your ripping teeth on your drag, but your projects can’t be done without them! What does that mean? Give us a call at 855-865-4084 and order some new parts! Not only will you get top-notch customer service from the ABI Team, but you will get your fresh new wear parts within the week!

Fix Up Your Gravel Driveway

Finally! What you have been dreaming of all winter after all of the freezing and thawing and snow plows that went up and down your once perfectly groomed gravel driveway. It is time to fix your drive! Now that a lot of places in the country have finished thawing, it is a great time to do this when your gravel is still damp to start taking your ABI grader down the driveway to loosen compacted gravel and potholes and to pull gravel back into the driveway that has made its way to the edges from plowing and driving down it all winter. Once you have loosened all the gravel and fixed your potholes, you might need to add some more gravel. This isn’t a bad thing nowadays when your whole family is there to help you shovel some gravel! Looking for some more tips on how to fix your gravel driveway? Listen to gravel expert, Jack Owens, on how to fix up your gravel driveway!

Start Prepping For Your Garden

Ever wanted to plant a huge garden and just never had the time? This mandatory stay at home order would be a great reason to start your garden this year! First off, decide what you want to grow in your garden. April is the perfect time to begin planting! Next, pick a place on your property and map out where you want your garden to be. Your ABI Arena Rascal, TR3, SR3, pretty much any ABI tool would do a great initial ground till. Once your land is prepped, go ahead and plant your favorite plants! An easy fun new hobby that pays off with delicious homegrown fruits and veggies.

Clean Up Your Pastures

After a long winter of turning horses and livestock out when the weather breaks, it can lead to plenty of manure in your pastures! It would be the perfect time to grab your easy to use ABI Classic Spreader and head out to your fields and start picking all of the piles of manure. If you leave these piles to build up, you can kill the grass below it and increase smell, flies, and pests around the farm. After your piles are picked up, go ahead and spread the manure onto your pastures. The thinly shredded manure will dry and decompose quickly because of the classic shred and spread design and the sun shining. Not only will you have a cleaned pasture, but you’ll also have a luscious green pasture that your horses and livestock will get to enjoy all summer!

Enjoy Time With Family And Your Livestock

The times might be uncertain, but take this time and cherish these moments with your family and livestock. There are so many unknowns out there, and all we can do is hope. Hope things return back to normal so we can make it to livestock shows and sporting events that we all love. There are so many out on the front lines working to keep us healthy and safe and get us back to our normal everyday lives. For those of you, thank you! For the rest of us, make the best of these challenging times and keep HOPE.

ABI Attachments Releases a Serious Ground Prep Tool for the Mini Skid-Steer

Mishawaka, IN: “For years, ABI Attachments has been inventing better ways to get outdoor work done. Now, with the meteoric rise of the mini skid-steer and mini track loader, ABI has launched a new mini ground preparation attachment that is simple to operate, highly effective, and inexpensive to maintain. Now contractors and rental outlets are empowered to extend the capability of the mini track loader far beyond material handling and into profit-generating ground preparation work.”

The Mini SR is a landscape and grading rake built to create de-compacted, seed-and-sod-ready finish in places only a mini compact track loader can go. The Mini SR’s simple I-beam welded design, patented leveling blade (M3 model), and tough cast scarifiers provide the operator with a simple user experience and the power to finish the job.

“With average lot sizes getting smaller with tighter areas, contractors were telling us they needed a tool that could loosen, level, and finish as well as our SR3 and TR3 but made for smaller machines,” says Nate Smith, Director of Product Development and Engineering at ABI Attachments. “The Mini SR efficiently produces perfectly prepared seed beds while staying maneuverable at under 5′ wide.”

Big muscle on small jobs:

  • Cast scarifiers and hardened finish rakes are long-wearing and easy to replace.
  • 54” rake width allows access to areas tractors can’t reach.
  • Multi-function design allows the user to backfill, contour, grad, grub, de-compact, and finish.
  • Scarifiers can de-compact up to 5” allowing for healthy root growth.
  • Small contour design provides optimal visibility and control right up to fragil edges.
  • Compatible designs for both universal and Bobcat connection plate.

For more information about the Mini SR, contact 877-788-7253 and ask to speak with a factory rep.

About ABI Attachments: ABI Attachments, Inc. is a manufacturer of innovative ground engaging attachments based in Mishawaka, IN. Founded in 1998, ABI designs, produces, and distributes over 5 thousand attachments a year to the equine, sports turf, contractor, and property owner markets. ABI Attachments holds eighteen patents and is the world’s largest manufacturer of equine drags and compact manure spreaders.