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In both natural and synthetic footing, depressions and inconsistencies make the footing less safe and stable for your horses. Even small variances in the consistency and feel of footing can affect a horse’s willingness to train, ability to focus on commands, and potential health risks. Daily grooming can smoothen out hoofprints, but periodic arena renovations are a time to take on major leveling that refills divots, smoothens lumps, and creates the even riding arena you need. Hiring professionals to do monthly arena renovation for you is both inconvenient and costly, which is why at ABI we’ve developed tools that make the process simple and seamless, so you have your footing leveled the way you need it, no matter what footing you’re using.
Differences in footing materials do matter when it comes to leveling your arena. There are risks to using a natural footing arena drag on an arena with synthetic footing or vice versa. Natural footing arena drags usually aren’t made to handle the textiles and fibers in synthetic footing. Sometimes, they can’t maintain flow through and even get jammed when textiles or fibers wrap around and plug up the ground engaging components.
Synthetic groomers typically are built to handle the additives required to get the top surface that’s ideal for English riding sports. Which means they’re not built to decompact and leave the footing with enough give for competitions that require some sliding—like most Western sports. At ABI, we have distinct lines of arena drags. Drags for natural footing, and drags for synthetic, so whatever arena footing you have, you can find a tool to level it to perfection.
Natural footing is most often a combination of sand and clay, though some people use wood chips or other natural materials. Natural footing is popular for most Western styles of riding because the footing allows horses to slide. Because in sports like barrel racing, roping, reining and others have this sliding style, the horses dig deep into the footing during the ride. That means your arena leveler needs to do the same thing: dig in deep.
Built for sub-compact and compact tractors, the TR3-E Equine was built specifically for arena owners and managers with natural footing. From blade to tines, the attachment is filled with features to make leveling an easy and even enjoyable task.
TR3-E Equine has a leveling bar and an adjustable rake that can move material around, allowing you to address both piles and divots with ease. In fact, the leveling blade means the driver doesn’t have to focus on controlling the tool with their driving–they can sit back, drive, and let the tool do the work.
Riding causes compaction, inconsistencies in the footing, and hoofprints. Some compaction happens at the surface level, but in certain conditions, compaction can occur as deep as your arena’s base. In those cases, you need a tool that goes beneath the surface to get the work done.
The TR3-E Equine’s adjustable rake doesn’t only move material, it can also be raised and lowered to attack compaction below or on top of the surface. It doesn’t just attack hoofprints, but gets beneath the footing surface to prepare your whole footing profile for a comfortable, steady ride. It also has vertical profile blades that double down on cutting up hard spots that a normal rake can’t get through alone.
The TR3-E Equine’s stabilizing wheels have three settings for various footing materials and for positive depth control. They make the work easy: almost anyone can drive the tractor with the TR3-E Equine behind it and achieve successful results. The TR3’s leveling blade evens out material build ups so areas with larger quantities of material are redistributed to areas with less material, resulting in an even finish. This also removes pressure from the tractor driver to control the leveling with their driving – the tool does it for you.
Synthetic footing is a mixture of textiles or fibers with sand, achieving more grip for signature English style riding like jumping and dressage. There’s a myth that synthetic footing only needs to be maintained once a month or so. However, synthetic footing still needs to be watered, it still gets compacted over time, and without regular maintenance, the quality of the footing is compromised.
To avoid injury and give your horses confidence, these textiles and fibers need to be thoroughly mixed into the footing. Synthetic footing can’t be leveled by a natural footing arena drag though, because synthetic footing textiles and fibers have a tendency to wrap around the parts of a natural footing drag, which A.) is a pain to remove from your implement and B.) means the textiles/fibers aren’t getting mixed in with the footing.
English sports have riders and horses staying on the top two inches of the footing. Your synthetic footing needs to be hard to support the horses and riders, and the SportPro M3 and M5 are specialized for the job.
The M3 is a perfect pull behind tool for certain tractors or ATVs and UTVs. The M5 is ideal for a 3pt hitch tractor.
Both the M3 and M5 can be configured to your footing needs thanks to their 5 adjustable elements.
With built-in adjustability, these five elements can be adjusted so your footing is exactly the way you like it.
You might notice that the SportPro M3 and M5 arena drags are longer than other drags on the market. That’s intentional. We know that over time small particles sink while big ones rise to the surface, which is why we added extra space between parts on our arena drag. The space allows more flow-through, resulting in better blended footing.
With a rail wheel and wall blade, your SportPro M3 or M5 will pull material that builds up on the side and re-level it into the arena for a final, professional finish.
No matter what footing you have, there’s a tool from ABI that can tackle the leveling job without having to hire outside help or requiring professional leveling stills. If you’re curious about which arena drag is right for you, contact a Product Specialist at 877-788-7253. We’re happy to talk you through which attachment is best for your arena goals.