On The Ground With Dana Hokana

Is A Quality Arena Drag Worth It? 

ABI’s President and Co-owner, Scott Holmes speaks with one of the top clinicians in the US, Dana Hokana, about the importance of arena footing for horse safety, longevity, and performance. Dana encourages riders and trainers to invest in a quality arena drag because of the massive benefit it will provide for years and years to come. 

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Talking Horse Footing and Horse Safety with Dana Hokana

Hi everyone. Matt Metzger here with ABI Attachments. Welcome back to another episode of the ABI Dirt not so long ago, president and co-owner of ABI Attachments, Mr. Scott Holmes, had the chance to virtually chat with one of the leading equine clinicians in the U.S, Dana Hokana. Dana is a long time friend of ABI Attachments. She’s been using a TR3 and most recently a TR3 E-Series equine edition for about 15 years now. She’s a beloved friend here around ABI Attachments. We love picking our brain on all things care for the horse and practical advice for the rider. And in this short chat, they had the chance to talk about why a quality arena drag is just so darn important for all kinds of training and writing needs. So let’s dive in and enjoy the conversation.

The Importance of Riding Arena Footing

-I started out and honestly didn’t know much about ground and I trained for a lot of years at another stable that other people I was at the mercy of their ground. And I remember one stable. I trained at they for a while, dumped their manure and shavings in our riding arena. Right. And they said, oh, it’ll be good. Well, winter came and it got wet. And I mean, my horses had tendon injuries problems. It was horrible. Other stables I was at it was a real lot of sand and the ground was hard. So when I got my own training facility and my own ranch about 33 years ago, about 32, 33 years ago the ground meant a lot to me and my husband made a makeshift homemade drag cuz I didn’t know about you guys. And when I met you, I know his homemade little drag. Right?

– Yeah.

Getting the Right Horse Arena Equipment

-And little did we know? Okay. And that homemade drag kind of got tossed out pretty soon because when I got the classic equine at drag, everything changed for me. The classic drag was so good. The classic is amazing and great but the E-Series took it to a new level. Literally when I’m riding sometimes my horses just don’t feel like they’re moving as good if my ground needs done. As soon as we do the ground with our E-Series the softness that they, they feel the comfort the trust of what’s under ’em in the ground. So now we are fanatics about the ground and and I just think that so many people who have horses need to pay a little attention to it. And I’m hoping that you can bring some light on that subject. Right? = Yeah, I’ll I’ll try to, I, I, you know, it it’s like germs. You don’t think about germs because you don’t see germs. So you don’t wash your hand as much as you should. And you don’t, you know, protect yourself from germs as much as you should because you can’t see them. And I, I relate that to footing underneath the surface. People can see the top of the surface. So they’ll take a chain harrow or they’ll take an S time drag that just kind of bounces in an old roller and they’ll smooth out the top surface but they can’t see the three inches or the four inches or the six inches underneath the surface. And that’s the most critical part of the footing but you don’t see it.

– Right

Horse Care and Training Tips

– So you don’t think about it and you don’t know about it. And that that’s where that’s where a horse stops traveling well in, in the arena, that’s that’s when a horse starts having soundness issues because they’re, they’ll have really soft spots and then really hard spots. And then they’ll have deep holes and they’ll have a really shallow, so they’ll get cut. And now the horse stops thinking the horse is now responding to the danger or the discomfort of the footing. And they’re no longer listening to the the seat cues, the rain cues, you know even the connection between the, the the rider and the horse is interrupted because what’s underneath the service is causing stress.

– I have a horse now that has a little collateral ligament issues and other little problems that it is critical that we work her on safe, solid footing so that that foot doesn’t roll or move. And so how many horses, like you said, what a really really good point, they can’t focus on the training or the performance any longer or you because they’re in protection mode.

– Right.

– And that’s what bad ground does it puts your horse in protection mode? Reiners-

– Yeah. You just mentioned something else too. At ABI, we talk a lot about longevity because

– Yeah

– Just making the horse perform well although that’s, that’s important, but it’s it’s how long can you have that relationship with that horse?

– Oh yeah.

– You don’t, you don’t want to turn a horse out every five to six years because they’re lame.

– Yeah.

– You know, you, you want a long long life relationship with that, with that equine

– Mm hm.

– A horse’s sound, then a horse lasts longer. That’s just the bottom line.

– Yeah.

– And so it’s not just the, the responsiveness of the horse, but it’s also the longevity of the horse. And so, you know, footing is, well, you know when I first met you, I don’t know if you remember this. I had a little slogan that we actually trademark called footing is everything.

– Yeah, it is.

– We started to bring that back. Just that, that little, that little slogan because footing is everything.

– It, you know, it really, really is. And, and you know, a lot of people, it’s sort of funny a lot of people have a mindset that, well I realize I have to get my horse injected once a year or I need a few thousand dollars allocated for vet bills once a year to just maintain my horse, right?

– Right. Or whatever, they spend a lot of money on Adequan, Legend, whatever it may be. And I agree with all that a hundred percent but they don’t think that they have the budget for a good arena drag. And yet my classic drag has lasted 15, 18 years. It’s still in great shape. = Yeah.

– I just happen to now have a better one, right?

– Right

– And our horses need it too. We were at a horse show one time in central California and the ground was super deep and we were showing the raining.

– Yeah.

– Cause we had, we’ve had a lot of reiners through the years and we had a Rainer that tore a suspensory tendon because the ground was just too deep when we, when we make errors on our part. Right. Which we do sometimes and our horse suffers. I mean, it feels horrible and nobody wants that. = Yeah

– But, but like you said about the germ analogy we don’t see what’s under the ground.

– Right

Paying Attention To Horse Arena Footing

– We don’t see what’s under there. So if our horse and I’ll just never forget my husband’s homemade drag way back, you know is my analogy. All the time, I’d be like, you gotta go back and forth sideways and long ways because then the rut and I feel my horse landing in that you know, it’s not okay. Yeah. Circles, you gotta get that thing where there’s a base and, and none of us wanna hurt our horses but we may not even realize we’re hurting our horses. If we’re not paying attention to ground.

– Right. Well, you know, going back to your horse with a suspensory injury.

– Yeah.

– It took a year for that horse to recover, but I promise you that horse has never been the same.

– Oh no .

– Cause once, once there is a leg issue like that an injury to that, to that horse’s, you know, leg. Yes. They’ll recover. Yes. They can build back strength but it it’s never the same as not being injured in the first place I’ve had shoulder surgery. My shoulder is not the same as it was 15 years ago.

– Right.

– Yes. I’ve done my rehab. Yes. I have a strong shoulder. It’s not the original shoulder though I can promise you.

– That’s sort of why I I’m saying and it’s not like just about the money of it but it’s about the mindset of what we put in our minds for our budgets, with our horses. And I just know that most of the people I work with and with the good financing that’s out there I know they can have a drag.

– Right. = And I don’t think people realize the importance of the drag. = Yeah, it it’s as important as the right bit, the right saddle. I mean, all those things that play into I may think more too, but I don’t wanna take away from those things. Those things are important.

– No.

– But I I’ll tell you this is more important than the quality of the trailer or the quality of the stall door that you have

– Time, right?

– The life, the horse

– Sorry. More important. The silvers on your show saddle or how good a jacket you’re riding. = Exactly.

– Right? More important. But

– I love, I love it when people come up to to us at a trade show and they’ve got a $4,000 jacket on and they go, oh my gosh, $2,500 you guys are crazy for

– I put that on some drag. I can make a harrow. = Right

– I, I don’t even get the mentality, but be more like that. That’s okay.

– Yeah. But if you really love your horse you better think about their ground.

– Oh absolutely.

– That’s all we’ve got on the Dirt today, everyone, I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Dana. She is delightful. She also was just a wealth of information. So if you would like to learn more from Dana we’re gonna have some links in the description below. Also she has her own website, her own socials check out all of her info. She’s fantastic. She loves caring for the horse and she loves preparing riders for top level performance. So check out her information. And since we talked about quality arena footing today we would love to hear from you in the comments below give us, give us a not so great story. If there’s ever been a time where you’re practicing, you’re training, or maybe you’re in the middle of a show and the footing just wasn’t that great. Give us, give us your story. Give us an example below. We’d love to hear from you, but until next time, take care.

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