TR3 Equine Edition grooming a natural footing arena

Key Signs It’s Time To Reinvigorate Your Footing

There’s no one-size-fits-all for how often to renovate your arena. How much you ride, the equipment you use, and your footing choices are just a few of many factors which can impact how quickly your natural footing degrades. Regardless of your discipline or the type of footing you use, serious equestrians like you know that having a quality riding arena is key to keeping your horses in top shape. Here are a few signs that it might be time for arena surface renovation, to bring your footing back to your ideal riding condition.

Horse standing in dusty arena

Excessive Dust

If you have sand or clay-heavy footing, your arena may be at risk of dryness and excessive dust. When your horses start kicking up excessive dust clouds, it shows that your footing is too dry, which can affect your horses’ step soundness and cause health problems. 

In particularly severe cases of damage, dust issues can lead to serious breathing difficulties if exposed for too long—affecting your riders and facility staff, as well as your horses. Regularly watering your arena will help keep down the dust, but it’s also vital to invest in a drag that can incorporate water into the whole footing profile. 

Loose Footing 

An obvious sign of damage in your arena surface is if your footing becomes too loose to ride. Over time, sand and silt breaks down from wear and tear, causing the surface to lose stability. If loose footing material isn’t repaired or remixed, then your horses’ hooves may lose traction and slip deeper into the ground. These deeper steps may create holes in the footing surface that may be difficult to repair if the damage extends to the base. To get to the root of the problem, you need a drag that can re-mix the particles of your arena surface to restore the stability of your footing mixture. Without restoration, your footing can put stress on your horses’ legs, resulting in sprains, torn ligaments, or ruptured tendons. 

Horses walking on uneven footing in a natural footing arena

Unlevel Footing

Damaged footing may appear in subtle ways in your arena surface, such unleveling fitting under the top layer. If your arena has low or uneven spots, your footing material loses its stability and firmness. Sure signs of unlevel and unstable footing material may appear as a dry, loose, and heavily-imprinted surface even with regular grooming of your arena. If not properly repaired and re-leveled, your horses will intuitively avoid specific areas along your arena surface where their hooves have less rebound and traction. So, when your horses start to move awkwardly along the footing, your arena might need a renovation. 


If you find your arena surface is both dry and hard, then your footing material may suffer from over-compaction. Dry and compacted clay-heavy footing is especially difficult to manage since it turns concrete-hard, which can prevent it from absorbing water. With no means to soften the ground, any hardpan could end up breaking your grooming equipment. Attempting to ride on a stone-hard surface may also create bruising in your horses’ hooves and leg joints. If facility managers try to restore the footing by only adding water, the moisture may only make the ground slick and make a tripping hazard for horses and riders. 

Natural footing arena that has been renovated correctly.

Renovate Your Natural Arena Right

Knowing when it’s time to renovate your arena is just one step of the process. Everything from your specific discipline, type of footing, and tow vehicle can make a difference in how you approach arena renovation. At the end of the day, only you know what’s best for your natural arena footing. At ABI, we know there are distinctions when it comes to arena care, which is why we have distinct natural arena drags to suit the needs of your specific footing. Whatever care your footing material needs, know that ABI has the equipment to help you get your arena back to the riding-ready condition your horses deserve. Interested in finding your ideal natural arena drag? Contact one of our Product Specialists at 877-788-7253 to discover your perfect attachment.