Seriously Needing Your Advice

I know I don't deserve it. I've been a terrible blogger. I'm way behind on my reading and commenting (and don't think I don't miss it - I do). But here's the thing. We really need to buy an arena rake right now. We need it to rake and level the turn outs we're building for our new facility, and when it's (the facility) built the rake will be used for raking the arena. From personal experience and also from the survey I did in 2011 I know that footing is the # 1 thing people are concerned about when picking a facility. Soooo..... there are hundreds of products on the the market. We have a small John Deere tractor (32 horse power). Do you have any advice for me regarding what the rake capabilities should be? Do you have any advice for me regarding a rake to buy (links? product specs?)? Here are a few things I've learned that I should think about, just as examples:
  • We need to be able to host different disciplines, and this requires different depths of footing. Also, we've had an inquiry about dog agility and they want a fairly firm footing. So a rake that enables custom 'finishes' is needed
  • It is very labour intensive and time consuming to hand shovel the built up footing along the side of the arena back into the worn 'track'. A rake that could pull the edge back into the track would be very appreciated.
You guys are the experts and you've never let me down! I've learned so much from you. If you have any thoughts / ideas on things we need to keep in mind for a rake, or a product to recommend, please let me know. Thank you.


Oak Creek Ranch said…
I'm not sure how much help I can be but here goes. We have a small arena/dressage court and we are anal about the footing. With it being small and there only being two of us, doing the same discipline we don't have the challenges you face. Brett pulls the sand away from the edges by hand which is tedious, Lon, hard work. We use a drag for the arena which is an open chain link and steel prong harrow. It can be flipped over and one side is more aggressive than the other. Ours has been fantastic for us. Brett also uses it to groom the pasture and the gravel driveways.
Carol said…
Thanks Annette! That is helpful. Everyone's experience leads to a greater knowledge of the subject and that's what I need right now. Thank you!
juliette said…
Carol - I know you are looking for arena rake info, but I hope the equipment you choose helps keep the depth to a minimum. I am optimistic that the current trend in arena depths for all disciplines is improving. Sadly, there is a huge disconnect in the horse world about how difficult it is for horses to work in arenas that are too deep. Arena footing should have the proper give, like that of grass or the firm sand at the water's edge on a beach, or the rubber of a Tartan track, without the strain of deep footing. The most important part of this concept is not to fall into the trap where you believe that all spongy, soft surfaces are better for legs and tendons and joints and ligaments than hard surfaces. There is a big difference.

I know a ton about proper depth, but nothing about the equipment to drag and achieve it because I don't work my boys in the arena - sorry! I am sure other bloggers can help you with the arena rake. Here is a link to more thoughts on correct depths and how to test for them - scroll down to the "Footing" section.
juliette said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
juliette said…
Oh, Carol, I suck at putting links in html. Sorry for clogging up your post!

I'll try again try this link.
We use the same drag as Annette for the pastures and our outdoor arenas. For the indoor which has sand we bought a special drag that attaches to our Kabota RTV. It's a great drag for grooming arenas but I wouldn't use it in the pastures. It's called The Arena Pro (I think) to be sure I'd have to go out to the garage and check. Anyway, it has many ways you can adjust it for leveling to a certain height and teeth for dragging. I did a post on it last year, I'll see if I can find it for you. We really like it and it's easy to use.
I looked up the address : - its called the arena rascal drag for atvs and utvs. Look it up and see if you would be interested in something like that. We like it. Hope this was of some help to you.
Jeni said…
Sorry Carol this is one area I have no experience. Very interested in everyones comments though.
allhorsestuff said…
How exciting ...the research is always a favorite part of planning the dream!
I've no advise, just enjoying learning along with you!

Val said…
I have never harrowed an arena, but we have an Arena Rascal, which seems to do a nice job. It is so exciting that your facility is coming to life!

I second the comment about arena depth. Firm with some give is good. Deep and squishy is very bad. I get really annoyed with people who think deep footing equates to horses working. If it is not comfortable for us to walk or jog on, then it is too deep for the horse. It is no wonder that so many dressage horses come up with hock issues. Thick footing is stressful and I suspect it may be at least partially to blame.
Carol said…
Thanks for all of the great information. Really appreciated. The footing depth is so important - I hear you - not too deep and squishy! The arena rescal seems to be p[opular - I'll look it up. Thanks!
I use the same sort of chain drag/harrow as Annette. We use it both to drag the arena and the pastures. With the tines up, it smooths out the divots quite nicely and breaks up poop in the pastures. With tines down, it fluffs the footing. If you add a couple tractor tires on top of it with the tines down, you can break up even the hardest, most packed down soil, which is great for prepping pastures before seeding.

For the deep corners, I use the bucket of the tractor to very carefully backscrape the footing. That's where you put the lip of the bucket on the ground at a 45 degree angle, then back the tractor up to pull the footing back to the middle. It takes a little finesse, but it's pretty safe. Never run the bucket forward! You risk digging into the base that way.
Lori Skoog said…
My 2 cents worth...don't make the footing too can cause injuries.