As a horse owner, you know that having a well-maintained arena is crucial for both you and your horse. A properly groomed arena ensures that your horse can perform at its best, while also reducing the risk of injuries. When the footing is even and consistent, your horse can move with confidence, allowing you to focus on your riding and training goals. In addition, a well-kept arena can extend the life of your footing, saving you time and money in the long run.

To achieve and maintain a high-quality arena surface, you’ll need the right tools for the job. This is where arena drags and groomers come into play. These essential pieces of equipment help you keep your footing level, remove hoof prints, and mix in any additives or amendments that your footing requires. Drags and groomers come in various sizes and styles, each designed to suit different arena conditions and maintenance needs. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of arena drags and groomers, their key components, and how to choose the best one for your horse arena.

Types of Arena Drags and Groomers

When it comes to maintaining your horse arena, you’ll typically use either a drag or a groomer. While both tools serve the purpose of keeping your footing in top condition, they have some distinct differences in design and function.

Arena Drags

  1. An arena drag is a piece of equipment that is pulled behind a tractor, ATV, or UTV to level and smooth the surface of your arena. Drags help to fill in hoof prints, redistribute footing material, and maintain a consistent depth throughout the arena. They are an essential tool for keeping your footing in good condition and preventing it from becoming too compacted or uneven.
  2. Arena drags usually consist of a metal frame with a series of tines or teeth that penetrate the footing as the drag is pulled across the arena. There are no wheels, therefore the term “drag” as it is literally drug on the ground. Some drags also feature adjustable tines like the Arena Drag from Performance Footing, however most are sometimes referred to as harrows or are of the chain-link style with no real tines, just metal fingers that would penetrate the ground to a depth just below the surface.

Arena Groomers

  1. Arena groomers are similar to drags in that they are designed to maintain the surface of your arena, but they typically contain wheels and offer a more precise level of control and finishing. Groomers are used to drag and fine-tune the footing after dragging, ensuring that the surface is perfectly level and free of any inconsistencies. They can also be used to mix in additives, such as moisture-retaining products or footing additives, more evenly throughout the footing.
  2. Groomers often have a more complex design than drags, with multiple rows of tines or blades that can be adjusted independently, depth gauges, and adjustments to allow you to pull them in and out of arenas without continually dragging the ground surface. Some groomers also feature a roller or a screen to help distribute the footing material evenly and create a finished, polished look. The increased level of adjustability and precision offered by groomers makes them a valuable tool for maintaining high-performance arenas or those with specialized footing materials.

Key differences between drags and groomers

While both drags and groomers are essential tools for maintaining a high-quality horse arena, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand.

  1. Purpose: Drags are primarily used for leveling and smoothing the arena surface, filling in hoof prints, and redistributing footing material. Groomers, on the other hand, are used for dragging and fine-tuning the footing after dragging, ensuring a more precise level of finish and even distribution of additives.
  2. Design: Drags typically have a simpler design, with a metal frame and a series of spikes , tines or teeth that penetrate the footing. Groomers often have a more complex design, with multiple rows of tines or blades that can be adjusted independently, as well as rollers or screens for creating a polished finish.
  3. Depth of penetration: Drags can usually penetrate only on the top few inches of the surface, unless they have real tines like the Arena Drag from Performance Footing, which can extend down up to 4”. Groomers can penetrate the footing deep as well, and can usually be adjusted to a shallower depth, focusing more on fine-tuning the surface.

In most cases, a well-maintained arena will benefit from the use of both a drag and a groomer. The drag helps to keep the footing consistently level and redistributed, while the groomer ensures a precise, finished surface that provides optimal performance for your horse. By understanding the differences between these two tools, you can create an effective maintenance plan that keeps your arena in top condition year-round.

Essential Components of Arena Drags and Groomers

To get the most out of your arena drag or groomer, it’s important to understand the key components that make these tools effective. Let’s take a closer look at depth gauges, tines, and rollers, and how they contribute to maintaining a high-quality arena surface.

A. Depth gauges

  1. Depth gauges are crucial components of arena drags and groomers, as they allow you to control the depth at which the tines or blades penetrate the footing. Consistent depth is essential for maintaining an even surface and preventing the formation of high or low spots in the arena. Typical harrows offer no depth control. Some drags, like the Arena Drag, offer manual adjustment with adjustable tines.
  2. Depth gauges are typically adjustable, allowing you to raise or lower the tines or blades to achieve the desired depth of penetration. This adjustability enables you to customize your drag or groomer to the specific needs of your arena, whether you have a shallow layer of footing or a deeper, more specialized surface. By maintaining consistent depth, depth gauges help to extend the life of your footing and reduce the need for frequent repairs or replacements.

B. Tines

  1. Tines, also known as teeth or blades, are the primary working components of arena drags and groomers. As the tool is pulled across the arena, the tines penetrate the footing, breaking up compacted material, filling in hoof prints, and redistributing the footing evenly.
  2. Tines come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, each designed for specific footing types and arena conditions. For example, shorter, more closely spaced tines are often used for finer, shallower footing, while longer, more widely spaced tines are better suited for deeper, more compacted surfaces. Some tines are made of hardened steel for increased durability, while others feature a spring-loaded design that allows them to flex and absorb shock when encountering obstacles.

C. Rollers

  1. Rollers are cylindrical components that are often found on arena groomers and some specialized drags. Their primary purpose is to compress and smooth the surface of the footing after it has been worked by the tines, creating a finished, polished look.
  2. Rollers can be made of various materials, such as steel, rubber, or polyurethane, each offering different benefits for specific footing types. Steel rollers, for example, provide a firm, compacted surface that is ideal for high-performance arenas, while rubber rollers offer a slightly softer, more forgiving surface that is better suited for recreational or multi-purpose arenas. The weight and diameter of the roller can also affect the level of compaction and smoothness achieved, with heavier, larger rollers providing a more pronounced effect.

By understanding the role and importance of depth gauges, tines, and rollers, you can make informed decisions when selecting and using arena drags and groomers, ensuring that your horse arena remains in optimal condition for your riding and training needs.

Selecting the Right Drag or Groomer

Choosing the right drag or groomer for your horse arena is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the quality and longevity of your footing. Let’s explore some key factors to consider when making your selection, as well as the benefits of choosing the EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, or Arena Rake models from Performance Footing.

A. Factors to consider

  1. Pulling vehicle (ATV/UTV or Tractor) One of the first things to consider when selecting a drag or groomer is the type of vehicle you’ll be using to pull it. The EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, and Arena Rake models from Performance Footing are all designed to be pulled by either an ATV/UTV or a tractor, depending on your specific needs and preferences. These versatile tools are available in 64″ and 72″ sizes, making them suitable for a range of arena sizes and configurations.
  2. Riding discipline and arena footing requirements Another important factor to consider is your specific riding discipline and the type of footing your arena requires. Different disciplines, such as dressage, show jumping, or barrel racing, have unique footing needs that can be best addressed by specific types of drags or groomers. The EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, and Arena Rake models offer adjustable tines and other customizable features, allowing you to tailor the tool to your specific footing requirements and maintain an optimal surface for your chosen discipline.

B. Performance Footing’s models

  1. Performance Footing offers three high-quality drag and groomer models: the EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, and Arena Rake. Each of these models is designed to provide effective and efficient arena maintenance, with features like adjustable tines, leveling blades, and durable construction. The EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, and Arena Rake models are all available in 64″ and 72″ sizes, ensuring that you can find the perfect fit for your arena.
  2. All three models are constructed using premium Canadian steel, offering superior strength and durability. This high-grade steel ensures that your drag or groomer can withstand the rigors of regular use and maintain its performance over time, while also resisting rust and corrosion. Investing in a tool made with quality materials will provide long-lasting value and help you maintain a consistent, high-performance arena surface.
  3. In addition to their standard features, the EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, and Arena Rake models offer various accessories and options for customization. For example, water kits are available for all three models, allowing you to add moisture to your footing as needed for optimal dust control and surface consistency. Some models, such as the Arena Dragster, are also available with a tractor PTO (Power Take-Off) option, enabling you to power the tool directly from your tractor for enhanced performance and efficiency.

With their durable construction, customizable features, and available accessories, these drags and groomers provide the perfect solution for maintaining a consistent, high-performance arena surface that will support your riding and training goals for years to come.

Proper Use and Maintenance of Arena Drags and Groomers

To ensure that your arena drag or groomer performs at its best and lasts for years to come, it’s essential to use and maintain it properly. Let’s explore some tips for effective arena grooming, as well as best practices for maintaining and storing your EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, or Arena Rake.

A. Tips for effective arena grooming

  1. Start with the right depth: Before you begin grooming your arena, adjust the tines on your drag or groomer to the appropriate depth for your footing. A good starting point is to set the tines to penetrate about 1/2″ to 1″ into the surface, depending on the specific needs of your footing and discipline.
  2. Follow a consistent pattern: When dragging or grooming your arena, follow a consistent pattern to ensure even coverage and prevent missed spots. A common pattern is to start by going around the perimeter of the arena, then work your way inward in a spiral or serpentine pattern until you reach the center.
  3. Adjust your speed: The speed at which you pull your drag or groomer can impact the effectiveness of your grooming. For best results, maintain a consistent, moderate speed that allows the tines to properly engage with the footing without causing excessive displacement or unevenness.
  4. Groom regularly: To maintain a consistent, high-quality arena surface, it’s important to groom your arena regularly. The frequency of grooming will depend on factors such as the amount of use your arena receives and the specific needs of your footing, but a good rule of thumb is to groom at least once a week, and more often for heavily used arenas.

B. Maintenance and storage of drags and groomers

  1. Clean after each use: After each grooming session, take a few minutes to clean your drag or groomer, removing any dirt, debris, or footing material that may have accumulated on the tines, blades, or frame. This will help prevent rust and corrosion and ensure that your tool is ready for the next use. This is especially a consideration when your arena may contain salt-based additives like MAG flakes, as it will rapidly rust your equipment if not regularly cleaned.
  2. Inspect for wear and damage: Regularly inspect your drag or groomer for signs of wear or damage, such as bent or broken tines, cracks in the frame, or worn-out bearings. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure that your tool continues to perform at its best.
  3. Store in a dry, covered area: When not in use, store your drag or groomer in a dry, covered area, such as a shed or garage. This will protect the tool from exposure to the elements and help prevent rust and corrosion. If possible, store the tool on a raised surface, such as a pallet or rack, to prevent moisture from accumulating underneath.
  4. Lubricate moving parts: Periodically lubricate any moving parts on your drag or groomer, such as hinges, bearings, or adjustment mechanisms, to ensure smooth operation and prevent premature wear. Use a high-quality lubricant specifically designed for use on agricultural or landscaping equipment.

By following these tips for proper use and maintenance, you can ensure that your groomer continues to provide effective, efficient arena grooming for years to come. Regular grooming, combined with timely maintenance and proper storage, will help you maintain a consistent, high-performance arena surface that supports your riding and training goals while also extending the lifespan of your investment in quality arena maintenance equipment.

Next Steps in Groomer Selection

Choosing the right arena drag or groomer is a critical decision for any horse owner or arena manager. The quality and performance of your footing directly impact the safety, comfort, and performance of your horse, as well as the longevity and consistency of your arena surface. By selecting a tool that is well-suited to your specific needs, such as the EquiGroomer, Arena Dragster, or Arena Rake from Performance Footing, you can ensure effective, efficient grooming that promotes optimal footing conditions for your riding discipline.

When making your selection, consider factors such as the size of your arena, the type of footing you use, and the specific requirements of your riding discipline. Additionally, look for tools that offer adjustable tines, customizable features, and durable construction to ensure versatility and long-lasting performance.

Investing in quality arena maintenance equipment is a smart choice for any horse owner or arena manager. While investing in quality arena maintenance equipment may require a higher initial cost, the long-term benefits far outweigh the expense. With a Conterra drag or groomer from Performance Footing, you can save time and effort on arena maintenance, extend the lifespan of your footing, and provide a safer, more comfortable, and more consistent surface for your horse.