Farm life, Uncategorized

Arena Renovation Part The First

When we bought the farm we knew we would need to purchase two big pieces of equipment and put another on a wish list: a new mower, an arena drag, and a manure spreader (on the wish list). Once the arena started turning green we needed to make a decision to either help it go all grass or bring it back to its intended sandy state.

Gross an not particularly safe either

While I don’t mind grass arenas when done right, this one wasn’t built for that and I was growing increasingly concerned with the footing getting compacted down with each progressive flooding rain and drying out. Her prior hoof prints were starting to be like cement and it was only a matter of time until the footing became unsafe to ride in. Gem is sound and happy but she is also going to be 20 this year and I want to protect her legs and feet as much as possible. I was dying to get in there and fluff up that footing.

But first we needed the equipment. Dusty did all the research. I just signed the 1 year loan papers. He chose an ABI TR3 E series arena drag due to its ability to not only drag and groom the arena, but allow us to do the renovation part as well.

Fresh out of the shipping crate

It showed up Monday afternoon and as soon as I got home I hopped on the tractor and headed to the arena. Probably not the smartest move since rain was forecasted all day Tuesday and the arena would be out of action for a while, but it needed done and I was too excited to wait.


The drag has five different parts all used for different reasons. It came with an awesome little book that went over the set up, the parts and how to use it for all sorts of reasons. Thankfully it had a whole section on removing vegetation, just what I needed to do!

All parts needed raised so that only the very front bar was in play and it recommended setting it to a depth of 1″ to remove the grass at the roots but avoid any penetration into the base layer. We followed the protocol and I held my breath as I engaged it hoping I wasn’t about to ruin everything.

The first pass through had me grinning like a fool. I have no idea why this sort of stuff makes me so darn happy. The bar was doing exactly what it was supposed to: remove the grass at root level.

The first swipe through all that ugly weedy grass. You can see Pete in the background coming to investigate the open arena gate. 

It took a bit of playing around to figure out how to best maneuver the drag and deal with the build up of grass and dirt as it collected on the bar. At first I tried stopping, raising it up, and then backing up but this just left huge piles. I finally perfected when to raise it up and for how long to let it slowly drop the clumps over a larger swath which was easier to then go back over again.

Cutting right below the root system to remove the grass and leave the footing mostly intact. 

It took 4 hours to do the entire arena to my level of satisfaction. Overall I am very pleased with the outcome. The more mature and solid grass in the corners didn’t all come up, but I wasn’t really expecting it to. The directions specifically said to kill it with Round Up first which I obviously didn’t do. We have a disc we can hook up to the tractor for those areas and I’ll go over them again.

And then all three entered the arena, of course with Nash staring at me the entire time. In retrospect I probably could have put them in the arena for a few days first to eat it down and then got busy…but impatience. 

Next up will be going over it with the grooming rake to collect the clumps of grass and get rid of them. I’m not looking forward to that at all. It will take a ton of wheelbarrow loads to get rid of it all.

The end product: clean sandy foot
Thankful I had lights to work under. You can see the tracts the blade made and the build up between them. This process was solely aimed at getting rid of the vegetation

After we pick up all that loose grass and deal with the corners, it will be on to step 2: grading

Looking more like an arena now. It did cross my mind when I was about half way through that summer, when I don’t ride due to the heat, may have been a better time than spring. But the footing was really starting to worry me, so I had no real choice. 

20 thoughts on “Arena Renovation Part The First”

    1. When it is finished, you have to bring Remus for a vacation and we can ride together!! I have plenty of stalls, a Trainer we can lesson with and plenty of xc areas/hunter paces we could do for fun!!! Make it a blogger get together long weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The description and photos of this work satisfy me to no end. I am living vicariously through you with this as I’m of the same mindset about getting things like this done and finding them obscenely enjoyable.


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