Arena Grooming

As any good horse professional will tell you, arena grooming is at the top of their daily list of priorities in the barn. Without proper attention to detail and regular maintenance, your horse may be forced to work in footing that is too hard, an area that is too dusty, too deep, too wet or slippery or basically just inconsistent. And surprisingly, over 80% of all soundness related injuries are a result of poorly constructed or poorly maintained arenas.

Since Clay specializes in the disciplines of reining and working cow horse, his arena footing needs to be of a depth that is deep enough to work cattle in and yet, possess the  characteristics that still allow for sliding stops. It makes for an interesting mix of dirt and believe me, it took a long time to get it the way Clay wanted it. Not to mention, 2 construction crews, 2 reworks and a consultation from Bob Kiser… That’s why Clay is extremely particular about the way he cares for his arena ground.

Obviously, footing concerns vary with every discipline but some factors are steady across the board. These include the combination of the proper moisture content, the right depth, right consistency, levelness and lack of hard/soft spots. Having the ability to add water, change your footing depth, level out your arena, eliminate all hard and soft spots and regularly groom the footing surface is key to your success in the showpen. If you’re looking for some advice, here are a couple of pointers to increase the benefits of your “Pay dirt”:

As mentioned, being able to water your arena dirt regularly is key to keeping the dust down. However, it means you must first understand the water holding capacity of your dirt. Too much moisture may leave slippery spots and too little means you’ll be inhaling dust 30 minutes afterwards. Effective moisturizing also depends on your watering system. Sprinklers and hoses work well but require constant supervision because too much water can also damage your base and result in the loss of its stability. Another common error when watering with sprinklers or hoses is too much water in the center of the arena and not enough on the edges, sides or the rail.

Clay uses a Kiser Dragmaster for our indoor and outdoor arenas in Regina, SK. This system features a 300-500 Gallon watering system which evenly distributes water with variable flow control from the seat of the tractor. Plus, the pull behind design offers a long distance between the tractor wheels and the DragMaster wheels and the leveling blade sits in between these wheels, creating the perfect ground plane that is critical for level consistent footing. And an independently controlled hydraulic leveling blade enables precision leveling without changing the conditioning depth of the arena dirt.

Combing, harrowing or disking your arena dirt regularly is important for maintaining the integrity of your footing. Too little grooming means your dirt will become hard-packed and too deep of harrowing may affect your base.

Remember that daily maintenance also means picking out any rocks that may have surfaced during your arena drag and on occasion, shoveling dirt that has been pushed up to the arena walls over time. Also, over time your arena may need extra loads of material added to it to compensate for material blown away in the wind or dragged out in the hooves of animals.

Clay uses a Kiser Edge in our Arizona arena. This is a 3-point tractor arena drag that incorporates "Base Safe Profile Blade Technology." This technology grooms every square inch of the footing material and safely cleans the base, under the surface, of dangerous compaction layers. On the surface it creates the ultimate finish & premium cushion.


The front "push blades" of the Kiser Edge™ fill in huff prints and low areas, making a smooth path for the stabilizing wheels. The profile blades loosen 100% of the footing layer, lifting it to add air for cushion and clean the base of compaction. The "floating comb" then pulverizes dirt clods and smoothes the footing, leaving a beautiful signature finish to the arena.


  1. Brad Kelly says

    Ive been trying to find a dealer or some place that sells Kiser areana groomers or a groomer that is similar.Wher in canada can we find groomers like that?

  2. Angela Pigeon says

    How deep should the footing be for working cow or team penning events