Dragging a horse arena is imperative to ensuring that your horses remain sound. The proper techniques for dragging a ring will depend on a few factors: type of footing, arena size, watering conditions, and type of work completed in the arena (i.e. jumping, flatwork, or a combination). As important as the latter factors are, the first step in properly dragging a ring is to establish the correct pattern. Once you have mastered the below patterns, you will be well on your way to having a perfectly groomed riding arena.
There are three typical patterns for dragging an arena.
- Standard Pattern
- Start by dividing the ring in half down the centerline. This will be the size of the oval needed to drag the ring.
- Keeping the same sized oval, work your way to the right or left of the original drag marks. By keeping the same sized shape you will soon find yourself with only the outer-perimeter of the ring left un-dragged.
- Finish by dragging the outer perimeter. Once this step is complete, divide the ring in half and exit.
- Throughout the standard pattern, be sure to keep the corners smooth and the speed of the drag consistent.
- Note: Alternating the direction of your standard pattern each time you drag the arena will help to keep the footing evenly distributed.
- Alternative Pattern
- Start by dividing the ring in half; this should be done across the short side of the arena, not down the centerline.
- Keeping the same sized shape, work your way to the right or left of the original drag marks. As you drag you will notice that the outer perimeter is often dragged more than once.
- Once the entire ring has been dragged, finish by exiting the arena down the centerline.
- Note: The Alternative Pattern should not be used if your arena has an established crown. This pattern is good for changing the direction of the footing and ensuring that its various components remain properly mixed.
- Spinning Pattern
- Start by dividing the ring in half down the centerline.
- Staying to one half of the arena make a spiraling circle pattern. Continue the pattern until half of the arena is dragged.
- Once you have finished half of the arena start the same spiraling circle pattern on the other side. As the name suggests, you are spinning in lazy circles and at a consistent speed.
- When both sides of the arena have been dragged, exit the arena.
- Note: The Spinning Pattern is best used when your arena has an undulated surface. Dragging at inconsistent speeds often causes undulated surfaces.
Properly dragging an arena starts with choosing the correct pattern for the size, shape, and type of footing within your ring. The dragging process finishes by monitoring the moisture content of your footing. Each type of footing requires a different amount of water. Upon installation, be sure to consult with your footing provider. Too much water and your footing will separate and become too slick. Too little water and you will create a hard or dusty surface. Understanding and implementing these ring dragging techniques will ensure that you have a well-groomed arena and happy equines.