Maintaining Arena Footing by Ruthann Smith

Maintaining Arena Footing


Just drag the ring, right? No, there are tricks to keeping #footing in TIP-TOP shape. #Heritage Farm’s Head Manager, Gerardo Escalera shares what he figured out on his own… with twenty years.

“G” says most people think dragging the ring is about smoothing out footprints. But, he brings it to a new level. Typically barns in Wellington drag daily and use a specialized ring maintenance service. But, G got this system down. You see NO grooves, tracks, puddles, holes, ruts or waves in this #riding ring. Footing is even and stays that way, which supports soundness in his prized #horses.

This is no easy feat, when you consider the arena’s specs. Heritage has more than 100 horses on the road with trainer Andre Dignelli. This private ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival has 10-40 horses in it at all times, from 5 am to 6 pm. Plus, they lunge at least 30 horses a day in this ring. In just 2 days, it would be a big rutty mess! Yet, it’s perfect.

Having mastered his winning program, G only maintains the ring 1-2x/week. Given the traffic, someone drags is 3x/day. When G works the footing, the following is what he has found to be true and important:

  • Going fast makes wavy footing.
  • The key is *repeatedly circling* left and right.
  • When dragging the bucket to pull footing off the outside track, pull *at an angle.* If you pull straight off the fence line or wall, you’ll make a mound. If you pull off at an angle, it will even up and fill in tracks as you pull. They key is not the weight of the bucket, but the angle you pull back. Given his hand gestures, I’d say G pulls at 30-45 degrees off the rail.

I just could not get over how brilliant the last tip was.  So fun. Simple beauty.

Gerardo, thanks for sharing your hard-earned wisdom!  




Ruthann Smith
Ruthann Smith


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