How Does a Leveller Maintain a Surface? The Science

An easy-to-understand explanation of arena levellers and how they work to maintain an arena surface. Learn more about the physics behind arena maintenance.

The Invention of the Arena Leveller

Many years ago, an equestrian arena would likely have been levelled by a person or horse pulling an old gate or chain harrow around the arena. In fact, we still see a shocking number of people relying on this method to maintain their surface. These homemade, DIY solutions for levelling an arena surface can seem tempting and cost-effective, however, over time this is likely to be quite the opposite! A poorly maintained surface is not only a risk to your horse’s safety and soundness, but it will also mean the surface ages faster and the material will require topping up or replacing much sooner.

This is why equestrians have moved to more specialist equipment which is designed to maximise the performance of horse arena surfaces. Let's take a look at the science behind arena levellers - and what makes them so great!

The Science Behind ArenaMate Levellers

If you’ve read our Glossary of Arena Maintenance Terms, you’ll know that an arena leveller is made up of tines to harrow the surface, and a roller or blade to level the surface.


For a single-component surface, such as a sand arena, straight tines are effective at breaking up compacted areas and creating a consistent and level surface. For a mixed-component surface, such as sand and fibre, curved tines are preferred as they help to churn the surface and ensure the materials stay thoroughly mixed (which boosts the longevity of your surface).

The ideal tine depth will depend on the weather conditions and your surface type and condition. The aim is just to take out tyre marks and hoof prints, but as a general guide, a new surface will require a tine depth of 5-10mm, and an existing surface approximately 10-15mm.

Deeper tine depth will result in a looser or “fluffier” surface, which makes it slower to ride on, but potentially safer for young or fresh horses. There is no right or wrong and every yard will have their preferences, but it is better to have a shallow tine depth and work the surface frequently, rather than harrowing very deep every now and again.

NB: Waxed surfaces require more frequent and deeper loosening. 


Our Type 3 RFB ArenaMate has rollers at both the front and back of the leveller, with a strong frame that helps to evenly distribute the weight between front and back rollers to help leave a smooth, even surface. ArenaMate rollers are split and slightly angled to ensure the best flow of material through the rollers and reduce scuffing when going around corners.  Splitting the rollers means that one roller rotates slower than the other when cornering which greatly reduces surface scuffing. 

If your leveller has a solid roller, then these generally work better at slow speeds, with the aim to compact heavily used surfaces. On the other hand, hollow rollers are much better at higher speeds and help to distribute materials behind the machine. Speed is generally a good thing as it helps increase tine vibration through the surface which gives a better mix but reduces vibration through the rest of the machine.  However, we recommend slowing down around corners otherwise the surface can scuff and move sideways on the tyres of the towing vehicle.

The Future of the Arena Leveller

We wholly believe that ArenaMate® levellers are the most effective piece of maintenance equipment on the market, but just as the equipment has developed over previous years, we acknowledge that there are likely to be further advancements in the future, so we are all ears when it comes to customer feedback and hearing exactly what you need from your arena maintenance equipment.

We are working with riders and surface specialists to constantly develop our machines and keep ahead in understanding the needs of the horses we care for.

Find Out More:

Call us on 01427 728700 for more information.

Glossary of Arena Maintenance Terminology