Great Rake! I bought this rake for use on my ranch in Montana. We have both an indoor and outdoor roping arena. As most of us know that have roped in different arenas, it's key to have great footing for your horse. This rake delivers!
Both arenas have a 6" sand topcoat with a pit run base. In the case of the indoor arena, the sand was put down during the framing of the arena and thus became very compacted and hard during the rest of the construction. This resulted in a hardpan of sand that we tried to disc first but had no luck, as we didn't want to turn up the base coat into the sand (note: you don't want to do this else your top coat will get corrupted and will not rake as well).
In talking with the Riata folks (BTW - they are great people that called us three times to make sure we were happy with the product), they said to use the rake with the rippers and go for it. I told them that if we broke it, they were getting it back... they said just make multiple passes, increasing the depth with each pass and we should be fine. They also said if we broke it, they would take it back, no questions asked. I was worried as the ground was as nearly as hard as concrete and I was convinced we were going to be sending a broken rake back. But to my surprise, the rake worked perfectly!
I bought the 10' rake and the ripper, hydraulic and fence blade options. This rake weighs in at 1000lbs, but the extra weight is great for digging in.
The smoothing plate on the rear of the rake does a great job of finishing the top coat. The tines are designed that if you have any holes to fill they will sweep sand into the depressions with the end result being a soft level landing (in my case crashing) area.
You can manually adjust the rake, but the hydraulic kit is nice for making adjustments while in the cab.
The rippers are a must if you need to start from where I started from or if you have seasonality in your arena and the topcoat gets compacted (i.e. my outdoor arena will get compacted over the winter).
The fence blade works great for "sweeping" back in the excess sand that will build around the edges of the raked area. If you don't have this option, you will be using a shovel around the border of your arena and that can take a lot of time.
The rake arrives mostly put together, it takes about an hour with 2 people to complete the installation and start raking. Comes with a basic installation manual that is easy to follow and usage instructions.
I have not owned other rakes, but have seen many different types used in different arenas with mixed results. As you can tell, I am extremely pleased with this product. Sure you can find cheaper products out there, but in this case, it's true, you get what you pay for. In my experience, this rake will not disappoint.