We travel to shows and stare at floors. I guess you could say we’re arena footing freaks. We have to be. As owners of IGK Equestrian, we manufacture and install arena surfaces in coliseums, equine hospitals and lesson barns (we’ve even helped make footing for Thoroughbred tracks in Dubai and Hong Kong). We also make equine comfort systems – mattresses made of foam or rubber — designed specifically for performance horses. So you could say we know quite a lot about the equine footing and bedding business.
A few years ago, my husband Peter and I were at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament watching Margie Engle navigate the World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix. While everyone was watching Margie, we were watching the footing. You see, we made it and installed it. So while Margie delivered yet another breathless performance, Peter and I scanned the arena floor, silently assessing its traction, stability and response.
Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of the same comments about footing and bedding. Too dusty. Too slippery. Freezes too quickly. Too abrasive. We’ve heard about footing that shifts suddenly under the horse, leading to a loss of confidence at best and an injury at worst. We’ve heard from owners of sand arenas who are using up to 3,500 gallons of water per day just to keep dust under control. We’ve heard from trainers who hate to rake and horse owners who hate to muck (sound familiar?). We can’t completely eliminate raking in the ring or mucking in the stable, of course, but there are ways to make these things less of a pain — for you, your crew, your riders and boarders.
I started this blog to address some of the main challenges associated with footing and bedding, share success stories and provide a discussion forum for trainers, arena owners, veterinarians, stable managers, and riders of all disciplines. Please feel free to chime in. Because when you get right down to it, it’s all about supporting your horse.