International footing experts and veterinarians gathered recently to collaborate regarding jumping arena surface standards for competitions.
The forum comes more than a year after the Equine Surfaces White Paper
The FEI calls it “the world’s most extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopaedic health of sport horses”.
Six years of FEI-funded research was presented at the Swedish forum. The findings show that the performance of arena surfaces is characterized by five key aspects: impact firmness, cushioning, responsiveness, grip and uniformity.
“Everyone attending the forum has practical experience of events from all over the world, and everyone voiced the need by equestrian sport to demonstrate commitment to consistent footings at major events,” said Dr Mick Peterson. “It is critical that we retain our momentum so that we can provide consistent surfaces for all of the major events in the next year.”
Three additional components are required to ensure surface performance. These include the correct material and design, proper installation and appropriate maintenance. A consensus emerged that procedures supporting these components will evolve into standards that can support manufacturers and organizers to protect horses and riders.
“The discussions were extremely constructive and will provide the framework for a first surfaces standard to be developed, which will be a major step forward,” said Dr. Lars Roepstorff. “Everyone was very open about sharing their knowledge to promote the welfare of the horse, which is where our focus always stands.”