A horse apiece
By Jessica Bies
Under hoof at the 2012 Del Mar Grand Prix national horse show this year, a geotextile horse footing designed to enhance riding performance and also to protect the legs of the equine participants improved jumping conditions for several Olympic hopefuls.
A combination of sand and shredded geotextiles or elastic fibers, geotextile footing is used in horse arenas to reduce dust and help with water drainage. The geotextile fibers stabilize the sand particles, helping achieve higher slide strength and intermediate shear resistance. Not only does the footing resist compacting, but it provides elasticity and bounce that helps protect horse sinews and joints while reducing risk of injury. Different ratios of geotextile and sand are used to create footings well-suited for a variety of conditions and can be used to create arena floors for competition or for training paddocks.
Geotextile footing is often installed on top of a flooring grid. The grid system disperses the weight of the horse or stock over a larger surface area and separates the footing from the ground sub-base, insuring that they do not mix. It also enhances drainage and prevents settling that could result in an uneven surface.
Geotextile footing has been used to increase traction and cushion competing horse at the FEI World Cup, the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.