Jacksonville, FL (February 8, 2017) – No grain of sand was left unturned at The League Footing Academy, part of The League of Agricultural & Equine Centers Symposium recently held at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida. The League Symposium is an annual event attended by agriculture professionals and equestrian facility managers from across the United States. At The League Footing Academy, Heidi Zorn, president of Premier Equestrian (the Official Footing Supplier of the US Equestrian), and renowned equestrian footing expert Bob Kiser of Kiser Arena Specialists taught attendees how to turn ‘average dirt’ into footing that boosts performance and promotes safety and soundness for equine athletes.
Step by step, from soil essentials and arena maintenance to moisture and dust control, Zorn and Kiser taught facility managers and footing managers how to obtain optimum ground that enables horses to safely utilize their full athletic potential. Zorn and Kiser presented decades of knowledge and experience that addressed the needs of dressage riders and barrel racers alike, and every equine sport enthusiast in between. Good footing at the appropriate depth, texture, and moisture content simply makes a difference, and knowing what good footing is – and how to attain it – is key.
Zorn launched the company Premier Equestrian in 2000, and now supplies world-class riders with footing, dressage arenas, jumps, and other equestrian items. Zorn originally formed Premier Equestrian due to her dressage horse Serrano, who was struggling to perform on poor footing.
“Serrano experienced a lot of lameness issues, so I began working very closely with veterinarians and farriers to learn about the biomechanics of the horse,” said Zorn. “We started noticing that on a bad surface he had bad mechanics. We played with different surfaces to stabilize him, because he was such a big horse and fell over himself in deep, soft footing. Shoeing helped a little bit, but we began to look at the flight of the foot and arena surface qualities. We followed the FEI White Paper on Equine Surfaces guidelines, worked with other contractors and, more importantly, with people like Bob Kiser who are masters with touch and feel. They can feel a good step or a bad step. They know if something isn’t right.”
Given the company’s in-depth knowledge and expertise in creating the perfect riding surface, it’s no surprise that Premier Equestrian has served as the chosen footing provider for professional riders such as iconic Olympian dressage competitor Steffen Peters. Peters and his wife, USDF Gold Medalist Shannon Peters, both know well the impact that proper footing has on the quality of performance and safety of a ride. The two installed Premier Equestrian’s advanced OTTO Sport arena system in their competition-sized dressage arena at their twenty-two acre California training facility.
“We searched for quite a while to find the best footing, and not only do we think Premier Equestrian supplies the best footing, they are by far the most knowledgeable company we have found to find exactly the right materials needed for our arena,” said Shannon Peters, after working with Zorn to choose the best footing option for their needs.
Today, every product sold by Premier Equestrian is measured against a passion for safety, practicality, and well-being of the horse. Zorn focuses on five characteristics when she evaluates an arena: firmness, cushion, cupping, rebound, and grip. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, Premier Equestrian has provided dressage and driving arenas for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, as well as footing for The Del Mar National and World Dressage Masters arenas.
Zorn was proud to join Bob Kiser in speaking at The League Footing Academy, which Kiser presents at annually. Remarking on the inherent differences among equine sports, yet the similarities riders share regarding arenas, Bob Kiser said, “We are all really trying to accomplish the same thing, it’s just that we have different footing to work with.” Kiser, who was inducted in the National Reining Horse Association Hall of Fame for his contribution in footing to the industry, operates his family-owned business in Gainesville, Texas. Kiser has worked on arenas in 42 states and multiple countries abroad, including the World Equestrian Games in Spain, Germany, and Lexington, Kentucky.
While there is no single recipe for building the ‘perfect’ arena, Kiser believes that safety – and avoiding injuries due to hazardous footing – is the number one priority. “Several of the western events are extremely dangerous. Riders get hurt riding barrel horses every year because of bad footing. Working cow horses is equally as dangerous because now you have two animals – a horse chasing a cow. If the ground is a little slick underneath, your horse can fall down. We can use similar footing for all of the western events,” Kiser continued, “but cutting footing has to be a lot sandier than barrel racing, so we modify what we have to make it work. At a show like the Quarter Horse Congress, we actually set up the ring just for cutting. We modify a ring for barrel racing because we will have western pleasure classes in there and we don’t want the ground to pack underneath those horses, or they will be really sore by the time those classes are over. So we actually keep that a little sandier, and might haul in some clay for the barrel racers to modify the ground.”
Whether riding in English or western disciplines, there is no doubt that gaining a better knowledge of footing could make a world of difference for horse and rider, in regards to safety, quality of ride, and overall results. To request a free catalog, free footing sample, or free sand analysis from Premier Equestrian, call (800) 611-6109 or visit https://premierequestrian.devft.com/horse-arena-footing/.