So which type of surface is the best choice for the discipline you prefer? The answer may be a bit easier to find due to a recently released white paper that offers comprehensive information about the composition and maintenance of arena surfaces for various uses. The document resulted from a four-year project funded by the FEI, World Horse Welfare, the Swedish Foundation for Equine Research, and the British Equestrian Federation.
Experts from a number of universities and equine research centers collaborated to gather information on the relationship between injuries and the effects of riding surface characteristics as well as a horse’s fitness level, age, shoeing, exercise, discipline, nutrition, rider and other factors. They considered the demands of all seven FEI disciplines in addition to racing. Not surprisingly, they concluded that there is no one type of surface that is optimal for all purposes.
The goal in any arena design is to support long-term training and performance of horses while avoiding injury. The white paper offers a comprehensive view of things to consider when riding arenas are constructed.