The world's most extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopedic health of sport horses in the seven FEI disciplines and in racing has been published by the FEI.
The Equine Surfaces White Paper, which is available to download here, is the result of a four-year collaboration between eight equine experts from six universities, three equine and racing-specific research and testing ceners and two horse charities in Sweden, the United Kingdom and United States.
The white paper brings together the latest data and published scientific papers on arena and turf surfaces, and the effects these have on horses in training and in competition.
Key properties of footing, and the effects of footing on horses' physiological and biomechanical responses, are described in the white paper, as well as the optimal composition, construction and maintenance of arenas for maximizing equine performance while minimizing injury risk.
Current methods of measuring the physical properties of surfaces, and the essential surface preparation and maintenance techniques, are also discussed in the white paper in terms easily understood by riders, trainers, course designers and arena builders, in order to guide future progress in providing suitable competition and training surfaces for sport horses.
"The Equine Surfaces White Paper is the biggest international collaboration of its kind, and is vital to understanding how surfaces work in order to reduce injury risks to horses," says John McEwen, FEI 1st vice president and chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee. "Now, thanks to scientific research, and extensive support and partnership between welfare charities and horse sport, we can fully understand how the right surfaces, with the necessary preparation and ongoing maintenance, can extend the working lives of sport horses and produce the best performances."