Why Good Horse Arena Footing Is Worth the Investment

We often hear people say, “I can’t afford to improve my footing surface.” But we would argue that you cannot afford not to! We’re sharing Premier Equestrian President Heidi Zorn’s personal experience with her horse, Serrano, to explain why.

Zorn bought a lovely Andalusian, named Serrano, when he was a 4-year-old. She invested in his training at a facility that had a surface like many she sees today: deep, unstable, and dusty. Serrano continued to train in this type of environment for the next six years.

At 10 years of age, wear and tear were already taking hold of his hocks and joints, and signs of lameness were beginning to creep in. Every day he struggled to do his job on a bad surface. It finally took a toll, with sporadic lameness, an unwilling attitude, and soreness all over his body. This is when Zorn decided to seriously look at the effects of arena footing surfaces. She learned that all his daily training was being done on a very marginal surface. This did nothing to help his biomechanics, condition him, or save wear and tear on his poor body.

Soon after this, Zorn made the decision to only ride him on stable surfaces. Serrano made significant improvements and went on for six more years. Unfortunately, at 16 years old, his early wear and tear showed signs of arthritis from the previous damage. Zorn decided to give him a hock injection that eventually left him permanently lame from a joint infection.

Serrano retired permanently at 16 and he lived for nine more years until his passing at age 25. He was a healthy horse physically, and if not for the wear and tear on his joints and the injection that left him permanently lame, he could have performed for many more of those nine years. Zorn paid $2,500 for Serrano, which is unheard of today. Just the cost of a nice retirement alone was $65,000. Fortunately, she was able to buy a new horse and keep paying for Serrano’s retirement. That was the least she could do.

Zorn was not going to make the same mistakes again with her next horse, Primo. He came to Zorn at 5 years old, and he is her pride and joy. She invested in a high-end OTTO Sport Base Mat Arena System with a combination of the proper sand and a blend of Premier ProTex and ArenaAid Footing Products. This is the surface Primo rides on today. He is now 12 years old, and he is stronger than ever.

Primo sometimes lives with Zorn’s trainers at Caldecott Stables during the winter, who have great footing in their arenas from Premier Equestrian. Primo loves his job and is always happy to greet her for their time together in the arena. “I love knowing that the riding surface is helping him to move up the levels,” says Zorn. “The stable surface promotes balance, helping him to collect confidently without stress, and he never worries about taking an uneven step. I sleep easy at night knowing I am not injuring my beautiful horse on an unsafe, damaging surface. I have saved money with Primo by investing in a proper surface this time around.”

Zorn also invested in a high-end sprinkler system for watering her arena and a Premier SportPro Arena Drag for proper arena maintenance. “I’m a fanatic when it comes to grooming; every 5-6 rides, the arena is groomed, and the arena is watered automatically every morning,” Zorn explains. “Because of the OTTO Sport Base Mat System, I can ride immediately after a rainstorm.”

Let’s also talk about dust. If you and your horse are breathing in dust, you are severely compromising your health and the health of your horse. Bacteria, chemicals, and minerals can all be present in dust—there’s a good chance you are breathing in harmful impurities. Many horses have respiratory issues because of dust. What is the cost of this for vets, meds, and early retirement?

Dust is formed from soft mineral particles that break down from horse hooves, tractors, and the environment. This is why it is so important to contact a Premier Equestrian Footing Specialist prior to ordering your sand. The pros at Premier Equestrian have studied arena sands and know which sands break down and which sands will not. Ordering the wrong sand will hinder your surface outcome and replacing it will be costly and time-consuming. There are over 10,000 distinct types of sand in North America. Be sure you are getting the correct sand for your riding discipline, traffic, and climate.

When it comes to controlling arena dust, Premier Equestrian has a handful of products that can help with dust control. However, if you get the correct sand and footing product mix for your arena from the get-go, paired with proper moisture for your arena, you should never have dust.

There is a reason top professionals refuse to show and train at a facility that has bad arena footing. They realize it’s the everyday training on a bad surface that causes microscopic tears and strains, and then when they go to a horse show or apply a bit of pressure, those tiny tears can become a real problem.

But don’t just take our word for it—here’s what Olympian Steffen Peters had to say about training on a proper riding surface. “I do not like giving injections and poking needles in my horses,” he said. “The best thing I can do for my horses is provide a top-notch footing surface. We have three different arenas at Arroyo Del Mar, and all of them feature Premier Equestrian footing products and are maintained with a Premier SportPro M5 Arena Drag. We would not change a thing about our footing surfaces. They have kept my horses going happily for years. My horses stay happy, sound, and do not need constant injections to keep them going.”

Bottom line: When you invest in a proper riding surface, you are investing in the overall health, well-being, and longevity of your horse. Protect your investment and preserve your equine partner with Premier Equestrian footing products.

About Premier Equestrian
Premier Equestrian is a leading provider of state-of-the-art equestrian arena equipment and footing solutions, committed to delivering innovative products that enhance horse welfare and streamline arena management. With a focus on excellence and a passion for equestrian sports, Premier Equestrian aims to exceed the expectations of horse owners and trainers worldwide. Learn more at PremierEquestrian.com.

*High-resolution images and additional press materials available upon request

Media contact:
Kathryn Rustad
Director of Marketing, Premier Equestrian
Phone: 801-446-1857
Email: kathryn@premierequestrian.com