The quality of training and competition footings is a topic near and dear to every performance rider. “Performance riders have a great understanding of the desirable characteristics in a footing,” says Dr. Jeff Thomason at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. “They also realize the impracticality of designing a ‘one-footing-fits-all,’ because so many factors affect how a horse moves on the footing.” The horse’s own conformation, the type of event, the amount of cushion on impact, the need for different levels of traction on takeoff, landing, and during tight turns—all of these factors affect how well the horse performs. They also all have a role in determining the probability that the horse will be injured. But how strong is the influence of the footing in enhancing performance and reducing injury, compared to the effects of experience, training, fitness, nutrition, athletic ability of the horse or rider, or any myriad of other factors?
FootingFirst and scientists from the University of Guelph (Canada), University of Maine (USA), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Science have pooled their expertise for an independent study of different types of surfaces. We hope to be able to take the opinion out of footing and truly have facts that can be used for the benefit of the sport.