Surface Testing: Keeping Horse and Rider Safety in Mind

In this first part in a series on testing and maintaining equine competition surface, we focus on racetracks.

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surface testing
Although there are many aspects of testing track surfaces and ensuring that the surface is in top condition, Peterson said one goal of surface testing and maintenance that stands out to him: horse and rider safety. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Part One: An Introduction to Surface Testing

This story is the first in a series looking at the testing and maintenance of equine competition surfaces worldwide.

No matter the occasion—be it a horse race, show jumping competition, dressage test, reining pattern, or any of the many other equine sport events that take place every year—all equestrian events have one singular requirement they need to take place: They need an appropriate and safe surface to compete upon.

Ensuring proper arena and racetrack footing creation and care is important, not only for equine injury prevention, but for the safety of horse and rider. In recent years it’s been an important research area for scientists around the world. One of those researchers, Mick Peterson, PhD, is the current director of the University of Kentucky (UK) Ag Equine Programs, a faculty member within UK’s Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, and executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL)

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