On Equal Footing

Trainers and riders have become sophisticated about ground, and about how good footing protects horses’ feet and legs. Many owners spend large sums to install the best footing at home. Indoors or outdoors, they control the type of ground their horses
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"It’s too hard." "It’s too deep." "It’s too slick." "Watch out for that low spot!" At horse shows, exhibitors often find fault with the footing in the competition arenas. They complain about the ground, blaming show management for how the surface inhibits horses’ performances or even endangers animals’ well-being.

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Different disciplines require different footings for the safety and welfare of the competitors. Photo by Charles Mann

Footing is a complex subject, and a source of controversy. Racetracks have worked to engineer optimum surfaces to help horses perform, and now shows are following the lead of the racing industry. The American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) recognizes more than 2,600 shows annually. At its 1999 annual meeting, AHSA sponsored a Special Summit on Footing to address how shows can improve footing to meet exhibitors’ expectations. A panel of experts addressed issues of concern to all parties: show management, exhibitors, and the AHSA

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Written by:

Award-winning writer Charlene Strickland lives in Bosque Farms, N.M. She has published 8 books and over 600 magazine articles, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists.

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