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Whether riding a reining pattern or jumping a Grand Prix course, the arena is one of the oldest established venues where equine performance is trained and measured. Arena competitions date back to the times when horse-drawn chariots dashed wildly around the Roman Coliseum. While construction and maintenance practices have changed dramatically, equine facilities still share several common
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Whether riding a reining pattern or jumping a Grand Prix course, the arena is one of the oldest established venues where equine performance is trained and measured. Arena competitions date back to the times when horse-drawn chariots dashed wildly around the Roman Coliseum. While construction and maintenance practices have changed dramatically, equine facilities still share several common features.

Different equine athletic needs require different footing. Good footing for a hunter/jumper show wouldn't accommodate a reining show, and vice versa. The footing needs to be appropriate for the activity, and not cause injuries to the equine athletes.

Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, who holds the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, has done extensive research into ground surfaces as they relate to equine health and performance. She states that "Everything in footing is a balance. Good footing allows the horse's foot to move a little bit upon landing, but when the horse goes to push off, you don't want footing that gives too much."

Clayton maintains that a hard, brittle surface, such as concrete or sun-baked clay, has a high impact resistance because it absorbs little or none of the impact energy. Conversely, an overly soft surface has a low impact resistance that absorbs most of the footfall energy, and while the concussion force is less, it requires an inordinate amount of energy for the horse to travel forward

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Toby Raymond has been involved with horses throughout her life from showing hunter/jumpers, galloping racehorses, and grooming trotters to exercising polo ponies, as well as assisting veterinarians at tracks in New York and Florida. By combining her equine knowledge with her 20-year experience in the advertising industry, she has formed TLR & Associates, a creative resource for people in the horse business. When not working, she usually can be found at the barn, hangin’ with her horse Bean.

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