Credit Card Processing
Select Page

Maintain Your Investment

Maintain Your Investment

Is grooming overrated? We don’t think so.

Even with the best sand and footing additive, proper maintenance is vital to the success of your arena and to the performance of your horses. Regular grooming, or dragging, will help eliminate divots and inconsistencies, and will help build confidence in your horses.

Grand Prix rider, Sahar Daniel Hirosh explains, “When an arena has hard spots, soft spots and different depths of footing, the horse is always questioning and not trusting himself. This creates tension and he will hold back his performance to protect himself. Having a surface that has firmness, cushioning, rebound and grip will enable the horse to develop proper fitness and confidence without having to worry about falling or an injury.” At Premier Equestrian, we believe that understanding your sand and footing is the first step to helping you better maintain an optimal surface for your horses.

Understanding Your Footing

One of the first things we analyze in an equestrian arena is the gradation of the sand particles. This refers to the range of particle sizes. A well-graded sand will have a combination of different sized particles. The variation of small particles will fill into the voids between the larger particles, stabilizing the surface from shifting and rolling. When sand has no grading, or is gap graded, you will have a severe separation of layers that are difficult to mix, and the surface can be very loose and unstable.

What does particle size have to do with grooming?

Lack of a grooming program enables the different sand particle sizes and additives to separate into layers. Vibrations and movement cause a phenomenon known as granular segregation, or “The Brazil Nut Effect”, where the largest particles end up on the surface. Watch this video for a great explanation.

Imagine a container of cereal. Initially your bowls are filled with consistently-sized pieces, but near the end of the box the pieces get smaller and smaller.

Granular Segregation, or “The Brazil Nut Effect”: When shaken, the larger particles tend to rise to the top of the mixture.

Your arena is like that container. Due to constant vibrations and movement on the surface, the small particles will settle through the voids of the larger particles toward the base while the larger particles will migrate toward the top of the surface.

When the particles separate, the top layer can become unstable and the lower layer may compact. Regularly grooming your arena combats the separation of layers and keeps particles and additives evenly mixed.

Maintaining Additives

Footing additives create a superior surface by enhancing sand qualities. Each material making up an additive has a specific function and they are designed to be well incorporated into the sand. Grooming prevents footing additives from becoming separated from the sand. Without proper mixing the mechanics of the footing matrix and the quality of the surface are compromised.


Water adds beneficial stabilization and grip, keeps dust out of the air, and most importantly acts as a binder. Think back to granular segregation, or the cereal box. Vibrations shake smaller particles down which in turn push larger particles up. Keeping the surface damp when grooming will help the sand and additives stick together so they blend appropriately. Even without an additive, sand arenas will always perform better when watered.

Grooming Equipment & Patterns

 The equipment used to maintain your arena will have a direct result to its long-term performance. Older styles of equipment like chain drags, or drags with only straight teeth, will not support proper mixing of the sand particles and don’t work with textile additives. In designing our line of groomers we’ve included adjustable features that will mix, condition and finish an arena surface.

Premier Grooming Equipment

What’s the best pattern? No pattern! Just make sure you get all the areas. Changing your grooming pattern each day will help the surface to stay level and make sure all the particles are well mixed throughout. Use variations of circles, straight lines, and changing directions. By doing this you can alleviate rail ruts and high and low spots that can be damaging to your arena base as well as your horse.

Daily Maintenance

  • This will depend on how much traffic you have on your arena. As a rule of thumb, daily grooming is best. However, if there are only a few rides each day, then every other day may be sufficient. If there is no use in the arena, the footing should still be groomed at least once a week to keep it primed.
  • Arenas with textile additives will require a consistent dampness to keep the sand and textile properly combined. Watering should be done daily, or at leaston an as needed basis.
  • Always remove organic material (manure, urine and leaves) from your arena. As it breaks down it will create dust, introduce bacteria and change the consistency of your surface over time.

Weekly Maintenance (Deep Conditioning)

  • If you have a footing additive, digging and mixing a bit deeper once a week will help maintain a proper blend. Hand raking the corners, edges or hard to reach spots are also a good weekly practice.
  • If the arena hasn’t been used or groomed in several days (or longer) a more in-depth conditioning session may be in order before it is put back to use.
  • On the other hand, if the arena has had a day or two of heavy use, we recommend doing a re-conditioning session.
  • If your arena has jumps, move them around and thoroughly condition the take-off and landing spots.


Yearly Maintenance (Flipping)

  • If your arena has settled over a long period of time, or if regular maintenance has not been performed, then it can be beneficial to have the surface “flipped” once a year. This involves scraping up the footing above the base or base mats and flipping the sand and footing to re-blend the surface.
  • Examine the quality of your sand and footing additives. Sand breaks down over time and creates dust. You may need to incorporate some new sand and/or refresh your footing additives.

Grooming… It’s far from overrated

Great arena footing doesn’t come from just installing new sand or a brand-name additive. You wouldn’t buy the horse of your dreams and then just let him sit in a stall, would you? Creating an in-depth arena grooming and maintenance program is the best way to make sure that you are not just getting the arena of your dreams now, but also for the years to come. We strive for optimal longevity and performance from our surfaces, and good arena maintenance is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your horse.

© Premier Equestrian

Three Things to Understand About Sand

Three Things to Understand About Sand

By Heidi Zorn, Premier Equestrian


Sand is the most important ingredient for an equestrian surface. Sand qualities will greatly affect the performance of your surface, such as being tight, loose, or just right; soft or hard; and how much dust is produced. There are over 10,000 different sand names and types just in North America alone. Getting the correct sand you is key, and just going with a name won’t get you there.
We’ve listed 3 key qualities to help you understand how different sands could affect your surface. By understanding these characteristics you will be able to determine the proper sand and particle size for adding additives, improving an existing surface or building a new arena.

Sand is classified by its size, rather than what type of mineral it is. Sand sizes range from 4.76 to 0.074 mm. It is smaller than gravel and larger than silt/clay.

#1 Most Important Quality: Sand Gradation

This is the representation of different sized particles. When particles are all the same size (a), the sand remains loose, may become shifty, or feel deep. Sand with little variation in differing sizes (b) will separate and become packed on the bottom and loose on top. A happy medium range of large to small particles (c) will help keep your footing firm, but not compacted.

#2 Most Important Quality: Mineral

The type of mineral affects how the sand particles will hold up over time. When sand particles become small enough they turn into dust and become airborne. Quartz and Silica are commonly used for horse arenas because the hardness of the particle. Different regions of the country will affect what minerals are available.

#3 Most Important Quality: Sand Shape


This affects how the grains nest together, which affects stability underfoot. Round particles create voids and offer cushioning. However, they are typically unstable and can roll like ball bearings, decreasing stability and traction. Angular particles have sharp edges and fit together tightly. This provides stability and traction, but angular particles can compact and become hard. Sub-angular particles have the sharp edges worn off. They will nest while still allowing some movement. This lessens compaction and provides traction.

Sand is the key ingredient in all good arena footing; however, not every kind of sand is suitable for all riding arenas. Choosing the wrong sand can create problems and be very expensive over time. A Premier Footing specialist can help troubleshoot the pitfalls of getting the wrong sand type.

©2018 Premier Equestrian

Premier Equestrian’s Heidi Zorn to Present “Footing Facts and Figures” At The 2018 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention

Premier Equestrian’s Heidi Zorn to Present “Footing Facts and Figures” At The 2018 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention

Heidi Zorn Premier Equestrian Inc. president and dressage arena footing expert. (Photo courtesy of JRPR no photo credit necessary)

Salt Lake City, Utah (November 19, 2018) – She’s back by popular demand. Premier Equestrian Inc. president and dressage arena footing expert Heidi Zorn has accepted an invitation to speak on ‘Footing Facts and Figures,’ at 5:30 pm on Friday, November 30, during ‘Dressage Elevated,’ the 2018 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention, November 28-December 1, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Sand is the key ingredient to great arena footing but the footing products you choose to combine with new or existing sand can improve that surface tremendously,” she says.” People think that just adding some name-brand ingredient to their sand will produce a great arena and that’s far from the case.”

Zorn, who first addressed a USDF Convention in 2005, says that the ‘figures’ behind good footing are about more than just the cost of the raw goods involved. “The cost in the long run, from not investing in good footing products up front, comes in greater loss of use, or higher incidences of injury.”

‘Footing Facts and Figures’ will be an in-depth look at the effects of footing surfaces on our equine partners, sand characteristics, types of footing surfaces, common construction practices and costs, as well as the emotional “cost” of riding on various surfaces over time.

“As equestrian hobbies and competitions evolve and progress, it is becoming increasingly more important for us to be aware of the surfaces we ride our beloved equine partners on.” Premier Equestrian is the Official Dressage Arena of the US Dressage Federation and Official Footing Supplier of US Equestrian, and provides footing and dust control products, grooming equipment, and OTTO Sport Ebb&Flow and PerforatedMats.

Zorn and co-owner Mark Neihart launched Premier Equestrian almost two decades ago to supply riders with well-researched footing solutions, dressage arenas, and arena groomers. Today, every product sold by Premier Equestrian is measured against a passionate standard for safety, practicality and the wellbeing of the horse. To learn more about footing and biomechanics, or to request a free catalog or a sand analysis consultation from Premier Equestrian, call (800)611-6109 or visit www.premierequestrian.com.

Turning Feel Into Science

Turning Feel Into Science

By Heidi Zorn, Premier Equestrian

Attention to footing and riding surfaces is gaining momentum and awareness throughout the equestrian community. I see the topic of footing much like the topic of saddle fitting several years ago. I remember those old saddles and that they all magically fit every horse, all the time. The thought that the saddle wasn’t fitting correctly never occurred to us, let alone that the saddle could be causing injuries to our horses. Then a whole slew of new information came out about the importance of a properly fitting a saddle and a big light bulb came on for the entire community. I see the same thing happening today with footing, and it is becoming an important feature in our horses training and care.

Throughout my years in this industry I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with a fantastic team of professionals to identify footing qualities and how they affect our horses. I’ve worked with farriers, vets and most importantly some of the country’s top riders, including Laura Graves, Debbie McDonald, Adrienne Lyle, and Steffen Peters, to take practical applications and materials and turn them into defined terms.

Adrienne Lyle, Bob and Debbie McDonald

Some of my first influential teachers were Bob and Debbie McDonald and their protege, Adrienne Lyle. Beyond being amazing horsemen, they also were pioneers in being some of the first adopters to use synthetic materials with sand in the United States. Years before I had met them, they had already worked with several different additives. When we began working together, they were well on to using textile and fiber additives.

Bob understood the texture, moisture content and grooming techniques to make great footing, while Debbie and Adrienne knew exactly the feel they were looking for when riding. This dynamo team could always perfect their surfaces. By studying the sand they preferred and the surface qualities they felt, we were able to take this information to our engineer and geologist and find the exact formulation of sand particles shape and sizes, along with moisture content. This was the beginning of turning feel into science.

Adrienne Lyle riding Wizard on Premier ProTex footing

Heidi Zorn and Bob McDonald at TYL Farm’s new indoor arena

Steffen Peters

What Bob, Debbie, and Adrienne felt was also shared with Steffen Peters. Steffen’s ability to feel the nuance in every stride put our technical skills into overdrive. He could explain when each step was good or bad at different gaits and movements, and identified how the horse was compensating to achieve the task. This led us to further examine how different ratios of sand and fiber to moisture content affected the surface. Steffen’s ability to recognize and communicate what he felt allowed us to analyzed what each recipe provided in terms of surface characteristics.

In Arroyo Del Mar’s first arena, we struggled to get the right amount of stability Steffen wanted. The particle size was not quite fine enough to bind to the additive. To fix this, we incorporated fine sand and different fibers to help keep a more consistent structure while maintaining moisture retention. Several years later, Steffen upgraded his arena to an OTTO Sport PerforatedMat System which  provided consistent moisture retention evenly across the entire surface and gave superior stabilization to the sand particles. Not to mention excellent drainage in the monsoon season.

Laura Graves

Along with this team of Olympians was Laura Graves, who gave me even more insight on creating high-performance training arenas. Laura knew exactly what she wanted out of a riding surface and she put our theories to the test. She and Diddy (Verdades)  have traveled the world and have ridden on the best competition footings available. However, she did not want a competition surface. She wanted an everyday surface that was conducive to equine biomechanics.

Getting the correct sand was first and foremost the most important aspect in engineering the surface that Laura was looking for. She diligently followed our lead to find the correct sand. After weeks of searching we realized the perfect sand didn’t exist in her area and we would have to formulate a different recipe to achieve the five surface characteristics, using a mix of fibers and textiles in different quantities.

Heidi Zorn and Laura Graves

With help from one of our arena builder, Tony Judge of Olympia Footing, we were able to achieve a surface that Laura was very happy with. Tony is an expert in building arena bases and mixing in footing additives, and we knew he could help us to create the best surface possible. All together, we were able to calculate the correct fiber and textile combinations with the local sand to get Laura’s desired result.

Today Laura is very pleased with her footing formula. Laura told us, “I have an incredible stability, and it’s not hard. I like something in the middle. Every day I walk out with my first horse, and the first thing I do is I turn around and I check the hoof prints and I say it’s spot on!” Laura stated that during the times at home she does not need to do any special shoeing or use pour pads, and the vet confirmed that Diddy’s hoof and sole growth were healthy and to keep doing what she’s doing with her at home surface.

Once again Laura’s exceptional feel and being particular of her home surface led us to some conclusions about how a proper training service should feel verses a competitive venue. Read more about horse show vs. training surfaces.

Part of what makes riders like Steffen, Laura, Debbie, and Adrienne so amazing is their ability to feel the horse and their movements. By taking what they have felt and their experience of riding on different surfaces all over the world, we developed a range of standards. We measured each of the sands they were using and formulated different textiles and fibers at different quantities to come up with what they thought was a perfect feel, thus turning feel into science.

©2018 Premier Equestrian, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Five Factors that Create a Great Arena Surface

Five Factors that Create a Great Arena Surface

Building an arena correctly is one of the best investments you can make for you and your horses. It’s relatively simple to improve your arena surface when you understand the components involved. Here’s an introduction to the pieces that will make a great arena surface.

1. A Solid Base

The base and sub-base provide drainage and create a consistent, solid foundation for your footing layer. Premier Equestrian offers three base construction techniques, depending on your needs and budget.

2. Understanding Your Sand

Sand is the key ingredient for a good arena surface. Choosing the wrong sand for riding arenas can create problems and be very expensive over time. We’ll help you source the best sand and footing product for your arena needs.

3. Adding the Right Footing Product

Textiles, fibers, and crumb rubber can be added to resolve compaction, bind looseness, improve drainage, reduce dust, and more! Premier Equestrian will create a custom blend of material for your arena needs, discipline, and traffic.

4. Moisture Content

Water creates a molecular bond between sand particles, preventing them from rolling under the foot. Water also reduces dust and improves cushion and stability.

5. Grooming and Maintenance

Daily, weekly, and monthly grooming are mandatory to maintain a great surface. Premier Groomers enable you to maintain a consistent riding surface, avoid irregularities, and condition your sand and footing additives.

© 2018 Premier Equestrian, Inc. All rights reserved

Defying The Odds: “The Amazing Z” Makes A Miracle Comeback Earning His Rider The Premier Equestrian Award

Defying The Odds: “The Amazing Z” Makes A Miracle Comeback Earning His Rider The Premier Equestrian Award

Sue Minton-Edison and “Z” all smiles receiving their Premier Equestrian Award. (Photo courtesy of Sue Minton-Edison)

Eugene, OR (September 11, 2018) – When it comes to our equestrian partners, there is little we wouldn’t do for them. Sue Minton-Edison went above and beyond when her newly imported gelding broke his knee and multiple vets said he’d never recover – even if the bone healed he’d never be safely ridden… he was doomed.
Shortly after import “Z” developed an infection. A CT scan was ordered and was negative but while recovering from anesthesia “Z” panicked and hyper extended his knee, fracturing a major bone in the joint. After conferring, the ‘experts’ agreed that the fracture would not heal. “Z” had no chance, and Minton-Edison should put him down. Minton-Edison wasn’t convinced.  Recognizing in “Z” a willingness to fight, she sought people experienced in using alternative treatments, and even made a plea on Facebook for support. She refused to give up and with a calm determination and the help of “Z’s Village” at Silver Tail Farm, Minton-Edison and “Z” were at it 24/7 for the next four months giving Z nearly every therapy imaginable – from electrical stimulation to experimental stem cell treatments, from massages to psychic consultations, along with the obvious special feedings, and “hoof” holding required to keep “Z” happy and sane.
After four long months Minton-Edison led her beloved “Z” out of his stall for the first time. X-rays revealed the first part of Z’s miracle – against all odds the fracture had healed without displacement. Now rehab started, with months of gradually increasing hand walks, while alternative therapies continued. By October of 2015 Minton-Edison’s dream of riding “Z” had come true – along with the second miracle – he was sound!  Their work to rebuild his strength continued slowly and cautiously – Minton-Edison always watchful for a weakness in the knee.  But they were to be gifted with a third miracle – the knee was fine – and in time they returned to the show arena.
Minton-Edison has no doubt that a significant factor in “Z’s” successful rehab, and in his continued soundness, has been riding on Premier Equestrian brand footing – one more way to provide the best for “Z”.
Premier Equestrian honors the equestrian athlete whose culture demonstrates kindness, support, and exceptional sportsmanship and believes Minton-Edison transcended these qualities for her equine partner. Minton-Edison and “Z” will add the Premier Equestrian Award to their FEI AA High Point win at the Dressage at Devonwood. Currently holding the top rank in the USDF/KWPN of NA Musical Freestyle for AA I-1 with a median score of 70.257, they plan to compete in AA I-1 at Regionals later this month. Whatever the outcome they will persist in defying the odds with full knowledge that miracles DO happen!
Premier Equestrian will continue rewarding deserving equestrians with the Premier Equestrian Award throughout the rest of the show season. In addition to focusing on the people who make riding horses a good experience for all, the company focuses on the equipment that makes riding safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. Premier Equestrian is known for its advanced arena footing solutions that can improve horses’ performance while always keeping their wellbeing first in mind. To learn more about Premier Equestrian, please visit www.PremierEquestrian.com or call (800) 611-6109.

Sign up for our newsletter

We send newsletters 1-2 times per month