Premier Equestrian Debuts as Major Sponsor of Equestrian Sport Productions and PBIEC
Wellington, Florida. Car racing has the Daytona International Speedway. Tennis has Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Equestrian sports have the Winter Equestrian Festival’s (WEF) International Arena. All three stages attract the eyes of the world and the characteristics of their competition surfaces influence who gets millions in prize money and the fame that comes with it.
The addition of elite equine athletes means even higher stakes rest on the surface of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s (PBIEC) International Arena. The WEF’s timing in a year when the World Cup Finals return to the United States and at the beginning of 2020 Olympic year up that ante considerably.
This convergence intensifies the importance of preserving the horse’s welfare while creating a riding surface with the stability and cushion needed for horses to jump confidently and at their peak. An arena surface that exceeds all previous measures and performance expectations was needed, leading to extensive next-level research and a partnership of world-renowned footing and arena experts.
Premier Equestrian, Inc. emerged as the hub of that partnership. Selected to supply and advise the installation of the OTTO Sport Base Mats and ProTex Arena Footing, Premier Equestrian is a Major Sponsor of Equestrian Sport Productions and its international showcase, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. This year’s designation is “Exclusive Footing Products Supplier for the International Arena at WEF.” The sponsorship begins in 2020 and continues through 2022.
Left: OTTO Sport Base Mats. A gap is left on each side to allow for expansion so the footing and base layers stay separated.
Right: ProTex footing mixed with new sand.
Photo credit: Mark Neihart and Chris Neihart
Bring On The Robots
Stakeholders in highest level equestrian sports fully embrace the critical role of the surface upon which it unfurls. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) leads the way in setting ever-higher standards for the safety and enhanced performance of its athletes. With arena surfaces, this involves cutting-edge research and technology: even robots!
The FEI recently enlisted the Objective Biomechanical Surface Testing machine, aka the “OBST,” to quantify the various forces of impact involved in take-off, landing, galloping and turning. It measures the impact, cushion, responsiveness and grip, and the uniformity of those characteristics throughout the surface. In essence, it measures what the horse feels when it performs on a specific surface. The data is further used by the FEI to certify surfaces for 5* competitions.
The high stakes of this year’s WEF coincided with ESP already set to completely re-do the International Arena. After testing four arena matting systems, OTTO Sport Base Mats from Germany emerged as the clear starting point for the International Arena. OTTO Sport mats have been used by top competitors throughout Europe for over 30 years and represented exclusively in the United States by Premier Equestrian, Inc. since 2014. The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park and the renowned Aachen Equestrian Festival are among the 6,000 top arenas worldwide to use OTTO Sport.
From the all-important horse’s perspective, OTTO Sport Base Mats absorb 40% of the concussive force when the hoof hits the ground, while jumping or galloping between fences.
Remarkable drainage capacity is another unique OTTO Sport advantage – up to eight inches per hour. Wellington’s tropical weather should be no match for the new International Arena, enabling competitors to safely keep their horses in form.
ProTex Arena Footing
Once the base was determined, ESP chose ProTex Arena Footing blended to suit the carefully graded silica sand. Introduced in 2016, Premier ProTex Arena Footing is designed for high performance in high-use areas. A proprietary ratio mix of textile and fibers, it is blended with the sand to create stability, cushion, rebound and grip, all characteristics the FEI is looking for as the horse’s top priorities. The end result is a surface that mimics the feel and function of grass. This includes a “rooting” function ProTex brings by reducing shear force and promoting shock absorption.
Cleanliness and consistency are additional ProTex attributes. Premier Equestrian’s fibers and textiles do not contain anything from the “post-consumer waste stream,” explains Premier Equestrian President Heidi Zorn. Protecting horses’ health goes well beyond soundness and career longevity, she says of the company’s policy on this little-discussed detail involved in arena footing. Further, ProTex is chopped and blended in a consistent manner, then shipped in a protective all-weather pallet to arrive as clean as it was when packaged.
Now celebrating its 20th year, Premier Equestrian earned its “Experts in Equestrian Surfaces” motto the hard way: research, formulating and sometimes re-formulating footing blends, testing, and, ultimately, riding. Zorn is an active dressage competitor and Premier staff members also speak from daily experience riding, competing and, most of all, caring for their own horses.
Although enormous in scope and its sport-wide impact, the PBIEC International Arena’s installation shares a raison d’etre with Premier Equestrian’s wide-ranging installations of all sizes around the country. “There are only so many competitions your horse can do in his career,” Zorn notes. “Make sure you are not jeopardizing his performance on dangerous footing and choose competitions that provide safe footing surfaces, such as ESP’s Winter Equestrian Festival.”
About Premier Equestrian, Inc.
Based in the Salt Lake City area with new offices in Florida, Premier Equestrian manufactures and distributes a full line of arena footing additives, including ProTex, Athletex, and ArenaAid. It has developed a complete line of arena grooming equipment and continues to lead the pack in educating horse people about footing materials, maintenance and grooming techniques. Premier Equestrian is the exclusive North American distributor for OTTO Sport, known worldwide for their superior arena surfaces.
Premier Equestrian is also the leading supplier of top quality, dressage arenas and dressage letters. Premier arenas and letters are molded using high-density polyethylene that are safe, shatter resistant, won’t fade and are stable in the wind. That’s why Premier has provided arenas for the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, the FEI World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games and a multitude of venues around the world.